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Abu Nuwas

A Boy Is Worth More Than a Girl

For young boys, the girls I’ve left behind

And for old wine set clear water out of mind.

Far from the straight road, I took without conceit

The winding way of sin, because this horse

Has cut the reins without remorse,

And carried away the bridle and the bit.

Here I am, fallen for a faun,

A dandy who butchers Arabic.

His forehead, brilliant like a full moon,

Chases away the black night’s gloom.

He cares not for shirts of cotton

Nor for the Bedouin’s hair coat.

He sports a short tunic over his slender thighs

but his shirt is long of sleeve.

His feet are well-shod, and under his coat

You can glimpse rich brocade.

He takes off on campaign and rides to attack

casting arrows and javelins;

He hides the ardor of war, and his

Attitude under fire is magnanimous.

Comparing a young boy to a young girl, I am ignorant.

And yet, how can you mix up some bitch

Who goes in monthly heat

And drops a litter once a year

With him I see on the fly.

How I wish he would come

Return my greeting.

I reveal to him all my thoughts

Without fear of the imam, or of the muezin.
Abu Nuwas, Le Vin, le Vent, la Vie,
(tr. Vincent Mansour Monteil), Sindbad,
Paris, 1979, p. 91.
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Abu Nuwas
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