Ibn Hamdis’ Ode to Sicily

Ibn Hamdis whose full name was Abdul-Jabbaar bin Abi Bakr Al-Azdi As-Siqili was one of the great medieval Arab poets. He was born in Sicily in the year 447 H (1056 CE) and lived there until the fall of Muslim Sicily to the Normans. He then moved around and lived in Tunisia, Al-Andalus, Tunisia again, Algeria and the finally the island of Majorca where he died in 527 H (1132/1133 CE). Many of his works were captured in his book Ad-Diwaan. He was known for his love of his homeland of Sicily which he elegized in some of his works. Here is an excerpt from one of his poems in its original Arabic and in English translation:

ذكرت صقلـية والأسـى                   يجدد للنفس تذكـارهـا

فإن كنت أخرجت من جنةٍ               فإني أحدث أخبـارهـا

ولولا ملوحة ماء البكـاء                  حسبت دموعي أنهارهـا


I remembered Sicily. The sorrow…

Renews itself upon its remembrance

If I was taken out of paradise

Then I would tell of it

And if it were not for the saltiness of my tears

I’d have thought my tears were its rivers


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