Tag Archives: mirwas

In a Bay off old Muharraq

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This poem was submitted to Lucid Rhythms – an online magazine – and when he accepted it, that was the first time I began to hope that there were still venues that would accept ‘rhyming’ and metric poems.

I don’t know the journey that the genre has taken ever since I last studied it, but in my humble – and not so elevated opinion – any art that needs excessive analysing and interpreting and that can’t or doesn’t connect with people is somewhere missing the point.

In a bay off old Muharraq

Lies an ancient wooden Sambuk

That still goes out on moonless nights

Searching for th’ eternal light

And the master of the Sambuk

Who’s the master of that Sambuk?

A ghost, a wraith, a memory

Singing songs like Fidjeri.

 

And who is it that sits beside him?

Playing on the double hand drum?

Drumming on the mirwas lightly

While the Sambuk skips so spritely

Across the waves out to the sea

Recalling ancient memory?

Why he too is a distant past

That’s lost forever, lost alas!

 

And what is it they hope to find

Tossed along by wind and mind?

Why it’s the lulu treasured pearl

‘Durrat’ more prized than any girl.

And so the divers scythe the waves

Seeking what we all so crave

To bury hatred, soothe the pain

So we can all be one again.

 

And all who live upon this isle

Wherever he or she may come from

Join together, hug and smile

And truly say, “Salaam alaikum.”

 

Note: Fidjeri is an old Arabian Gulf/ Khaleeji pearl divers’ song, mirwas is the double handed drum that pearl divers used on their dhows (like the Sambuk) the lulu is the word for pearl in Arabic and Durrat is a particularly highly prized pearl. Muharraq is the second major island of the archipelago that constitutes the Kingdom of Bahrain. The poem is not political but expresses the desire to recreate a more friendly unified time in Bahrain. Salaam alaikum means ‘peace be upon you’.

The Pearl Divers’ Songs

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Their music was so strange and distant
From hymns they sang straight to the sea
Or praises raised to mighty Allah
Those lovely songs, that fidjeri

Above the waves of Bas Ya Bahr*
The Nahhaaam raised his melody
Along with him the clappers played
The jahlah or mirwas, plaintively.
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