Love, Death, Fame: Poetry and Lore from the Emirati Oral Tradition
al-Mayidi ibn Zahir
Marcel Kurpershoek (translation)
Hardback, 400 pages
Bilingual Arabic-English edition
Poems and tales of a literary forefather of the United Arab Emirates
Love, Death, Fame features the poetry of al-Māyidī ibn Ẓāhir, who has been embraced as the earliest poet in what would later become the United Arab Emirates. Although little is known about his life, he is the subject of a sizeable body of folk legend and is thought to have lived in the seventeenth century, in the area now called the Emirates. The tales included in Love, Death, Fame portray him as a witty, resourceful, scruffy poet, at times combative and at times kindhearted.
His poetry primarily features verses of wisdom and romance, with scenes of clouds and rain, desert migrations, seafaring, and pearl diving. Like Arabian Romantic and Arabian Satire, this collection is a prime example of Nabaṭī poetry, combining vernacular language of the Arabian Peninsula with archaic vocabulary and images dating to Arabic poetry’s very origins. Distinguished by Ibn Ẓāhir’s unique voice, Love, Death, Fame offers a glimpse of what life was like four centuries ago in the region that is now the UAE.