08 February 2007


I do not know the history of this song. Was it part of a play? It sounds very much like many of Fairuz's songs which were originally part of epic musical plays, numerous plays that the Rahbani brothers wrote and produced. But I have never heard of a play about Zanobia. I am familiar, however, with the musical play Petra, which carries many of the themes that this song Zanobia carries. Anyway, I've listened to this song for so long, and now felt like translating it and posting it. Hope you enjoy the song as well as my translation.

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Zanobia, Zanobia, Listen ...
... The Roman trumpets announce the end of Tadmor.

Tadmor, O star among sunrises, Rome has besieged you,
And your defenders have fallen martyr.
All the way to Basra, your lament can be heard.
O, ye infant among kingdoms.

Flee, Zanobia, flee!
Among the colonnades,
Through secret passageways,
Into the valleys of the ascetics,
And be not humiliated by Rome!
Zanobia, flee!

Even if I were to flee, the land shall never flee.
Everything is fleeing.
This Kingdom of Joy, this infant among kingdoms,
Has escaped from our own hands.

Five years, Zanobia did rule among us.
She built a civilization, and rebelled against Rome.
Five years! Such an abrupt dream they have been, these five years.
Be they five or a hundred years,
Yet they shall pass like a bird,
And time shall consume them,
Time which eats the limestone of walls.

The only thing that shall remain is the honor of the stand,
The outcry in the face of oppression.
The tower has fallen, the walls have been broken,
The soldiers are charging for the Queen,
Like children who run to snatch a toy.

Flee, Zanobia, flee!
And you?
We shall remain, for we are the grasses of this land.
And the storm that passes overhead tears down the high-stemmed roses,
And you are the rose that this storm has come to reap.

I am Zanobia, Queen of this Noble Kingdom.
For the sake of freedom, I choose death,
So give to me the chalice of death.
The Great Queen has rejected oppression and chosen death,
She has chosen forgetfulness.
Wave farewell to Zanobia in the season of tears,
With voices of joy, and with pomegranate leaves.
O Death, you who are the rose of heroes,
You who are the crown of life,
And the bashful gift of love.

O Death, take me by the hand,
Along paths layed down with sleep and contentment.

And people of Tadmor,
Five years of your lives you have lived in liberty,
Possessing your own name and your own sky.
And know that he who has resided in liberty, even for one day,
Never shall Rome be able to take from him his liberty.

I drink my chalice to you, O Death!

Zanobia, you have no escape from Rome, not even in death.
Aurleanos, I reject Rome, and I reject Rome's hegemony.
You have mutinied.
Nay, We have emancipated ourselves.
And you know what will become of you?
I do know. In the streets of Rome shall I be, in metal shackles.
And you shall walk those streets, captured and defeated,
As the Romans stare at the captured queen.
Whatever shall happen is no longer important.
I have played my role, and the role is what is important.
Do not deceive your people! be frank with them,
Tell them that you've been broken and defeated!
Aurleanos, defeat shall pass and so shall victory;
Yet in future days,
Tadmor which now is defeated and Rome which now stands victorious,
Both will become stone,
And you and I shall both be statues in memorial squares.

But in every era and in every place,
A Rome shall rise to tyrannize and oppress,
And a Tadmor shall rise to reject oppression.

And in the very end, in the final pastures of time,
Triumph shall come to Tadmor!
Tadmor is Liberty!
Tadmor is the outcry within the human heart!

Shackle Zanobia! Shackle her and take her to Rome!
The reaping sword shall reap our bodies,
And time shall sit watchful to steal away our days,
If we are to forget Zanobia, and Zanobia's outcry!

Zanobia! Zanobia!
Wave your hands and bid farewell to your Zanobia.
Tell your poets to remain poets,
and tell your rebels to remain rebellious.

The Kingdom of Tadmor is finished from this Earth,
It is now in your hearts, in the cosmos,
It has become your outcry, your fire.

Aurleanos, quickly, take me to Rome,
Their outcry is rising, and growing above the threat of death;
Not your soldiers, Aurleanos, nor the power of Rome,
Nor even Rome in all of its epochs, shall silence their voice!
The reaping sword shall reap our bodies,
And time shall sit watchful to steal away our days,
If we are to forget Zanobia, and Zanobia's outcry!

Zanobia! Zanobia!


transient said...

well, this is timely.

Thanks for posting. I always like it when you translate.

AM said...

I love how you photoshop'd the second picture :)

Well I'm a photography freak ...

Mone said...

Tadmour is very beautiful place...been there several times :)

Abbas said...

so damn. I had no idea. This whole tripped out harmony in addition to being dope--got me wonderin'--like wow the historical stretch of my peeps goes without sayin'--it just goes without sayin'--damn I was moved.

Khawwta said...

Adorable pictures