Ooggii horay nagu keceen – They Pounced at Dawn (Somali & English)

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ORIGINAL POEM BY

Ismaciil Mire

TRANSLATED BY

  • Martin Orwin

Ooggii horay nagu keceen

Naagyahay awow iyo awow iyo abkaan sheegto
Iyo anigu abidkay ma arag iibsi lacageede
Aqdaan buu lahaan jirey raggaan ka isirraa waaye
Ol’olaan wax kaga qaybsan jirey ululuf duullaane
Maruun baan umaamaday waxaan aabbahay faline
Afar waxaan u dhaxay tuuladii awrta loo raraye
Albaabki Burcaan tegay anoo aaladii sida e
Amminkiiba lay yimid sidii eegi lay yahaye
Ooggii horay nagu kaceen adhi dillaalkiiye
Dar imaanka laga qaaday baa noo aloogsadaye
Amankaagay goortay wankii araxda tuujeene
Intaa weeye iyo ma ahadii la is-ilaaqaayey
Asaraartankii baa qalbiga aad wax ii dhimaye
Il maroojihii bay khatalay kii aan aaminaye
Afar bawlad laga gooyey bay igu asluubeene
Anigoo arkaayaa gamcaha laygu iibsadaye
Adhigaad i weydiinaysaan uun kalow baxaye
Kuwo boqonta ood laga sudhay ila ahaayeene
Ushaa jeedal iyo suufaf bay igu illaaweene
Ascaartaba rag bayga badshee idinku weydiiya

They Pounced at Dawn

Honestly, my wife, not one of my forefathers
Nor I have ever once traded with money.
Our ancestors always had camels,
And I got my share from the camel raids.
Only once I ventured where my father never went.
I loaded the camels; it took four nights to reach the village.
The minute I got to the gate of Burco with my goods,
The brokers pounced as if they knew I was coming.
As dawn broke, the sheepsellers set upon us.
Godless men gathered against us.
I was struck dumb when they prodded the sheep.
‘It’s worth this much’, ‘No it isn’t’, they haggled bluntly.
Their squabbling distressed me.
I trusted the man with the squint but he cheated me.
They tried to placate me with less than four shillings,
While I watched the hands that swindled me.
As for the sheep you’re all asking about, they are now with
   men
Who deserve to be strung up on thorns by their heels.
All I was left with was rags and a stick.
Some men know more about money than me. Ask them!

SOURCE: The Poetry Translation Center