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Tarafa (Arabic: طرفة بن العبد بن سفيان بن سعد أبو عمرو البكري الوائلي‎ / ALA-LC: Ṭarafah ibn al-‘Abd ibn Sufyān ibn Sa‘d Abū ‘Amr al-Bakrī al-Wā’ilī), was a 6th century Arabian poet of the tribe of the Bakr. He is one of the seven poets of the most celebrated anthology of ancient Arabic poetry, known as the Mo'allakat, however just one of his poems is included. His fellow poets preserved in this work are Al-Nabigha, Antarah ibn Shaddad, Zuhayr bin Abi Sulma, 'Alqama ibn 'Abada and Imru' al-Qais. Ṭarafah was the half-brother or nephew of the elegist Al-Khirniq bint Badr. [1]

Tarafa's bitter tongue was destined to cost him dear.

Fatigued and disgusted by the rigid ceremony of the court, he improvised a satire in which he said:-

"Would that we had instead of 'Amr
A milch-ewe bleating round our tent"

Shortly afterwards he happened to be seated at table opposite the king's sister. Struck with her beauty, he exclaimed:-

"Behold, she has come back to me,
My fair gazelle whose ear-rings shine;
Had not the king been sitting here,
I would have pressed her lips to mine !"

'Amr b. Hind was a man of violent and implacable temper. Tarafa's satire had already been reported to him, and this new impertinence added fuel to his wrath. Sending for Tarafa and Mutalammis, he granted them leave to visit their homes, and gave to each of them a sealed letter addressed to the governor of Bahrayn. When they had passed outside the city the suspicions of Mutalammis were aroused. As neither he nor his companion could read, he handed his own letter to a boy of Hira and learned that it contained orders to bury him alive. Thereupon he flung the treacherous missive into the stream and implored Tarafa to do likewise. Tarafa refused to break the royal seal. He continued his journey to Bahrayn, where he was thrown into prison and executed.

— Nicholson, A literary history of the Arabs



Note: While some of his poems have been translated into Latin with notes by B. Vandenhoff (Berlin, 1895), both Tharafa and the poet Imru al-Qais were not included by Theodor Nöldeke in his Fünf Moallaqat, übersetzt und erklärt (Vienna, 1899-1901).

  • The seven golden odes of pagan Arabia : known also as the Moallakat; An English translation by Anne Blunt, Lady; Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (London, Chiswick Press, 1903).

References and external links[edit]

  • University at Albany: The Mu'Allaqa of Ibn Tarafa
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tarafa". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 415.
  • Mohammadi Malayeri, M.: Tarikh va Farhang-e Iran Vol. I, Yazdan Publishers, Tehran 1372 Hsh. pp. 242، 267، 291، 292، 374.
  • Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne (1907). A literary History of the Arabs. London: T.F. Unwin. pp. 44, 101, 107–9, 128, 138, 308.


  1. ^ G. J. H. Van Gelder, 'al-Khirniq (d. perhaps c.600)', in Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, ed. by Julie Scott Meisami and Paul Starkey, 2 vols (New York: Routledge, 1998), II 442.
  2. ^ Nicholson 1907, pp. 107-9.
  3. ^ OCLC Classify published works