Mus’ida Musid, do you still remember the poem you composed when you and I were sitting in Wadi Dur, or have you forgotten it?
Mus’id I dont think anyone could ever forget that trip to Wadi Dur. Surrounded by greenery with the waterfalls cascading into the valleys, and the branches of trees hanging down shading us from the heat of the sun. And the generosity of people there cascading down like the waterfalls.
Mus’ida May God bring us into paradise! Wherever you went you could see the beauty of nature spread before you.
Mus’id Our land is paradise on Earth. The land of fortune and goodness and blessings. When they called it Arabia Felix they knew what they were doing!
Mus’ida Thank God for all his wonder. What reminds me more than anything of that trip to Wadi Dur is the poem you composed which delighted all the other people there. They said it was true knowledge and summed up farming throughout the whole of Yemen.
Mus’id I dont know about that, but Ill recite the poem for you if you want.
Mus’ida Go on!
Mus’id Come, listen all you from the land and towns, Our drink all comes from rain, Our bread is mixed with millet, Sorghum and wheat our grain, Our stores are filled with fodder. We praise God in the early rising, And ask him to relieve our troubles. We tend the sheep and cattle. We make bricks from dung, Come rain or shine we take the crops to market. And there well buy the wife a scarf, Or black peas for the evening. There, thats my bit of wisdom for you!
Mus’ida And a wisdom that all the farmers in Yemen would recognise. The sweetness of the soil! The soil never fails, its only the farmer who fails to deliver.
Mus’id Exactly! The land doesnt fail, and men dont fail, but failure is a feature of the time we live in.
Mus’ida Theres no failure in time. Time is quite peaceable, but sowing has its seasons. Failure results from some men leaving the land and agriculture because they want to reach the stars without wings or feathers.
Mus’id Dont worry about that, Musida! They say the plain of Jahran lies before the gazelle. Space and the stars are there for scientists and all to see, but the land is a hidden treasure, and those who uncover it can eat. But the initiative lies with people who want to do well, whether they head for the stars or sow the land, dont you think, Musid?
Mus’ida I certainly do! Space travel needs science and experiments and something to fly with, and tilling the land needs the hoe and the plough and strong forearms. Men, if you tell her, Turn! shell turn, for the cow knows the call of the ploughman, and she knows the farmer and the owner of land.1
Mus’id And the Yemeni philosopher also says, If you want to escape from death, no one can escapes deaths call, but if you want to escape from hunger, take yourself to Suhul Ibn Naji.2
Mus’ida And if the valleys of Suhul Ibn Naji were all to answer with their terraces and fields and with their crops and goodness, the earth would be overwhelmed by agricultural produce of all types, and we and everyone from far and wide would be able to eat our fill for ever!
Mus’id Listen! The Yemeni philosopher said, A plot of land or a good son is enough If all the valleys of Yemen in every province were to answer our call, then we would have so much agricultural produce we wouldnt know what to do with it! God bless the Yemeni philosopher when he said, He who does go to his land between the shafts of the plough, will end up greeting his children in one village in the morning, and in another in the evening.
Mus’ida Oh yes! Musid said,
Mus’id Come, listen all you,
Mus’ida From the land and towns,
Mus’id Our drink all comes from rain,
Mus’ida Our bread is mixed with millet,
Mus’id Sorghum and wheat our grain,
Mus’ida Our stores are filled with fodder.
Mus’id We praise God in the early rising,
Mus’ida And ask him to relieve our troubles.
Mus’id We tend the sheep and cattle.
Mus’ida We make bricks from dung,
Mus’id Come rain or shine we take the crops to market.
Mus’ida And there well buy the wife a scarf,
Mus’id Or black peas for the evening.
1 Saying from Ali ibn Zayid.
2 Places are often named after people. Said to be Suhul ibn Naji ibn Asad al-Tubai al-Himyari. A place in Ibb province well known for its crops. al-Hajari, al-Qadi Muhammad ibn Ahmad, Majmu Buldan al-Yaman wa-Qabailha, Sana, 1984, II, 418.