Which Is the Tyrant?

Which is the tyrant? say you.  Well, ’tis he
That has the vine-leaf strewn among his hair
And will deliver countries to the care
Of courtesans — but I am vague, you see.

Abu al-‘Ala’ al-Ma’arri (973-1057), born in Ma’arra in what is today Syria, was a poet and philosopher.  This poem is from The Diwan of Abu’l-Ala (Trans. Henry Baerlein, London: John Murray, 1909).  See, also, Abu al-‘Ala’ al-Ma’arri, “None to Lead but Reason” (MRZine, 2 May 2011).

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