The Voice of Egypt, And God's Gift to Earth: Umm-Kalthoum's Passing Away Anniversary Today.

Who is Umm-Kalthoum? Some of you might be asking now... Well, here are some few inauguratory words on the occasion of the 39th Anniversary of her death.

A photo-collage I made especially for the memory of Umm.

Many tried to be like her, but many fell short of being half her glory.

There wasn't a single performer; be they male or female, who had her Voice; who possessed of her magic.

Umm-Kalthoum stood firm as 'The Fourth Pyramid' in the Egyptian land of the Nile, and died there standing like a giant thirty-nine years ago today.

Some even call her, though as the 'First Pyramid', while most do refer to her as Kawkab Asharq ('The Eastern Star'), and Arabs love to just call her "el-Sett", or simply, 'The Lady'.

I have become very interested in collecting all of el-Sett's live concerts, lately
those rare acts of sheer ecstasy unseen anywhere in the realm of music whether modern or old, or in between. And, I am so very proud and chuffed to see my personal collection growing way past the 500 live performances (sometimes reaching an apex of 24 different renditions for the same 'piece').

It fills me with happiness to also be an Arab who understands the words that many poets and song-writers have worked so hard to arrange and attribute to this wonderful Lady of The East. Only last year, I entertained the thought of translating some of the poems that she sang, and my first, humble attempt was 'Aghadan Alkaq' (Words: Al-Hady Adam; a Sudanese poet, Composed by Mohammed Abdel-Wahab):

Aghadan Alkaq

Tomorrow, Shall I Meet You?

أغداً ألقاك؟ يا خوف فؤادي من غدٍ

Tomorrow, shall I meet you? Oh, how my heart trembles of that day!

يا لشوقي وإحتراقي في إنتظار الموعد

Behold the eagerness and how I burn in return,

آه كم أخشى غدي هذا وأرجوه إقترابا

Ah, how I fear this Tomorrow of mine, and I beseech it not to delay;

كنت أستدنيه لكن هبته لما أهابا

I used to tempt it to try, but it bickered as I,

وأهلت فرحة القرب به حين استجابا

Yet, the joy of its being near was there when it’d finally obey.

- - -

هكذا أحتمل العمر نعيماً وعذابا

This is how I take this world; with both bliss and pain,

مهجة حرة وقلباً مسه الشوق فذابا
With a burning ember, and a heart melted upon the touch of its own strain,

أنت يا جنة حبي واشتياقي وجنوني

You, the garden of my love; my wantonness, and me being insane;

أنت يا قبلة روحي وانطلاقي وشجوني

You, the pilgrimage for my soul; my fecundity, and my chagrin,

أغداً تشرق أضواؤك في ليل عيوني

Would it be the day when your lights would brighten the night of my eyes, again?

آه من فرحة أحلامي ومن خوف ظنوني

Ah, the lustful dreams! The fear of my doubtful schemes!

- - -

كم أناديك وفي لحني حنين ودعاء

How I call upon thee in such melodies and how I please!

آه رجائي أنا كم عذبني طول الرجاء

Ah, this hope of mine; I was tortured by its stay,

أنا لو لا أنت لم أحفل بمن راح وجاء

I, without you; wouldn’t care who’s here and who’s gone away;

أناأحيا لغد آن بأحلام اللقاء

I live for a Tomorrow drenched in dreams of meeting today,

فأت أو لا تأتي أو فإفعل بقلبي ما تشاء.

So, come or don’t, or just do whichever that you please to do with my heart... it’s okay.

- - -

هذه الدنيا كتاب أنت فيه الفكر

This life is a book and you are its only thought;

هذه الدنيا ليال أنت فيها العمر

This life is just nights you are their days brought;

هذه الدنيا عيون أنت فيها البصر

This life is made of eyes you are their only light;

هذه الدنيا سماء أنت فيها القمر

This life is a sky you are its shining moon caught;

فإرحم القلب الذي يصبو إليك

So, have mercy on this heart only you it sought,

.فغداً تملكه بين يديك

Tomorrow, and in between your palms you’ll hold it taut.

- - -

وغداً تأتلف الجنة أنهاراً وظلاّ

And, Tomorrow we shall enthrall the garden’s rivers and shade;

وغداً ننسى فلا نأسى على ماضٍ تولّى

And, Tomorrow we shall forget as not to regret a past forayed;

وغداً نزهو فلا نعرف للغيب محلا

And, Tomorrow we will thrill as the unknown won’t have a place;

وغداً للحاضر الزاهر نحيا ليس إلا

And, Tomorrow we shall live only for today’s grace;

.قد يكون الغيب حلواً إنما الحاضر أحلى

Yes, true what we don’t know might be sweet, still today stays a sweeter treat.


Umm-Kalthoum's music can be found all over the web, off the web, practically everywhere, but most of her music that is put on CD (and, before that as LPs), was a mere hotchpotch of her Premiere performance, usually cut and pasted into smithereens of disjointed 'couplets', and the result always ended far shorter than the original, full-length performance that normally stretched the two-hour mark.

So, I shall include some of her concert-live 'perfumances' (Note: credit goes to a 72-year-old lady who has the same name of Umm, for coining this portmanteau). These links below were originally sent to this wonderful woman who breathes the beauty of Umm-Kalthoum, and knows the magical infestations of her musical works of art. To you, 'Umm', I shall dedicate this post and the music content inside for everybody.

Enjoy downloading for the moment, while I shall go back to my busy day remembering such a gloriously grand lady as that of Umm-Kalthoum with music, love, and most of all prayers for peace to see the light again in that beautifully ageless land of Egypt where a lot of innocent blood was shed as of late. Music unites us not religions, and never countries and false chauvinism.

May the eternal Light of God shine on that Biblical land again... This time, forever.


Be well, everybody.



AmbroseBierce said...

Bravo, Hytham Hammer, great post!

bwana said...

Awesome! I am grateful for all those recordings but may I ask about the low bitrate? Is it for copyright reasons or something? Iraklis from Greece

Hammer said...

The low bitrate was intended (64 kips), because all of these files were sent over email to the Umm-Kalthoum fan who've asked me for them.

High, or low-bitrate doesn't really affect the quality of these MP3s simply because the source they're taken from; mostly Internet forums for collectors and radio-recorders of Umm-Kalthoum's music, comes already lower than 64 kips (sometimes as low as 16).

These places are the only available source for these rare live recordings of Umm-Kalthoum by the way, and the majority of the forum-users who upload these files aren't particularly tech-savvy, or are allowed only to upload their files in low-bitrate to save capacity.

So, basically it's all the better bitrate, actually.



Anonymous said...

gnawa post please

AG said...

thank you so much for this!

j8j88 said...

Your translation is just awesome. Please translate more, lesser well known songs :) Thanks