War poetry, as a genre, is hugely popular. These poems vividly paint the trauma, the pain, the loss, the atrocities and every nightmare war leaves us with... yet we are at it.
Here's a poet of the sixth century whose dramatic descriptions of battles have touched many hearts. Bisher Bin Khazim Al Asadi is a pre-Islamic poet from the Arabian Peninsula who also wrote nature poems. He had forty-six poems of his published in 1960 from Damascus.
You can listen to Asadi's poem addressed to his daughter in Ahmad Towaiq voice on O's podcast
A summary of the poem
This poem is a goodbye from the poet to his daughter. The poet is on the battlefield fighting his enemies with the hope that he will return home once the battle is over. However, in the battle a deadly arrow pierces his chest. Bleeding heavily and in the final moments to his death, the poet remembers his daughter and addresses this poem to her.
The poet commences the poem by describing the familiar scene of a victorious army returning home where the families of the heroic warriors hail their triumph and return. However, as families reunite, the poet speaks of his daughter, Omairah, who worriedly continues looking for her father among the returning men.
The poet proceeds by expressing his sympathy for his daughter as she relentlessly searches for him, although in vain. “Little does she know” that a real and brand-new arrow has struck him in the heart.
The poet then informs his daughter that her father would never return home and that she must receive this news with a strong heart. Finally, the father hints Omairah, of his whereabouts; he tells her that he can be found buried next to a great rock near the battlefield where now some rainwater has collected.