Zaghrouta – The Arabic Epithalamium or Poem for the Bride

Day Three of NaPoWriMo, and I have been challenged. When I first read the writing prompt from NaPoWriMo.net I immediately thought of the chants done by the family and friends of the bride at Arabic weddings. I’ve been to enough weddings that the description of an Epithalamium sounded more than familiar. They start out  with an “Oh wee …..” and end with the ululating “lalalalalaleesh….”. Hey, it’s  the old world, old skool version of free style rapping. It took me all day to find a video on YouTube, and I finally found one that shares the spirit of fun and celebration. Thank you to Diwan Baladna, my mother in law and my Jordanian friends for their help on defining what a zaghrouta is.

Here is NaPoWrimo’s prompt:

Well, it’s spring, when a young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of love and where there’s love, there’s marriage. Indeed, April marks the beginning of “wedding season,” and so I challenge you today to write anepithalamium (somethimes also called an epithalamion). This is nothing more or less than a poem celebrating a wedding. The first such poems were popular in the classical world, and were typically addressed to brides. The modern versions are a bit more expansive, and needn’t address just the bride, but can address the whole idea of the wedding, both partners, weddings in general, etc. Your epithalamium could be about an upcoming wedding, about the wedding of an already-married couple, or some sort of imaginary ur-wedding, if you like. No particular form, length, or rhyme scheme required!

I’m not exactly pleased with the outcome of today’s poem. I’m actually cringing at the thought of posting it, but I’ve got years to get it down before my girls get married. By then, I’ll have notebooks filled with them, as the girls in the accompanying video have.

O daughter, you are like the light of the moon
O daughter, your time has come to leave us soon.
It’s our day to celebrate!

O niece, stand tall with all your grace
O niece, be happy with a smiling face
O niece, although no one can take your place
It’s our day to celebrate!

O sister, you are jasmine in full bloom
O sister, breathless in your sweet perfume
O sister, join your loving groom
O sister, now I’ll have my own bedroom.
It’s our day to celebrate!

O friend, he seems like one cool dude.
O friend, as his Mrs. you’ve debuted
O friend, now you’re in charge of making the food
O friend, before you know it you’ll have a whole brood
O friend, it’ll be up to you to keep them shoed and shampooed
O friend, how’d my well meant poem get so misconstrued?
It’s our day to celebrate!

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3 comments on “Zaghrouta – The Arabic Epithalamium or Poem for the Bride

  1. Amazing, amazing effort! I can’t believe you aren’t happy with it. That’s the stuff immortality is made of… my own bedroom indeed! Loved it. What a great idea…

    • Momma, thanks for your great comment! I had some pretty high heels to fill in writing that poem, and as you know I’m a flats kinda gal. The ladies who do these take their craft quite seriously, and I’m not sure my version fully evoked the spirit of the occasion. I’d love to try again when I know the bride personally. It’s a big step up from the measly birthday limerick.

  2. I looooveee it!

    Why are you cringing? You are ready, this epithalamium is ready!

    Oh weeee aaah!……..

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