Happy New Year and an Ancient Arab Vegan Poem

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Nicholson, 1921.

I wish you all a prosperous and love filled year ahead and thank you for all of your kindness and support in 2013.

To offer you a source of inspiration to begin the New Year, I share with you an ancient poem written by Al-Ma’arri who was a Syrian poet and philosopher who lived from 973-1057.

I No Longer Steal From Nature

You are diseased in understanding and religion.
Come to me, that you may hear something of sound truth.
Do not unjustly eat fish the water has given up,
And do not desire as food the flesh of slaughtered animals,
Or the white milk of mothers who intended its pure draught
for their young, not noble ladies.
And do not grieve the unsuspecting birds by taking eggs;
for injustice is the worst of crimes.
And spare the honey which the bees get industriously
from the flowers of fragrant plants;
For they did not store it that it might belong to others,
Nor did they gather it for bounty and gifts.
I washed my hands of all this; and wish that I
Perceived my way before my hair went gray!

~ Al-Ma’arri (973-1057), Baghdad.

Source, On Nonhuman Slavery

Published and translated in “Studies in Islamic Poetry and Mysticsm“ by Reynold A. Nicholson. Cambridge University Press, 1921, Cambridge, England.

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40 comments

    1. That is fabulous news! I really hope you enjoy the vegan adventure and discover a whole new world of eating :)

      Good luck and feel free to come by for any advice!

  1. Isn’t that amazing! How did you find this?
    Must have been incredibly hard being vegan then! I will remember this poet when I’m feeling impatient about creating ‘vegan awareness’. Every new post you write, each new commission I take on, each vegan meal we cook for our friends…. changing the world bite by bite, as they say ;-)

    1. Incredible. Must have been so rare to be vegan then also, especially given how relatively recent welfare and sentience understanding etc is. I wonder if he had a following or how many vegans were of his time. Makes me feel proud that this man worked out nature like the majority of mankind in our ‘developed’ world can’t. The fact that milk is for offspring for example, he didn’t require the science and statistics that people still refuse to accept even with facts! Good for him. And yes, I hope this brings you courage in tough times.

      Happy new year :)

  2. if he only could have had blogged!
    aaaaand here comes my usual praise of technology, because as far as I can see, the veggie/vegan numbers are growing, and the public starts asking for animal wellfare and for healthier food options. documentaries like “forks over knives”, books like “eating animals”, numerous vegan food and lifestyle blogs and holistic nutritionists, each of those has helped spread the word. so here’s to a more enlightened, a kinder, and a greener 2014!

  3. Beautiful poem! Such wise words from a poet who lived over 1000 years ago. Wow!! Thanks for sharing, Poppy! Wishing you another beautiful year filled with possibilities and dreams coming true! :)

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful wishes and I wish you a magical year ahead too!

      I agree, the age of this poem was the startling aspect for me, that there were vegans then who must have been a minority beyond anything we can imagine in our lifetime. Incredibly inspiring!

    1. Hi Celeste, Happy New Year to you too! I hope you had a great time at the weddings!
      It’s amazing how long veganism has been around for, I was really surprised. I saw a figure yesterday that said just 2-3% of the UK is vegetarian let alone vegan :(
      Poppy :D

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