This was the first time we've worked on a literal translation produced by participants at one of our community workshops. The literal version of 'Perfection' was produced - after much lively discussion - during a workshop for Somali speakers led by Maxamed Xasan 'Alto'. As with that workshop, we were very lucky that the poet, Faysal Aw-Cabdi Axmed, was able to join us.

The workshop opened with Alto and Faysal explaining the conventions of the gabay to us. This is one of the most important forms in Somali verse. If you look at the Somali original, even if you don't speak Somali you can instantly tell that the poem is based on alliteration, in this case on the letters 'dh' which always appear twice in a line, much in the way that alliteration functioned in Old English (Anglo-Saxon) verse.

If you've ever wondered what Somali culture demands of its womenfolk, this poem exhaustively elaborates their virtues.

* We had a detailed description from Faysal of what the dhamas tree looks like. Here's a link to it on Wikipedia and here it is on a stamp from the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen found by Alto.

Gabay jacayl ah