Folk love stories 1: Badr and Warda

National Folklore Archive, Tuesday 14 Feb 2012

On Valentine's Day, we highlight some of the great love stories in Egypt's folklore heritage

Badr and Warda
Badr and Warda

You who fall in love, the eyes are to blame

If I can now, I will cry with tears

So many people love unwisely

Listen to this extraordinary tale of love

I wrote it and am telling it, it's all about love

Stay with me and you'll know the meaning of love

If your are in love, the eyes are to blame


I get the papers regularly and I read them

News, stuff, thoughts, and all the rest

What I write is art unlike the art of others

Life is all appearances, greed and love, too

A good man who's poor is despised and scorned

And those who rise high, their souls may be empty

Money can help, though, it alleviates suffering


I heard a strange tale, people were writing about it

It happened in Syria and our papers said a lot about it

He who appreciates art should pay attention

It's a tale about a man of good origin

His name is Haj Mahmoud and he had an easy life

He is a chief of a tribe and his family is well-off

And he has a good name and is charitable also


He is a brave man and respected in general

He has a home in Aleppo and is used to helping others

He has a daughter who is famed for her beauty

Her name is Warda (Rose) and she is incomparable

Educated, too, more than all other girls

So many lovers would die to have her

Her beauty is astounding, utterly incredible


If she would ride a horse, the camel would cry

Her words are music, a balm for aching hearts

Men who saw her became enamoured

Her hobby is to hunt gazelles, just like a man

She knows how to wield weapons, too

One day she comes home at sunset and she sees something

She sees a beautiful man sitting near her palace crying


So her heart feels for him, gets soft, melts

A lost soul abandoned to his fate

She says, maybe he came to complain of a grievance

Tears are running down his cheeks, he looks forsaken

She goes to him and says, who hurt you?

He says: Your father did, without mercy

These days, no one plays fair


She says: Tell me all about it, hide nothing

Why are you so sad and crying away

If my father hurt you, I will set things right

He says: My name is Badr and I am your cousin

My father died and things got bad

I went to your father, hoping he would help

He kicked me out, taking no pity on me


The girl's heart goes soft and she feels sorry

She says: My father, o brother, why has he acted so

Let's listen to some music on the radio

She says: Mother, do you know who's that?

This is Badr, my cousin, my own flesh and blood

If my father is in trouble, he can depend on Badr

And if he is killed, Badr would take his revenge


The mother, disapproving, says: How awful

Relatives can be estranged when evil sets in

Like the sails of boats, they are blown with the wind

Your father, Mahmoud, is not soft-hearted

He doesn't like Badr and wouldn't want him around

And if you're not careful, he will turn against you, too

People will wag their tongues if this happens


She (the mother) says: Badr, you leave now

Your uncle doesn't want you, and I cannot help

Suddenly, his uncle comes and looks at the boy

He (the father) says: Why did you come?

How many times should I tell you to stay away

He (Badr) says: My uncle, time will bring you to me

In the middle of the night, you'll ask for my help

He goes away saddened, tears in his eyes

He says: Life is not to be trusted, its joy not lasting

My uncle has hurt me and made me cry

But his cousin feels for him

Her heart now swept in a sea of love

She says: Mother, I miss Badr

Cannot forget his words, he made me cry


He is sorry for me, and I for him

If my heart is made of stone, it would have melted

And you, mother, said harsh things to him

From our house, you chased him, so unfair you acted

Tell my father to invite my cousin and be good to him

Since he left, I hasn't had much sleep

For my heart is burning with love for him

Suddenly, her father comes with a man

Haj Mahrous, a rich man, is talking marriage

He is a tribal chief and has a strong clan

And he wants her to marry his son, Hamad

The girl says: Mother, father is spoiling it all

I cannot possibly marry a man I don't love


I don't wish to live in pain, not if I can help it

I cannot let the one with the broken heart suffer

I have to share his sorrow day and night

Badr, I am going to apologise to him for what happened

A poor man may one day rise in status

The son of Mahrous, I cannot take for husband

This is not a life that I am willing to endure


The father comes to ask her mother about her

He sees Warda drowning in tears

He asks the mother: What's wrong with her?

She said: It's about Badr, whom we have mistreated

The father, incensed, takes a solemn oath

I will do what I want and she'll obey me

She'll see the man who comes with a marriage offer

What I say will be, whether she consents or not


I don't brook opposition, she will meet the man

We will slay an animal, as custom is

She goes to see the visitor, brings him coffee

She pours the coffee for him and begins to speak

She says: My cousin is engaged to me, have mercy

You cannot force me to marry against my heart

The marriage will fail and end in scandal


This she says to the man who came asking for her hand

Do a good deed and reunite the lovers

He who does so will be rewarded with paradise

Look at my eyes and see the tears flowing

I have told you everything, spilled out my heart

Don't extinguish my flame, I have cried enough already

He who does a good deed goes to paradise


He who separates lovers goes to hell

Haj Mahrous falls silent at the sight of her tears

He says: You talked like a princess, so honourable

You desire your cousin, and I understand

I promise you I will come back this month

And reunite you with your cousin this month

And will be true to my word, my lovely girl

If I have to pay your dowry I will


Before he leaves, he says to her father:

What's the matter with you?

You and I have lost sight of things

We are good men and worthy of good things

We are proud and we have our dignity

Your two children know what they want

And today's children are not to be opposed

If we force them to act against their will

They will disobey and bring us dishonour


He goes away, aching in his heart

This is a man who came on behalf of a suitor

And many others came for the same purpose

A third suitor of this same girl was determined

His name was Raslan, a ruffian and a criminal

A thief and a murderer and a despicable creature

He says to Warda's father: She's the only one for me

I will do some damage if I don't have her


I don't fear anyone, big or powerful

If you, my prince, give me your consent, that'll be fine

And if you don't, I will have to shoot you

I swear to God, you cannot run away

If you hide, the fire of love will make me find you

I will shoot you dead and be satisfied

And once you're dead, I will take her to be mine


Haj Mahmoud says:

Raslan, this is not a way to talk

You, Raslan, and your brother Majdan, are bad news

I am the chief around here and you don't scare me

Everyone knows I am a man  of  honour

As long as I live, I will defend my honour

My daughter is out of bounds for you

I would kill her rather than let you touch her

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