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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

From the Site

Arab Song Translations

By Lennie Clark

Lennie

Sawwah
(Vagabond)

 

Photo of Abdel Halim Hafez

This page contains a translation into English of the song lyrics for "Sawah". Also included is a transliteration into the Roman alphabet of the original Arabic lyrics. This song was first popularized by Abdel Halim Hafez.

Abdel Halim Hafez was at the peak of his popularity in the 1960's, famous both as a singer and as a movie star. He was known as the "Dark Nightingale." He has achieved legendary status in Egyptian music.

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

Lyrics: Mohammed Hamza
Music: Baligh Hamdy

 

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Listen to MP3 Clips of this Song

Note Sung by Abdel Halim Hafez
Note Performed by the Salatin al Tarab Orchestra

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Lyrics

Note from Shira: Two different transliterations and translations of this song have been contributed to this web site. I have decided to make both available. Song lyrics are poetry, and it can be challenging for a translator to communicate nuances of meaning. By having two translations to use, you can explore two different people's ideas on how to convey these nuances.

 

Translation by Nicole Ibrahaim, Provided by Amina Goodyear

Arabic Lyrics

English Translation

Sawah, wei mashee feil beilaad, sawah Vagabond, and walking between countries, vagabond
Weil khatwa beinee wei bein habibee barah And the step between me and my beloved [is] big
Meish war bei-eed, wana feeh gareeh A long journey, and I'm wounded from it
Weil leil yei-arab, weil nahar rawah And the night approaches, and the day goes
   

Chorus:

Chorus:

Wein laakom habibee, saleimulee alei And if you see my beloved, say "Hello" to him [her]
Tameinuneel asmaranee, amla eil el ghorba fee Reassure me: how is my brown-looking girl doing so far away
   
Sawah, wana mashee layalee Vagabond, I'm walking all night
Sawah, walla daree bhalee Vagabond, not knowing what I'm doing
Sawah, meil for-a ya ghalee Vagabond, and the separation, oh my dear
Sawah, eih elee garalee Vagabond, what has happened to me?
Weisneen, weisneen wana dayeib bsho' wei haneen And years, years, and I'm melting in loneliness and tenderness
Ayeiz a-araf bass taree-u meinein I want to know just where is his [her] road
   

Repeat Chorus

Repeat Chorus

   
Ya eounee, ah ya eounee, My eyes, oh my eyes
Eih garalak fein enta, wei bta-meil eih What has happened to you and what are you doing?
Ya znounee, ah ya znounee mat seibounee My worries, oh my worries, leave me alone
Meish naaeis ana heer aleil I'm worried enough about him [her]
Lana areif ar-taah, wana ta-yeih sawaah Neither can I rest, and I'm lost like a vagabond
   

Repeat Chorus

Repeat Chorus

   
Ya amar ya naseenee Oh moon, who is forgetting me?
Raseenee alee ghayeib Take me to the absent one
Nawarlee, wareenee, seikeit el habayeib Enlighten me, show me the road to the beloved
Waseitak, weiseiya, ya shaheid alaya I've made you promise, you who witnessed
Teikeelu alei beiya To tell him [her] of my state
Weilee aseito blayaleiya And what I've suffered during my nights.

 

Translation Provided by Linda Grondahl

Note from Lennie Clark: A viewer has noted that an alternate translation of the title "Sawah" would be "together". This is translated by Nabil Gheith, who translated songs for me for about three years," writes Linda. "He taught Arabic at the Defense Language School. The spelling is edited by Amina of the Aswan Dancers.

Arabic Lyrics

English Translation

Sawah, wei maashee feil beilaad, saway Vagabond, and walking between countries, vagabond.
Weil khatwa beinee wei bein habibee barah And the step between my beloved and me is "big"
Meish war bei-led, wana feeh hareib A long journey, and I'm wounded in it
Weil leil yei-arab, weil nahar rawah And the night approaches as the day departs
   

Chorus:

Chorus:

Wein laakom habibee, saleimulee alei And if you see my beloved, say "hello" to him
Tameinuneel asmaranee, amla eil el ghorba fee Reassure me how my brown-skinned girl is doing so far away
   
Sawah, wana maashee layalee Vagabond, I'm sleepwalking [literally, walking nights]
Saway, wall daree bhalee Vagabond, not knowing what I'm doing
Saway meil for-a ya ghalee Vagabond, and the separation, oh my dear
Sawah, eih elee garalee Vagabond, what has happened to me?
   
We-saneen we-sneen wana dayeb bsho' wei haneen And years and years and I'm melting in loneliness and tenderness
Ayiz a-araf bass taree-o meineen I want to know, just where is his road?
   

Chorus

Chorus

   
Ya eounee ah ha eounee My two eyes, oh my two eyes
Eih garalak fein inta wei bi meil eih What has happened to you and what are you doing?
Ya znounee a ya znounee mat seibounee My worries, oh my worries, leave me alone
Meish naaeis ana hier aleil I'm worried enough about him
Lala areif ar-taah wana la-yeih sawaah Neither can I rest, and I'm lost, like a vagabond
   

Chorus

Chorus

   
Ya amar ya naseenee Oh moon, who's forgetting me
Raseenee alee ghayeib Take me to the person who is absent
Nawarlee wareenee seikeit el habayeib Enlighten me, show me the road to my loved one
Waseitak weseiya ya shaheid alay I've made you promise, you who witnessed
Teikeelu alei beiya To tell him of my state
Weilee aseitoo blayaleija And what I've suffered during my nights

 

 

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Where to Get Recordings of this Song

Anthology 1964-1969  Album Cover

Note

Listen to Clip

Artist: Abdel Halim Hafez
CD Title: Anthology 1965 - 1969

Belly Dance 2000

Note

Listen to clip

Artist: Salatin al Tarab Orchestra
CD Title: Belly Dance 2000
Gems of the Middle East Volume 2 Album Cover

 

Artist: Mary Ellen Donald & Mimi Spencer
CD Title: Gems of the Middle East, Volume 1

To contact her:

Mary Ellen Books
P.O. Box 411562
San Francisco, CA 94141-1562
U.S.A.

Telephone: (+1) (510) 654-DRUM or (+1) (510) 654-3786

Web Site: www.maryellendonald.com

 

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Translations of
Abdel Halim Hafez's Songs On This Site


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Acknowledgements

About the Source of the First Translation

This translation and transliteration appear on my web site with permission from Amina Goodyear, who hired Nicole Ibrahim to do them for her. Many thanks to Amina for agreeing to let me share it with you!!!

Amina is a Middle Eastern dance artist based in San Francisco, California, USA, and the director of the Aswan Dancers. Her band, the Arabian Nights, plays every Friday plus the third Sunday of every month at the Grapeleaf in San Francisco. Her studio features weekly belly dance classes (taught by Amina) and drum classes (taught by her daughter Susu). Amina regularly pays native speakers of Middle Eastern languages to do translations like this one for her to use in her classes.

About the Source of the Second Translation

This is translated by Nabil Gheith, who translated songs for me for about three years," writes Linda Grondahl, the person who made this translation available to this web site. "He taught Arabic at the Defense Language School."

Linda Grondahl's background is that of a devoted lover of Arabic music and dance. She danced with Amina and the Aswan Dancers for many years. She took Arabic percussion with Mary Ellen Donald, Su Su Pampanin, George Dubai, Vince Deldado, and Tony Lammam. She took Arabic singing from Nicole Ibrahim, Mimi Spencer, Georges Lammam. On the oud, she studied under Nazir Latouf, Mimi Spencer, Abdullah Kdough. She was a member of the Aswat Arab-American Choir under the direction of Elias Lammam. She is now a member of the El Ashaab dance troupe, and Tahneen, the all-girl, all-American Middle eastern music ensemble. They have played for Arab and American events, and for many years at the Rakassah festival.

"I just saved whatever I could get my hands on, for years", writes Linda, "and really don't know why. It was always so dificult to get music, so I just kept on saving."

Linda lives in San Francisco, California. Her favorite color is any shade of purple.

About the Source

This article originally appeared on Lennie Clark's web site, "Arabic Song Translations." Lennie created this web site in 2002 as a response to discussion on the Internet regarding incidents of dancers who performed inappropriate sensual dances to religious music. Lennie's web site resided on a free web hosting service known as Geocities.

When the planned October 2009 closure of the Geocities web hosting service was announced, Lennie and Shira agreed to move the contents of Lennie's site to Shira.net. To explore all the articles and song translations that once appeared on Lennie's Geocities site, visit Lennie's portal page here on Shira.net.

Lennie Clark

 

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