Photo of Shira



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

From the Site

Arab Song Translations

By Lennie Clark


From Lennie Clark's Web Site:

Ya Ritni Tir
(I Wish I Were a Bird)


This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the classic song "Ya Ritni Tir", which was sung by Farid al-Atrache, a legendary movie star, vocalist, oud player, and composer. Another spelling sometimes used for this song title is "Ya Raitni Tayr" or "Ya Reitni Teir".

In the 1940's, Egypt's thriving movie industry made Farid, a native of Syria, a major star throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Aficionados of raqs sharqi (the Egyptian name for belly dance) particularly think of Farid al-Atrache in connection with the six movies he made which co-starred Samia Gamal from 1947 through 1952. Many of his songs remain popular today, and continue to be used by many raqs sharqi performers throughout the world.

Farid al-Atrache is one of four vocalists who have achieved legendary status in Egyptian music. The other three are Oum Kalthoum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, and Abdel Halim Hafez.




I wish I were a bird
I would fly around you wherever you go
My eye on you
But this wish is like a dream
I wish the world was owned by my lover and me
I would not leave a second
But it is all "If" and "If"
As a word does not make a house exist*
I wish I were a hair of your eyelash
That I could hear your heartbeat
Or that I was one of your slaves between your hands
Day and night
But it is only a wish


* The expression is similar in meaning to the English one, "If wishes were horses then beggars would ride."



Where to Get Recordings of this Song

Ya Ritni Tir CD Cover


Artist: Farid al-Atrache
CD Title: Ya Ritni Tir

Cairo Road CD Cover  

Artist: Various
CD Title: Cairo Road: Great Songs of the Arab World



Translations of
Farid al-Atrache's Songs on This Site

Other translations of songs performed by Farid al-Atrache on this web site include:




About the Translator

Adel Abdallah is an Egyptian who resides in New Orleans, Louisiana. If you are traveling to that great city, he invites you to stop by the Cafe Picasso, located at 3401 Chartres (on the corner of Chartres and Desire, in the Bywater). The cafe serves delicious Middle Eastern food, and offers shiisha smoking. They are open daily except for Sundays, from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. (Deliveries until 10 P.M.) The phone number is (504) 948-6881.

The translation summary was done by Adel at Lennie Clark's request. Muchisimas gracias to Kruz, (whose Morocco to India ethnic boutique, located in the historic French Quarter, is not-to-be-missed) for suggesting Adel as a translator.


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 To explore all the articles and song translations that once appeared on Lennie's Geocities site, visit Lennie's portal page here on

Lennie Clark



Copyright Notice

This entire web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

All articles, images, forms, scripts, directories, and product reviews on this web site are the property of Shira unless a different author/artist is identified. Material from this web site may not be posted on any other web site unless permission is first obtained from Shira.

Academic papers for school purposes may use information from this site only if the paper properly identifies the original article on using appropriate citations (footnotes, end notes, etc.) and bibliography. Consult your instructor for instructions on how to do this.

If you wish to translate articles from into a language other than English, Shira will be happy to post your translation here on along with a note identifying you as the translator. This could include your photo and biography if you want it to. Contact Shira for more information. You may not post translations of Shira's articles on anybody else's web site, not even your own.

If you are a teacher, performer, or student of Middle Eastern dance, you may link directly to any page on this web site from either your blog or your own web site without first obtaining Shira's permission. Click here for link buttons and other information on how to link.



Explore more belly dance info:

Top >
Belly Dancing >
Middle Eastern Culture >
Index to Middle Eastern Music Section


Share this page!

On Google+

On Facebook


  Top > Belly Dancing > Middle Eastern Culture > Index to Middle Eastern Music Section

| Contact Shira | Links | Search this Site |