Baraka Dance


Dancing Poems

This page is dedicated to poetry and songs devoted to Middle Eastern dance/dancers. If you have any poetry or lyrics you would like to share, please e-mail Baraka at

Aksu Black Sea Festival Dancer's Song
Poem Fragments, by Sappho
The Female Tavern Keeper, by Vergil
Introduction To Belly Dancing (lyrics), by Deirdre Flint
Untitled No.1, by Baraka
Untitled No.2, by Baraka
Untitled, by Denise
Untitled, by Lisolette Alaglasia

Aksu Black Sea Festival Dancer's Song

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Poem Fragments
by Sappho

Sappho: A New Translation. Mary Barnard. Berkeley: University of Calafonia Press. 1958
Sappho was a female Greek poet (ca. 610-580 BCE) who lived on the island of Lesbos. She was an aristocrat whose wealth allowed her to live a life studying the arts. Sappho was a lyrist and wrote her poems to be performed with the accompaniment of a lyre (most poets of the day did this). "She was one of the first poets to write from the first person, describing love and loss as it affected her personally. Her style was sensual and melodic; primarily songs of love, yearning, and reflection. Most commonly the target of her affections was female, often one of the many women sent to her for education in the arts. Sappho has become so synonymous with woman-love that two of the most popular words to describe female homosexuality--lesbian and sapphic have derived from her." (Description adapted/quoted from, 10/9/04)


And their feet move

Rhythmically, as tender
feet of Cretian girls
danced once around an

alter of love, crushing
a circle in the soft
smooth flowering grass


Now, while we dance

Come here to us
gentle Gaiety,
Revelry, Radiance

and you, Muses
with lovely hair

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The Female Tavern Keeper
by Vergil

This piece is an invitation by a woman who keeps an inn and pleasure grounds to come in and eat and drink and spend the day merrily. Though not mentioned in the list of Vergil's minor works given by Donatus in his life, it is included in the list given by Servius; the MSS. ascribe it to Vergil and it is quoted as his by Charisius and Priscian, and Mico Levita (A.D. 825-853), the author of a Latin prosody, quotes line 17, as by Vergil. Such places of entertainment were common in the neighbourhood of Rome. Suetonius (Nero, 27) says: "As often as he dropped down the river to Ostia or sailed past the bay of Baiae, the inns set here and there along the banks and shores were got ready, and were notable from their eating-house brothel and the what-we-can-supply-you-with cry of matrons imitating female tavern keepers, and from different directions inviting him to put in to them."

Scanned from Joseph J. Mooney (tr.), The Minor Poems of Vergil: Comprising the Culex, Dirae, Lydia, Moretum, Copa, Priapeia, and Catalepton (Birmingham: Cornish Brothers, 1916). Selection taken from

The hostess, Syrian woman she, her head
With Grecian head-band bound and skilled to move
Her pliant waist beneath the castanet,
Is dancing lewd and drunken in her inn
Ill-famed, at elbow shaking creaking reeds.
"How doth it please a wearied man to be
Away in summer dust in preference
To lying here upon my drinking couch?
For here are gardens, cells, and drinking cups,
With roses, flutes, guitars, and arbour cool
With shady thatch. And see! beneath a grot
Arcadian is a girl who sweetly chats;
In shepherd's mouth a rustic pipe doth sound.
And flattish wine there is, but lately poured
From pitch-cemented cask, and, rustling by,
A stream of water runs with murmur hoarse.
And violets as well there are and wreaths
Of golden flowers, and purple garlands twined
With yellow rose, and lilies gathered from
Her virgin river which the daughter of
A river god in wicker baskets brought.
And cheeses small there are, which baskets made
Of rushes dry. And waxen are the plums
From autumn days. And chestnuts, nuts as well,
And apples blushing sweetly; Ceres here
Is dainty, so is Bacchus, so is Love.
And ruddy mulberries there are, and grapes
In heavy bunches, from its stalk as well
The greenish cucumber doth hang. The hut
Has got a guardian armed with willow scythe,
With monstrous groin, but terrible he's not.
Then come thou hither, frequenter of cells,
Thy wearied little ass is sweating now,
So spare him, for the ass is Vesta's pet.
With frequent song the crickets now do burst
The trees, and now in varied cool retreat
The lizard lieth hid: if thou art wise,
Reclining swill from summer glasses now,
Or if thou art disposed to lift them, drain
Successive cups of crystal. Hither come,
Thou wearied man, and rest beneath the shade of vine,
Thy heavy head with rosy garland twine,
A tender damsel's lovely body with
Her face enjoying. Let him perish, him
To whom doth ancient prudishness belong!
Why sweetly smelling chaplets dost thou keep
For thankless clay? I Or dost thou wish those bones
To be o'erlaid by wreathèd stone? Then set
The wine and dice, and let him perish who
Doth care about to-morrow. Death your ear
Demands and says, 'I come, so live to-day.'"

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Introduction To Belly Dancing (lyrics)
by Deirdre Flint

I signed up for her class to please an inattentive lover,
I kicked him to the curb three classes in.
Two years and four men later, I'm the queen of non-commitment
But I still go to class on Wednesday nights from eight to ten.
Thursday through Tuesday I'll buy those magazines
With the half-translucent models and the articles on pleasing men,
I curse myself at every meal do penance and do buns of steel
And on Wednesday nights I find myself again.

Watch her whirl, watch her sway
Sometimes we go to see her gig down at the Marrakesh cafe
Every movement is a sentence in a fine erotic prayer
I think some answer to my soul is written there.

My classmate Annie says she thinks our teacher leans towards women
No surprise that's how our Ann does sway
She's not the only one to have designs upon our teacher
Your heart leaps like Barishnikov whenever she smiles your way.
Breathlessly she rushes in kicks off her boots takes off her sweater
Hey, she says, I've gained 5 pounds I think it makes the dance much better
We follow her directions, show with pride our imperfections
And I think she thinks we're beautiful.

Watch her whirl, watch her spin
She'd send a guy with a foot fetish three sheets into the wind
And the candlelight throws diamonds in her jasmine scented hair
I think some answer to my soul is woven there.

Sometimes she joins us at the table at the Marrakesh
And the business cards pour in she never reads them
She never thinks about those guys
Who'd gladly leave their well-carved lives
To follow in the naked footsteps of this one
Who'd never need them.

Watch her whirl, watch her spin
Even the veils pay her homage as they dance against her skin
And I long to breathe the secrets that her hands tell to the air
I think some answer to my soul is waiting there.
Yes I long to breathe the secrets that her hands tell to the air
I know some answer to my soul is waiting there.

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Untitled No.1
by Baraka Nikta

All eyes turn
to the figure
whose graceful
flow and ripple
like a mountain stream.

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Untitled No.2
by Baraka Nikta

On the waves of Fresh Air
Terry tentatively prods
the poet laureate of the current conservative political regime
He laments the impossibility of expressing
in poetry
I am reminded of my husband*
a brilliant writer
who has forsaken his pen
all because he is happy
It is elating to know that I bring him joy
but disturbing that I can not be his muse
His ink will not flow regardless of how much I
him to form into words the transient musings of his mind
And it is at this moment that I take
great relief in my own artistry
I am a most blessed artist
for I am an expression of joy
When I dance
I need not be sad or morose
Irreverent to that angst called life
I immerse myself in the most ephemeral of arts
My body glides and quivers with melodic phrases and rhythmical breaks
I reach internally as the external sounds reverberate through my being
It is a personal experience that engages the hearts of those who look on


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by Denise

her moving arm, her pure slender wrist
a moment of perfection;
as if only god sees her dancing

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by Lisolette Alaglasia

The little silver bells hung like water droplets; tinkling
Her veil like a strong Irish mist move about her as
a stratus; ever in orbit, commanded by long slender fingers
as if created just to pluck and pull upon the great sweeping
sheets that move about her like sail boats.

Dark eyes to summon and speak when her lips disappear
to dive under the star spattered mask that covers her mouth,
keeping all her secrets.
In these veils she moves like a butterfly that has bloomed in it's cocoon
and churns beneath.

As the wind dies down slowly, so does she,
each movement lethargic in it's own right.
The petals around her wilt and hang beside her like wings;
defeated although she has won.
With gentle breaths she moves away, her head bowed.

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Page last updated 23/5/08


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