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LucyHamilton AnextractfromasonnetversionofThe LegendofLallaMaghnia

Lalla Maghnia is a Muslimwarrior-saint, or holywoman, of Algerianmythandlegend. She lived, loved, fought battles, married, had children, performed miracles and finally died younginNorthernAlgeria, whereshewas Raj-es-Salinof the religious centre (Zaouïïa) inMaghnia, the towntowhichshe gavehername. Itseemslikely thatLallaMaghnialivedaround 1750CE, justbeforetheonsetof colonialism. My source is La Léégende de Lalla Maghnia, D’Aprèès La TraditionArabe, byA. Maraval-Berthoin(L’EditionD’Art, H. Piazza, Paris, 1927). This is abookof 42chapters inhighly poeticprose. Eachchapter tells its ownlittlestoryandwhile the narrative is certainlylinear, the passage of time between onechapterandthenextcanbeaday, several monthsoryears. Inmy sonnet version, for the most part, eachof the 46 poems corresponds to its original chapter. I have aimedto retaintheeventsof theoriginal storyand, intranslating, tobe faithful to the general meaning, more particularly to the language where I’ve hadtotake aspects of Muslimreligious practiceontrust.

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