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DESCRIPTION IN

CLASSICAL ARABIC
POETRY:
WASF, EKPHRASIS,
AND INTERARTS
THEORY
AKIKO MOTOYOSHI SUMI
BRILL
DESCRIPTION IN CLASSICAL ARABIC POETRY
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BRILL STUDIES IN
MIDDLE EASTERN LITERATURES
SUPPLEMENTS TO THE
JOURNAL OF ARABIC LITERATURE
The series Studies in Arabic Literature has now expanded its purview to include
other literatures (Persian, Turkish, etc.) of the Islamic Middle East. While
preserving the same format as SAL, the title of the expanded series will be Brill
Studies in Middle Eastern Literatures (BSMEL). As in the past, the series aims to
publish literary critical and historical studies on a broad range of literary
materials: classical and modern, written and oral, poetry and prose. It will also
publish scholarly translations of major literary works. Studies that seek to
integrate Middle Eastern literatures into the broader discourses of the humanities
and the social sciences will take their place alongside works of a more technical
and specialized nature.
EDITED BY
Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych
VOLUME XXV
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DESCRIPTION IN
CLASSICAL ARABIC
POETRY
WAF, EKPHRASIS, AND INTERARTS THEORY
BY
AKIKO MOTOYOSHI SUMI
BRILL
LEIDEN

BOSTON
2004
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This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sumi, Akiko Motoyoshi.
Description in classical Arabic poetry : waf, ekphrasis, and interarts theory / by Akiko
Motoyoshi Sumi.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
ISBN 90-04-12922-7 (alk. paper)
1. Arabic poetryHistory and criticism. 2. Ekphrasis. I. Title.
PJ7541.S84 2003
892.71009dc22
2003057806
ISSN 0169-9903
ISBN 90 04 12922 7
Copyright 2004 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored
in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written
permission from the publisher.
Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal
use is granted by Brill provided that
the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright
Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910
Danvers, MA 01923, USA.
Fees are subject to change.
PRINTED IN THE NETHERLANDS
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To the memory of my mother
Tomoko Motoyoshi
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CONTENTS
Preface ........................................................................................ ix
Acknowledgments ........................................................................ xv
A Note on Translation and Transliteration ............................ xvii
Introduction ................................................................................ 1
Chapter One
Contest as Ceremony: A Pre-Islamic Poetic Contest in
Horse Description of Imru" al-Qays vs. 'Alqamah
al-Fal ...................................................................................... 19
Chapter Two
Remedy and Resolution: Bees and Honey-Gathering in
Two Hudhal Odes ................................................................ 61
Chapter Three
Reality and Reverie: Wine and Ekphrasis in the 'Abbsid
Poetry of Ab Nuws and al-Butur .................................. 92
Chapter Four
Sensibility and Synaesthesia: Ibn al-Rms Singing
Slave-Girl ................................................................................ 122
Chapter Five
Poetry and Portraiture: A Double Portrait in a Panegyric
by Ibn Zamrak ...................................................................... 155
Conclusion .................................................................................. 194
Appendix of Arabic Texts ........................................................ 199
Works Cited ................................................................................ 235
Index ............................................................................................ 243
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PREFACE
At present, we scarcely nd secondary literature on the subject of
classical Arabic poetry or the qadah studied from the perspective of
modern Western literary theories and interartistic perspectives. This
book demonstrates that those contemporary theories are useful for
discovering and reconstructing a possible original meaning of the
qadah.
This study was submitted in its original version as a doctoral dis-
sertation to the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures,
Indiana University (October 2001); the study has now been reassessed
and revised. The subject of the study is waf or description as one
of the salient characteristics of the qadah tradition. We nd some-
thing similar to waf in the Western tradition under the name of
ekphrasis. Originally interpreted in the Western rhetorical tradition
as clear and distinct description of any object, ekphrasis in its mod-
ern understanding bears a more limited sense, verbal representa-
tion of non-verbal texts. In this modern conception, ekphrasis is
concerned with the transdisciplinary eld of intermedial and inter-
arts studies.
This study aims at reexamining the functions and signicance of
waf in a selected group of Arabic qadahs. My goal is to reveal
unrecognized aesthetic dimensions in the qadah genre in a way that
is consistent with Western critical discourse. I employ various theo-
ries of culture and anthropology, of art history, and of interarts stud-
ies, including the concept of ekphrasis, which refers to the representation
in verbal art of the other arts: painting, singing performance, and
architecture.
The qadah must be analyzed within its conventional framework
in light of its thematic unity and frame of reference (a set of stan-
dards, beliefs, or assumptions governing perceptual or logical evalu-
ation or social behavior).
1
One aspect of classical Arabic poetrys
conventionality, reected in every ode in this study, is its bipartite
1
The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. frame of reference. For its further
meaning, see pp. 12425 in Chap. 4.
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or tripartite structurenasb (elegiac prelude), ral (the poets jour-
ney through the desert and his mount, the she-camel), and fakhr (the
poets praise or boast of himself and his tribe) or mad (court pan-
egyric in which the praise of the ruler substitutes for fakhr)with
polythematic formation. I investigate not only how waf functions in
each section, but also how it furthers or echoes a larger aim of the
entire poem, e.g., boasting or panegyric, both structurally and the-
matically. I do not analyze descriptive sections solely as individual
parts, but in relation to the whole thematic structure of the qadah.
With regard to the frame of reference, I attempt to re-construct
the meaning that the qadah held for its audiences and the eect it
had on them, because the original audience would receive much
more than what is in the text. It is this view that allows me to inter-
pret descriptive passages in an ode as fully integrated into the pan-
egyric function of the entire ode and show the complex interaction
of aesthetic, ideological, political, and self-(pre)serving motivations
that were apparently clear to the original audiences but have been
lost to later critics and scholars.
Hence, I believe that in terms of methodology, a combination of
the consideration of the conventional characteristics of classical Arabic
poetry and modern Western theories serves to clarify the nature of
the genre. Above all, modern Western interarts theories have not
been applied extensively to the qadah before. The concept of con-
test likewise plays a pivotal part in the qadah genre, for it is an
essential incentive for the poets enterprise of waf.
To provide a broader picture of waf and various facets of the
verbal description of other types of art, instead of focusing on one
poet and his works, I have selected eight odes characterized by rep-
resentative descriptive motifs from dierent periods: two odes with
the motif of a horse from the pre-Islamic era (the sixth century C.E.),
two odes with a motif of bees and honey-gathering from the Jhil
(pre-Islamic) and Mukharam (straddling the pre-Islamic and Islamic
age) eras, two odes with a motif of visual arts (a design on a wine
goblet and a wall painting), another on the theme of a singing per-
formance from the 'Abbsid era (the eighth and ninth centuries C.E.),
and one ode with an architectural motif from the Andalusian era
(the fourteenth century C.E.). While descriptions in Chapters One
and Two are investigated in association with the poems cultural and
literary milieu, relying on their related anecdotes (akhbr) and the
ancient symbolism of the poetic objects, the last three chapters attempt
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to examine descriptions from the perspective of the transdisciplinary
area of interarts studies.
Technically speaking, my approach in each chapter except for the
Introduction is the detailed discussion of one or two poems for the
purpose of creating a new reading of the odes. I do not, however,
elaborate every line or phrase. Rather, I focus on sections which are
crucial for my argument. Moreover, I use the word poet to refer
to the maker of a poem, while employing the word persona or
the poets name in quotation marks to indicate the speaker in the
poem.
The Introduction oers the theoretical background for both waf
and ekphrasis, showing how the two concepts were treated and under-
stood in their own literary traditions and the commensurable aspects
of these two concepts. I demonstrate where the Arabic materials
under examination in the following ve case-studies are situated in
light of the understanding of ekphrasis.
The subject of the rst chapter is the description of a horse by
Imru" al-Qays (d. circa 550 C.E.) and 'Alqamah al-Fal (active in
the mid-sixth century) in the pre-Islamic era in the context of a
poetic contest (mu'raah) narrated in an accompanying khabar (anec-
dote). I demonstrate the concept of tribal reaggregation and sexual-
ity in the horse description within a social and cultural paradigm.
In the second chapter, I analyze the description of bees and honey-
collecting by two Hudhal poets, S'idah ibn Ju"ayyah (date of death
unknown) from the Jhil (pre-Islamic) period and his rw (trans-
mitter) Khuwaylid ibn Khlid known as Ab Dhu"ayb al-Hudhal
(d. 649? C.E.) who lived through the Mukharam era. Using an
anthropological approach, I investigate the symbolic meanings of the
bee, honey, and honey-gathering, relying on The Sacred Bee by Hilda
M. Ransome.
2
The bees and honey-gathering are symbols of heal-
ing and ordeal and at the same time form a metaphor for the lost
meadow.
For the 'Abbsid period, I deal in Chapter Three with the descrip-
tion of a wine cup and a painting by the 'Abbsid poets Ab Nuws
(c. 747/762815) and al-Butur (82197). In approaching the descrip-
tion of the works of visual art, I make use of the studies of ekphrasis
2
Hilda M. Ransome, The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore (London: George
Allen and Unwin, 1937).
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by Andrew Sprague Becker.
3
In the two poems on visual art works,
the waf functions as mad without an explicit expression of the words
of praise.
Chapter Four deals with the description of a singing slave-girl by
Ibn al-Rm (83696). I examine the mutual relations between poetry
and musical performance in light of the contemporary account of
singing slave-girls by al-Ji (776869).
4
I use the concept of the
gestural in Lawrence Kramers book, Music and Poetry: The Nineteenth
Century and After.
5
The poem fully expresses emotion and aections,
and the image of the songstresss body is revealed through all the
senses.
The last topic is the description of the Alhambra Palace by the
Andalusian court poet Ibn Zamrak (133393?). In this chapter I uti-
lize Richard Brilliants theories of portraiture in visual arts.
6
The ode
is shown to oer an emblematic portrait of the ruler, because he is
rendered by means of an ekphrastic representation of the famous
palace he (re)constructed. Also, the poem serves as a double portrait
of the patron-ruler and the poet.
The qadah was negatively judged by many traditional Orientalists
who failed to engage it as poetry; they viewed the qadah as merely
descriptive, purely objective, and devoid of individual feelings. Objecting
to this criticism, I claim that description in traditional Arabic poetry
does not only attempt to express pictorial, mimetic images of objects,
but also to form a larger conceptual metaphor in an emblematic,
psychological, spiritual, metonymical, or symbolic manner. Waf thus
has a much more important role than merely describing objects.
My work is related to the school of Jaroslav Stetkevych and Suzanne
Stetkevych, what may be called the Chicago school in the eld of
the classical Arabic poetic tradition. Their work has demonstrated a
break with the views of the traditional Orientalists by attempting to
give a positive picture of the qadah to its reader. Along with other
3
Andrew Sprague Becker, The Shield of Achilles and the Poetics of Ekphrasis (Lanham,
Maryland: Rowman & Littleeld Publishers, 1995).
4
al-Ji 'Amr ibn Bar, Kitb al-Qiyn, Ras"il al-Ji, ed. with commen-
tary, 'Abd Muhann, 2 vols. (Beirut: Dr al-adthah, 198788).
5
Lawrence Kramer, Music and Poetry: The Nineteenth Century and After (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1984).
6
Richard Brilliant, Portraiture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991).
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new Orientalist scholars such as James T. Monroe, Michael Zwettler,
and Michael Sells, the eld remains open to further exploration from
dierent angles, particularly with regard to interdisciplinary and lit-
erary critical methods. My study is intended to strengthen the qa-
dahs modern reappraisal in terms of its aesthetic and experiential
value. Hence, I aim to further develop and evolve new points of
view in the discipline of the qadah tradition on the basis of this
new Orientalist scholarly approach. Throughout my study, such new
and innovative work on the interpretation of classical Arabic poetic
traditions serves to establish the essential foundation on which I
build. It need scarcely be said that the canonical and commentary
works of Arab littrateurs provide useful and informative sources in
developing this debate on a new approach, perhaps leading to a
consensus of opinion in the future. In accordance with the goal of
this study, I attempt to show how the theories of ekphrasis and inter-
arts studies in general are related to waf and how they serve to
enlighten the analysis of my Arabic materials.
I have no intention of claiming that my understanding and inter-
pretations in this study are absolute or complete. It is hoped that
the approach I have used, and the results I have achieved to date,
will contribute to the advance of our understanding of the waf in
the Arabic panegyrical qadah and that innovative and untried meth-
ods will provide us with new and wider perspectives on the Arabic
poetic tradition.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
There are many to whom I owe my thanks. During my study of
Arabic and the Arab world over the years I received warm support
and assistance from numerous ne friends and teachers. Special men-
tion should go to Kay Wada, Hiromi and Miyoko Oda, David
Fletcher and Hui-hua Chang, Professors Osamu Ikeda and Yoshiyuki
Takashina of Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Japan, Professor
Ernest McCarus of the University of Michigan, Professor Sumie Jones
of Indiana University, Professor Kuniaki Mukai of Keio University,
Japan, and Professor Junichi Oda of Tokyo University of Foreign
Studies.
But to the committee members of my doctoral dissertation at
Indiana University, on which this book is originally based, I owe a
most unrepayable debt. My academic advisor, Professor Suzanne
Pinckney Stetkevych introduced me to classical Arabic poetry and
spent much time helping me in translating Arabic poems; without
her tremendous assistance and warmhearted encouragement, I could
never have nished this study. Professor Claus Clver taught me
much about the theories of ekphrasis and interarts, and patiently
guided me with close, careful, and critical reading. Professor Paul
Losensky oered me valuable thoughts and suggestions with wit and
humor. And Professor Consuelo Lopez-Morillas gave me helpful, crit-
ical comments and ideas. To Professor Jaroslav Stetkevych of the
University of Chicago, who read most chapters in the various stages
of this book, I am deeply indebted for his expertise and insightful
analysis. I would also like to thank all who read and commented on
the manuscript.
I also received support from Dr. As'ad Khairallah at the American
University of Beirut and Dr. Rachid El Daif at the Lebanese University,
who graciously oered their vast knowledge and generosity. I thank
Ambassadors Matsushiro Horiguchi and Naoto Amaki, and my former
colleagues at the Embassy of Japan in Beirut for their assistance and
understanding during my service as cultural attach. I also wish to
express my gratitude to Dr. Eiichi Kajita, President of Kyoto Notre
Dame University, Japan and my present colleagues at the univer-
sity, for the kind environment that they provided, which helped me
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to nish this book. Thanks go to Dr. Ruth I. Meserve for her care-
ful, thorough proofreading of the entire manuscript and Trudy
Kamperveen and Tanja Cowall of Brill Academic Publishers for their
kindness and patience. I thank my parents and siblings for their con-
stant aid during my long term of study abroad. Finally, my special
gratitude goes to my husband Katsunori Sumi who constantly sup-
ported me with aection and understanding.
I would like to express my appreciation as well to the editors
and publishers for their permission to reprint previously published
articles that, in revised form, are part of the present book. My paper
in Japanese, Shchteki hygen to shite no waf: Ekphrasis ni tera-
shiawaseta rironteki ksatsu (Waf as Symbolic Expression: Theoretical
Examination in Comparison with Ekphrasis), Kansai Journal of Arabic
and Islamic Studies 2 (2002), pp. 5369, partly forms the basis for the
Introduction. My essay in Arabic, Al-Mubrh aqsan Itifliyyan:
Mubrh Shi'riyyah Jhiliyyah f Waf al-Khayl bayna Imri" al-Qays
wa 'Alqamah al-Fal (Contest as Ceremony: A Pre-Islamic Poetic
Contest in Horse Description of Imru" al-Qays vs. 'Alqamah al-
(Fal), Al-Abth 5051 (20022003), pp. 95144, is placed with
some revision as Chapter 1. My article, Remedy and Resolution:
Bees and Honey-Collecting in Two Hudhal Odes, Journal of Arabic
and Middle Eastern Literatures 6, no. 2 (2003), pp. 13157, with some
revision appears as Chapter 2. In revised form Reality and Reverie:
Wine and Ekphrasis in the 'Abbsid Poetry of Ab Nuws and al-
Butur, Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies 14 (1999),
pp. 85120, appear as Chapter 3. My essay, Sensibility and
Synaesthesia: Ibn al-Rms Singing Slave-Girl, Journal of Arabic
Literature 32, no. 1 (2001), pp. 129, is placed with some revision as
Chapter 4. My article Poetry and Portraiture: A Double Portrait
in an Arabic Panegyric by Ibn Zamrak, Journal of Arabic Literature
30, no. 3 (1999), pp. 199239, with slight revision, forms the last
chapter.
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A NOTE ON TRANSLATION AND TRANSLITERATION
All translations of the Arabic odes and anecdotes in the text are my
own, unless otherwise indicated. I have aimed to provide at least
adequate and readable English versions of the literal meaning of the
originals. Moreover, the original Arabic texts of the odes are pro-
vided as an Appendix.
For the transliteration of Arabic names, terms, and bibliographi-
cal citations I have followed the Library of Congress system with
slight modication.
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INTRODUCTION*
The classical Arabic ode, the qadah, is a polythematic and mono-
rhymed poetic form, generally ranging in length from fteen to eighty
lines. The qadah genre ourished from the outset of its history
approximately in the late fth century C.E. during the pre-Islamic
age (the Jhiliyyah or Age of Ignorance) to its decline at the begin-
ning of the twentieth century, carrying with it a long continuity of
cultural heritage. Traditionally, the qadah consists of three sections,
the nasb, the ral, and the fakhr or the mad.
1
The nasb, the open-
ing section, deals with elegiac motifs such as the ruined abodes and
deals with amatory themes such as unrequited love. The second part,
the ral, contains the poetic personas travel scene through the desert
and his mount, the she-camel. The concluding fakhr presents the
poets praise or boast of himself and his tribe, and the mad (eulogy)
oers praise.
2
Stylized and regulated in both content and form, tra-
ditional Arabic poetry is substantially conventional and formalistic
and is based on intertextuality and interreferentiality.
3
Thus the genre
expects the reader to be familiar with its formal and thematic tra-
ditions. Its form, xed and complex both in structure and theme,
can be perceived only by the educated, knowledgeable reader.
4
* An earlier version of parts of this section appeared in Japanese as Akiko
Motoyoshi Sumi, Shchteki hygen to shite no waf: Ekphrasis ni terashiawaseta
rironteki ksatsu (Waf as Symbolic Expression: Theoretical Examination in Comparison
with Ekphrasis), Kansai Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 2 (2002): 5369.
1
Although the Arabic qadah is conventionally made up of the three parts, the
two-part nasb-mad form increasingly dominates the 'Abbsid (7501258) and post-
'Abbsid qadah, and through the centuries the Arabic poetic tradition abounds in
variant form.
2
Fakhr or mad can be replaced by hij" (invective). Mad is a court panegyric
in which the praise of the ruler takes the place of fakhr. Fakhr predominates in pre-
Islamic poetry, while mad is the dominant genre in the qadah of the Islamic age.
3
For an overview of the qadah genre, see Roger Allen, Poetry, chap. 4 of
The Arabic Literary Heritage: The Development of Its Genres and Criticism (Cambridge, U.K.:
Cambridge University Press, 1998).
4
The Eastern tradition shows some similarities with the classical Western liter-
ary tradition in terms of prosody and tropes. However, the Arabic genre expects
the reader to know more rigorous thematic and structural factors in terms of what
comes next. The genre has a fully developed order. Traditional Orientalists were
uneasy with the qadah because it involved a concept of originality and creativity
1
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Partly because of its conventionality and formalism, the qadah
has been misunderstood and judged negatively in the past by many
traditional Orientalists. They failed to engage the qadah as poetry;
as a result, they focused mostly on its value as an anthropological
and historical artefact. Their negative evaluation is represented by
the barbarism hypothesis of Ignaz Goldziher, the atomism hypo-
thesis of R. A. Nicholson, and the objective description hypothe-
sis of Gustav von Grunebaum.
5
Over the past twenty years, however,
a new movement of modern Western scholars has emerged that
has reassessed the value of the qadah from various perspectives;
representative studies include those of the Chicago school formed by
Jaroslav Stetkevych, the oral-performative studies of early Arabic
poetry by such scholars as James Monroe and Michael Zwettler, and
the works of Suzanne Stetkevych.
6
These modern Orientalists have
attempted to demonstrate the artistic integrity of the qadah.
I believe that my major contribution to the scholarly study of the
qadah is to strengthen this sense of its artistic integrity. Though the
modern Orientalists have rated the qadah tradition highly, super-
seding the supposedly articial mechanism of previous generations
of Orientalists, descriptiveness itself has not been studied in a seri-
ous, extensive manner from the viewpoints of literary theory, except
that was dierent from their own, which was based on eighteenth-century Western
ideas. The qadah relies on a whole set of intertextualities which contains repeti-
tions and variations; variation is allowed but strictly controlled. The qadah poet
reworks older conventional motifshe does not or should not create entirely new
matter.
5
On the negative reception to the qadah in the West, Jaroslav Stetkevych has
an insightful study, Arabic Poetry and Assorted Poetics, in Islamic Studies: A Tradition
and Its Problems, ed. Malcolm H. Kerr (Malibu, CA: Undena Publications, 1980),
10323. In his article, he points out that there was a favorable response before tra-
ditional Orientalists criticism, such as by Goethe. For the two quotations on the
following page illustrating the negative reception of the qadah by traditional
Orientalists, I have relied on Michael Sells, The Qada and the West: Self-Reective
Stereotype and Critical Encounter, Al-'Arabiyya 20 (1987): 30757.
6
Some representative works are: Jaroslav Stetkevych, The Zephyrs of Najd: The
Poetics of Nostalgia in the Classical Arabic Nasb (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1993), and Suzanne Stetkevych, The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the
Poetics of Ritual (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993). For oral-performative
studies of early Arabic poetry, see James Monroe, Oral Composition in Pre-Islamic
Poetry, Journal of Arabic Literature 3 (1972): 153, and Michael Zwettler, The Oral
Tradition of Classical Arabic Poetry: Character and Implications (Columbus: Ohio State
University Press, 1978). About their further contributions, see Sells, Qada, 33146.
Also, Stefan Sperl has a ne study, demonstrating thematic unity and coherence in
the qadah, Islamic Kingship and Arabic Panegyric Poetry in the Early Ninth
Century, Journal of Arabic Literature 8 (1977): 2035.
2
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by Michael Sells in his Guises of the Ghl: Dissembling Simile and
Semantic Overow in the Classical Arabic Nasb.
7
To further this
reevaluation of the qadah as poetry, I have chosen waf or descrip-
tion as my topic of study, because, albeit other perceptions of the
qadah, such as the atomism and barbarism hypotheses, also con-
tributed to devaluing the Arabic poetic tradition, its descriptiveness
played a prominent role in the traditional Orientalists disparage-
ment of the poetry.
8
Their consideration of the qadah as second-
rate poetry was based largely on what they censured as its highly
descriptive and repetitive qualities.
Many traditional Orientalists made negative judgment part of
their denition of the qadah. F. Krenkow introduced the ada (qa-
dah) in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition, published in 1927, by
claiming:
An Arabic (or Persian, etc.) ada is a very articial composition; the
same rhyme has to run through the whole of the verses, however long
the poem may be. In addition the composition is bound by a meter
which the poet has to guard most scrupulously through the whole
course of the poem. The result is that we cannot expect much beautiful
poetry; the description of the desert and its animals and terrors may
have a certain charm at rst, but when the same descriptions recur
in endless poems expressed in the same manner, only with dierent
words, the monotony becomes nauseous.
9
Description also played a major role in A. S. Trittons negative
denition of shi'r (poetry) in 1934:
Arab poetry is essentially atomic; a string of isolated statements which
might be accumulated but could not be combined. Sustained narra-
tive and speculation are both alien to it. It is descriptive but the descrip-
tion is a thumbnail sketch; it is thoughtful but the result is aphoristic.
The poet looks on the world through a microscope. Minute peculiar-
ities of places and animals catch his attention and make his poetry
versied geology and anatomy; untranslatable and dull. Forceful speech
is his aim and the result isto Western mindsoften grotesque or
even repulsive.
10
7
Michael Sells, Guises of the Ghl: Dissembling Simile and Semantic Overow
in the Classical Arabic Nasb, in Reorientations/Arabic and Persian Poetry, ed. Suzanne
Stetkevych (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994), 13064.
8
For the atomism hypothesis of R. A. Nicholson and the barbarism hypothesis
of Ignaz Goldziher as ways of devaluing the qadah, see Sells, Qada.
9
F. Krenkow, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1st ed., s.v. ada, ed. M. Th.
Houtsma, et al., 9 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1927).
10
A. S. Tritton, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1st ed., s.v. shi'r.
3
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Finally, Gustav von Grunebaum argued in 1945 that description in
Arabic poetry is essentially detached, objective, and supercial:
The poet is wholly dedicated to the task of adequately describing his
theme down to its most intimate and, at the same time, most typical
peculiarities. There is no doubt that here the Arabs contributed a
number of masterpieces to descriptive art. . . . Whatever the subject, it
is presented for its inherent interest, never for any emotion it may
have touched o in the observer or listener. . . . Whatever his subject,
he will reproduce it as it is, or perhaps rather as tradition has taught
him to see it, refraining carefully from personalized comment or from
putting his feelings unduly to the fore. If we disregard the perfection
of form and language, the beauty of his presentation derives entirely
from the delity of his observation, not from his reaction to the impres-
sions that actually inspired his song. . . . The poets organ of percep-
tion is the eye.
11
These Orientalists looked at the qadah poets description on the sur-
face and claimed that it was absolutely objective, mimetic, and real-
istic, suggesting a lack of creativity and originality, as a result of the
Arab poets blind obedience to literary convention. They viewed the
genre as mechanistic and articial, paratactic, atomistic, and devoid
of individual expressions of emotion. Their negative attitude is directed
not only toward descriptiveness, but also toward the whole set of
conventional characteristics of classical Arabic poetry. These Orientalists
also failed to nd the correlation between thematic sections and
underestimated the aesthetic, literary qualities of the qadah genre.
12
It is true that the Arabic qadah has many descriptive verses, par-
ticularly when one sees only the isolated descriptive passages. However,
the metaphorical intent of the descriptive passages comes to light
when they are seen in the structural and thematic context of the
entire qadah. By ignoring the context of the entire work, the reader
may be misled by arguments that appear to conrm the traditional
Orientalists idea that the qadah is merely descriptive, assessing this
genre in a narrowand negativemanner. It is my proposal that
we need to broaden the way in which we interpret the qadah.
Description is called waf in the Arabic literary tradition and is
characterized by the minute, thorough description of certain objects.
11
Gustav E. von Grunebaum, The Response to Nature in Arabic Poetry, Journal
of Near Eastern Studies 4 (1945): 13940.
12
See Jaroslav Stetkevych, Arabic Poetry, 11617.
4
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 4
It is a key element in the qadah genre, as it is an inevitable and
indispensable means for expression in most literatures. The well-
known medieval Arab literary critic Ibn Rashq al-Qayrawn (d. circa
1065 C.E.) states, All poetry, except for small portions, is attribut-
able to the category of waf, and it is not possible to limit nor thor-
oughly examine it,
13
because of its comprehensive, overwhelming
permeation of poetry. The poets followed in their predecessors foot-
steps in preserving this mimetic feature, because they perceived and
appreciated the important and valuable functions of waf.
Similar to the traditional Orientalists, classical Arabic scholars,
who focused largely on rhetorical and philological matters, seldom
thoroughly explored the theoretical dimensions of waf. They used
it merely for categorization in a dwn (poetry collection) like other
terms, such as nasb, ral, or ghazal (amatory lyric). The 'Umdah of
Ibn Rashq on the art of poetry, one of the well-known critical works
of medieval Arabic literature, has a section on waf, a major part of
which is devoted to listing the names of poets who are adept in waf
and their celebrated descriptive passages.
14
Pursuing that tradition,
modern scholarly books on poetry often include in the table of con-
tents a chapter on waf, in which the authors introduce represen-
tative descriptive passages, followed by their statement of how skillful
and beautiful the poets waf is.
In a way, waf functioned as a criterion for the evaluation of
poetry. This function is supported by the etymological concept of
waf ; apart from its meaning of description, waf also means char-
acterization, quality, attribute, distinguishing mark, adjective.
The form I verb of waf is waafa, which means not only to describe;
to characterize, but also to praise, laud, extol. A poet sometimes
undertakes waf in order to praise the object of description. Moreover,
a derivative noun of waf, ifah, which means a quality, an attribute,
a property, and a description, has two synonyms: inf and l.
15
inf
13
Ibn Rashq al-Qayrawn, Al-'Umdah f Masin al-Shi'r wa dbih wa Naqdih,
2nd ed., 2 vols. (Cairo: Al-Maktabah al-Tijryyah al-Kubr, 1955), 2: 294. The
translation is mine. The Arabic text corresponding to the rst half of the quote is
al-shi'r ill aqalluh rji'un il bbi-l-waf.
14
Modern scholars also have a number of works on the topic of waf, e.g., Iliyy
al-w, Fann al-Waf wa Taawwuruh f al-Shi'r al-'Arab, 3rd ed. (Beirut: Dr al-
Kitb al-Lubnn, 1980), and Alma Giese, Wasf bei Kushjim (Berlin: K. Schwarz,
1981).
15
Edward William Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Islamic Texts
Society Trust, 1984), w--f.
5
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 5
means a sort, species, constituent, while l means state, condi-
tion, case.
16
Thus, waf, whose core meaning is description, contains
a secondary meaning of showing the states or attributes of an object
that can be an index for categorization or basis for evaluation. Na't,
translated as an epithet or that whereby a person or thing is
described, etc., is likewise often regarded as a synonym of waf.
17
Waf and Ekphrasis
In order to get a clear overview of waf and grasp its operation, the
criticism of ekphrasis and the perspectives of interarts theory will be
helpful, inasmuch as ekphrasis can be considered a Western coun-
terpart of waf. The term can be employed in two ways: rst in its
original meaning and second in its modern sense. Originally, as a
term in Classical rhetoric, ekphrasis is understood as clear and dis-
tinct description of any object, standing almost as rm and long in
the traditions of Occidental civilization as waf does in the Arabic.
The term in the title of this book intends this broader meaning of
ekphrasis. But the last three chapters deal with poetic descriptions
of works of art or artistic performance, and here the term also applies
to its current, narrower usage in the transdisciplinary eld of inter-
medial and interarts studies which is concerned with the relations
among music, architecture, sculpture, painting, poetry, and other arts
and media. In this modern understanding, ekphrasis is the verbal
representation of non-verbal texts. The term text is here used to
refer to a complex sign in any culturally produced semiotic system.
The objects of description in the Arabic poems studied in Chapters
One and Two, the horse and the bee and honey-gathering, are nat-
ural objects and therefore not texts according to the narrower
understanding of ekphrasis in interarts studies, while they would be
acceptable subjects for rhetorical ekphrasis. The objects of poetic
description in the last three chaptersthe design on a wine cup, the
wall painting (Chapter Three), the performance of a song (Chapter
Four), and the palace (Chapter Five)are all man-made objects that
can be read as texts. If one nds these verbal representations of
16
Lane, -n-f and -w-l.
17
Lane, n-'-t.
6
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non-verbal texts to be clear and distinct, one could also think of
them as satisfying the expectations of classical ekphrasis.
Let me rst clarify the origin of ekphrasis in the Western rhetorical
tradition. Etymologically, ekphrasis is derived from the Greek verb
ekphratzein, according to Fritz Graf, one of the authorities on the
historical study of ekphrasis. The word is derived from phratzein,
to show in speech, to make clear, while the prex ek suggests
that the activity in question reaches its intended goal. Hence, Graf
draws out as its intended meaning the (verbal) activity of clarifying
something completely without a remainder. Ekphrasis as a term
originally comes from the eld of rhetoric in Antiquity, translated
simply as description, as rhetorical exercise as well as descriptive
passage, as shown by its Latin equivalent descriptio. In Greek
rhetorical handbooks, ekphrasis would be dened as a descriptive
text which places the matter communicated clearly and distinctly
before our eyes.
18
Understanding ekphrasis as a long-standing rhetorical practice may
serve to elucidate waf, which also had a function as a rhetorical
exercise in classical Arabic poetics. Bernhard Scholz states that as
late as the middle of the sixteenth century, ekphrasis was considered
as a procedure for describing any object whatever. He goes on to
say that what was important was not what we describe but how we
describe it.
19
As a rhetorical technique ekphrasis aims at precise
description, regardless of its object. It is designed to enable speeches
to be persuasive, resorting to verbal force in producing an image
before the listeners mental eye.
20
The aim of ekphrasis is to achieve enargeia, pictorial vividness,
the Greek term that Jean H. Hagstrum, noted for his celebrated
book The Sister Arts, attributes to Plutarchs comment on Thucydides.
21
18
See two articles in Pictures into Words: Theoretical and Descriptive Approaches to
Ekphrasis, ed. Valerie Robillard and Els Jongeneel (Amsterdam: VU University Press,
1998): Bernhard F. Scholz, Sub Oculos Subiectio: Quintilian on Ekphrasis and
Enargeia, 7399 and Claus Clver, Quotation, Enargeia, and the Function of
Ekphrasis, 3552. All the quotations in this paragraph are from Fritz Graf, Ekphrasis:
Die Entstehung der Gattung in der Antike, in BeschreibungskunstKunstbeschreibung:
Ekphrasis von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, ed. G. Boehm and H. Pfotenhauer (Mnchen:
Wilhelm Fink, 1995), 14355, as translated by Scholz (76) or Clver (3637).
19
Scholz, 83.
20
Ibid., 77.
21
Jean H. Hagstrum, The Sister Arts: The Tradition of Literary Pictorialism and English
7
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Enargeia attempts to represent verbally the object before the hearers/
readers eye, transforming the listener to spectator. As for the con-
cept of waf in the Arabic tradition, Ibn Rashq likewise claims that
the best waf is a description that represents its object in such a way
that the listener almost envisions it with his/her own eyes. Ibn Rashq
further says that some of his contemporary littrateurs (al-muta"akhkhirn)
argue that the most eloquent waf is a transformation of hearing
(sam' ) into seeing/vision (baar). According to him, the origin of waf
is revealing (kashf ) and showing (ihr), as seen in the statement,
The attire described (wuifat) the body underneath it. Ibn al-Rm
says,
When her gowns reveal what is above the edge of her veils,
her slips repel the glance.
22
However, the procedure of enargeia aids in the formation of a men-
tal picture to a degree which Ibn Rashq does not develop in his
account of waf. Nicolaos of Myra (the fth century C.E.) describes
enargeia as follows:
Enargeia is the distinctive feature of ekphrasis since it is this charac-
teristic which most clearly distinguishes ekphrastic writing from mere
reporting; the latter namely contains only bare representation of the
object while the former tries to turn readers into spectators.
23
Quintilian (3597), the inuential Roman rhetorician whose theories
Scholz has analyzed, had oered an earlier distinction between vivid
illustration (enargeia/evidentia), or, as some would call it, represen-
tation (repraesentatio), and mere clearness ( perspicuitas) stating, mere
clearness merely lets itself be seen, whereas vivid illustration thrusts
itself upon our notice. He went on to say that vivid illustration
should display facts . . . in their living truth to the eyes of the mind.
Quintilian argued that oratorical speech must not only visualize
exactly the object of the speech through the audiences ear, but also
stimulate the mind of the audiences eye.
24
Poetry from Dryden to Gray (1958; reprint, Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1987), 11.
22
Ibn Rashq, 2: 295. In this poem the word reveal corresponds to wuifat (the
passive voice of waafat) in Arabic. See the Appendix for the Arabic text.
23
Quoted by Scholz, 77.
24
For Quintilians idea in this paragraph, I rely on Scholz, 78. According to
Scholz, Quintilian shows in the procedure of achieving enargeia, a shift from the
8
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In connection with our Arabic subjects, one of the signicant
aspects of ekphrasis as understood by modern semiotics is the cultural
presuppositions that, as Scholz points out, assume a community of
interpretation with a shared life-world and a set of cultural codes.
25
Modern criticism has come to realize that in the qadah tradition as
in any other poetic tradition, for the reader/listener to understand
and appreciate a text it is indispensable to be cognizant of the generic
conventions and of intertextual and interreferential codes behind it,
and that it is as important to be familiar with what Scholz calls the
life-world represented in the poem, including its values and cus-
toms. Scholz, who makes no reference to Arabic poetry, continues:
. . . we also have to acknowledge that it is not the presence of certain
enargeia-signals in the text which turns us from readers into spectators,
certain textual elements to which the reader has to pay attention in
order to undergo that transformation, but the experience of undergo-
ing that metamorphosis which allows us to say that the text in question
possesses enargeia and hence deserves to be called ekphrastic.
26
For the reader to be able to undergo the experience of that meta-
morphosis, he must have access to the cultural lexicon on which the
author drew in creating the text. Especially in such a long-established
poetic tradition as that of the qadah, poets and listeners share a
whole range of expectations, including the ways in which objects will
be experienced and described. Therefore, mere suggestions may some-
times suce, because the listeners will ll in the gaps and experi-
ence a description as clear and distinct and possessing enargeia
where to the non-initiate it may have no such qualities. There are,
as Scholz points out, no neutral enargeia-signals; they are always
predicated on shared cultural codes.
On the other hand, Aristotle, in his discussion of mimesis in his
Poetics, used not the word enargeia, but the word energeia. Hagstrum
formulates an illustration of the dierence between the two near-
homonyms:
Enargeia implies the achievement in verbal discourse of a natural qual-
ity or of a pictorial quality that is highly natural. Energeia refers to the
actualization of potency, the realization of capacity or capability, the
outer ear to the inner eye, which is parallel to the shift from mere narration
to a specic type of description, 78.
25
Scholz, 79.
26
Ibid.
9
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 9
achievement in art and rhetoric of the dynamic and purposive life of
nature. Poetry possesses energeia when it has achieved its nal form and
produces its proper pleasure, when it has achieved its own indepen-
dent being quite apart from its analogies with nature or another art,
and when it operates as an autonomous form with an eectual work-
ing power of its own. But Plutarch, Horace, and the later Hellenistic
and Roman critics found poetry eective when it achieved verisimili-
tudewhen it resembled nature or a pictorial representation of nature.
For Plutarchian enargeia, the analogy with painting is important; for
Aristotelian energeia, it is not.
27
Principles of mimetic verisimilitude indeed dominated later Greek,
Hellenistic and Roman painting and sculpture, and ekphrastic enargeia
seems to have shared these principles. They were not in force during
the European Middle Ages, but returned with the Renaissance, when
there also arose a new discourse about the rivalry of the represen-
tational powers of poetry and painting. The ideal of mimetic verisimil-
itude has retained a strong hold in the tradition of Western visual
representation and was prominent in the realisms of the nineteenth
century, both in literature and the visual arts, which provided the
cultural codes of traditional Orientalists. It might be interesting to
inquire to what extent their criteria for assessing the qadah were
formed by such expectations. It is my thesis that, while waf has
some functions similar to those of ekphrastic descriptions striving for
verisimilitude, it also has more profound and complicated functions
which allow it to create a unied imagery in a dierent way. Though
each waf stands independently in a qadah, it is closely linked, both
in form and content, to other motifs of the qadah within the entire
poetic scheme.
Mimesis is a form of representation. According to Charles Sanders
Peirce, a representation is an object which stands for another so
that an experience of the former aords us a knowledge of the lat-
ter.
28
W. J. T. Mitchell, who bases his article on Representation
in part on Peirces semiotic, emphasizes that it is crucial to take into
account the relationship between the representational material and
that which it represents, and points out that mimesis and imita-
tion are iconic forms of representation that transcend the dierences
27
Hagstrum, 12.
28
Charles Sanders Peirce, On Representations, Writings of Charles S. Peirce, 6
vols. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 185790), 3: 62.
10
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 10
between media: I can imitatei.e., mimic or produce a resemblance
ofa sound, speech act, gesture, or facial expression and, thus, icon-
ically reproduce it; icons are not just pictures.
29
In other words,
mimetic representation is not limited to pictorial means. But words
can only mimic, or made to resemble, sounds or speech acts. Except
for such rare instances, the relationship between verbal signs and
what they represent is conventional and arbitrary (Peirce calls it
symbolic). Verbal representations are therefore hardly ever iconic.
Nevertheless, there are many procedures by which descriptions can
induce listeners or readers to create a mental image of the object
describedwhether such object is perceived in the phenomenal world
by our eyes or any of our other senses. Such procedures may involve
use of similes and similar tropes without disturbing the eect of
verisimilitude. But descriptions may also have allegorical, metaphor-
ical, or symbolic meanings deeply rooted in a cultures world view
and value system, and similes can be not only conventional, but also
charged with cultural signicance. That is frequently the case with
the verbal representation of certain objects (waf ) in the qadah. We
will examine how the qadah poet oers his representational mate-
rial and how it is related to what it represents.
Ekphrasis in Its Interarts Implication and Waf
All of my subjects, particularly those in the rst two chapters, are
related to the broader, rhetorical denition of ekphrasis outlined
above. However, my Arabic materials in Chapters Three, Four, and
Five can also be classied as ekphrastic in the narrower, modern
understandingverbal representation of non-verbal textsin con-
nection with the relationships between the arts.
The practice of mimetic representation that was reintroduced into
the visual arts during the Renaissance led to a poetic practice of
writing poems on paintings or sculptures. There also arose a type
of poetry describing objects, such as landscapes, that were the objects
of new pictorial genres. Hagstrums book The Sister Arts (1958) dealt
29
W. J. T. Mitchell, Representation, Critical Terms for Literary Study, ed. Frank
Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1995), 14.
11
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 11
with the tradition of literary pictorialism in eighteenth-century
English poetry, which he placed in the tradition of ekphrasis as well
as of a critical discourse based on a misunderstanding of Horaces
phrase ut pictura poesis (understood to mean as is painting so is
poetry). Leo Spitzer had used the term ekphrasis in 1955 in an
essay on John Keatss Ode on a Grecian Urn,
30
a much quoted
example of poetry evoking a work of visual art. Since then, the term
has been used in Western interarts studies, and over the last decades,
ekphrasis as a topic has inspired a scholarly discussion that has not
resulted in a consensus.
Spitzer had dened ekphrasis loosely as the poetic description of
a pictorial or sculptural work of art,
31
which served his own pur-
poses as well as much of the critical work done at the time, which
was mainly concerned with the relationship between verbal art and
visual art. Murray Krieger, who developed the impulse received from
Spitzer much later into a book-length study, Ekphrasis: The Illusion of
the Natural Sign (1992), recognized the existence of what he called a
classic genre, namely the imitation in literature of a work of plas-
tic art, but broadened the discourse on the ekphrastic dimension
in literature
32
to the point that, in the view of James Heernan and
others, the term no longer applied to any specic set of literary texts.
In his own study of ekphrasis Heernan dened it as the verbal
representation of visual representation.
33
While this denition is
broader than Spitzers and also than Kriegers usage in that it also
covers verbal representations that are not literary, and visual ones
that are not art, it restricts the visual texts to representational
works and thereby intentionally excludes architecture, among other
kinds. The subjects of chapter three, the descriptions of a design on
a wine cup and a wall painting by two 'Abbsid poets, Ab Nuws
30
Leo Spitzer, The Ode on a Grecian Urn, or Content vs. Metagrammar,
in Essays on English and American Literature, ed. Anna Hatcher (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1962), 6797.
31
Ibid., 72.
32
Murray Krieger, Ekphrasis: The Illusion of the Natural Sign (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1992), 26566.
33
James A. W. Heernan, Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis from Homer to
Ashbery (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 3. Heernan also states, Where
Krieger denes ekphrasis as an impulse toward illusionistic word-painting, I treat it
as a kind of poetry that deliberately foregrounds the dierence between verbal and
visual representationand in so doing forestalls or at the very least complicates any
illusionistic eect, 3 n. 191.
12
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 12
and al-Butur, accord with both Spitzers and Heernans denitions.
But qadahs describing paintings or other sorts of visual art are rel-
atively rare, simply because of the scarcity of pictorial representations
in the Arabo-Islamic tradition. The concept of an Islamic prohibi-
tion of idolatry or visual/pictorial representation is widely accepted.
This ban is not due to explicit verses in the Qur"n but to the adth,
Prophetic sayings and acts.
34
For this reason, qadahs containing
ekphrastic descriptions as dened by Spitzer and Heernan, if found,
are often about non-Arabic motifs, such as the Ssnian (Persian)-
related motifs in the poems of Ab Nuws and al-Butur, or by
poets who are of foreign descent. In the Arabo-Islamic poetic tra-
dition, therefore, there hardly exists the concept of the paragone (con-
test) between poetry and painting, or an equivalent to the Western
discourse on ut pictura poesis.
35
I shall have more to say on this sub-
ject in the third chapter. It is interesting, however, to reect on how
the prohibition of pictorial representation may have aected the qa-
dah genre. The qadat al-mad (panegyric), a sub-genre of the genre,
ourished especially in the medieval Arabo-Islamic dynasties, partly
because the sovereign was unable to resort to visual portraiture as
a means to spread his glorious image as the leader of the legitimized
Islamic polity.
Returning to the discussion of ekphrasis in modern Western inter-
arts discourse, Heernans restriction of the term to verbal representa-
tions of representational visual texts appeared arbitrary in view of
the many poems and even more numerous prose descriptions of non-
representational art (and non-art), including architecture, which serve
the same function and use the same forms and techniques as texts
covered by his denition. Moreover, there are verbal representations
of music and musical performance, of dance, and of multimedia
texts, likewise with identical or similar functions. Claus Clver, dis-
puting the denitions oered by Leo Spitzer and James Heernan,
has therefore proposed to dene ekphrasis as the verbal representation
34
See K. A. C. Creswell, The Lawfulness of Painting in Early Islam, Ars Islamica
1112 (1946): 15966.
35
Jaroslav Stetkevych claims, It is only in the instances where the Horatian sim-
ile ut pictura poesis shows its semblance that form and content seem to unite more
closely under the general intention of mimetic function, in his article The Arabic
Qadah: From Form and Content to Mood and Meaning, Harvard Ukrainian Studies
3/4 (197980): 775.
13
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 13
of real or ctitious texts composed in a non-verbal sign system.
36
While maintaining verbal representation (rather than literary),
Clver widens the range from visual art and visual representation
to non-verbal texts, thus extending the term to cover a broader
context of interartistic connections. I choose his denition because
Western critics have constantly pointed out that the term image
refers to more than the merely visual, pictorial, or concrete; imagery
includes conceptual, symbolic, abstract images. Moreover, Clvers
understanding allows us to deal with waf in this context of imagery
so far as the phenomenon of waf appears involved in it. I include
the description of a singing performance and of a building in my
subjects because they clearly show the mission of waf, that is, to
generate a certain unied concept exceeding the pictorial, visual,
mimetic images of objects. My Arabic materials in the last two chap-
ters t neither Spitzers nor Heernans denition inasmuch as these
discount music and architecture.
37
However, the interarts perspec-
tives of ekphrasis established by Clvers denition of the term clearly
address the verbal representation of a songstresss musical perform-
ance examined in chapter four and of the Alhambra palace ana-
lyzed in chapter ve as ekphrastic poetry. Overall, the understanding
of ekphrasis in its modern sense allows us to look at waf within the
perspectives of interarts studies that include perceptions beyond the
pursuit of mimetic imitation.
Word and Image
In a poem the bard attempts to create an image with words. In his
book on Iconology, W. J. T. Mitchell explores image as likeness say-
36
Claus Clver, Ekphrasis Reconsidered: On Verbal Representations of Non-
Verbal Texts, in Interart Poetics: Essays on the Interrelations Between the Arts and Media,
ed. Ulla-Britta Lagerroth, Hans Lund, and Erik Hedling (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997),
1933, denition 26. Clver temporarily revised his denition to read verbaliza-
tion instead of verbal representation; see Quotation, 49 and The Musikgedicht:
Notes on an Ekphrastic Genre, in Word and Music Studies: Dening the Field, ed.
Walter Bernhart, Steven Paul Scher, and Werner Wolf (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999),
187204, def. 188. He has meanwhile returned to using the more eective verbal
representation.
37
Spitzers denition is more limited because he speaks only of literary texts and
visual art, whereas Heernan includes all kinds of verbal texts and visual repre-
sentation; however, Heernans denition excludes architecture, which he does not
consider as representational.
14
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 14
ing that it is generally assumed that, though the literal sense of the
word image is a graphic, pictorial representation, a concrete, mate-
rial object, notions like mental, verbal, or perceptual imagery are
not derived from this literal sense. Conversely, however, one can
also understand the literal sense of the word image as an absolutely
non- or even anti-pictorial meaning, which originates with the
account of mans creation in the image and likeness of God. The
original words translated now as image (Hebrew tselem, Greek eikon,
and Latin imago) are correctly understood, not as referring to any
material picture, but to an abstract, general, spiritual likeness. As
Mitchell formulates it: image is to be understood not as picture,
but as likeness, a matter of spiritual similarity.
38
By this token, the Arabic concept of rah, usually translated as
image, has etymologically a similar meaning to the images of
the above-mentioned foreign cultures: mental image, a resemblance
of any object, formed or conceived by the mind, an idea, a mean-
ing of frequent occurrence in philosophical works, in addition to a
meaning of a shape, a picture, an egy.
39
A derivative verb
of rah, awwara (form II) means to form, shape; to paint, draw;
to illustrate; to describe, represent, and its verbal noun is tawr,
which is understood as representation. On the other hand, tamthl,
a synonym of tawr and waf, is listed as meaning, representation;
exemplication; likening, comparison; picturing, description, in an
Arabic-English dictionary, and its derivative verb (II) maththala means
to make (something) like something, to compare, liken; to illustrate
something with pictures (awwara) to the extent as if it were seen.
40
For traditional Orientalists, the function of waf would have been
tamthl, which is likewise used by Ibn Rashq for the explanation of
waf: to see a waf is how it consists in (qma bi ) itself and represents
38
W. J. T. Mitchell, Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1986), 3031.
39
Lanes dictionary denes the meaning of rah: an egy; an image, or a
statue; a picture; anything that is formed, fashioned, gured, or shaped, after the
likeness of any of Gods creatures, animate or inanimate: it is said that the maker
of an egy or image will be punished on the day of resurrection, and will be com-
manded to put life into it; and that the angels will not enter a house in which a
rah is present. Lane, -w-r.
40
See Lane, m-th-l and Muammad ibn Mukarram Ibn Manr, Lisn al-'Arab,
15 vols. (Beirut: Dr dir, 195556), m-th-l. Tamthl has a gurative and metaphor-
ical meaning in the classical Arabic rhetoric, balghah. Here I do not deal with the
concept of tamthl in terms of balghah.
15
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 15
pictorially (maththala) the described/the object (al-mawf ) in the heart
of the listener.
41
What I argue is that in traditional Arabic poetry abstract, spirit-
ual, or metaphorical concepts can be revealed through mimetic,
descriptive devices. As my study will show, what characterizes waf
is a dierent understanding and usage of connotation from that found
in rhetorical ekphrasis. Therefore, I must view waf against the
Western concept of ekphrasis as clear and distinct description as
if it creates a mirror image of objects. I use ekphrasis as a foil against
which to set the descriptive process and meaning of waf because
what waf ultimately aims to achieve is beyond the scope of rhetor-
ical ekphrasis.
In his analysis of similes in the classical Arabic nasb, Michael Sells
claims, following Roman Jakobson, that there are two primary forms
of poetic signication: the metaphorical, based on relations of simi-
larity, and the metonymic, based upon relationships of contiguity.
He goes on to say that the nasbs simile contains the relationship
between apparent object of description (the beloved), depending on
physical likeness, and the symbolic analogue of the beloved (the lost
garden), depending on symbolic resemblance.
42
His idea can be
applied not only to a waf of the nasb but also to that of a qadah.
If the minute descriptions of objects can operate with relations of
physical likeness to other objects that represent these objects by their
resemblance to them, metaphorical concepts yielded through the
descriptions are shown by relations of symbolic or spiritual like-
ness, in Mitchells sense. In the qadah, symbolic analogue often oper-
ates by the relations of metonymy or synecdoche. Needless to say,
the intertextual and interreferential characteristics of the Arabic qa-
dah play an important role allowing objects to symbolize some con-
cept or a certain larger image. This function of symbolic analogue
is largely dependent on the readers knowledge of the classical Arabic
poetic tradition and probably their imaginative processes.
In the qadah, hence, there often are two simultaneous operations:
one occurs on the level of mimetic, concrete, and physical repre-
41
Ibn Rashq, 2: 294.
42
Sells, Ghl, 13031. See also Roman Jakobson, Two Aspects of Language
and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances, in Language: An Enquiry into Its Meaning
and Function, ed. Ruth Nanda Anshen (New York: Harper, 1957), 99100.
16
Motoyoshi/f2/1-17 9/10/03 3:58 PM Page 16
sentation, and the other on the level of intangible, abstract, and sym-
bolic representation. Mimetic representation proceeds through rela-
tions of resemblance; abstract representation functions through symbolic
relations. Mimetic representation is seen, for example, in the com-
parison of a beloved to a gazelle, while symbolic representation is
revealed in such instances as establishing a metonymic relationship
between the Alhambra palace and the ruler. In the poetic tradition,
mimetic representation and symbolic representation operate simulta-
neously and complement each other to create an integrated multi-
layered imagery. In this study, I hope to demonstrate in a way that
is consistent with contemporary Western criticism that waf is not
merely mimetic, but operates also metaphorically and metonymically
to generate and convey symbolic and emblematic meanings.
17
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CHAPTER ONE
CONTEST AS CEREMONY: A PRE
-
ISLAMIC POETIC
CONTEST IN HORSE DESCRIPTION OF IMRU"
AL
-
QAYS VS. 'ALQAMAH AL
-
FAL*
The Horse
God created the horse from the wind. Many prophets have proclaimed
the following: When God wanted to create the horse, He said to the
South Wind: I want to make a creature out of you. Condense. And
the wind condensed. Archangel Gabriel immediately appeared and
took a handful of that stu and presented it to God, Who made a
brown bay or burnt chestnut (kumaytred mixed with black) upon say-
ing: I call you Horse; I make you Arabian and I give you the chest-
nut color of the ant; I have hung happiness from the forelock which
hangs between your eyes; you shall be the lord of other animals. Men
shall follow you wherever you go; you shall be as good for pursuit as
for ight; you shall y without wings; riches shall be on your back
and fortune shall come through your mediation. Then He put on the
horse the mark of glory and happiness ( ghurrah)a white mark in the
middle of the forehead.
Letter of the Emir Abd-el-Kader to General E. Daumas
(General E. Daumas, The Horses of the Sahara)
1
The chivalrous hunt on horseback is one of the major Arabic poetic
motifs, taking place in the fakhr or self-exaltation section within the
tripartite structure of the traditional Arabic qadah. The horse is the
symbol of speed, prowess, prosperity, glory, happiness, immortality,
* An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the annual meeting of the
Middle East Studies Association of North America, Orlando, Florida, November,
2000, and appeared in Arabic as Akiko Motoyoshi Sumi, Al-Mubrh aqsan
Itifliyyan: Mubrh Shi'riyyah Jhiliyya f Waf al-Khayl bayna Imri" al-Qays wa
'Alqamah al-Fal, Al-Abth 5051 (20022003), pp. 95144.
1
General E. Daumas, The Horses of the Sahara, trans. Sheila M. Ohlendorf, revised,
augmented with commentary, The Emir Abd-el-Kader, 9th ed. (Austin: University
of Texas Press, 1968), 7. Daumas relied on the Emir Abd-el-Kader (180883) for
the information on the horse because he was a noted Algerian horseman and scholar
as well as an illustrious chieftain. There is a similar adth in 'Al ibn 'Abd al-
Ramn ibn Hudhayl al-Andalus, ilyat al-Fursn wa Shi'r al-Shuj'n, ed. Muammad
'Abd al-Ghin asan (Cairo: Dr al-Ma'rif lil-ib'ah wa al-Nashr, 1951), 2728.
19
Motoyoshi/f3/18-60 9/10/03 3:59 PM Page 19
20 cn\r+rn oxr
fertility, and vital force. It is said that the horse is called khayl in
Arabic for its ikhtiyl (pride, arrogance, haughtiness) in walking, and
al-Ji (776869), the prominent classical Arab littrateur, relates
that its natural disposition is likewise zahw (splendor, pride, haugh-
tiness, arrogance, vanity) in walking.
2
Imru" al-Qays ibn ujr and 'Alqamah ibn 'Abadah al-Tamm
al-Fal, the celebrated Jhil (pre-Islamic) poets, bequeathed to us
qadahs of the chivalrous hunt in the context of the poetic contest,
mu'raah. Mu'raah (opposition, contest) indicates literary imitation
or emulation in the Arabic poetic tradition.
3
A poet composes a work
in the same rhyme and meter as those of his target poem, while
attempting to outdo that original. The imitation of another poets
work was considered an act of homage. In imitation and emulation,
waf or description plays an important role, for it oers a basis for
comparison in deciding the victor of a contest. The concept of
mu'raah existed already as early as the Jhiliyyah or the pre-Islamic
era. A well-known khabar (anecdote) concerns a poetic contest in the
waf of the horse between the two Jhil poets, Imru" al-Qays and
'Alqamah al-Fal; 'Alqamah fought and won a verbal duel in describ-
ing horses with Imru" al-Qays, judged by Imru" al-Qayss wife Umm
Jundab;
4
as a result, Imru" al-Qays divorced her and then 'Alqamah
married her, whereupon 'Alqamah was given the honoric title,
falstallion or master poet. This chapter aims to explore
the waf of the chivalrous hunt in the two qadahs in association with
the khabar, investigating the function and role of the waf. This horse
description is considered ekphrasis in its original meaning, clear and
distinct description of any object.
2
See al-Andalus, 2829.
3
Information about mu'raah in this paragraph is largely taken from, A. Schippers,
The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. mu'raa. According to A. Schippers there
are related notions of mu'raah: naqah, mufkharah, and munfarah. Naqah is under-
stood as a contradicting poem, yting; a form of poetic dueling in which tribal or
personal invectives are exchanged, usually in pairs, using the same rhyme and meter.
Mufkharah is meant either as a self-praise or a contest for precedence and glory.
G. J. H. van Gelder, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. na"i. As a con-
test, mufkharah occurred at denite times after the pilgrimage or at random (espe-
cially, at the sq of 'Uk) generally between groups, tribes and clans and occasionally
between families and individuals. Bichr Fars, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed.,
s.v. mufkhara. There is a book on Persian poetry dealing with mu'raah: Paul
Losensky, Welcoming Fighn: Imitation and Poetic Individuality in the Safavid-Mughal Ghazal
(Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1998).
4
For the vocalization of the name of Imru" al-Qayss wife, though some ver-
sions of the khabar give Jundub, most versions vocalize it as Jundab.
Motoyoshi/f3/18-60 9/10/03 3:59 PM Page 20
cox+rs+ \s crnrvoxv 21
As I stated earlier, the Arabic qadah has been criticized by many
traditional Orientalists who claim that the qadah is merely pure
objective description and that the description bears no meaning other
than what is described.
5
Objecting to this criticism, I argue that waf
does not merely describe the physical object in question, but more-
over conveys abstract, metaphysical concepts through emblem, sym-
bol, and metaphor in the social and cultural context. In the present
case, I argue that the two descriptions are intended not to tell us
merely about the appearance of the horses, but rather to convey the
pre-Islamic tribal notion of virility (mur"ah) that implies strength,
aggressive power and violence, and fertility, embodying the ideal
image of the persona himself and his tribal community. With the
emblem of the horse, our understanding of the poems, both in social
and individual domains, is enhanced by the khabar, as it situates the
two odes in the narrative context of a poetic contest. Wit and play-
fulness in the anecdotes serve to explicate the odes in terms of sex-
uality and masculinity from the standpoint of the female judge Umm
Jundab.
Despite the wide diusion of this story of the two poets, the prob-
lem of the remarkable resemblance between the two poems has not
been seriously and critically studied.
6
Strictly speaking, the phenom-
enon is not one of similarities, but rather of identical lines that con-
stitute approximately one-third of each qadah; eighteen verses out
of the forty-six-verse qadah by 'Alqamah are the same as those from
the fty-ve-verse qadah by Imru" al-Qays, as I show in a graph
on the following page. Their verse sequences are dissimilar, and their
contents or motifs are somewhat dierent, but many of the descrip-
tive lines that contain the most important elements for the contest
are identical. The overlapping verses are mostly found in the fakhr
(boast) or the hunt section. There are three possible sources of this
overlap: 1. tamnthat the second poet quoted or appropriated the
original lines in his own poem; 2. the vagaries of oral transmission,
through which lines of two very closely associated poems in a pas-
sage of identical rhyme, meter and subject, got confused; 3. literary
5
Cf. pp. 24 in the Introduction.
6
The German Orientalist Wilhelm Ahlwardt raised the issue in his book Bemerkungen
ber die Aechtheit der alten Arabischen Gedichte (Osnabrck: Biblio Verlag, 1972), 6871.
Motoyoshi/f3/18-60 9/10/03 3:59 PM Page 21
2
2
c
n
\
r
+
r
n

o
x
r
1 8 9 10 15 19 20 21 25 26 27 28 30 32 35 41 42 43 44 45 50 52 53 55
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 13 14 16 17 18 19 20 24 26 28 32 35 36 37 38 39 42 43 44 45 46
nasb
ral
fakhr
nasb ral fakhr
The overlapping verses in the odes of Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah al-Fal
Imru" al-Qays
'Alqamah al-Fal
* Some of the overlapping lines are not exactly identical; for each variant part, see the footnotes of Imru" al-Qayss poem.
nasb
ral
nasb
ral
M
o
t
o
y
o
s
h
i
/
f
3
/
1
8
-
6
0


9
/
1
0
/
0
3


3
:
5
9

P
M


P
a
g
e

2
2
cox+rs+ \s crnrvoxv 23
manipulation of the texts. Given that we have no means of establishing
the original textual authenticity or even authorship of pre-Islamic
poemsnot to mention the historicity of the (less stable) prose khabar
our argument and discussion take as its basis recensions of the poems
considered authentic/authoritative by the classical tradition, in the
context of biographical anecdotes that accompany the poems or are
associated with the poems in that tradition. There is also the possi-
bility that the khabar about the contest brought the poems into closer
proximity, thereby allowing for textual contamination.
With reference to the concept of contest, I mainly use as theo-
retical tools Johan Huizingas well-known work Homo Ludens: A Study
of the Play-Element in Culture, Walter J. Ongs Fighting for Life: Contest,
Sexuality, and Consciousness, and Ward Parkss Verbal Dueling in Heroic
Narrative.
7
First, I analyze three variant versions of the khabar about
the horse descriptions in the two qadahs in terms of poetic contest.
Then, I examine the ode by Imru" al-Qays, followed by the explo-
ration of the poem by 'Alqamah al-Fal, based on the formers ode;
in both, I focus on the functions and the meaning of the horse
descriptions in the fakhr (boast). Imru" al-Qayss qadah is explored
rst, because he recites before 'Alqamah does in the poetic duel.
I do not examine in detail the nasb and the ral sections in the
two poems, except as they contribute to the aim of the present
exploration.
Two Jhil Poets
Imru" al-Qays ibn ujr and 'Alqamah ibn 'Abadah al-Tamm al-
Fal are among the most celebrated poets in the pre-Islamic era.
Imru" al-Qays, who is said to have died in circa 550 C.E., has been
considered the foremost poet of pre-Islamic Arabia. He is the author
of one of the Mu'allaqt (The Suspended Poems), the anthology of
seven canonical masterpieces, Golden Odes, transmitted through
rws (reciters) in the eighth century C.E., to which three other poems
7
Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (Boston: The
Beacon Press, 1962). Walter J. Ong, Fighting for Life: Contest, Sexuality, and Consciousness
(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981). Ward Parks, Verbal Dueling in Heroic
Narrative (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990).
Motoyoshi/f3/18-60 9/10/03 3:59 PM Page 23
24 cn\r+rn oxr
are sometimes appended.
8
It is reported that he was the descendant
of the royal house of Kindah, the Arab tribe that spread all over
Arabia in the fth and sixth centuries C.E. from southern Arabia
into central and northern Arabia. Imru" al-Qays was born at the
court of ujr to the last king of the Kindah; he was his youngest
son, but was expelled more than once from his fathers house because
of his passion for poetry, and in particular for erotic verse. Noted
for his wayward youth and amorous aairs, during his expulsion
from court, he wandered in the desert, hunting, drinking, and com-
posing songs. Then his father was assassinated by the Ban Asad.
From this time on he devoted himself to avenging his father. Helped
by other tribes, he was able to inict substantial damage on his ene-
mies, but he was not content and continued in his pursuit of revenge.
It is said that the poet met with a tragic end; he was killed through
wearing a robe permeated with poison which was a present given
to him by Justinian, the Byzantine emperor.
9
'Alqamah al-Fal was active in the mid-sixth century, and very
little is known of his life.
10
The Arab critics reckon 'Alqamah one
of the ful (the plural form of fal ) or master poets. His poetry
speaks about the battles waged between the Lakhmids and the
Ghassnids. It is reported that as the spokesman of his tribe he
succeeded in releasing his brother Sha"s and the other Tammites
who were imprisoned by the Ghassnid king, al-rith b. Jabalah
(c. 52969).
11
Of these two poetsImru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah,
there is no doubt that Imru" al-Qays has been regarded as a more
distinguished poet than 'Alqamah who, nevertheless, has been accorded
the epithet, al-Fal (the master poet), literally stallion.
12
8
See H. A. R. Gibb, Arabic Literature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), 22 and
Reynold A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs (1930; reprint, Richmond: Curzon
Press, 1995), 101 n. According to Nicholson, the best edition of the Mu'allaqt is
Sir Charles Lyalls A Commentary on Ten Ancient Arabic Poems (Calcutta, 1894). It con-
tains the seven Mu'allaqt by Imru" al-Qays, arafah, 'Amr ibn Kulthm, rith
ibn illizah, 'Antarah, Zuhayr, Labd and three other poems by A'sh, al-Nbighah,
and 'Abd ibn al-Abra. For a translation and analysis of the Mu'allaqah of Imru"
al-Qays, see Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 24185.
9
Information about Imru" al-Qays in this paragraph is largely taken from
S. Boustany, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. Imru" al-ays b. udjr.
10
This date is according to Fuat Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, vol. 2,
Poesie bis ca. 430 H. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975), 12022.
11
Information about 'Alqamah in this paragraph is largely taken from G. E. von
Grunebaum, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. 'Alama b. 'Abada al-Tamm.
12
Khabar functions as etiological myth, Why was 'Alqamah called al-Fal?
Motoyoshi/f3/18-60 9/10/03 3:59 PM Page 24
cox+rs+ \s crnrvoxv 25
Waf as Sexual Metaphor in Khabar
In the classical Arabo-Islamic written literary tradition, both khabar
and poetry are presented originally as oral transmission. A khabar is
a narrative anecdote or episode, generally composed of isnd (chain
of authorities) and matn (the narrative itself ).
13
Here let us rst con-
sider the formation process of the khabar about the contest between
Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah in connection with their qadahs. Due
to poetrys memorable oral formulas, its transmission process is more
stable, and it should be better preserved and more authentic than
akhbr (plural of khabar).
14
On the basis of this hypothesis, we can
propose that the khabar may in some cases be derived from the
poems. During the long period of the oral transmission of the odes
of Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah, the shared rhyme and meter and
the prominent horse-description passages may have suggested, within
the Arabic poetic and cultural tradition, the scenario of a mu'raah
or poetic contest between the two poets. In other words, I believe
that, with the device of the mechanism of contest and play, the
khabar shows its desire to explain the resemblance between the two
odes. That is, the poetic or technical characteristics of mu'raah, i.e.,
having two poems that share the same rhyme and meter, suggests
or generates the idea that there actually was a mu'raaha poetic
contest between the two poets.
The khabar concerning the poetic contest reveals to us that peo-
ple interpreted the two Jhil poems in a particular manner. It is
clear from the gist of the khabar that they interpreted the ekphras-
tic description of the horse sexually.
15
The sexual prowess that the
because one day. . . . Others were given the title al-fal in the Arabo-Islamic
tradition (Imru" al-Qays, etc.), cf. abaqt Ful al-Shu'ar"; for 'Alqamah, it is also
an epithet 'Alqamah al-Fal.
13
Isnd assumes the form of X told me that he heard Y telling a story which
he had heard from Z.
14
For mnemonic features of Arabic poetry, see Monroe, Oral Composition,
Michael Zwettler, Oral Tradition, and Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 81.
15
The interpretation of the khabar as a sexual double-entendre is discussed in
Suzanne Stetkevych, Pre-Islamic Panegyric and the Poetics of Redemption,
Reorientations/Arabic and Persian Poetry, ed. Suzanne Stetkevych (Bloomington, IN:
Indiana University Press, 1994), 20. See also James E. Montgomery, 'Alqama al-
Fals Contest with Imru" al-Qays: What Happens When a Poet Is Umpired by
His Wife? Arabica: Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 44 (1997): 14449 and
Muammad ibn 'Abd al-Raman al-Hadlaq, Qiat Naqd Umm Jundab li-Imri"
Motoyoshi/f3/18-60 9/10/03 3:59 PM Page 25
26 cn\r+rn oxr
khabar emphasizes is merely one aspect, which is prominent enough to
make a joke, but I will argue that what the poetic text tries to convey
to us is the concept of mur"ah, mature manhood, manly perfection,
or male aggression.
16
I will examine three versions of the khabar (anec-
dote) regarding the poetic duel: two versions from the Mufaaliyyt
(khabar 1 and 2) and one from Al-Shi'r wa al-Shu'ar" (Book of Poetry
and Poets) of Ibn Qutaybah (khabar 3).
17
Their plots are very simi-
lar, and the verses quoted are almost the same, but they dier as
to the reason for Umm Jundabs judgment in favor of 'Alqamah.
Khabar 1 attributes it to Imru" al-Qayss goading his horse with his
legs in his poem. Although khabar 2 gives the same reason as khabar
1, it adds information about Umm Jundabs dissatisfaction with Imru"
al-Qayss sexual performance; thus it makes explicit the khabars
double-entendre of horse description as sexual description. Khabar 3
gives the nal verse of 'Alqamahs poem as evidence to show how 'Alqa-
mah succeeds in stirring his horse in a civilized manner with a bridle.
Khabar 1 from the Mufaaliyyt
18
On the authority of al-Rustam and Imr" Ab 'Ikrimah al-abb:
'Alqamah was alive in the dawn of the Jhiliyyah and its traditions.
He was a friend of Imru" al-Qays and visited him one day. One of
them asked his ['Alqamahs] companion, Which of us is a better
poet? One of them said, I am, and the other said, I am. They
reviled each other until Imru" al-Qays said, Describe your she-camel
and horse, and I will describe my she-camel and horse. 'Alqamah
al-Qays wa 'Alqamah al-Fal, Majallat Jmi'at al-Malik Sa'd, Al-db 21 (1990):
335 on the variants of this khabar.
16
B. Fars says that mur"ah is one of the Arabic terms whose meaning is impre-
cise, being understood as good nature and observance of Qurnic laws, dignity
and compassion, urbanity, ideal manhood. Mur"ah, according to Fars, con-
tains both the physical qualities of man mar " and his moral qualities by a process
of spiritualisation and abstraction. B. Fars, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v.
mur"a.
17
Ab al-'Abbs al-Mufaal ibn Muammad al-abb, Dwn al-Mufaalyt,
commentary by Ab Muammad al-Qsim ibn Muammad ibn Bashshr al-Anbr,
2 vols., Arabic Text, ed. Charles James Lyall (Beirut: Maba'at al-b" al-Yas'iyyn,
1921), 2: 76364. 'Abd Allh ibn Muslim Ibn Qutaybah, Kitb al-Shi'r wa al-Shu'ar",
2 vols., ed. with commentary Amad Muammad Shkir (Cairo: Dr al-Ma'rif,
1966), 21819.
18
All translations of the three khabars are mine.
Motoyoshi/f3/18-60 9/10/03 3:59 PM Page 26
cox+rs+ \s crnrvoxv 27
answered, Yes, I will do it, if the judge between you and me is this
woman behind you. The woman was Imru" al-Qayss wife from ayyi".
Imru" al-Qays said,
O my two friends, pass by Umm Jundab with me
and we will fulll the needs of a tormented heart.
'Alqamah said,
You departed after she left you with no direction;
it was not right of her to shun you.
Those nights when we still gave each other sincere advice,
nights when [our tribes] were settled at al-Sitr and Ghurrab.
When they nished reciting their poems, they turned to the wife of
Imru" al-Qays. She said, The stallion of Ibn 'Abadah 'Alqamah is
better than yours. Imru" al-Qays asked her how was it better. She
said, Because you goaded him and kicked him with your legs, while
he went straight after the quarry. He ['Alqamah] said,
When we hunt, we do not sneak up on [our game] stealthily,
but we call from far: Lets go!
Then, Imru" al-Qays got angry with her and divorced her.
Khabar 2 from the Mufaaliyyt
On the authority of Amad ibn 'Abd and others of our shaykhs:
Imru" al-Qays got married to a woman from ayyi", and she hated
him. On the wedding night, she detested him and started saying: O
night, become morning! O best of youth, its morning! [Get up!] He
looked around and saw it was still night, so he stayed [in bed] till
morning. Then 'Alqamah, who was one of the master poets of the
Jhiliyyah and his friend, visited him. They narrated the tradition which
was above-mentioned, except that they related as follows:
Imru" al-Qays recited,
O my two friends, pass by Umm Jundab with me
and we will fulll the needs of a tormented heart.
He continued till the end of the poem. 'Alqamah said,
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28 cn\r+rn oxr
You departed after she left you with no direction;
it was not right of her to shun you.
Those nights when we still gave each other sincere advice,
nights when [our tribes] were settled at al-Sitr and Ghurrab.
When they nished their poems, they turned to the woman from
ayyi", Imru" al-Qayss wife. She said that 'Alqamahs horse is better
than yours. Imru" al-Qays asked her how was it better. She said,
Because you goaded him and kicked him with your legs, while he
['Alqamah] went straight after the quarry. He ['Alqamah] said, When
we hunt, (the above-mentioned verse). Then he was mad at her and
said, You hate me. What made you that? She said, You are heavy
in the chest, light in the hips. You come too fast and you are very
slow to get an erection. When he heard this, he divorced her.
Khabar 3 from Kitb al-Shi'r wa al-Shu'ar" by Ibn Qutaybah
You (Imru" al-Qays) said,
To the leg he is ery, to the whip like a ood,
when you chide him, he takes o like an ostrich.
'Alqamah said,
He overtook them [the she-camels] and galloped o,
passing quickly like a pouring cloud.
19
So, he ['Alqamah] reached his game beast, and he galloped o by
pulling his steeds bridle. He did not hit it with a whip, nor urge it
with his legs, nor goad it. Imru" al-Qays said, What is more poetic
than I in him? After all, you must be in love with him! Then he
divorced her, and 'Alqamah got her. He ['Alqamah] was named al-
Fal [lit. stallion]. It was said, There was a man in his tribe called
'Alqamat al-Kha [the eunuch]. They distinguished them with the
name.
The khabar also puns on the double meaning of a stallion and a
master poet in the epithet fal, the title awarded to the winning
poet. Fal also has another meaning: a male animal of any kind.
20
19
This is line 45 of the version of al-Sandb, 48; Imru" al-Qays, Shar Dwn
Imri" al-Qays, ed. asan al-Sandb (Cairo: Maba'at al-Istiqmah, 1939).
20
According to Lane, fal has the meanings of a male animal of any kind,
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By conferring the title of al-Fal on 'Alqamah, the woman judges
him the master both in poetic creation and in sexual prowess. His
poetic accomplishment, his description of the horse, serves to show
heroic as well as sexual prowess. The horse is a symbol of mas-
culinity, reproduction, and hence, immortality. This symbol is elicited
not only through the sexual double-entendre of the khabar, but also
through the image of the horse in a generic sense.
Ong explains the image of horses in William Faulkners comic
novella, Spotted Horses, as the symbol of masculinity, both in the sub-
conscious and real-world mechanics.
21
The story is, according to Ong,
as follows:
When each townsman has bought himself one of the horses, by now
untied and running loose in a crude corral, the men cannot of course
catch their animals (ineectiveness of males in dealing with their own mas-
culinitythe male clown gure, the limp phallus), and some of the horses
break loose. One of them bolts into the home of a Mrs. Armstid, who
with magnicent womanly indignation snatches up a washboard and
smashes it into the animals facethe stupid male, boys-will-be-boys
game playing is tearing up her home.
22
The inability of the men to control their horses expresses their inabil-
ity to govern their own masculinity and sexual urges. Likewise, the
steed that is broken in and trained to serve in battle and in the hunt
represents the native male who curbs his passions and channels his
aggression to the service of the tribe.
23
As for the khabar, by cursing
Imru" al-Qayss horse description, Umm Jundab intends to dispar-
age his sexual competence, as she claried in the end of khabar 2.
Her vilication was devastating for Imru" al-Qays. This anecdote is
amusing because Imru" al-Qays was well-known as a womanizer even
when he was a mere youth.
Khabar 3 closes by informing us that there was another man in
particularly a stallion or a he-camel, and the verb of form I, faala iblahu, means,
He sent a male camel among the [she-] camels. In other words, fal signies
masculinity as opposed to femininity. Fal, therefore, should emphasize being a
male. Another meaning of fal is a poet, or anyone who, when he vies with a
poet, is judged to have excelled him is called a fal. Therefore, fal itself means
being or becoming a male, having won a (poetic) contest, and incorporates with
the three meanings, a stallion, masculinity, and a contest. Lane, f--l.
21
See Ong, 6263. See also The Portable Faulkner, ed. Malcolm Cowley (New
York: Viking Press, 1954), 367439.
22
Quoted by Ong, 63. Emphasis is mine.
23
See Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 3536.
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30 cn\r+rn oxr
the tribe named 'Alqamah, in addition to our 'Alqamah, and that
the former was called al-Kha (the gelded horse/castrated man),
while the latter was named al-Fal (the strong, energetic stallion/
virile man). The derivative verb and noun of each word are respec-
tively kha (to geld, to castrate, to emasculate), khuyah (testicle), and
tafaala (to be manly, masculine) and fulah (the quality of being
a male, masculineness).
24
The information of the contrast between
al-Fal and al-Kha does not draw much attention from the reader,
considering its brief appearance at the end. Nevertheless, it signicantly
hints at the khabars desire to emphasize that 'Alqamah is al-Fal,
whose meaning is in opposition to al-Kha and is based on his sex-
ual strength and virility.
Hence, for Umm Jundab, the horse description is understood as
sexual metaphor, or at least a double-entendre. She measures the
quality of the horses in sexual prowess and stamina by identifying
them with the poets. Line 39 says, when you chide him, he takes
o like an ostrich. This is interpreted metaphorically to mean that
Imru" al-Qays comes too fast and is very slow to get an erection in
khabar 2. On the other hand, 'Alqamah is fair and goes straight after
his game, which means that he is spontaneously active and aggres-
sive. Moreover, 'Alqamahs horse, in the nal line of the poem, over-
takes the she-camels and gallops o, passing quickly like a pouring
cloud, as seen in khabar 3. Umm Jundab quotes it, for she suggests
that 'Alqamahs steed does not become fatigued even after a good
amount of running, while Imru" al-Qayss gets weary very quickly;
that is why he needs to be goaded. Although it would be a mistake
to reduce Imru" al-Qayss and 'Alqamahs horse descriptions to an
amusing sexual double-entendrewhich is the gist of the khabar
the khabar does provide a useful critical function by alerting us to
the underlying masculine symbolism of the horse description and the
emblematic identication of the steed with the poet (see further
below); with this in mind, we can now turn to the poems themselves.
24
Lane, kh--y and f--l.
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Waf as Fertility, Speed, and Power in Poems
We can only speculate about the causes of the remarkable overlap
in the two qadahs of Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah al-Fal, partic-
ularly in the horse description that dominates the fakhr section. Until
the oral-formulaism of pre-Islamic poetry was demonstrated by the
application of the Parry-Lord theory of oral poetry (by James T.
Monroe in 1972), the authenticity of the entire corpus of pre-Islamic
qadah had been subject to doubt.
25
According to Monroe, in 1925
the authenticity of pre-Islamic poetry was openly questioned by the
Egyptian scholar h usayn and the British Orientalist D. S.
Margoliouth.
26
They believed that almost all pre-Islamic poems had
been forged in the Islamic period. Monroe, however, states that the
oral-formulaic evidence proves that pre-Islamic poetry could not
have been forged by literate authors in Islamic times.
27
Another
issue related to our two poems may be the problem of saraq/sariqah
(theft or plagiarism).
28
The nineteenth century German Orientalist
Wilhelm Ahlwardt, considering the fact that there are identical lines
in the poems, was of the opinion that 'Alqamah plagiarized Imru"
al-Qayss poem because he was unable to produce so excellent a
hunt scene.
29
However, if we take into consideration that the entire corpus of
pre-Islamic poetry is heavily based on intertextuality and interrefer-
entiality and that the concept of plagiarism in the Arabo-Islamic cul-
ture is considerably dierent from the modern concept of plagiarism
in the West, the discussion of plagiarism with regard to a corpus of
orally transmitted pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry may well
prove futile. Monroe explains, An oral poem has no xed text until
25
Monroe, Oral Composition, 39.
26
See Monroe, Oral Composition, 12. h usayn, F l-Adab al-Jhil (Cairo:
Dr al-Ma'rif, 1958), 63. D. S. Margoliouth, The Origins of Arabic Poetry,
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1925): 41749.
27
Monroe, Oral Composition, 39. Zwettler also has a book on the same sub-
ject, Oral Tradition.
28
The concept of intil can be applied to the case of Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah.
Although it is often interpreted as forgery or falsication of verses, Zwettler believes
that intil should be understood as one of false, dubious, or mixed attribution:
that is, verses judged to be by one poet were thought to have been wrongly claimed
by, or ascribed to, another, 197.
29
Ahlwardt, 6871.
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32 cn\r+rn oxr
it is written down from a composers dictation. Before this moment,
its text circulates from mouth to mouth, never being retold word
for word or line for line in exactly the same way.
30
By the time
medieval philologists compiled a corpus of the pre-Islamic poetry in
the eighth century C.E. in pursuit of the knowledge of its gram-
matical structure and vocabulary for the interpretation of the Qur"n,
the corpus had already gone through several generations of oral
transmission by numerous rws or transmitters.
31
Hence, there is no
point at present in our trying to determine which of the two poets
composed the original horse description; rather we will examine each
of the two poems as it stands in the classical tradition and turn our
attention to the relationship between the poems and the khabar.
The two poems by Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah presently under
discussion show the conventional tripartite structure: the nasb (ele-
giac prelude), the ral (the poets journey through the desert and
his she-camel), and the fakhr (boasting). The poets similarly recite
their sorrow and complaint about their unrequited love in the nasb,
a journey on a she-camel in the ral, and the dramatic hunt scene
in the fakhr. This tripartite structure can be explained in light of
Victor Turners application of Van Genneps rites of passage. According
to Turner, Van Gennep has shown that all rites of passage or tran-
sition are marked by three phases: separation, margin (or limen, sig-
nifying threshold in Latin), and aggregation. Separation signies
the detachment of the individual or group either from an earlier
xed point in the social structure, from a set of cultural conditions,
or from both. In the second phase, the marginal or liminal period,
the characteristics of the ritual subject are ambiguous. Lastly, the
third phase signies the consummation of the passage.
32
In this
light, the separation of the poet from his beloved presented in the
nasb in our two poems symbolizes the poets detachment from his
30
Monroe, Oral Composition, 8.
31
Zwettler believes that early Arabic poems were transmitted by memory before
they were written down, 31. See also Monroe, Oral Composition, 40.
32
Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1977), 9495. Furthermore, Mary Douglass paradigm of ritual
also is applicable to the qadah structure: the tertiary structure metaphorically rep-
resents the three stages of psycho-social developmentchildhood, adolescence, and
adulthood and some concept of its narrative embodiment in the heroic quest,
Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1966), 9697. For these applications, see Suzanne Stetkevych,
Mute, 68.
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society. The journey in the ral shows his liminal stage. In the fakhr,
aggregation is consummated through the hunt scene.
Ode by Imru" al-Qays
33
1. O my two friends,
pass by Umm Jundab with me
and we will fulll
the needs of a tormented heart.
2. For surely
if you wait for me a while
it will be good for me
[to visit] Umm Jundab.
3. Dont you see that each time
I visit her by night
I nd she has a sweet fragrance
through she wears no perfume?
4. The loveliest of
all her companions,
neither short nor,
when you consider her, stout.
5. O would that I knew
how my bond with her fares,
and how she treats her bond
with one who is absent!
6. Does Umaymah stay [true]
to the love that is between us
33
The meter of this ode is awl. Though there are many published versions of
this poem, I mainly use a version found in Imru" al-Qays, Dwn Imri" al-Qays, ed.
Muammad Ab al-Fal Ibrhm (Cairo: Dr al-Ma'rif bi-Mir, 1964), 4055. I
have also consulted al-Sandbs edition. See the Appendix for the Arabic text.
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34 cn\r+rn oxr
or is she swayed by
the words of the deceiver?
7. If you are away from her for a while,
you wont meet her again;
surely you are experienced in
how she behaves.
8. She said Whenever I am stingy with you
and make excuses, it hurts you,
but if I show passion for you,
you take me for granted.
34
9. O my friend, do you see
the departing women on their camels
following a mountain trail between the two rough lands
by Sha'ab'abs Spring?
10. They have covered their howdahs with the Ank cloth
over the red embroidered cloth,
[till they looked] like the dates of palm trees
or the date groves of Yathrib.
11. [May] God [have mercy on] the eyes of him
who saw a separation
that was more scattered and distant
than the separation at al-Muassab.
12. [They split into] two groups,
one crossing the valley of palms,
the other cutting across
the highland of Kabkab.
13. So your eyes owed like the branches
of a stream on a ood plain,
like the current of a water channel
running down over sheetrock.
34
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 9) is not exactly identical with this line: the
second word of the rst hemistich is mat in this line, while in 'Alqamah it is in.
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14. You are not one to let [have not let]
a weakling boast over you
or a loser win out
over you. (loose translation)
15. And you have not cut o the cares of
a passionate lover by [mounting] the likes of a [she-camel]
that goes out [to pasture] in the morning
and returns at evening.
35
16. On a long white one,
as if her saddle were
on the piebald anks [of a wild ass],
its eyelids not fringed with white.
17. It sings for dawn
in the watches of the night
like a [drunken] singer reeling
among the boon companions.
18. A lean young ass of
the asses of Mount 'Amyah,
his spittle is full of green herbs
whenever he drinks.
19. In a bend in the wadi where
the grass is as tall as the l-trees,
through which armies pass, both those with booty
and those that return empty-handed.
20. I would ride forth early
when the birds were still in their nests,
and rain water was still running
in every torrent channel,
36
35
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 13) is not exactly identical with this line: the
second word of the second hemistich is ghuduwwin in this line, while in 'Alqamah
it is bukrin. We can nd an additional four lines between lines 15 and 16 in the
version of al-Sandb.
36
The rst hemistich is identical with the rst hemistich of line 53 in Imru" al-
Qayss Mu'allaqah.
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36 cn\r+rn oxr
21. On a sleek steed,
a shackle for wild game,
left thin by his pursuit of the herds lead runners
on every long chase.
37
22. Despite fatigue, he is ebullient, tall,
as if his withers,
despite leanness and much running,
were a large tree on a lookout hill.
23. [In galloping] he vies with the wild ass
who kicks out his legs
as his fetlock hair ies; you see
he is built like the wood of a cloth rack.
24. He has the two anks of an antelope,
the (two) legs of an ostrich
and the withers of a wild ass
standing on a lookout peak.
25. He steps on hooves
solid and hard
as if they were the stones of a stream
bright green with moss.
38
26. His rump is like a sandhill
packed down by rain,
and his withers
like a howdahs wide saddle.
39
27. He has an eye
like an artisans mirror
37
The rst hemistich is identical with the second hemistich of line 53 in Imru"
al-Qayss Mu'allaqah.
38
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 28) is not entirely identical with this line: the
rst three words of the second hemistich are wa yakh 'al ummin ilbin in this
line, while in 'Alqamah they are wa sumrun yufalliqna -irba.
39
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 26) with this line is not entirely identical: the
rst two-thirds of this line is kafalun ka-ddi'i labbadahu n-nad il rikin, while in
'Alqamah it is qatun kakardsi l-malah ashrafat il sanadin. Imru" al-Qayss line 32
also overlaps with 'Alqamahs line 26.
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cox+rs+ \s crnrvoxv 37
which she turns around her eye
to examine a veil.
40
(loose translation)
28. He has two ears in which
you perceive good breeding
[pricked up] like the ears of a frightened oryx-doe
in the middle of her herd.
41
29. His ear bone is round
as if his reins and
bridle were on top of
smooth stripped palm-trunk.
30. His tail is black
with a eshy pliant bone,
like the date-laden boughs
of Sumayah Spring.
42
31. When he runs a double heat
and his sides are wet [with sweat]
you would say [his breathing sounds like]
the rustling of the wind as it passes by a huge tree.
32. He turns a croup
like a large pulley
that overlooks a rump
like a wide pack-saddle.
43
40
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 16) is not exactly identical with this line: the
rst part of the rst hemistich is wa 'aynun in this line, while in 'Alqamah it is bi-
'aynin.
41
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 24) is not entirely identical with this line: the
second word of the rst hemistich is udhunn in this line, while in 'Alqamah it is
urratni.
42
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 17) is not entirely identical with this line: the
rst hemistich is wa asamu rayynu l-'asbi ka"annahu in this line, while in 'Alqamah
it is ka"anna bi-dhayh"idh m tashadhdharat; also the second word of the second
hemistich is qinwin in this line, while in 'Alqamah it is 'idhqin.
43
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 26) is not entirely identical with this line: the
rst three words in the rst hemistich are yudru qatan ka-l-malati in this line,
while in 'Alqamah they are qatun kakurdsi al-malati.
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38 cn\r+rn oxr
33. [Impatient] he chews on the tethering post
until he seems mad
and possessed by a demon
that wont let him go.
34. One day he pursued
a herd of white-coated [oryx]
and another day he pursued
a wild desert ass with foal.
35. Then while the white [oryx] cows
were grazing in a thicket,
walking like maidens
in fringed white robes.
44
36. We called out to each other
as we fastened his cheek-strap
and my friends said,
They have escaped you, so chase them!
37. With great diculty
we mounted our boy
on the curved back
with a strong spine.
38. And he took o
like an evening downpour
as [the oryx] emerged from a whirl-wind of dust.
[= dust cloud rising in the air.]
39. To the leg he is ery,
to the whip like a ood,
when you chide him,
he takes o like an ostrich.
44
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 32) is not entirely identical with this line: the
rst two words of the rst hemistich are fabayn ni'jun in this line, while in 'Alqamah
they are ra"ayn shiyhan.
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40. He reached [the game/the oryx],
without eort and without a second try,
whirling like a childs
button on a string.
41. You see the mice of
the low soft ground
heading for the dry hard ground
from his thundering gallop.
45
42. It drove them out
from their holes
just as a noisy evening
downpour does.
46
43. He struck in succession
an oryx bull and cow,
an old bull white
as a sheet of parchment.
47
44. As the oryx bulls of
the sanddune bellowed
he kept striking them with a Samhar spear
reinforced with a sinew.
48
45. Then one bull fell
on its white face prostrate,
[while another] protected itself
with a horn like the tip of an awl.
49
45
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 35) is not entirely identical with this line: the
second half of the rst hemistich is f mustanqa'i l-q'i liban in this line, while in
'Alqamah it is 'an mustarghabi l-qadri l"ian.
46
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 36) is partly dierent from this line: the entire
line is khafhunna min anfqihinna ka"annam khafhunna wadqun min 'ashiyyin mujallibi in
this line, while in 'Alqamah it is khaf l-fa'ra min anfqihi faka"annam takhallalahu
shu"bu ghaythin munaqqibi.
47
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 39) is not entirely identical with this line: the
second hemistich is wa bayna shabbin ka-l-qamati qarhabi in this line, while in
'Alqamah it is wa taysin shabbin ka-l-hashmati qarhabi.
48
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 37) is not entirely identical with this line: the
second word of the second hemistich is al-samhar in this line, while in 'Alqamah it
is al-na.
49
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 38) is not entirely identical with this line: the
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40 cn\r+rn oxr
46. And we said to
the noble youth,
Dismount and raise the extra clothes
over us as a tent.
47. Its tentpegs were
chain mail;
its tentpole a Rudayn spear
with a spear-tip of Qa'abis make.
48. Its tentropes were
the ropes of hollow-eyed camels
of excellent breed;
its top a striped Yemeni mantle.
49. When we entered it
we leaned our backs
against each streaked
ran saddle.
50. As if the eyes of the wild game
around our tent
and our camel saddles were
unbored onyx beads.
51. We wiped our hands
on the manes of our steeds
when we rose
from meat roasted rare.
52. We began, in the evening,
as if we were [date merchants] from Juwth,
loading some of the oryx meat in saddle bags
and some behind [the saddle].
53. And the horse, like a roebuck
that has grazed on the Rabl plant [of autumn],
rst word of the rst hemistich is fa-kba in this line, while in 'Alqamah it is fa-
win, and the rst word of the second hemistich is bi-madriyatin in this line, while
in 'Alqamah it is bi-midrtihi.
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began shaking his head
with annoyance from the pouring sweat.
50
54. As if the blood of the lead oryx
upon his throat were
henna juice dyeing
[an old mans] white hair.
51
55. When you look at him from behind,
the gap between his legs is lled by a full [black] tail
reaching a bit above the ground,
not tinged with red.
Imru" al-Qays opens his nasb (ll. 115) quite conventionally by
addressing the personas two companions and informing them that
his love with Umm Jundab has ended bitterly (l. 1). This opening
reveals the theme of the entire nasb, separation and barrenness.
We should not take the appearance of the name Umm Jundab to
substantiate the historicity of the associated khabar; to the contrary,
the nasb is entirely conventional. There is no indication in the poetic
text that Umm Jundab is the personas wife; rather she appears as
the typical cruel mistress of the nasb. The middle part, the ral,
consisting of only four lines (ll. 1619), likewise pursues the tradi-
tional ral motif, the description of a journey on a she-camel.
In the fakhr (ll. 2055), the poet attempts to demonstrate man-
hoodglory, fertility, and prowessthrough the ekphrastic descrip-
tion of a chivalrous hunt scene. The rst line (l. 20), wa qad aghtad
wa -ayru f wukuntih, describes the poets setting out for the hunt
in the very early morning when the birds are still in their nests.
52
50
'Alqamahs overlapping line (l. 44) is not entirely identical with this line: the
second word of the rst hemistich is ka-taysi in this line, while in 'Alqamah it is ka-
shti.
51
This line is identical with line 63 of Imru" al-Qayss Mu'allaqah poem except
of the last word.
52
Jaroslav Stetkevych states that the phrase is a characteristic, micro-paradig-
matic opening motif of setting out of the hunt poetry and is proper of the sub-
jective style. The Hunt in the Arabic Qadah: The Antecedents of the ardiyyah,
in Tradition and Modernity in Arabic Language and Literature, ed. J. R. Smart (Sussex:
Curzon, 1996), 109. See also his article, The Hunt in Classical Arabic Poetry:
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42 cn\r+rn oxr
This opening phrase, found also in the Mu'allaqah of Imru" al-Qays,
is a conventional opening for the chivalrous hunt of the fakhr in the
Arabic qaidah tradition. In fact, 'Alqamah likewise uses the phrase
in his poem for the beginning of the fakhr. We can often nd the
association of birds with horses in the Arab tradition. For example,
there is a saying of the Arabs: Horses are birds without wings.
53
'Al ibn 'Abd al-Ramn ibn Hudhayl al-Andalus indicates one of
the sayings of the Prophet: God said to the horse, I shall make
you y without wings.
54
A horses parts are sometimes named after
birds parts: such as nasr (vulture/eagle), the interior of a hoof; hmah
(owl), the top of a head; and 'asfr (sparrow), a brow-bone, etc.
55
The bird is a symbol of speed and loftiness, for it is capable of ying
high and swiftly. The horse ought to run as the bird ies. Imru" al-
Qays further combines the imagery of birds and water saying, I
would ride forth early when the birds were still in their nests, and
rainwater was still running in every torrent channel (l. 20). In addi-
tion, a Bedouin heros steeds are frequently named rushing waters,
ood, rain, or river. For example, Prophet Muammads
favorite horse was named Uskb (The Torrent) from sakab (swiftly
running water).
56
Such names may symbolize insemination.
57
The
heavy torrent with the image of insemination in Imru" al-Qayss
ode thus insinuates the impression of fertility and reproduction.
The horse emerges in the second line of the fakhr section with its
epithet, a sleek, swift steed (munjarid) (l. 21). Munjarid originally means
to be stripped. A shackle for game (qaydi al-awbidi ) is another epi-
thet for the steed. With regard to the Arabic tradition of epithets,
important subjects tend to be indirectly presented by the use of
from Mukharam Qadah to Umayyad ardiyyah, Journal of Arabic Literature 30, no.
2 (1999): 116.
53
Daumas, 187.
54
Al-Andalus, 27.
55
Al-Andalus, 6367. According to al-Andalus, al-Ama' relates that Harn
Rashd, who had heard that twenty names of birds were used to depict the parts
of the horse, asked him to take his horse by the forelock and describe the horse
from poll to hoof. Then al-Ama' recited for him a poem. See also Janet C. E.
Watson, Lexicon of Arabic Horse Terminology (London: Kegan Paul International, 1996),
411.
56
Daumas, 14.
57
Jaroslav Stetkevych, Name and Epithet: The Philology and Semiotics of Animal
Nomenclature in Early Arabic Poetry, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 45, no. 2 (1986):
104, 11225.
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epithets rather than denotants. Since the she-camel bears signicance
in the ral, being an indispensable vehicle and companion for the
poets journey, she is rarely explicitly named as nqah, as we like-
wise see in the ral part of Imru" al-Qayss poem.
58
The horse in
the fakhr is no exception. In the earliest Arabic poetry, there is no
aesthetic synthesisor rather no aesthetic conceptualization con-
densed into a termof what the she-camel intimately meant to the
poet.
59
I further speculate that the poet may realize the condensed poetic
force of a qadah epithet that is capable of expressing the most appro-
priate state or a quality of its object, tting the exact poetic timing,
without mentioning the name of the object. For the poet, the qual-
ity may be more important than the object itselfthat is why he
has no need to state its name. We can assume, moreover, that qual-
ities that are generally presented by epithets mostly describing phys-
ical aspects do not only denote the physical appearance, but also
connote the concept behind the appearance, such as fertility, speed,
and power. In doing so, the poet relies on the epithet to convey
emblematic and symbolic meanings.
The persona is the hunter riding on a sleek steed. Despite fatigue,
his steed is ebullient (l. 22). His withers (sart)
60
look like a large tree
on a lookout hill, though lean and quick. From the high lookout of
the tree, which is the highest place in the tribal community, a tribal
guard is watching his tribes enemies. The implication of this simile
is that the horse, due to his great height, has an unobstructed view
of the enemies approach. The association between the horses back
and the tree is not so much based on analogies, but rather on sym-
bolic concepts; by means of its height and vigilance, the steed pro-
tects the rider/persona. According to al-Andalus, Ibn Qutaybah (b.
828 C.E.) states that a long, supple neck for a horse is considered
most desirable.
61
The horse is excited, for he has spotted his game.
He competes with a kicker, an epithet for a wild ass. The wild
58
Ibid., 100. He nds that the word nqah itself is rare in the earliest Arabic
poetry.
59
Ibid., 110. He further mentions, The word nqah was as yet latent and incu-
bating, waiting to emerge as some unexpressed future meaning that would subsume
the often disjointed, functional aesthetic of the countless epithets.
60
Sart is the highest part of a horse. See al-Andalus, 53.
61
Al-Andalus, 72.
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44 cn\r+rn oxr
ass is known for the strength of its legs, particularly its pastern-joints.
The horses body is like the wood of a cloth rack in its leanness,
smoothness, and rmness.
The poet portrays the steeds body using similes, as if it were a
collage, i.e., a collection of best parts from other animals: the two
anks of an antelope, the (two) legs of an ostrich and the withers of
a wild ass standing on a lookout peak (l. 24). Al-Andalus claims
that Imru" al-Qays in his Mu'allaqah was the rst poet to compare
the horse to those animals. The ideal characteristics for a horse are
modeled on what is distinctive in each of these species: the ante-
lopes slender waist, the ostrichs short thighs, the wild asss wide
back.
62
They are signs of good breeding. One can imagine these as
(mnemonic) rules of thumb among horsemen in an oral society.
Jaroslav Stetkevych argues that many epithets for animals in the qa-
dah are idealizing selective perceptions that are strung out some-
times in close semantic interdependence and sometimes paratactically
as glimpses of illuminations. He further claims that such a pres-
ence of a protagonist animal is as powerfully and imaginatively insin-
uated as it is diused and deconcretized in the sense that would
denote a separate palpable individual.
63
Similar remarks concerning the epithets of the horse can be applied
as well to Imru" al-Qayss string of similes. He selects distinctive parts
from the other animals and forms them into an idealized image.
Though the parts of the horse are individually enumerated, they are
to be unied in an ideal gure, visualized through the imagination
of the audience. Just as the epithets encapsulate the respective
models enacted semblance and meaning, so too, as I see it, do
the similes.
64
The epithets, or similes, are aimed at a constructed
ideal image: the type beyond the individual, the archetype beyond
the type, and the symbol beyond the archetype.
65
The audience of
the oral tradition was educated and cultivated through the intertex-
tuality and interreferentiality of the qadah so that they intuitively
grasped the full subject, despite the seemingly scattered, diverse
images. When they were listening, they could easily imagine the
complete image of the ideal creature.
62
Ibid., 8081.
63
Jaroslav Stetkevych, Name, 118.
64
Ibid., 11617.
65
Ibid., 118.
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The description of the horse continues. The horse runs on hooves
depicted with the epithets umm ilb, hard and solid (l. 25). The
poet says that they were like the stones of a streamlet covered by
green moss. Again for him, the outward resemblance between the
hooves and the stones is not paramount, but his emphasis is rather
on the extreme solidness which is a common physical feature in the
two components. The horses rump is like a sandhill, and his with-
ers are like a howdahs wide saddle. The wide saddle of a howdah
is a metaphor for the beautiful curve of the withers (the ridge between
the shoulder bones) for its elevation and width. His eye is likened
to an artisans mirror, which is polished and always clear (l. 27).
The horse has sharp-pointed ears revealing 'itq (beauty and nobil-
ity) or good breeding.
66
The term, 'itq, is often used for the excel-
lent quality of the horse. His ears are compared to those of an
alarmed (madh'rah) oryx-doe whose ears stand up because she is
frightened. By the use of the epithet for a fearful oryx-doe and its
erect ears, the sharpness of the horses ears is intensied. The back
of the ear is round/revolving, which shows his high-breeding, as if
his reins and bridle because of his tall neck were on top of a sleek
palm trunk (l. 29). The black thick tail is likened to moist date-laden
boughs at Sumayah Spring (l. 30), which implies fruitfulness.
The similes of the horse we have discussed so far reect two
aspects: 1. the noble lineage of the horse and 2. the poets consid-
erable poetic knowledge of the horse. The ample signs of the horses
good-breeding demonstrate the cultivation of the steed by human
beings, because he could not possess those excellent attributes if he
were not the product of selective breeding and expert care. Indeed,
according to Janet C. E. Watson, many pre-Islamic poets, who would
improvise poems, were required to display extensive technical knowl-
edge of the horse in their odes to prove themselves to be distin-
guished poets and often participated in poetic duels.
67
Although the description of the horses body parts in lines 2630
appears static, it is actually integrated into a dynamic movement
because it occurs during his swift gallop. Those concepts, signied
through the physical depiction, now converge and are unied into
an image of speed and momentum. The steeds speed and the sound
66
A sharp-pointed ear is a symbol of usn and 'itq (beauty and excellence). See
al-Andalus, 81.
67
Watson, xv.
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46 cn\r+rn oxr
of his breathing are compared to a strong, powerful wind that causes
even a huge tree to shake (l. 31). This simile reminds us of the image
of the horse, created out of wind. The comparison to a large pul-
ley shows the strength of the croups vertebrae (l. 32). He champs
on the tethering post so vehemently that he seems to be possessed
by an inescapable demons madness.
Let us now consider why the poet devotes as many as fourteen
lines (2033) to the physical description of the horse. The poets ulti-
mate goal is to show the steeds inner superiority through the depic-
tion of his physical strength and beauty. One view maintains, In
orally preserved poetry, abstract concepts are expressed as physical
attributes of concrete objects.
68
To this view we can add Daumass
description of the pure-bred horse and the importance of breeding
in relation to the horses character by quoting the Emir Abd-el-
Kaders remarks:
The Emir Abd-el-Kader takes physical and moral attributes as being
inseparable, . . . his moral attributes must correspond to his physical
appearance. . . . We should judge the horse more by his character
[moral attributes] than by his appearance. By outward indications one
can judge the breeding. From character alone you will have conrmation
of the extreme care which is taken in breeding and of the vigilance
which has been exercised to adamantly prohibit misalliances.
69
The Emir further testies to the excellence of the horse:
We have many anecdotes about the qualities of horses. From all of
them it may be deduced that next to man the horse is the noblest
creature, the most patient, the most useful. . . . Arabs will make every
conceivable sacrice to succeed in getting ospring from a stallion or
mare when they are convinced that one or the other has given proof
of extraordinary speed, notable sobriety, acute intelligence, or aection
toward the hand that feeds it, as they are fully persuaded that the
qualities of the parents will appear in the progeny. We grant then,
that a horse is truly noble when, in addition to having beautiful con-
formation, he joins courage to eriness and glows with pride in the
midst of gunpowder and dangers.
70
It is not coincidental that the Arabic poetic tradition selected the
horse as one of the main motifs of the fakhr unit; the horse, as the
68
Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 274.
69
Daumas, 1120.
70
Ibid.
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Emir argues, is the symbol of excellence and nobility in the poets
tribal community. In order to build the ideal image of culmination
in light of both the qadah structure and of the tribal community,
the poet makes use of the steeds physical beauty and sturdiness,
which God granted only to the horse among beasts.
71
The horse is
chosen to be the lord of beasts by God for its beauty and high value.
According to the tradition, God conferred khayr on the horse, joined
in its forelock. Khayr is moral or physical good, anything that is
good or ideal, good fortune, prosperity, happiness.
72
Khayr is also
used by the Arabs to signify horses.
Having illustrated the steeds dignity in all senses, Imru" al-Qays
further utilizes the technique of waf in order to construct his own
image as champion by overlapping himself with the image of the
massive, powerful steed.
73
For the poet, the horse is not a mere
object of poetic waf. The poem instead presents the symbiotic rela-
tionship of poet and horse. Furthermore, according to Daumas, the
Emir states, physical attributes alone do not constitute a perfect
horse. It is necessary, because of his intelligence, because of his
aection for the man who feeds him, cares for him, and rides him,
that man and horse be as one.
74
Moreover, in the hunt, the steed
also keeps the hunter/persona safe from dangers in the chase and
shares the emotions of sorrow and pleasure of the hunter by
ghting.
75
The hunter/persona and the horse are portrayed as united
not only in the sphere of body, but also in spirit.
The poem now moves on to the dramatic hunt scene. The scene
of the hunt and feast is the expression of invigoration and jubila-
tion, according to the phase of plerosis or lling of Gasters seasonal
pattern.
76
If the loss in the nasb is presented in the phase of keno-
sis or emptying, the gain in the fakhr is in that of lling. Suzanne
Stetkevych argues, referring to Imru" al-Qayss Mu'allaqah poem, the
71
See Daumas, 7.
72
Lane, kh-y-r.
73
Adnan Haydar nds the complete identication of poet and horse in the end
of the fakhr section of the Mu'allaqah of Imru" al-Qays; however, in both that poem
and this one, the poet is present with the horse, hence my preference for the term
overlapping. See Adnan Haydar, The Mu'allaqa of Imru" al-Qays: Its Structure
and Meaning, I, Edebiyt 2, no. 2 (1977): 244.
74
Daumas, 20.
75
Ibid., 12.
76
See Theodor H. Gaster, Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient Near East
(New York: W. W. Norton, 1977), 23. Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 277, 25859.
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48 cn\r+rn oxr
hunt and feast constitute the sacrice that signals aggregation and
the commensal meal that celebrates it.
77
The chivalrous hunt is an
expression of virilitygenerating new life through male aggression.
One day the horse chases a herd of white, wild oryx cows and
another day wild asses with foals (l. 34). Naq (pure) is an epithet for
white oryxes, and baydnah is an epithet for a wild she-ass in a dan-
gerous desert, which no one wants to draw near. The game emerges,
and the hunt panel begins. There wild cows graze in a thicket, going
like a procession maidens in white robes (l. 35). Ni'j (intensely
white or women) is likewise an epithet for wild cows. This use
of epithet, by not mentioning the word the cow, allows the verse
to create a (subliminal) picture of a strong male assaulting a virgin
maiden. The hunt is described so as to suggest a sexual act: the
steed playing the male role, the oryx cows like virgins.
Having shown incredible power and energy, the steed wins his
game. During the hunt the steeds gallop is likened to the down-
pour of an evening raincloudthe erce, abundant rain symbolizes
again fertility, vigor, and speed. The hunters begin to make a tent
for shade with their cloth, mail, and spears in order to have a feast
with the slain quarry. The chain mail is used for pegs (i.e., to weight
down the corners of the tent) and the spears, from Rudaynah, the
name of a woman who was selling them, are for the poles. The
spearheads are made by Qa'ab who was said to have been a hus-
band of Rudaynah.
78
It looks to the persona as if the games eyes
are like black and white onyx beads that are unboredan unbored
one is pure and beautiful (l. 50).
79
If the bull were alive, his eyes
would have been only black. But he is dead; they roll back to show
both black and white.
80
The hunters wipe their hands on their horses
manes when they stand up from their rare roast meat. This is the
ritual marking the end of the feast.
The she-camel is loaded with the freshly-killed game,
81
like camels
laden with bags of dates returning from Juwth at evening (l. 52)
Juwth is a place where people buy dates and put them in two
77
Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 277.
78
See line 47s shar in Ibrhms edition.
79
See line 50s shar in Ibrhms edition.
80
Ibid.
81
Hunters used to use horses only for the hunt itself; to go to and return from
a hunt, they ride she-camels, which also carry the game, while leading their horses
with ropes.
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sacks on a beasts croup on their return. When the horse shakes his
head, he smells like a buck feeding on rabl (autumn herbage). The
rabl shrubs sprout green leaves at the end of a hot season without
rain. Since a buck of the rabl eats both spring-herbage and autumn-
herbage, he has great energy and power.
82
This line suggests fertil-
ity and strength through metaphors of the fruitful land and the buck
that is grazing on it. Bloodstains on the horses chest reveal his tri-
umph in the chase. Suzanne Stetkevych claims that the comparison
of the bloodstains to henna upon an old mans hair (white) presents
the intended analogy of the revitalizing eect of blood shed in the
hunt to the rejuvenating eect of henna on hoary locks, and fur-
ther associates the subject with the Islamic use of henna in accor-
dance with the Sunnah of the Prophet a symbolic expression of the
immortality conferred by Islam.
83
The association of the bloodshed
of the hunt with the blood shed by deowering a virgin also has a
place here. The ending line shows that the steed has a thick, long
tail that blocks the gap between his hind legs. According to Ibn
Qutaybah, the horses tail ought to be long and abundant enough
to cover the gap,
84
but never to reach the ground, which was regarded
as a aw.
85
Imru" al-Qayss horse has a reddish tail that reaches just
a bit above the ground.
Ode by 'Alqamah al-Fal
86
1. You departed after she left you
with no direction;
82
See line 53s shar in Ibrhms edition.
83
Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 277.
84
Watson, xiv.
85
A horses tail reaching the ground is considered a defect, for a horse may
tread on the tail. See Shar al-Mu'allaqt al-'Ashar wa Akhbr Shu'ar"ih, ed. Amad
ibn al-Amn al-Shinq (Beirut: Dr al-Andalus, 1970), 88 and Ab 'Abd Allh al-
usayn ibn Amad al-Zawzan, Shar al-Mu'allaqt al-Sab', ed. Muammad 'Al
amd Allh (Damascus: Al-Maktabah al-Umawiyyah, 1963), 118.
86
I mainly rely on an edition found in Shar Dwn 'Alqamah b. 'Abadah al-Fal,
ed. Luf al-aqql and Wariyyah al-Khab, with a commentary by Ab al-ajjj
Ysuf ibn Sulaymn ibn 's known as al-A'lam al-Shantamar, with review of Fakhr
al-Dn Qabwah (Aleppo: Dr al-Kitb al-'Arab, 1969), 79100. I also consult a
version in Shar Dwn Imri" al-Qays, ed. asan al-Sandb (Cairo: Maba'at al-
Istqmah, 1939), 4247. See the Appendix for the Arabic text.
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50 cn\r+rn oxr
it was not right of her
to shun you.
2. Those nights when we still gave
each other sincere advice,
nights when [our tribes] were settled
at al-Sitr and Ghurrab.
3. She is slender
as if her delicate jewelry were
on [the neck of ] a pet gazelle
fawn from ah.
4. [She is adorned with] musk-lled gold beads
like locust shells,
unbored pearls,
and phials of perfume.
5. When the slanderers spread lies
to come between us,
the love between us
grew truer and stronger.
6. What use is it to remember her,
a woman of the Rab'ah tribe,
who has scattered at r
or along the banks of the Wadi Shurbub?
7. You obeyed the slanderers and the calumniators
in breaking up with her,
the ties to her had been worn out
and were ready to cut.
8. She made a promise to you,
if only she had kept it,
but her promise was like the promise of 'Urqb
to his brother in Yathrib.
9. She said Whenever I am stingy with you
and make excuses, you complain,
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but if I show passion for you,
you take me for granted.
10. I said to her,
Return to your family,
for those with lovely eyes
and hennaed ngers dont excite me.
11. So she returned just as a doe
with fawn of the brown gazelles of Bshah,
grazing on "Ark
and ullab trees, returns.
12. We lived a good life
with her for much of our youth,
but then, the gossip of the slanderers
succeeded [in driving us apart].
13. And you have not cut o the cares of
a passionate lover by [mounting] the likes of [a she-camel]
that goes out [to pasture] in the morning
and returns at evening.
14. On a bulky camel with full anks,
as brisk as you desire,
a swift runner,
despite fatigue, spritely.
15. When I hit her ank,
she fairly leaps beneath me,
and watches me closely
from the corner of her eye. (loose translation)
16. She has an eye
like an artisans mirror which
she turns around her eye
to examine a veil.
87
(loose translation)
87
Lines 16 and 17 overlap with lines 27 and 30 of Imru" al-Qayss poem. Imru"
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52 cn\r+rn oxr
17. As if there were on her rump,
when she is lively,
the date-laden boughs
of Sumayah Spring.
18. She sometimes drives away ies with her tail,
and, at others, swings it back and forth,
like a messenger of good tidings
in a fringed cloak waving his arms.
19. I would ride forth early
when the birds were still in their nests,
and rain water was still running
in every torrent channel,
20. On a sleek steed,
a shackle for wild game,
left thin by his pursuit of the herds lead runners
on every long chase.
21. On a supple steed
on whose chest is an amulet string
that a sorcerer has spit on
out of fear of the evil eye.
22. A dark bay like the color
of a red-dyed cloth
that you spread out to display for sale
the cloak that had been folded in the clothes bag.
23. Firm like a tightly twisted
Andar leather rope,
he is adorned with beauty
by a full build, not short.
al-Qays uses these descriptions for a horse, while 'Alqamah employs the same
descriptions for a she-camel.
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24. He has two ears in which
you perceive good breeding
[pricked up] like the ears of a frightened oryx-doe
in the middle of her herd.
25. He has a large hollow belly
beneath his back
like a smooth hill
that children use for a slide.
26. He has a high rump
like the back of a camel,
and broad like
a howdahs wide saddle.
27. He has legs as sturdy as
the necks of male-hyenas,
the sinews of his shank bones are sound
and with them he pounds every road.
28. He has dark hard hooves
that split projecting rocks,
as if they were the stones of a stream,
bright green with moss.
29. When we hunt,
we do not sneak up on [our game] stealthily,
but we call from far:
Lets go!
30. [We have] condence in him;
the tribe does not curse him;
he is patient despite fatigue;
he is not reviled.
31. When they have exhausted
their travel-provisions,
his rein and his shanks, when put to use,
are the best means to acquire more.
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54 cn\r+rn oxr
32. We saw white [oryx] cows were
grazing in a thicket,
walking like maidens
in fringed white robes.
33. While we were arguing
and fastening his cheek-strap,
the wild cows came out before us
like a row of pierced silver beads.
34. He followed the tracks of the cows
at a hard fast gallop
like the abundant rainpour
of an evening cloud.
35. You see the mice of
the low soft ground
heading for the dry hard ground
from his thundering gallop.
36. It drove them out
from their holes
just as a noisy evening
downpour does.
37. As the oryx bulls of
the sanddune bellowed
he kept striking them with a Samhar spear
reinforced with a sinew.
38. Then one bull fell
on its white face prostrate,
[while another] protected itself
with a horn like the tip of an awl.
39. He struck in succession
an oryx bull and cow,
a huge old buck
like a Hashmah tree.
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40. We said,
The hunters have bagged game;
dismount and raise the extra clothes
over us as a tent.
41. [Our] hands kept on reaching out
for well-done roast meat
to a chest like
a perfume-pounding stone.
42. As if the eyes of the wild game
around our tent
and our camel saddles
were unbored onyx beads.
43. We began, in the evening,
as if we were [date merchants] from Juwth,
loading some of the oryx meat in saddle bags
and some behind [the saddle].
44. And the horse, like a roebuck
that has grazed on the Rabl plant [of autumn],
began shaking its head
with annoyance from the pouring sweat.
45. And it began racing with our young she-camel
as we led it beside her;
it is hard for us to handle,
like a snake let loose.
46. It overtook them [the she-camels]
and galloped o,
passing quickly
like a pouring cloud.
88
88
This line is found in line 45 of the edition of al-Sandb, 48. I include it in
the poem because the line is introduced in the khabar, though it is not in other
editions.
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56 cn\r+rn oxr
'Alqamahs poem of 45 lines, which was said to have been a response
to Imru" al-Qayss qadah in the poetic contest, similarly shows the
conventional tripartite structure and themes. In the nasb (ll. 113)
'Alqamah presents a lament over the personas separation from his
beloved and in the ral, depicts his journey on a she-camel, sturdy
and swift (ll. 1418), in order to forget his unrequited love. As for
the fakhr (ll. 1945), 'Alqamah like Imru" al-Qays describes the chival-
rous hunt. A number of the verses (14 out of 33) in the fakhr are
identical to those of Imru" al-Qays, including its rst two lines (ll.
1920). Since I have already investigated the overlap lines in the
section on Imru" al-Qays, I will only examine the lines that dier.
First, in lines 2123 'Alqamah mentions that the personas steed has
a broad chest wearing an amulet with a sorcerers spell against the
evil eye. The horse is kumayt (red mixed with black) or the dark bay
that Arab bedouins were always fond of, for they believed that the
kumayt color reects the inherent good qualities of a well-bred horse.
89
The twisted knot of an Andar leather rope describes the rmness
of the steeds parted legs. His balanced proportions increase his
beauty. Line 24, expressing the noble breeding detectable in the
shape of his ears, is identical with Imru" al-Qayss line 28. 'Alqamah
continues to describe the horses huge body and smooth coat (l. 25).
The depiction of the steeds rump in line 26 is almost the same as
line 26 of Imru" al-Qays. The steeds legs are as thick and strong
as the necks of male-hyenas. This comparison to another animal is
again the expression of the ideal, perfect image of the steed. Ghulbun
(thick) is an epithet for his feet. His dark (sumrun) hooves are com-
pared to the stones of a streambed, as we see in Imru" al-Qayss
line 25. Thus, much like Imru" al-Qays, 'Alqamah constructs the
beautiful form of the lord of beasts, the horse, through the physical
description.
The dramatic hunt begins. The hunter signals the chase by call-
ing out to his fellow-riders (l. 29). The tribal members always rely
on the steed for the hunt. When they lack food, the steed is the one
who satises the need by overtaking the best game (l. 31). Line 32
is almost identical with Imru" al-Qayss line 35. 'Alqamah starts to
depict the scene of the contest between the hunter/persona and the
hunted (l. 33). The row of oryx is likened to silver beads. The
89
See information on the horses color in Daumas, 17.
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momentum of the steeds attack is as vehement as the evening down-
pour, which symbolizes fertility. The descriptions of the mice in lines
3536 and the slaying of an oryx cow overlap with Imru" al-Qayss.
Imru" al-Qays devotes six lines (4651) to the description of build-
ing a tent and the feast, while 'Alqamah employs only three lines
(4042) to describe them. 'Alqamah likewise expresses his identity
and attachment to his society. In lines 4344 (overlap) he recounts
the hunters return to their community with the prey that announces
his successful hunt to his tribe, suggesting that each successful hunt
and its following feast serve to rearm the tribal social structure.
90
In the ending line, the personas horse outstrips the she-camel, pass-
ing like a pouring rain-cloud, which again serves as a symbol of
speed and fertility. 'Alqamahs poem concludes with the expression
of vigor, endurance, and fertility.
Contest as Ceremony
Let us conclude by returning once more to the story of the poetic
contest between Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah in the akhbr that pro-
vides the traditional Arabic literary context for the two poems. The
work of such scholars as Johan Huizinga, Walter J. Ong, and Ward
Parks has demonstrated the pervasiveness of the contest, and fur-
ther, the verbal duelyting as poetic contestparticularly in archaic
societies. A consideration of the story of the poetic contest between
Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah in light of their ndings will help us
understand the deeper cultural signicance of these akhbr and the
poems they relate to.
Walter J. Ong claims that contests and adversatives are indis-
pensable in human life.
91
The antagonistic and antithetical structure
of the community played a signicant role in the archaic period.
92
Bragging and scong matches bear in their structure the concept of
90
Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 277.
91
Ong, 15.
92
See Huizinga, 53. The ancient Arabs had a custom similar to mu'raah, called
mumjadah, a public and apparently quite structured vying in glory by wagering
property including animals, food, and wine. See Jaroslav Stetkevych, Sacrice and
Redemption in Early Islamic Poetry: Al-uay"ahs Wretched Hunter, Journal of
Arabic Literature 31, no. 3 (2000): 1014. As an analogous custom to mumjadah,
Huizinga introduces potlatch, a great solemn feast, during which one of two groups,
with much pomp and ceremony, makes gifts on a large scale to the other group
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58 cn\r+rn oxr
play.
93
Johan Huizinga explains, In play there is something at play
which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning
to the action.
94
Ong also cites Alvin W. Gouldners idea that the
ancient Greek way of life was characterized by three elements: 1.
the quest for fame through 2. personal action in 3. a contest system
or operation setting person against person.
95
This characterization
of ancient Greek society can be applied fruitfully to pre-Islamic tribal
Arabia and in particular to the poetic contest between Imru" al-Qays
and 'Alqamah. The fakhr or boast is one of the major themes of the
pre-Islamic qadah. Thus we can see that the competing poets 1.
quest for fame through 2. personal actionthat is, composing poetry
in a contest system that sets poet against poet. Even when a fakhr
qadah appears to stand by itself, the idea of competition is inher-
ent in the genre, for the goal of fakhr is to establish the superiority
of the virtue and might of the persona and his tribe over compet-
ing tribes, that is, as a genre, fakhr or boast implies mufkharah (boast-
ing contest, yting). Within the sphere of poetry itself, such poems
are intrinsically competitive.
The verbal dueling process in Homeric epics also helps us under-
stand the contour of the khabar. Ward Parks has formulated the
process for Homer: 1. engagement, 2. yting (a) eris (the heroes con-
tend for kleos or glory), (b) contract, 3. trial of arms, 4. ritual reso-
lution (retrospective speech and symbolic action).
96
The same elements
can be detected in the khabar: 1. engagement, the khabar brings the
two poets to the arena of the poetic contest; 2. yting (a) the poets
contend for glory and (b) consent to compete in the description of
horse; 3. they vie by reciting the odes; 4. Umm Jundabs judgment,
the conferring of the title fal on and marrying 'Alqamah, which
fulll the function of ritual resolution both in terms of retrospective
speech and symbolic action.
Ong points out that the contest functioned to transmit conceptual-
ized knowledge from one generation to another.
97
By taking a form
for the express purpose of showing its superiority, which was practiced by Indian
tribes in British Columbia, 58.
93
See Huizinga, 65.
94
Huizinga, 1.
95
Ong, 21, citing Alvin W. Gouldner, Enter Plato: Classical Greece and the Origins
of Social Theory (New York: Basic Books, 1965), 4355.
96
See Parks, 45.
97
Ong, 29.
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of contest, the khabar and the poems continued to circulate among
people because the form itself fascinated the audience, along with
the khabars wit and play. The mechanism of a contest through the
agency of a witness or a judge endows 'Alqamah with the title of
Master Poet. Ong explains the etymological origin of contest in
English as a third person standing between two other persons.
98
Because of the existence of a third person (a witness or a judge), we
can determine who is a winner and a loser. Before reciting their
poems, the two poets make a contract by stating that they will
describe their she-camel and horse and that the judge will be Imru"
al-Qayss wife. Making a contract is equivalent to swearing an oath
in a ceremonial contest. If the contestants do not observe the rules,
the ritual will not be consummated, and the one who did not live
up to his words will be disgraced.
99
The poetic contest, presented in the khabar, is a ritual that made
'Alqamah a master poet or al-Fal by his victory over Imru" al-
Qays, who had been considered the most distinguished poet of the
pre-Islamic era. In other words, Imru" al-Qayss recognized status
enabled 'Alqamah through defeating him to be named a master poet.
The mechanism of the dichotomy between praise and blame func-
tions eectively in the competition.
100
In this system, Imru" al-Qays
plays the role of the one disgraced, and his humiliation intensies
the glory of 'Alqamah. The khabar is amusing and playful, but its
framework as a contest is grave and seriousthe two poets com-
peted for honor and glory (Greek: kleos) not only in poetry, but also
in virility. We can argue that the double-entendre of sexual for poetic
prowess is not meant to be merely amusing; rather, within pre-Islamic
Arabic culture, it tells us, poetic prowess is virility. It thus functions
both as a pun on and explanation of the title al-Fal.
The mu'raah provides the poets with a milieu for public recog-
nition of their fame. Parks argues, honor plays a crucial role in the
valorization of the heroic individual, it simultaneously binds that indi-
vidual to his community. Selfhood is not self-determining in the ear-
liest strata of oral epics; the hero must rst establish himself in the
eyes of others.
101
Likewise it appears that honor and glory had to
98
Ibid., 45.
99
Parks, 63.
100
See Parks, 29.
101
Parks, 27.
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be acknowledged by others in pre-Islamic, Arabic tribal society; oth-
erwise the qadah of the fakhr or self-magnication would not have
ourished. The integration of the persona as a mature male into his
society, one purpose of the horse description in the fakhr is to estab-
lish his courage, honor, loyalty, and generosity before other mem-
bers of his community. In order to be recognized, 'Alqamah and
Imru" al-Qays compete before a judge. In other words, a competi-
tive setting allows the verbal battle to be public, so that the winner
will gain kleos (honor, glory, fame).
102
This paradigm is also in accord
with the symbiotic and integrated picture of the persona and the
horse which I discussed above, because the minute horse description
metaphorically represents the persona (either of 'Alqamah and Imru"
al-Qays) himself in pursuit of kleos through the chivalrous hunt and
through poetry. Moreover, the social setting of the contest conrms
the poets glory, symbolized by the image of excellence and prowess
in the horse and embodied in the excellence of his poetry.
The formalized contest, set by the khabar, provides 'Alqamah the
glory of victory and the foundation of heroic honor.
103
By contrast,
Imru" al-Qays was unable to prevent his wife from leaving, nor could
he maintain the title of fal (champion). Accordingly, Imru" al-
Qays is undoubtedly the loser in the mu'raah. On the other hand,
his persona is still the winner of the hunt in his poem, being as suc-
cessful as 'Alqamah. Poetic creation for Imru" al-Qays is compen-
satory for the sexual act. The contest adds a metapoetic and metaphoric
levelprowess in the hunt equates with sexual prowess, which equates
with poetic prowess. Therefore, the physical, mimetic description of
the horse can be interpreted as an expression of the concept of
mur"ah or virility. Metaphorically, the verbal duel is a physical com-
bat both in its sexual connotation and in terms of the poetic strat-
egy in which each poet aims to embody his persona in the gure
of the horse and the power of his verse. Similarly, the accomplish-
ment in the waf of the horse expresses the establishment of the self
in the context of a tribal society. However, in the end, Imru" al-
Qays could not surpass 'Alqamah. Although Imru" al-Qays presents
an ideal picture of himself through the waf of the horse as an ideal
member of the community, 'Alqamah gains the title al-Fal.
102
Parks states, the public conferral of this excellency, it can be gained or estab-
lished in a competitive (and thus public) sphere, 28.
103
See Parks, 30.
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61
CHAPTER TWO
REMEDY AND RESOLUTION:
BEES AND HONEY
-
GATHERING IN
TWO HUDHAL ODES*
The presentation of sexual implication in the horse description of the
two pre-Islamic poets leads us now to another erotic sphere of the
waf, the description of bees and honey. The period of the materials
extends from the pre-Islamic over the dawn of Islam. Continuously,
ekphrastic moments of natural objects, bees and a honey-gatherer,
i.e., not texts in semiotic parlance, are before our eyes.
From the outset of human society the origin and nature of the
bee have fascinated mankind. For thousands of years honey was one
of the few natural sweeteners known. Ancient people viewed the bee
that produces the sweet food with reverence and awe. The bee was
also regarded as sacred in many ancient literary and cultural tradi-
tions. Honey was used as part of a libation along with milk, oil, and
wine. Ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, and Greeks used to bury their
dead in honey, which has sterilizing power for preserving bodies.
1
Bees are symbols of purity, assiduity, rebirth, and spirit, while honey
is a symbol of celestial food, eloquence (honeyed words), eroticism,
and immortality. Bees and honey are mentioned in the oldest liter-
atures of the world, such as those of ancient Egypt, Sumeria, Babylonia,
and Greece. Ancient Arabia is no exception.
The Hudhal tribe of the pre-Islamic era in the ijz bequeathed
to us some odes describing wild bees, honey, and the honey-gatherer.
In this chapter, I explore the functions and symbolism of the waf
of the bee, honey, and its collectors in pre-Islamic Arabic odes.
The description can be regarded as ekphrasis in its original sense,
* An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the annual meeting of the
Middle East Studies Association of North America, Chicago, Illinois, December,
1998, and appeared as Akiko Motoyoshi Sumi, Remedy and Resolution: Bees and
Honey-Collecting in Two Hudhal Odes, Journal of Arabic and Middle Eastern Literatures,
vol. 6, no. 2 (2003): 13157.
1
See Hilda M. Ransome, The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore (London:
George Allen and Unwin, 1937), 38.
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inasmuch as it is clear and distinct description. We also examine
how the waf expresses metonymically a larger image of the lost gar-
den of the nasb with extended similes and of the dangerous trial of
a ral-like motif. I investigate the description or waf in the context
of two complete odes in terms of both structure and theme and
demonstrate how the two wafs function dierently. As critical tools,
I mainly use Hilda M. Ransomes book The Sacred Bee and Michael
Sells article on simile. The Qur"n and the adth (which relates
deeds and utterances of the Prophet and his Companions) are our
useful source.
The poems I have chosen were composed by the two Hudhal
poets, S'idah ibn Ju"ayyah (his death date unknown)
2
and Khuwaylid
ibn Khlid known as Ab Dhu"ayb al-Hudhal (d. 649? C.E.). As
for the biographical information on the two poets, while little has
come down to us concerning S'idah, there is some information on
Ab Dhu"ayb. Ab Dhu"ayb was a younger contemporary of the
Prophet, that is, a Mukharam poet (i.e., one who spans the pre-
Islamic and Islamic periods), and was a rw (transmitter and reciter)
of S'idah, the pre-Islamic poet. Ab Dhu"ayb is regarded as the
foremost poet of his tribe. There is an anecdote that tells us that he
travelled to see the Prophet Muammad, but arrived at Medina the
day after his death. Ab Dhu"ayb also migrated to Egypt under
'Umar, and there lost ve sons within one year because of the plague.
According to Gustave E. von Grunebaum, one aspect of Ab Dhu"aybs
poetry is that he is inclined to elaborate the nasb into a complete
ode. He composed a number of elegies, showing the gentle melan-
choly of his obsession with the instability of doomone of his mas-
terpieces is an elegy on the death of his sons.
3
In our poems, both poets use the image of wild honey and its
gatherer, showing the ekphrastic description of the bees as well as
the process of collection. The poets associate honey with wine, with
which it was often mixed to drink. The image of honey is linked
2
We do not know for sure when S'idah was alive, except that he was a pre-
Islamic poet and older than his rw, Ab Dhu"ayb.
3
G. E. von Grunebaum, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. Ab Dhu"ayb
al-Hudhal. All the information on Ab Dhu"ayb in this paragraph is taken from
this source. We can nd Ab Dhu"aybs elegy in al-Mufaal, Dwn al-Mufaalyt,
Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn, 3 vols. (Cairo: Al-Dr al-Qawmiyyah al-ib'ah wa al-Nashr,
1965), and Amad Kaml Zak, Shi'r al-Hudhaliyyn f 'Arayn al-Jhil wa al-Islm
(Cairo: Dr al-Ktib al-'Arab lil-ib'ah wa al-Nashr, 1969).
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with eroticism and immortality. The motif of bees and honey was
not very popular with other Hudhal poetsit was exclusive to these
two poets in the tribenor with other Arab poets.
4
The concepts of mu'raah (literary imitation and contest) are
involved in the description of honey-bees and honey collecting. In
the mechanism of contest, the younger Hudhal poet attempted to
emulate and outdo the elder Hudhal poet by using the same theme,
bees and honey-gathering. This form of contest is dierent from the
case of Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah, who at least according to the
khabar, competed in one and the same arena. It can be assumed that
Ab Dhu"ayb, who had learned poetry-composition from S'idah,
not only tried to imitate, but also to outdo his master. In doing so,
Ab Dhu"ayb could succeed his master and transmit the literary
theme to posterity.
S'idahs qadah is bipartite, consisting of the nasb (elegiac pre-
lude) and the fakhr (boast). By contrast, Ab Dhu"aybs presents the
nasb section only, although we do not know if the piece is a frag-
ment of a formally complete qadah or an independent amatory ode
in an intentionally truncated form. In both poems the description of
the bee and honey-gathering is embedded in the nasb section, which
is the object of my comparative examination. As the images of the
bees gathering nectar in both odes are somehow related to the image
of the beloved that is the main motif in the nasb, I also explore the
relationships between the images of the beloved and those of the
honey-bees.
4
See Grunebaum, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. Ab Dhu"ayb al-Hudhal and
F. Vir, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. nal. There is an anecdote in
relation to honey and the Hudhal tribe, called Ghr al-'Asal (The Cave of
Honey) about the pre-Islamic poet Ta"abbaa Sharran. The story tells us that
Ta"abbaa Sharran plundered the honey in a cave on the territory of the Hudhal
tribe, his enemy, who found him and locked up him in the cave. However, he
managed to escape from it through a crack in which he emptied his honey, allow-
ing himself slide to on the honey. The poet boasts of this adventure in nine verses.
Ab al-Faraj al-Ibahn, Kitb al-Aghn, 25 vols., ed. 'Abd al-Sattr Amad Farrj
(Beirut: Dr al-Thaqfah, 195561), 21: 15859. Another pre-Islamic poet, Shanfar
has a poem mentioning the honey-gatherer (mu'assil ). Al-Shanfar, Lmiyyat al-'Arab,
ed. Muammad Bad' Sharf (Beirut: Manshrt Dr Maktabat al-ayt, 1964),
43. E. Brunlich discusses honey-gathering in the poetry of S'idah and Ab Dhu"ayb
in his article, Versuch einer literargeschichtlichen Betrachtungsweise altarabischer
Poesien, Der Islam 24 (1933), 20169, esp. 22226. There is also an Arabic arti-
cle on honey-collecting in the qadahs of S'idah and Ab Dhu"ayb: Muammad
b. Sulaymn al-Sudays, Waf Ishtiyr al-'Asal f Bi'at Nu min Shi'r Hudhayl,
Majallat Ma'had al-Makht al-'Arabiyyah 331 (1989), 14968.
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The description of the bee and the honey-collector is clear and
distinct, i.e., ekphrastic, oering a visual picture before the hearers
eyes. The symbols in the ekphrastic description will be revealed
through the conventional codes of the Arabic qadah tradition, which
the reader/listener recognizes. I argue that the bee and honey-gath-
ering are symbols of remedy and resolution in both poems, that is,
the bee and honey together with the wine motif express healing for
the two poets. At the same time, honey-collecting is presented as a
locus for trial and resolution. The waf of the bee and honey is also
a metaphor for the lost meadow. Moreover, I demonstrate that the
stylistic and structural disparities between the two poems reect a
contrast in their mood and meaning. The waf of the bees and honey-
gathering may perform a ral-like function as quest in both odes.
S'idahs poem provides an exemplary model of the fakhr both in
structure and theme, while Ab Dhu"aybs is characterized by the
nasb mood of loss and despondency. The waf of the bees plays an
important role in revealing the two poets intentions in their respec-
tive poetic enterprises.
Remedy and Quest in the Qadah by S'idah ibn Ju"ayyah
5
1. Ghab has departed and
though you still loved her passionately,
6
but obstacles came between you
and separated you.
2. Among the things that came between you
were the fear of you that
the jealous and hateful instilled in her,
and those that spied on you.
5
The meter of this ode is kmil. Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn, 16791. I also rely on Ab
Sa'd al-asan ibn usayn al-Sukkar, Kitb Shar Ash'r al-Hudhaliyyn, ed. 'Abd al-
Sattr Amad Farrj, rev. Mamd Muammad Shkir, 3 vols. (Cairo: Maktab
Dr al-'Urbah, 1963), 3: 10971121; and Bernhard Lewin, A Vocabulary of the
Huailian Poems (Gteborg: Kungl. Vetenskaps-och Vitterhets-Samhallet, 1978). See
the Appendix for the Arabic text.
6
According to Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn, there is a variant of yataabbabu: yatajannabu.
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3. The black raven has turned white
and still your heart does not leave o
the memory of Ghab,
nor can your reproaches be reversed.
4. As if there appeared to you,
the day you met her,
a tent-reared fawn
7
from the wild herds of Wajrah,
5. An awkward fawn
with languid gaze and dark eyes;
its back dark-striped,
new to the grazing lands, deep-hued.
6. On an elevated land, the soft tract
of the sand dune, in its round hollows
is an Ar tree beneath which
[the fawn] seeks shelter when it is wet.
7. It takes refuge beneath it
from a shower of rain every evening
when the water pours
down on the tree.
8. It follows strips of pasturage
in rocky soil and sometimes draws
near to warm lands
where purslane grows.
9. Indeed I swear by the forelegs [of she-camels]
and every sacricial beast
from whose [slit]
throat [blood] ows,
7
For the meaning of mutarabbab (tent-reared), there is a variant of mutarabbab f
n-nabt, mutarabbab f l-bayt. See the shar of Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn.
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10. And by their place,
when they are shut up
in the narrow bushy box canyon of Ma"zim,
blocked o by Mount Akhshab.
11. The oath of an honest man,
though you dont know its worth,
in the end its truth
will be revealed
12. That I love her [madly],
and [any] man
upon whom shes bestowed
her gift desires her.
13. I forbade you [my heart] to burden yourself
with someone far away,
[too] distant for you
and hard to reach.
14. Is this lightning
from your [abode],
as if its ash were a thicket
set ablaze by burning kindling?
15. A night-travelling cloud
that spent eight nights in the islands,
reaching the open seas,
blown by the south wind,
16. When it reached 'Amq,
the clouds side resounded with a crash
like the roar of
an untamed stallion;
17. When it reached Na'mn,
it settled in a heap of clouds
like riders knocked
to the ground;
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18. The lotus tree was uprooted
and the huge Ath"ab tree was swept away
[by the torrent] oating
between 'Ayn and Nabt;
19. Rain fell upon the tamarisk trees
from Sa'y and alyah,
and [the torrents] of al-Shujn and 'Ulyab
washed down the Dawm palms.
20. Then I lost sight of it
and a distant roving part of it
came to settle
in the morning in Najd.
21. She came to us with jet black hair,
not too short,
nor thinning at the part,
nor grey,
22. Like tufts of soft reeds
covered with owing water
with moss spread
on its two sides,
23. And with even front teeth
like camomile blossoms,
white and gleaming, her side teeth
glistening with cool saliva.
24. [Her mouth is] like choice wine
of pressed grapes
mixed with aloe, cinnamon,
and reddish brown musk.
25. [Her mouth is] cool as if its saliva,
when you taste it after a sleep,
when the stars have risen
high in the sky were
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26. The honey of bees on a lofty mountain peak
where the vultures live
like a group of men
wrapped in their coats.
8
27. [Honey] from each steep ridge
and bend of the valley
from which after rainfall pure water
gushes forth.
28. Among them are pollen gathering bees
in the mountain-ridge,
and they produce honey [as abundant as]
the streams of the bottom of the valley, when they ow.
29. They revealed streaks of honey
as white as linen,
with no honey-combs
empty or broken,
30. As if the collected pollen
on their hind legs,
when they ew up the mountain paths,
were kernels of wild cherry,
31. Until there was preordained for them,
when they were slow in returning,
a man of endurance in walking,
rough-ngered, short.
32. With him are a water-skin,
which he carries wherever he goes,
a leather tool-bag, shining wood sticks [for honey-gathering],
and a huge leather bag [for the honey].
8
Taabb (translated here as wrapped in their coats) actually means with a
garment or piece of cloth, when sitting, to be like him who is leaning [his back
against a wall], according to Lane, -b-w.
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33. The poor wretch let down the ropes
to it from a precipice
too steep for the eagle,
as if he were lowering a veil,
34. As if when he lowered himself
to the ridge below their cave
he were a ragged cloak
uttering in the wind.
35. He completed his wild honey collecting
and lowered himself
as if he were a ragged cloak and
continued gently descending the ropes.
36. He separated the pure [honey]
by mixing it with the water of a clear pool
lled by streams from mountain clis
where the Ta"lab tree grows.
37. [The honey] is mixed with a red wine,
its seal broken by a dumb (non-Arabic speaking) boy
with short curly hair
and bored pearl eardrops.
38. As if her mouth tasted like this
when it was strained,
by God, or even
more delicious and sweeter.
39. So today if we no longer
visit her (in the evening)
nor long for her
(in the morning),
40. It is because
the swollen tribal gatherings from dierent clans
cannot withstand
the vicissitudes of fate [and the clans disperse].
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41. [Some men sat] in a tribal council,
their bright faces shaded
by a thicket of upthrust [spears],
straight as bucket-ropes in a well.
42. Their lineages are
close and mighty;
men like them protect against injustice
and they are dreaded.
43. If a pasture is protected and forbidden,
yet they would pasture there;
and even if someone comes to warn them,
they do not ee.
9
44. Men of great dignity,
each one, when they are attacked,
is treated warily,
like a tar-smeared scabby camel.
45. [Each one is] a violent assailant
who protects his guest
and [each is] eager to ght, when he is assaulted,
almost like a rabid dog.
46. One day when they were thus,
there surprised them
a group of iron-clad men
gathered for a raid.
47. They were protected by a squadron
gleaming [with armor],
wearing helmets, numerous, restless,
disdaining to be plundered.
9
The word corresponding to is protected and forbidden is tumiya which is
a derivative verb of al-im (consecrated tribal precinct). Al-im is the ancient insti-
tution of a forbidden sacred pasture-land in Arabia. See Jaroslav Stetkevych, Zephyrs,
3233, 8182, and William Robertson Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites
(New York: Macmillan, 1927), 112, 14047.
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48. From every ravine
there came [galloping] straight down
a swift noble mare
or a thick-legged winning steed,
49. Fleshy with massive
curved ribs,
his back long
like a tightly twisted rope.
50. His hard hooves
hammer the ground
as if solid rocks were
attached to his fetlocks.
51. He runs at full speed
straining at the bit
as if he were the trunk of a palm tree
that is stripped for climbing.
52. Their squadron advanced
and what they feared came true
through a raid that did not lie,
from every mountain ravine.
53. They were innumerable,
uncountable; squadrons
that had gathered together
swelled [the ranks of ] their army.
54. And when a scout came
from the raiding party
and said, I have seen the [battle]-commotion,
so mount your steeds!
55. The riders ew
on every swift, sleek,
milk-fed mare,
and a tall dark bay led the way.
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56. The horsemen were covered
with dust rising in ribbons in the air,
some of it spreading upwards in spumes,
some hanging in thick clouds.
57. They exchanged sword-blows
and pointed at each other the spear-tips
that the smiths had
forged and mounted,
58. Of each brown quivering spearshaft,
not marred by too short a shaft
nor by a weak joint
reinforced with a sinew,
59. An excellent spear of al-Khas make,
its point was sharpened
as thin as a ame:
when you raise it, it blazes up,
60. With a shaft that has been straightened
in the spear stretcher,
adorned by a trimmed, sharpened spearhead
like the inner feather of an eagle.
61. Delightful to the trembling hand,
its shaft quivers
in the hand the way
a fox quivers as it runs.
10
62. The swords scattered,
destroyed their gathered [men]
and exposed every henna-dyed woman
to be dragged o and plundered.
10
In this verse, S'idah uses the verb 'asala twice for the meaning of to quiver.
It may suggest a punning connection between the use of this verb and a theme of
this poem, 'asal or honey.
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63. They pursued them,
driving o as booty their vast herds of camels
that swayed like rain-emptied clouds
driven along by the south-east wind.
The rst section (ll. 112) presents the personas love for his mis-
tress and the extended simile comparing her to a gazelle fawn.
Following the Arabic qadah convention, S'idah opens the nasb with
the personas separation from his beloved, Ghab. The persona,
addressing himself as you, states that Ghab, his beloved, has
forsaken him due to some obstacles. Ghab is derived from the
verb ghaiba (to be angry) and can be an epithet for an angry man
or woman. This name suggests that she is angry with him. After he
declares that he will not leave o the memory of her, a young gazelle,
which is a simile for the beloved, is portrayed (l. 4). The compari-
son of the beloved to a gazelle is one of the highly conventional
motifs in the nasb. The poet creates the image based on the phys-
ical analogy between the beloved and the gazelle by using the epi-
thet for the gazelle fawn 'qid (bending the neck in lying down) in
line 4. The poet describes the beloved very little; instead, he elab-
orates upon the gazelleher physical appearance, her actions, and
her environment (ll. 48). The persona makes an oath to love her
by sacricial she-camels from whose breasts blood ows (ll. 912)
and confesses that he is madly in love with her (l. 12).
The poem moves to the description of a storm cloud ashing with
lightning (l. 14). The persona asks if this lightning is from the direc-
tion of where his beloved resideshe is trying to locate his beloveds
tribe. In other words, the description of the travelling cloud is still
in the context of the image of the beloved. S'idah loses sight of
the clouds in the direction of Najd (l. 20). He recollects the mem-
ory of her againher hair is as black as coal and likened to soft
rushes in a stream. He describes her front teeth and their cold saliva.
The comparison of the beloveds saliva to the best wine is one of
the established motifs in pre-Islamic poetry. Up to this point, S'idah
presents a string of similes for the beloved: she is like a gazelle fawn;
her hair is like reeds; her saliva is like wine. These similes are based
on physical likeness which also connotes abstract likeness, such as
vulnerability, softness, and youth. The imagery the poet intends to
produce consists of the various sorts of descriptions: the personas
state of aairs with his beloved, the gazelle, his passion for her, the
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rainstorm, the beloved herself, and the wine. Though appearing
digressive and disjunctive, they are connected through certain sym-
bolic relations grounded in the poets scheme as well as conventional
cultural codes. Taken together they create an image of the lost gar-
den based on spiritual likeness. This process continues further with
the next motif, the bee and honey.
The sweetness and purity of the bee and honey are compared
to the beloveds saliva (ll. 2526). S'idah elaborates on how dili-
gently the bees produce honey. The scene of the bees gathering nec-
tar is ekphrastic because it shows a clear and distinct picture before
the audiences eye. One can visualize the procedure of the bees col-
lecting nectar and storing it in the honey-comb. The bees gather
nectar and pollen on a lofty peak of a mountain that is close to the
sky. The towering peak is inhabited by vultures (l. 26), which indi-
cates that it is a high, dangerous place. In the ridges and precipices,
thawb ows abundantly (l. 27). Thawb simultaneously suggests three
meaningswater, honey, and reward for the good deeds of the
beesthough the shar gives us, for the meaning of thawb, the water
gushing forth to a wadi.
11
Descending to the bottom of a valley, bees
carry nectar and move to a owering tract of meadows to seek some
more. The purity of honey is presented through the description of
pure rain water (l. 27). In his book on animals, written in 1371, al-
Damr states that the bee was also known for its cleanliness because
it drinks only clean water.
12
Every cave of those bees contains plen-
teous honey, which shows abundance and fertility. The scene of the
bees gathering nectar is intimately associated with waterpure rain-
water and mountain streams.
Through its ekphrastic force, this description of the bees gather-
ing nectar signies the lost meadow or the Garden of Paradise, not
only because of the physical resemblance, but also because of sym-
bolic and metonymic implications. For the symbolic connections, we
can turn to the sayings of the Qur"n and the adth (Prophetic tra-
dition). Like wine, honey symbolizes the rivers of the Garden of
Paradise in association with the lost meadow.
13
The Qur"n says,
11
Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn, 177.
12
Muammad ibn Ms al-Damr, Kitb ayt al-ayawn al-Kubr, 2 vols.
(Cairo: n.p., 186162), 2: 467.
13
See Suzanne Stetkevych, Intoxication and Immortality: Wine and Associated
Imagery in al-Ma'arrs Garden, in Critical Pilgrimages: Studies in the Arabic Literary
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There is the similitude of Paradise which the godfearing have been
promised: therein are rivers of water unstaling, rivers of milk unchang-
ing in avour, and rivers of winea delight to the drinkers, rivers,
too, of honey puried.
14
Since there is honey in Paradise, it is,
therefore, a Muslim belief that bees exist there too. Al-Damr intro-
duces one adth saying that bees, honey-ies, are the only ies that
go to heaven, while all the others go to hell.
15
Ransome also states
that the bee is a symbol of the soul who enters the kingdom of
heaven.
16
Needless to say, the Garden of Paradise is the abode of
immortal life. Michael Sells argues that the description of the beloved
with its related similes in the nasb is the mythopoetic world of the
lost garden or meadow.
17
There is a srah named al-Nal (The Bee)
in the Qur"n. The two verses regarding the bee are:
And thy Lord revealed unto the bees, saying: Take unto yourselves,
of the mountains, houses, and of the trees, and of what they are build-
ing. Then eat of all manner of fruit, and follow the ways of your Lord
easy to go upon. Then comes there forth out of their bellies a drink
of diverse hues wherein is healing for men. Surely in that is a sign
for a people who reect.
18
Al-abar comments that the bees instinct is referred to Gods teach-
ing and that God inspires the bee to gather its food from various
fruits and owers and to convert it into honey. He goes on to state
that the honeycomb itself, with its hexagonal cells, is geometrically
perfect.
19
The bee is selected as an exemplar of those that work
according to their natural instincts and produce excellent results.
Bees were held to be models of industry, order, purity, economy,
courage, prudence, and communal cooperation. They are prudent
because they drink only clean water and cooperate eectively with
one another. Honey-bees are also known for their division of labor
as well as their social organization. They form colonies of from
Tradition, Literature East and West 25 (1989), ed. Fedwa Malti-Douglas, 32. See also
Sells, Ghl, 131.
14
Qur"n 47: 16. The Koran Interpreted, trans., Arthur J. Arberry, 2 vols. (1955;
reprint, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 2: 221.
15
Al-Damr, 2: 470.
16
Ransome, 146.
17
Sells, Ghl, 130.
18
Qur"n 16: 6970. Arberry, 1: 29394.
19
Ab Ja'far Muammad ibn Jarr al-abar, Jmi' al-Bayn f Tafsr al-Qur"n,
30 vols., 1st ed. (Cairo: Al-Maba'ah al-Kubr al-Amriyyah, 190511), 14: 8889.
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76 cn\r+rn +vo
several hundred to 80,000 individuals, organized in a rigid caste sys-
tem. Aristotle points out that bee society is composed of three kinds:
the king bee, the worker bee, and the drone bee.
20
Each kind per-
forms its specic task to create a productive society. S'idah delin-
eates the bees in detail, how, where, and in which order they act
in the course of their honey-producing and how industriously they
work. Through the waf of the bees, apart from the imagery of the
Paradise, S'idah intends to convey those concepts, which will be
further related to the meaning of the waf of the honey collecting.
Like the description of the bees, the scene of the honey hunter
(ll. 3135) is ekphrastic. His ngers, height, and belongings are por-
trayed. He is likened to a ragged cloak hanging and swinging in the
wind. This simile allows the audience to visualize the honey-gath-
erer. At the same time, the description is objective and dispassion-
ate, and the speaker describes the honey-collector from a certain
objective distance. Moreover, the honey-gatherer is portrayed as
condent, bold, strong, and well-prepared for his task; the poem pre-
sents his equipment, his ngers, and his way of walking (ll. 3132).
Despite the steepness of the precipice, he hardly shows any fear or
other feelings. He expertly executes his task. S'idah portrays the
scene of the honey-collecting as if he knew from the beginning that
the gatherer would successfully gain the honey. That is why the poet
says that the honey-collectors success was preordained (l. 31).
The profound symbolism of honey likewise helps us to interpret
the waf of the bees and honey-gathering. As the above-mentioned
Qur"nic verses show, honey was well-known for its ecacy as a
medicine. There is a adth showing its medical eect:
A man went to Muammad and told him his brother had violent
pains in his body, and the Prophet told him to give the sick man
honey. He did as he was told, but soon came back to say his brother
was no better. Muammad answered, Go back and give him more
honey, for God speaks the truth, thy brothers body lies. When the
honey was taken again, the sick man, thanks to the grace of God,
recovered immediately.
21
20
Aristotle, Historia Animalium, trans. A. L. Peck, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Massachusetts:
Harvard University Press, 19651970), Book V, 4: 21. Aristotle called a chief bee
(queen bee) a king bee because he believed that it was a male bee.
21
Al-Damr, 2: 470. This quotation is from Ransome, 7172.
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Another adth indicates the signicance of honey: For you [Muslims]
there are two remedies: the Qur"n and honeyHoney is the cure
for all maladies, while the Qur"n is for the heart.
22
Also, honey
bears the signication of righteousness; the phrase, dh (having) 'asal
(honey), means one who has a righteous, good, proper action ('amal
li) attributable to him, for which the praise of him is deemed
sweet.
23
On the other hand, the term honey in Arabic, 'asal implies eroti-
cism and fertility because the Arabic phrase marib 'asalah, which
consists of the terms marib (place, spot) and 'asalah (honey), is a
euphemism for the place of injection of sperm, or the source
from which one springs, ancestry.
24
We may assume that this
euphemism is grounded on the form in common between honey and
sperm, sticky liquid, and on the association between the delight of
intercourse and the taste of honey as Ibn Manr suggests (more
below). It may also be associated with bees power to pollinate owers
by carrying and spreading pollen among owers, as they suck nec-
tar from the owers. Furthermore, one adth clearly denotes the sex-
ual meaning of 'usaylah, a diminutive of 'asal; The Prophet said to a
woman who desired to be divorced from a husband because of his
sexual impotency in order that she might return to a former hus-
band, No, [you must stay with the present husband] until you taste
'usaylatahu (his sperm) and he tastes 'usaylataki (your sperm).
25
Ibn
Manr says that in this saying the delight of sexual intercourse is
likened to the taste of honey.
26
S'idahs description of bees gathering nectar and honey-collect-
ing can be associated with an erotic, sexual image, which thus cre-
ates a connection with the scene of the kisses of the beloved and
the nights the persona spent with her. That is why the poet says
that for the persona his beloveds kiss was like the honey of bees (ll.
2526). In his discussion of the lost meadow, Michael Sells says the
description of a beloved introduces a dynamic polarity of sexual
union and ablution or purication.
27
In light of his understanding,
22
Al-Damr, 2: 470.
23
See '-s-l in Lisn al-'Arab and Lane.
24
See Lane, '-s-l.
25
Ab al-usayn Muslim ibn al-ajjj al-Qushayr al-Naysbr, a Muslim,
4 vols., 1st ed. (Dr "Iy" al-Kutub al-'Arabiyyah, 195556), 2: 105758.
26
Lisn al-'Arab, '-s-l.
27
Sells, Ghl, 131.
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in our poem purity and sexuality in the bee and honey are inter-
mingled. Honey implies simultaneously ablutionary water and sexual
water. On the other hand, from the distinct sexual signication of
'asal in the adth, the honey collecting suggests the quest for eroticism
and immortality. In a deeper meaning, what the honey-gatherer actu-
ally pursues is not the honey, but the beloved, the lost meadow, and
immortality.
By the depiction of the bees and their honey, S'idah tries to
heal himself and to overcome his unrequited love for Ghab.
Although the nasb changes motifshis separation from the beloved,
a gazelle fawn, rainstorm, wine, and bees and honeythese motifs
converge on one theme, the beloved. Throughout the nasb, from
the opening to line 40, the persona recalls the memory of Ghab
and simultaneously attempts to recover from the lovesickness that
torments him. Also, based on the symbolic implications of the bee
and honeyindustry, social organization, and righteousnessthe waf
may also function as a restraint to the personas ardent passion for
Ghab. These implications generated from the bee and the honey
can suggest that through the waf of them the persona directs him-
self toward a righteous path. That is, his reason and mind are inspired
by viewing the diligent work of the bees and by pursuing the honey.
If the description of the bees can be understood as the expression
of healing, the scene of the mans collecting of honey signies the
personas resolution to get his beloved o his mind. In doing so, the
persona seeks immortality in the honey. Although the persona is not
the collector and is merely an observer of the collectors action, the
persona makes up his mind through the process of viewing the scene.
The man appearing in line 31 is ready for the honey-collecting,
equipped with a water-skin, a leather vessel, and shining wood sticks.
His collecting honey is a perilous task because the honey is located
in some caves on a precipice. Actually, there are prehistoric rock
paintings (approximately 5000 B.C.E.) in eastern Spain and South
Africa, in which primitive people are climbing up a ladder to gather
honey in a bees nest located in a high location on some precipice.
28
28
See the paintings in Eva Crane, The Archaeology of Beekeeping (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1983) 1923. Crane also introduces ancient Egyptian beekeeping
practices with some wall-paintings of 2400 B.C.E. and 1450 B.C.E. that depict
honey being harvested from hives and packed into containers, thus, some of the
earliest recorded beekeeping scenes, 3539.
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Therefore, honey-gathering must have been a dangerous task. More-
over, if bees return to their hives while the gatherer collects honey,
they will attack him with their poisonous stings. Nevertheless, the
man lets himself down with the ropes that are his only mainstay.
I argue that the description of the bees gathering nectar metaphor-
ically conveys the image or vestige of the beloved with reference to
the lost meadow or the Garden of Paradise. At the same time, the
waf of the honey-collector suggests the two concepts: 1. healing,
restraint, and resolution as a part of the poets psychological move-
ment; 2. the quest for immortality in the lost garden. These two
concepts exist simultaneously in the text. As we see in the presen-
tation of the lost meadow, we recognize the personas psychological
and emotional movements through the shift of the various motifs in
the nasb. S'idahs nasb shows delicate and gradual changes in the
personas mind through the poetic motifs within the larger frame-
work of the image: the lost garden.
When the poem returns to wine (l. 37), we realize that the honey
produced by the bees nectar-gathering and the mans honey-col-
lecting is mixed with the choicest wine. The poem goes on to say
that the beloveds kiss is even sweeter than that excellent wine, which
S'idah has elaborately described (ll. 2638). Therefore, the ultimate
goal for the poet is the world of the lost garden, evoked by the
image of the beloved, utilizing the profound symbolism of the bee
and honey. On one level, the waf of the bee and honey-gathering
completes the description of the beloved by creating the profound
and complicated image of the beloved. At the same time, however,
the (dangerous) quest for cure, remedy, and immortality serve to
move the persona out of the mood of despondency of the nasb to
the heroic self-assurance of the fakhr (boast) which follows the nasb.
For S'idah, honey operates as an object of his quest, and once
obtained, through the honeys remedial eects it becomes a ground-
work for his next step ( fakhr). In this regard, it performs a struc-
tural-functional role similar to that of the more conventional ral
(desert journey/quest).
We have seen the association of honey with eroticism, purity,
immortality, the lost meadow, Paradise, etc. While the ekphrasis of
the bee and honey oers us the pictorial image of the objects, the
ekphrasis in itself is not sucient to explain the metaphoric, metonymic,
and symbolic aspect of the bees and honey-collector; rather the lis-
tener/reader has to know the cultural codes including the structural
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and thematic signicance of key images, shared by the poet and the
community of the audience. Although all the motifs with their wafs
in the nasb appear disjointed, they are connected both structurally
and thematically.
Line 39 marks a transition from the evening to the morning, which
parallels a transition from erotic infatuation to social responsibility.
A shift from night to morning expresses not merely a change in tem-
poral state, but also changes in ritual or psychological states, with
the morning attack as a conventional qadah characteristic, indicat-
ing the transition from the ral to the fakhr.
29
This line of S'idah
is the turning point for the persona both in his feelings and his poetic
form. The beloveds mouth is sweeter than the honeyed wine, but
his aairs with her is in the past. Because of seasonal migration,
clans must disperse, and so the relationship with the beloved, how-
ever passionate, is also eeting. Though he is captivated by her
astounding beauty and charm, his passion eventually wanes, for tribal
responsibilities and heroic pursuits beckon.
Line 39 indeed demonstrates the poets transition from individual
concern to communal contribution. In the nasb, his interest and con-
cern are exclusively for his departed beloved. He is dreaming and
is immersed in the sweet memory about the time he spent with her.
By contrast, in the fakhr, the poet boasts of his tribe with the descrip-
tion of the tribal assembly and the battle. Through the praise of his
own tribe, he can contribute to his tribe and society. This is a pro-
gression in him from individual self-absorption in the nasb to col-
lective participation in the fakhr. This movement in the qadah
demonstrates the personas psychological and social transformation.
In the nasb, his recollection, disappointment, dreaming, and resolu-
tion are presented. On the other hand, in the fakhr, we witness brav-
ery, condence, and pride. In lines 39 and 40, S'idah explicitly
presents the transition from separation to aggregation or from indi-
vidual to collective concerns.
The fakhr section describes an attack of the personas tribe, the
Ban Hudhayl, on its enemy. It opens with the opponents tribal
assembly. The poem portrays their arms and excellent steeds, show-
ing how strong and valiant they are. A scout of the adversary tribe
29
See Suzanne Stetkevych, Mute, 228.
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comes back and reports agitation and vigor of the Hudhal squadron
to his men (l. 54). The battle scene between the two tribes with the
description of spearshafts and spear-tips continues till the Hudhal
party destroys the other party. The ode ends with the Hudhal tribes
victory over its enemies in plundering the enemies camel herds and
women as booty (ll. 6263).
Heartrending Love in the Ode by Ab Dhu"ayb
30
1. Did what happened
between us tell you of
separation from Asm"
the day her riding camels departed?
2. You scattered the augury birds
[to read her fortune],
then if misfortune strikes your love for her,
she will depart from you.
3. I circled around her
and desired her for years,
I feared her husband
and was too shy to face her.
4. Three years passed
in this humiliation,
while she was
in the bloom of youth.
5. My heart disobeyed me
and went to her;
certainly I was obedient to its command,
but I did not know if seeking her was right.
6. I said to my heart:
I wish you all the best,
30
The meter of this poem is awl. Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn, 7081. I have also con-
sulted al-Sukkars recension, 1: 4255. See the Appendix for the Arabic text.
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but your love for her will lead you
to an untimely death.
31
7. Not even the wine
32
that Syrian wine that came exported [as a captive]
for which a banner is raised
whose eagle guides the generous [to purchase it],
8. Red wine like the juice of raw meat,
neither an acid nor a sour wine
whose ame burns
its drinkers [throats].
9. [The wine-merchants] travel
for a while with the riders
and form a pact of protection,
and the covenant guarantees their safety.
10. [The wine-merchants] remained with the horsemen
until they could clearly see the [Ban] Thaqf
whose domed tents were pitched
on the rough ground of al-Asht.
11. The [Thaqf ] clan of l Mu'attib
surrounded [the wine];
both buying the wine and taking it by force
were hard for them.
12. When they saw that
the merchants were adamant
and that it was not permissible for them
to attack them and take it by force,
31
After line 6 an additional line is given in al-Sukkars recension: I swear it
must be a jar of musk whose mouth diuses its odor, at the door of Persian per-
fume merchants.
32
The italic indicates that this line is the beginning of the series of extended
similes, ending with an elative form, comparing the beloveds saliva to the wine
and honey. It is connected to lines 26 and 27, saying that her saliva is more tasty
than the wine and honey.
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13. They paid the high price
that [the merchants] demanded,
then they seized it,
for it was now permissible and easy to swallow.
14. [Mixed] with the honey of bees
which y to every hidden place,
and when the color of the sun turns yellow,
it is time for them to return [to their hive].
15. With the honey that
the king bees make:
who go in the morning to a high mountain
whose peak almost reaches the sky.
16. The honey-bees diligently gather nectar
on the mountains crest
and descend to the valleys
with winding streams.
17. When they ascend in it
their swarm rises
like a ight of arrows in a shooting contest,
streaming toward the target.
18. Among them are nectar gatherers
that remain on the ower-lled mountain,
sucking with red wings
and downy necks.
19. When the man
from the Khlid clan saw them,
like pebbles thrown in the air,
the swarm stumbling as it tried to rise,
20. He made up his mind:
he was determined to enter their hive
or else another in a land
with dust like our.
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21. [His friends] said to him:
O arm, avoid them!
but he was enticed by the height
and the size of the honeycomb.
22. So he fastened ropes by which his [fate] hangs
and was pleased by his skill,
as long as the ropes didnt
betray him by breaking.
23. He let himself down
between a rope and a wooden peg
on a rock, as smooth as a leather cloth
on which even the raven slips.
24. When he drove them out
with the smoke, they were confused,
33
and humiliation and sadness
came over them.
25. How sweet is
the wine of al-Sha"m and honey;
when the wine is pure, aged,
and red and the honey is mixed in
26. Not even
[the wine mixed with honey]
in a shining wooden wine bowl
freshly carved and hewn
27. Is sweeter than her mouth
when you come [to her] at night,
and her robe is
wrapped around you.
33
I use a variant of taayyazat (gathered) (that is found in al-Sukkars recension),
taayyarat (confused). See al-Sukkar, 6 n. 79.
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28. One day she saw me
falling down drunk,
then I grieved her at [Wadi] Qurrn,
for indeed the companions of wine are disheveled.
29. If she had wronged me,
then I would not have blamed her for it
nor would my response
have caused her grief,
30. My dog would not have growled at her
to keep her people away,
even if her dogs had barked
at me with blame.
This amatory ode presents similar aspects structurally and themati-
cally to the nasb of S'idah, whom Ab Dhu"ayb served as rw
(reciter). Ab Dhu"ayb begins his ode with the motif of a'n, depart-
ing women, one of the common motifs of the nasb. The persona
wonders if his beloved, Asm", will forsake him and scatters birds
for augury to know her fortune (l. 2). A bird exposing its left side
as it ies by is considered a bad omen.
34
Line 3 reveals that Asm"
is married and that he fears her husband. His love is illicit and if
discovered would disgrace him and his beloved. The poem contin-
ues to present the personas past mental distress: his heart disobeys
him, but he obeys his heart. He wonders, however, if pursuing this
love is right. Then he begins to feel that he probably ought to aban-
don his ardent passion. The persona is aware that the love is haz-
ardous and will lead to an unexpected or untimely death, al-mawt
al-jadd (l. 6).
The next theme is wine (l. 7). The extended similes comparing
the beloveds mouth to wine cover as many as twenty lines (ll. 727).
The poet tells us how precious and delicious the wine is because it
is carried to al-Asht by the wine merchants accompanied by some
riders who agreed to protect them. Though the Thaqf clan of l
Mu'attib try to bargain for a better price, in the end they agree to
pay the high price that the merchants demand. The shar (commentary)
34
See Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn, 5 n. 70.
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says that merchants brought the wine from Sha"m (Damascus, Syria)
to Sq 'Uk (the market of 'Uk). Sq 'Uk took place in Dh
al-ijjah (the month of the pilgrimage), a sacred month, when war
or ghting was forbidden. Because of the sacred month, the clan of
l Mu'attib cannot take the wine by force.
35
The exquisite taste
satises the people of l Mu'attib that the wine was worth the dear
price that they paid.
The wine is then mixed with honey, thereby leading the way to
the description of the bees and honey-collector. Ab Dhu"aybs
description of bees is functionally and structurally similar to that of
S'idah and, like it, conveys the concepts of immortality and eroti-
cism, and the image of the lost garden. However, Ab Dhu"aybs
waf of the honey-collector is more subjective and emotional than
that of S'idah. While S'idah portrays his honey-collector from the
viewpoint of an objective observer, Ab Dhu"aybs persona seems to
identify with the collector. Ab Dhu"ayb species that the collector
is from the Khlid clan (l. 19) who, according to the shar, were
famous for their honey-collecting.
36
The bees are described from the
point of view of the Khlid; for him they are like pebbles thrown
in the air. The collector makes up his mind to approach the bee
hive and certainly knows that if the rope breaks, he will fall to the
earth (l. 20). His clansmen try to dissuade him (l. 21). Despite the
danger, the size of the honeycombs entices him (l. 21). He is relieved
that he has descended successfully to one rock, because he was afraid
that the ropes might fail him. Danger remains though, for the rock
he reaches is as slippery as a leather cloth.
The Khlid, unlike the honey-gatherer in S'idahs poem, uses
fumigation to sedate and drive out the bees. In S'idahs poem, the
man approaches the honeycombs in the daytime when the bees are
away. By contrast, Ab Dhu"aybs honey-gatherer goes to the cave
when the bees are present, armed with a cultural weapon, smoke.
37
Honey is a symbol of female sexuality, that is, the beloved. At the
same time, the scene of collecting honey is a locus for resolution.
35
Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn, 74.
36
Dwn al-Hudhaliyyn, 1 n. 78.
37
According to Ransome, one passage is found concerning fumigation in the
Talmud. It refers to the medaph which was employed as a vessel for burning cow-
dung. One commentator explains that people used the medaph to smoke out the
bees when gathering honey. See Ransome, 70.
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The persona through his stand-in the Khlid honey-collector truly
seeks honey which would cure his broken and devastated heart. In
line 24, the poem says, humiliation and sadness came over them
[the bees]. The bees are forced out from their home. The poet
personies the bees by giving them feelings.
The personas ardent passion for his illicit beloved and his fear of
her husband is metaphorically connected to the Khlid honey-col-
lectors craving for honey and fear of both the treacherous precipice
and the bees. If the gatherer can risk his life for honey, the persona
can also risk his life for his love. In the beginning of the ode he
admits that his love is dangerous and that he constantly wavers over
whether he should pursue this passion or not. The emphasis on the
wines value through the elaboration of the protection of the wine
and of the negotiation between the wine-merchants and the clans-
men conrms the worth of the beloved for him inasmuch as the
honeyed wine signies female sexuality and immortality. The emotional
description of honey-collecting reveals how deeply the Khlid craves
honey. At the same time, we should not overlook the role of the
honey-collecting passage in S'idahs poem, where the quest for honey
ultimately helps the persona to make the psychological transition
from the loss of the beloved to commitment to the tribe. The honey-
gathering scene thus contains complex and ambivalent dimensions.
I suggest that the bees humiliation and sadness represent the
personas emotional state, that is, the personication of the bees sug-
gests the personas identication with them (in addition to his
identication with the honey-collector). Like the bees, he has lost his
honey. By ending the honey-collecting passage with an expression
of loss (rather than, for example, the triumphant happiness of the
honey-collector), the poet has set the stage for the anti-heroic, despon-
dent ending of the poem. In other words, although he rst seems
to identify with the collector in his craving for honey, ultimately the
persona identies emotionally with the bees who have been deprived
of it. Unlike the section of S'idah, where the description of the bees
and honey-collecting is regarded as functioning like a ral, that is,
a transition between the passive despondency of the nasb and the
active virility of the fakhr, Ab Dhu"aybs description ultimately con-
cludes with an image of loss and sorrow. Thus if we view the honey-
collecting description as a sort of quest, we can say that the persona
in Ab Dhu"aybs poem has started out identifying with the suc-
cessful seeker, but in the end identies with the losers (the bees),
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signaling thereby his inability to leave behind his sorrow and pas-
sion and to achieve the sense of self-condence and accomplishment
of the fakhr.
Honey taken by the Khlid is mixed with pure wine (l. 25). Line
26 marks the end of the long extended simile of the beloved that
goes back to line 7. It turns out that all the wafs of the wine, the
bees gathering nectar, and the honey-collecting are to show the
beloveds beauty to advantage. This technique, common in the Arabic
qadah tradition, is called the elative extended simile because it
uses the structure, such is more than such. The second half of
line 27 reinforces the reading of the waf of the bee and honey as
eroticism, for it clearly denotes that her mouth is even sweeter than
the honeyed wine when you [the persona] come [to her] at night,
and her robe is wrapped around you. The nal two lines present
the poets aection and tenderness toward Asm". He would not
have blamed her, even if she had been harsh with him. Neither his
dog nor he would have barked at her people to drive them away,
even if her dogs or people had barked or slandered him. The per-
sona appears very generous towards her and her people. If he endures
the peoples slander of him and thus gives the beloved peace and
comfort, he will do it. The last remarks show that he is incapable
in the end of recovering from his lovesickness.
Since we do not know whether this ode is a fragment (the nasb
part) from a complete tripartite qadah or constitutes the whole ode,
it is dicult to interpret the meaning of the ode. Nevertheless, Ab
Dhu"aybs ode appeals to me as a complete amatory ode rather than
a fragment of a qadah. This can be accounted for by the fact that
if the honey-collecting can serve as a ral-like function, and even
right after the nasb, the poem should move up to the fakhr, having
left the memory of the beloved behind. As stated above, von
Grunebaum mentions that Ab Dhu"ayb tends to elaborate the nasb
into a complete ode.
38
The ode ends full of his passion and sorrow.
Ab Dhu"ayb may even continue desiring to love her and suering
from the lovesickness. This ode expresses the insatiable desire and
the heartrending lamentation in Ab Dhu"ayb.
38
Grunebaum, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. Ab Dhu"ayb al-Hudhal.
He also mentions that Ab Dhu"ayb was not good at the description of a hunt
scene.
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Comparison: Pride or Love
Although the themes in the two poems reveal common aspects, we
have also found dierences that are based on the two poets indi-
vidual and social stances. The major dierence in structure is that
S'idahs ode ends with the nal boasting section, while Ab Dhu"aybs
consists of only the nasb. In terms of motifs, the elder poets poem
contains the gazelle/oryx cow and the rainstorm scene, but the
youngers does not. Instead, Ab Dhu"aybs includes the scene of
the wine-merchants and their transactions that eventually elevates
the value of the beloved. In both poems, the bees and honey with
the wine motif are linked to the imagery of the beloved. Both descrip-
tions of the bee and honey-gathering are ekphrastic. The waf of the
bees plays a role as a metaphor for the lost meadow where the per-
sonae are restrained in their passion and healed of their lovesickness
by drinking the honeyed-wine, while the mens honey-collecting pre-
sents a locus for trial and resolution. The bee descriptions of both
poets are similar; analogous similes and scenery show the bees
industry.
By contrast, the two poets create the waf of the honey-collecting
dierently. S'idahs poem is objectied, while Ab Dhu"ayb shows
subjectivity and deep feelings. S'idah places his persona both psy-
chologically and physically remote from the poetic object, the col-
lector. Meanwhile, Ab Dhu"ayb identies his persona with the
gatherer and the bees as if the persona were the one experiencing
these trials. I infer that one of the reasons for S'idahs objective
depiction is that the poet had known that the persona would over-
come the trialfor the poet, the description of the trial is under-
taken from the psychological stance of the subsequent fakhr. Ab
Dhu"aybs more subjective description, by contrast, is undertaken
from the psychological stance of the nasb, providing the desperate
situation for his honey-collector and renders it emotionally so that
he can show the personas fervent zeal for honey/the beloved.
Parallel to this contrast of objective and subjective viewpoints, the
two wafs of the same motif, the honey collecting, indicate dierent
functions on a deeper and more complicated level. In both poems,
the waf represents simultaneously the quest for sexuality and the
beloved and the trial to leave o the memory of her. However, the
ral-like function of S'idahs waf stands as a step to the higher
phase, the boasting of his tribe, whereas Ab Dhu"aybs description
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works to intensify his quest for the beloved, by reconrming her
charm as well as his longing for it. The resolution of S'idahs honey-
collector is to forget about his mistress, whereas that of the younger
poets collector is to pursue his self-destructive love. The description
of the bees and honey acts positively on S'idahs persona in terms
of its role of curing and restraining the passion, but the same motif
operates dierently on Ab Dhu"aybs personanamely, it works
more intensely in its function of yearning for immortality.
Linked intimately to the themes, the structure of the two poems
is dissimilar. In S'idahs work it is not dicult for the reader to
understand his poetic scheme, because he elucidates the important
transitional points. He declares that the persona still loves his beloved,
but determines to leave the memory of his beloved by saying that
the evening has gone. In the morning, the persona goes to a tribal
battle and boasts of his tribe with the description of the victorious
war scene. By contrast, a deep melancholic tone predominates through-
out Ab Dhu"aybs ode. It is indeed emotional, and the mental state
of its persona does not change greatly. He tries to move upward,
getting out of the morass of diculties. However, he cannot, or he
may not desire to. He rather wants to be immersed in the world of
his beloved or the lost meadow for good.
In this chapter, we have conrmed again that the physical and
mimetic description can convey a larger concept in a metaphorical,
symbolic, and metonymic manner. Furthermore, we have witnessed
that one and the same theme, the bee and honey-collecting, func-
tions very dierently in the structural and thematic framework of an
entire ode, according to the poets poetic enterprise. So, the waf is
not merely the minute and accurate description of nature. The waf
is poetically exible and serviceable, showing its complicated and
profound functions. All wafs in the qadahs are not disjointed nor
compartmentalized; rather they are fully integrated, through sym-
bolic and metonymic relations, into the overarching semantic struc-
ture of the poem. All the symbolic signications of the texts we have
examined are elicited from the cultural codes and the life-world of
the original audience of the two poems. The ekphrasis of the bee
and the honey-gathering becomes meaningful only after the contex-
tualization of the poems in the structural code of the qadah form.
Further contextualization provides us another dimension to explain
the contrast between the two poems: why does S'idah choose pride,
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whereas Ab Dhu"ayb chooses love? S'idahs nasb is the overture
to victory or boasting, whereas Ab Dhu"aybs nasb or the whole
ode reveals stagnation which has no destination nor way out. Ab
Dhu"ayb is pulled down to unexpected death (l. 6) and never ascends
to the end of the ode, or he would rather wish to keep dreaming
about Asm". It can be assumed that this dierence is caused by the
two poets surroundings; Ab Dhu"ayb lived through the drastic vicis-
situdes of the Mukharam age in its literary as well as political
aspects, whereas S'idah enjoyed the rmly-established values and
signicance of tribalism and the qadah tradition without undergo-
ing the transition following the advent of the Prophet Muammad
and the Qur"n. In his comparative analysis of the Mu'allaqah of
Labd, another Mukharam poet, and Ab Dhu"aybs renowned
elegy for his sons,
39
Kamal Abu-Deeb points out that Ab Dhu"ayb,
who composed his poem after Islam, does not conceive of the tribe
or communal system as a force of preservation of life and continu-
ity. Abu-Deeb suggests that the dark vision of reality and the ulti-
mate power of death shown in Ab Dhu"aybs ode may have been
generated by the loss of the tribe as a physical and symbolic unit
which maintained his and his ancestors value system.
40
Ab Dhu"ayb
may not have found a sense of continuity and a system of beliefs in
the new Muslim community. Ab Dhu"aybs despair, caused by these
socio-historical vicissitudes, prevented him from emulating the heroic
quest of S'idahs poem, which embodies both physically and con-
ceptually a well-established ideal institution. Nonetheless, Ab Dhu"ayb
successfully expresses his heartrending love instead. I will, hence,
conclude by suggesting that while the pre-Islamic qadah provides
the shared literary idiom for both the pre-Islamic and Mukharam
poets, the formal and stylistic dierences suggest that with the changes
in concepts of loyalty and leadership that accompanied the coming
of Islam the full tribal qadah may have entered a period of crisis.
39
The ode is found in al-Sukkar, Kitb Shar Ash'r al-Hudhaliyyn, 1: 414.
40
Kamal Abu-Deeb, Toward A Structural Analysis of Pre-Islamic Poetry,
International Journal of Middle East Studies 6 (1975), 17879.
Motoyoshi/f4/61-91 9/10/03 10:20 AM Page 91
92
CHAPTER THREE
REALITY AND REVERIE:
WINE AND EKPHRASIS IN THE 'ABBSID POETRY OF
AB NUWS AND AL
-
BUTUR*
Having left the wafs of natural objectsthe horse, the bee and
honey-gatheringbehind, we enter the world of ekphrasis in its mod-
ern conception, the verbal representation of non-verbal texts. That
is, the domain of ekphrasis in its broader meaning, clear and dis-
tinct description of any object, now takes a step forward into the
domain of ekphrasis in the sphere of interarts and intermedial stud-
ies. Our rst concern of interartistic relevance lies in the wafs of
visual arts produced under the 'Abbsid reign of the Islamic era.
In the Arabo-Islamic tradition, poetrylicit magicas well as
the visual arts and music all express artistic powers that are sup-
posed to be in conict with the Almightiness of God. Only God is
to possess all power and might. Nevertheless, poetry, particularly the
qadat al-mad (panegyrical ode), was allowed to ourish in the tra-
dition, because it gloried and exalted the mamds (patron-rulers)
who were legitimized by God, whereas music and painting (consid-
ered unlawful in Islam) were actively discouraged.
1
Above all, the
idea that painting is unlawful in Islam is widely accepted.
2
Therefore,
it is relatively rare for us to encounter qadahs containing the ren-
ditions of paintings or other kinds of visual art, but there are such
poems of non-Arabic motifs or by poets who are of non-Arab descent.
Due to the fact that both the qadah and the visual portrait serve
to legitimize a ruler while preserving the social and cultural values
* An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the annual meeting of the
Middle East Studies Association of North America, Providence, R. I., November
1996, and appeared as Akiko Motoyoshi, Reality and Reverie: Wine and Ekphrasis
in the 'Abbsid Poetry of Ab Nuws and al-Butur, Annals of the Japan Association
for Middle East Studies 14 (1999): 85120.
1
See Johann Christoph Brgel, The Feather of Simurgh: The Licit Magic of the Arts
in Medieval Islam (New York: New York University Press, 1988), 14.
2
See Creswell, 15966.
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of the monarchy, in the Arabo-Islamic tradition the qadah played
a role that corresponds to the function of visual portraiture in Western
court culture.
3
This function of the qadah was crucial for the ruler
to maintain the support of his subjects and to uphold the dignity of
legitimate Islamic sovereignty. Additionally, it can be assumed that
the aversion to painting in Islam helped the qadah tradition to
develop and prosper, because the Arabo-Islamic political institution
required some means other than visual portraiture to maintain the
perfect image of the rulership, by which a sense of its greatness and
authenticity could spread throughout the realm. This means was the
qadat al-mad.
In this chapter, I deal with the qadahs of visual arts, a design on
a wine goblet and of a wall painting by the two 'Abbsid poets Ab
Nuws and al-Butur. These two odes are considered excellent qa-
dahs by Arab critics. Their ekphrastic objects were related to Ssnian
(Persian) history, and Ab Nuws was of Persian descent. The wafs
of a design on a wine cup and of a wall painting are of man-made
objects and texts (in a semiotic sense). The description of visual
art objects can be classied under the modern meaning of ekphra-
sis, the verbal representation of real or ctitious texts composed in
a non-verbal sign system.
4
The wafs concern particularly the rela-
tionship between poetry and painting, which has been studied sub-
stantially in the Western literary tradition. For my examination of
the ekphrasis in this chapter, I rely on the theoretical approaches to
the ekphrasis of the Shield of Achilles in the Homeric Iliad by Andrew
Sprague Becker.
5
My concern in this chapter is the role of ekphrasis in association
with the notion of reality, reverie, and wine. I show that the personas
3
See Suzanne Stetkevych, The Qadah and the Poetics of Ceremony: Three
'd Panegyrics to the Cordoban Caliphate, in Languages of Power in Islamic Spain,
ed. Ross Brann, Occasional Publications of the Department of Near Eastern Studies
and the Program of Jewish Studies, Cornell University, vol. 3 (Bethesda: CDL Press,
1997), 25. She also maintains that the panegyric qadah in the Arabo-Islamic tra-
dition is comparable to royal portraiture in the European context, 27.
4
This denition is by Claus Clver. The description of the wine cup and the
wall painting by our Arab poets also t the understanding of ekphrasis by Spitzer
and Heernan, the verbal representation of the visual art works. For further dis-
cussion on the denitions of ekphrasis, see pp. 1114 in the Introduction.
5
Andrew Sprague Becker, The Shield of Achilles and the Poetics of Ekphrasis (Lanham,
Maryland: Rowman & Littleeld Publishers, 1995).
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psychological states shift between reality and reverie as they move
into and out of the spheres of visual objects and of intoxication. I
analyze the qadah of Ab Nuws (747/762815), All nah
(The Ruins of a Tavern),
6
and the qadah of al-Butur (82197),
wn Kisr (The Palace of the Ssnian Sovereigns). I have selected
these two qadahs because of their common aspects: the employment
of ekphrastic and wine motifs and of the motif of the Ssnians. I
investigate the functions of the wafs in relation to a structural analy-
sis focusing on the bipartite structure of nasb-mad or the tripartite
organization of qadat al-mad: nasb (elegiac prelude), ral (the jour-
ney of the poet through the desert and his mount, the she-camel),
and mad (panegyric).
The classical Arabic commentators and traditional Orientalists may
have denied the minute depiction of visual objects in the two qa-
dahs any deeper function than presenting what is described, since
they relegated the qadah to a plane of nonaesthetic, nonexperien-
tial, merely culturally descriptive usefulness.
7
Hideaki Sugita, after
his thorough comparative investigation of the depiction of visual
works of art in Arabic and Persian poetry (including the two poems
I deal with in this chapter), more recently concluded that the Arabic
qadah shows practical realism for its descriptive quality, in con-
trast to Persian poetry, which exhibits fantastic symbolism.
8
Beyond this, I argue in this chapter as well that the waf plays an
important thematic and structural role in a more complicated man-
ner than mere description. In the case of these two poets qa-
dahs, the waf or ekphrasis functions as mad for the Ssnian kings
without an explicit expression of praise. The two poets manipulate
6
The term qadah is usually dened according to its length, that is, between
fteen and eighty lines, as stated earlier. In this light, Ab Nuwss ode, consisting
of eight lines, is not considered a qadah but rather a khamriyyah (wine poem).
Nevertheless, I would view his poem in terms of thematic and structural aspects as
a condensed qadah. It neither contains the subtlety of wine poems nor shows a
monothematic poetic form as a conventional khamriyyah does. Rather, this poem
evokes a fuller, longer qadah by alluding to its tripartite and polythematic form.
For Ab Nuwss other khamriyyt, see Philip F. Kennedy, The Wine Song in Classical
Arabic Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
7
Jaroslav Stetkevych, Arabic Poetry, 116.
8
Hideaki Sugita, Jibutsu no koe, kaiga no shi (The Voice of Things and the Poetry
of Painting) (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1993), 24748, 40910.
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the ekphrastic force of the description dierently, but both utilize
ekphrasis in order to traverse the boundary between the world of
reality and the world of reverie. I suggest that Ab Nuwss poem
moves in one direction, from reverie to reality, while al-Buturs
moves in the opposite direction. In both poems, wine serves as a
facilitator of this movement, blurring the distinction between the two
worlds. When I say reality and reverie, I am characterizing the per-
sonas state of mindin reality, the persona sees and thinks of things
that truly exist, while in reverie the persona views and thinks of
things in his imagination.
My approach follows three steps: 1. thematic and structural explo-
ration based on the qadah conventions, 2. theoretical discussion of
ekphrasis and psychoanalytical examination, and 3. analysis of the
poems structural intent in relation to the poets socio-political sur-
roundings. I rst investigate closely each of the two qadahs in light
of ekphrasis or waf as mad within the conventional tripartite struc-
ture. I next show how ekphrasis and wine are linked to the notion
of reality and reverie in a comparative study of the two 'Abbsid
odes. Finally, I intend to explore how the poetic structure of these
two qadahs reects the poets political situations.
Ekphrasis as Mad
Al-asan b. Hni" al-akam, known as Ab Nuws (747/762815)
is one of the most famous poets of the 'Abbsid era, renowned for
his song on wine and pederasty. He was born in al-Ahwz and died
in Baghdad. His father belonged to the army of the last Umayyad,
Marwn II, and his mother was Persian. When he was still young,
the poet moved to al-Barah and later to al-Kfah. He received his
education from a number of poets and grammarians, and is reported
to have spent some time among bedouins to strengthen his linguis-
tic knowledge. He then came to Baghdad for the purpose of obtaining
the favor of the caliph with panegyrics. Having been unsuccessful in
this attempt, he instead found favor in the Barmakids eyes. Because
of the decline of the Barmakids, he ed to Egypt where he com-
posed panegyrics on al-Khab b. 'Abd al-amd. The poet later
came back to Baghdad and won the favor of the caliph al-Amn as
his boon companion. During these most glorious years of his life,
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nevertheless, even al-Amn forbade him wine and imprisoned him
for his drinking habit.
9
The qadah of Ab Nuws, The Ruins of a Tavern (All nah),
though characterized by its terse eight lines which prompted the edi-
tor to term it a qi'ah (short poem or fragment), is widely known and
recited. Amad 'Abd al-Majd al-Ghazl, in his commentary on
Dwn Ab Nuws, prefaces the poem: Accompanied by his com-
panions, Ab Nuws passed by al-Mad"in, the residence of the
Ssnian Kings, where he found one of their taverns. Nothing
remained of it save its ruins.
10
All nah by Ab Nuws
11
1. Many an abode,
whose drinking companions forsook it
and set out at nightfall,
still bears their traces, both recent and old:
2. A trail where a wine jar was
dragged on the ground,
and bunches of basil boughs,
fresh ones and dry.
3. I detained my companions there;
I renewed my pledge to them.
Indeed I am one who detains his companions
at [places] such as this.
4. I did not know who they were
[that had dwelt there],
except for what the deserted abodes
in the east of Sb testied.
12
9
Information on Ab Nuws in this paragraph is largely taken from Ewald
Wagner, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s. v. Ab Nuws.
10
Al-asan ibn Hn" Ab Nuws, Dwn Ab Nuws, ed. Amad 'Abd al-Majd
al-Ghazl (Beirut: Dr al-Kitb al-'Arab, 1966), 37.
11
Ibid. See the Appendix for the Arabic text.
12
b is a Persian city near al-Mad"in.
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nr\ri+v \xr nryrnir 97
5. We stayed there for one day,
another day, a third day,
while the next day
was the day of departure.
13
6. The wine is passed round among us
in a golden wine cup
which a Persian has decorated
with all sorts of pictures:
7. On the bottom,
inside of the cup, is Kisr;
On its sides,
an oryx that horsemen are hunting with bows.
8. The wine, [pour it] up to
where the collars are buttoned;
The water, [pour it] up
to their caps!
This poem opens with the description of the ruins of a tavern in
Ctesiphon. Ctesiphon was called al-Mad"in, the ancient city of Kisr.
The Arabs usually identied Kisr with the Ssnid rulers because
the two Kisrs, Kisr Anshirwn (53179) and Kisr Aparwz
(591628), dominated the late Ssnid period.
14
The Ssnid was a
pre-Islamic Persian dynasty that ruled a large part of western Asia
from 224 C.E. until 651 C.E. Lines 14 present the nasb mood,
imagining the age of the tavern by recognizing old and recent traces
in the all or ruins. The all motif is one of the highly established
qadah conventionsthe persona usually laments over past, unre-
quited love on the ruins of his beloveds abode. In the rst two lines,
the poet speaks about drinking companions from the time when the
Ssnid dynasty ourished, particularly in the sixth century C.E. In
13
Lines 67 use the present tense in the Arabic text, and logically and gram-
matically, line 5 casts the rest of the poem into the past tense. However, the eect
of the imperfect in line 6 and 7 gives us a feeling of the past being relived much
as the use of historical present does in English.
14
See M. Morony, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. Kisr.
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depicting the vestiges found in the all of the tavern, the trail of a
wine jar and bundles of herbs, he reminisces about the Ssnians.
ibq (antithesis) is found in the rst two linesa recent trace and
an old trace (l. 1), fresh and dry bundles of basil (l. 2). These antithe-
ses suggest the poets intention to reduce the temporal distance
between his time and that of the Ssnians. The old trace and the
dry basil present a vestige of the Ssnians, whereas the recent trace
and the fresh basil could have been left by people who had just
recently visited. Ab Nuws recollects, or rather imagines, the
Ssnian pomp that is now past, transporting himself back to the
splendor of the Ssnian Kings and their boon companions. The per-
sona states that he does not know anything about the people who
used to reside there, except for what the deserted abodes testify
(l. 4). The sole entities that can attest to them are the deserted
abodes. The abodes, however, cannot tell much, for they are merely
ruins.
Ab Nuws is engrossed in the mood of loss and yearning,
which is the main theme of the nasb.
15
The persona and his com-
panions stayed for four days at the wn Kisr where the tavern
was located and then departed (l. 5), which suggests the ral, jour-
ney. It should be noted that here, as is increasingly the case in
'Abbsid poetry, the ral is only alluded to in the nasb-motif of
departure. The poet then begins to present a drinking scene and
describes a golden wine cup which was made by a Persian. Here
an ekphrastic technique is employed. Ab Nuws describes gures
of Kisr or Khusraw and his horsemens oryx-hunt incised on a
golden goblet. At the end of the qadah, the persona pours wine
and water into the goblet.
The gures of Kisr and his horsemen hunting an oryx can be
interpreted as a panegyric to the Ssnians, for such images of the
ruler and the hunt are conventions of the mad of the classical qa-
dah form. Moreover, according to M. Morony, for the Arabs, Kisr
was a poetic symbol of past glory and fate that overtakes even mighty
kings. The Arabs viewed Kisr with admiration and awe for his
splendor and valor. The great audience hall in Ctesiphon, the wn
Kisr, was well-known by the Arab people: they spoke of the crown,
treasure, dazzling carpet, sword and armor of Kisr, and golden
15
See Jaroslav Stetkevych, Zephyrs, 2.
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nr\ri+v \xr nryrnir 99
tableware with lavish hospitality.
16
Though the description of the
wine cup is denotative and brief with merely one line (l. 7), for the
reader in the 'Abbsid time the line is powerful enough to elicit
the heroic, splendid image of Kisr. Scenes of royal hunting are
characteristically Ssnian subjects and motifs engraved on silver
plates or other sorts of materials. They are usually rendered with
ribbons attached as symbols to specic animals, birds, and plants,
or jeweled bands placed around the necks of animals and birds.
17
By the repetitive use of the motif by Ssnian artists, the motif of
royal hunting was diused and inuenced not only among peoples
living in neighboring areas but also those distant from Iran.
18
Kisr
thus embodied a symbol of Persian high culture and represented the
Persian sovereign in lists of kings of the world.
19
Therefore, we can
speculate that the terse denotation is capable of stimulating the orig-
inal readers, the 'Abbsid Arabs, to imagine the brave picture of the
Ssnian royalty.
This employment of Persian elements as poetic objects is to be
associated with the Shu'biyyah movement of the eighth and ninth
centuries C.E., when a group of authors and scholars claimed equal-
ity for non-Arabs with Arabs in Islam and even suggested the supe-
riority of Persian to Arab culture. In fact, most of the Shu'bs were
Persians who developed the movement based on a pro-Persian and
anti-Arab ideology.
20
In his poetry, Ab Nuws, whose mother was
Persian, would often adopt not only Persian words and motifs, but
also refer to the heroes of Persian history.
21
Though he is not usu-
ally considered a poet of the Shu'biyyah, his employment of the
Persian motif in All nah reects the background of the era
in which the Shu'biyyah movement began to dominate the culture
of 'Abbsid society. This context also enables us to read the ekphra-
sis of Kisrs hunting as praise of the Ssnid rulership.
Considered together with the nasb and ral motifs that precede
16
M. Morony, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. Kisr.
17
Prudence Oliver Harper, The Royal Hunter: Art of the Sasanian Empire (New York:
The Asia Society, 1978), 17. Harper shows a number of actual gures and designs
of the hunting scene on various materials in her book.
18
See ibid.
19
M. Morony, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. Kisr.
20
See S. Enderwitz, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. shu'biyyah.
21
Ewald Wagner, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. Ab Nuws.
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the ekphrastic motif, I argue that Ab Nuws subtly suggests the
conventional tripartite qadah structure by manipulatively setting up
the incised motif of the goblet as the mad. The description of the
golden goblet is situated at the end of the poem after the departure
scene. However, the drinking scene seems to have occurred before
the departure, and the persona appears to look back on the scene
of drinking parties during his stay in the all of the tavern with his
boon companions. He places the motif of the golden wine cup near
the end of the ode, despite the chronologically inappropriate sequence
of the occurrences, thereby achieving a sequence of topics that is
consistent with the traditional tripartite structure.
In the nale, an ekphrastic moment is achieved. The poured liq-
uid (wine) halts for a second at the line of the horsemens collars,
and at that moment merely the faces of the horsemen remain in the
goblet. Then the water is added, which covers their caps. This descrip-
tion allows the readers to see the object with their inner eyes.
That is to say, it is ekphrastic. Moreover, by indicating the liquids
quantity, the line stresses that the mixture of wine and water should
have a lot of wine and only a little waterit is as strong as possi-
ble. So the last line suggests the personas intent, Lets drink and
enjoy wine!
wn Kisr by al-Butur
22
The other 'Abbsid poet, Ab 'Ubdah al-Wald b. 'Ubayd al-Butur
(82197), was born at Manbij into a family belonging to the Butur,
a branch of the ayyi". Attracted by al-Buturs youthful talent,
Ab Tammm (d. 846), one of the eminent 'Abbsid poets, encour-
aged and supported him. After serving several patrons, al-Butur
gained the favor of al-Fat b. Khqn, who introduced him to al-
Mutawakkil in approximately 848. In this way he started his brilliant
career as court poet. He is said to have been involved in the assas-
sination of al-Mutawakkil and al-Fat. In spite of this matter, he
22
Retranslated with close reference to A. J. Arberrys translation. Arabic text:
A. J. Arberry, Arabic Poetry: A Primer for Students (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge
University Press, 1965), 7280. See also Ab 'Ubdah al-Wald ibn 'Ubayd al-
Butur al-", Dwn al-Butur, 5 vols., ed. asan Kmil al-raf (Cairo: Dr al-
Ma'rif, 196378), 2: 115262. See the Appendix for the Arabic text.
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nr\ri+v \xr nryrnir 101
soon came back with a panegyric of al-Muntair, and later composed
numerous poems for al-Mu'tazz and other caliphs. The last caliph
to whom he dedicated panegyrics was al-Mu'taid. He died in his
birthplace after a long illness. In the early days of his career, he
wrote poems mostly about his desert wanderings, while, after he
became court poet, his main work was the panegyric. The pane-
gyric is embellished with splendid descriptions, in particular, of the
palace.
23
Now we will examine one of his most famous works, wn
Kisr.
1. I guarded myself from things
that dele me.
I held myself aloof
from the gift of every coward.
2. I stood rm
when fate shook me,
seeking to bring me ill-luck
and overthrow me.
3. Bare subsistence from the dregs of life
is all I have;
the days have given me
decient measure.
4. How dierent is he who goes to water daily
for his second drink
from him who drinks
after three days thirsting.
5. As if capricious fate
has come to favor
the vilest
of the vile.
23
Information on al-Butur in this paragraph is largely taken from Charles Pellat,
The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. al-Butur.
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6. In my purchasing Iraq
I was duped
after my selling al-Sham
at a loss.
7. Do not keep testing me
about my experience of this sorrow,
so that you deny
my calamity.
8. In the past, you knew me
to be a man of quality
who disdained lowly things,
stubbornly proud.
9. The remoteness of my cousin
disquieted me
after his tenderness
and kindness.
10. When I have been treated harshly,
you wont nd me
in the morning where
I was the night before.
11. Cares attended my mount;
therefore,
I turned my strong she-camel
toward the white [palace] of al-Mad"in.
12. I am consoled
for my own bad luck
as I grieve for the ruined abode
of the Ssnians.
13. Continuous misfortunes
remind me of them
misfortunes make people
remember and forget
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14. When they dwelt in the shadow
of a high lofty palace,
so dazzling
it weakens the eye.
15. Its gate is closed
before the mountain of al-Qabq
toward the two uplands
of Khil and Muks.
16. Abodes [it has] that were not
like the traces
of Su'd [s encampment]
in a wild deserted land.
17. Heroic deeds [it boasts] which,
were it not for my bias [toward the Arabs],
the heroic deeds of 'Ans and 'Abs
could not surpass.
18. Fate has removed
their age from newness
until they have become
like worn-out rags,
19. As if al-Jirmz were
the edice of a grave
because of lack of inhabitants
and their forsaking it.
20. If you had seen it,
you would know that
the nights had held a funeral in it
after a wedding feast.
21. It informs you of
wonders of the people
whose clarity was not mixed
with any confusion.
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22. When you see
the picture of Antioch
you are in panic
between the Byzantine and Persian [armies].
23. The Fates
are standing,
24
while Anshirwn urges
on the ranks beneath his banner,
24. In green robe
over yellow
which seems dyed
with turmeric,
25. The battle of ghting men
before him,
silent, lowering
their voices,
26. Some cautiously advancing
with pointed spears,
others fearfully protecting themselves
with their shields.
27. The eye describes them
as really alive,
signalling to one another
like the dumb.
28. My curiosity
concerning them increases
until I explore
and touch them.
29. Ab al-Ghawth has already
given me a drink, generously,
24
Fates can be the gods (Mazda, Anahita) that commonly hover above Ssnian
rulers in paintings and rock inscriptions.
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over the two armies
a hasty draught
30. Of a wine you would say
was a star
that irradiates the night,
or the saliva of a sun.
31. You see it
reviving the happiness
and peacefulness of him
who sips it.
32. It is poured into
the glass of every heart;
and it is the beloved
of every soul.
33. I imagined that
Kisr Abarwz was oering me [the wine]
and that al-Balahbadh was
my boon-companion.
34. Is this a dream that has closed
my eyes to doubt,
or desire that has changed my suspicion
and uncertainty [to certainty]?
35. As if the great hall of
its wonderful artistry were
an open space carved out
of the cli of the mountain,
36. It is so melancholy that
to one coming upon it,
whether in the morning or evening,
it would seem like
37. A man disquieted by the departure
of the company of a beloved,
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dear to him, or oppressed
by the divorce of a wife.
38. Time overturned
its good fortune,
and Jupiter remained there
through the night as an inauspicious star.
39. But it shows
endurance,
even though the oppressive breast of fate
weighs down upon it.
40. There is no disgrace in that
its broad carpet has been taken away
and the curtains of white silk
have been plundered.
41. Lofty, it has battlements
raised up
on the heads of
Raw and Quds.
42. They are clothed
in white;
you can see
only cotton tunics.
43. Nobody knows whether it was built
by men for jinn
who then resided in it
or by jinn for men.
44. But I see it testifying that
its builders are
among the kings
who were not insignicant,
45. As though I saw
the processions of the warriors
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when I reached
the limit of my perception,
46. As though the delegations
were standing under the sun,
tired of standing
behind the crowd, waiting,
47. As though the singing-girls
in the midst of the pavilions
were singing through
dark lips or red,
48. As though the encounter were
the day before yesterday
and the hasty parting
only yesterday,
49. As though he who desires
to follow them yearns
to catch up with them
on the morning of the fth day.
50. It remained prosperous
and happy for a time;
then their abodes became a place
for condolence and consolation.
51. The only succor
I can oer it is tears
deeded to be forever
shed out of passion.
52. That is how I feel,
though the abode is not mine
by blood kinship.
Its race is not my race,
53. Except for the good deed
of her people to my people;
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they have planted
the seeds of a lasting bond.
54. They supported our sovereignty
and strengthened its power
by brave horsemen
under the protection of armor.
55. They aided us
against Arys troops
by the stabbing
and piercing of throats.
56. I nd myself after that
fully in love
with the nobles altogether
from every race and origin.
In the opening, the ode presents the personas lament over his past
misfortune, a traditional theme of the nasb. The misfortune was
largely caused by his past patron, Caliph al-Muntair (r. 86162), as
we learn in line 9 from the word my cousin which refers to the
caliphs ancestral tribe, the Ban 'Adnn, who are cousins to the
poets ancestral tribe, the Ban Qan.
25
He blames the caliph for
having treated him harshly and for not having oered him even
sucient money to live (l. 3). In fact, al-Butur was deserted by al-
Muntair. The caliph is like one who enjoys his second drink of
water every day, while the persona is like one who drinks it only
once every fourth day (l. 4), a metaphor from bedouin life that
alludes to the caliphs avarice toward his kinsman. Since generosity
is considered one of the crucial elements of nobility in Arabo-Islamic
culture, the mentioning of the caliphs stinginess expresses the per-
sonas profound resentment of the caliph. He regrets that he came
to Baghdad, having left al-Shm (Damascus) (l. 6). His entreaty to
al-Muntair not to test him any more underscores his misery. His
melancholic lament over his past misfortune shows a parallel with
the traditional nasb theme, weeping over the desolate ruins.
25
Arberry, Arabic Poetry, 74.
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After the nasb section, lled as it is with his grief and complaint,
the ral sectionagain, in keeping with its diminished 'Abbsid
roleconsists in explicit terms of one line only, line 11. It never-
theless functions with great poetic force and concision. The poet car-
ries his grief over to a decayed abode of the House of Ssn. Usually,
when a panegyric poet departs to his destination, he carries himmah
(aspiration) for his mamd (patron), and not the humm (cares) that
attend the personas mount in his ral. Although the two words are
derived from the same root, hmm, the meanings are quite dissimilar.
These cares forewarn the reader that the speakers journey may devi-
ate from the conventional teleological ral. And indeed, we soon
realize that, to assuage the cares that accompany his mount, he turns
not toward a mamd, but to the white palace of al-Mad"in, the
ruined palace of the Ssnian king Khusraw. Where the structural
connections of the qadah would lead us to expect a mad (pane-
gyric) to a contemporary mamd (patron), the poet places instead
an extended ekphrasis, thus ironically generating hij" (satire, invec-
tive), which I will discuss later.
After a brief ral, al-Butur begins to describe the ruins of al-
Mad"in. Although the all is a nasb convention, the depiction of
the ruins is structurally situated here in the ral. In the nasb, he
expresses his sorrow and grief, while in the ral he thinks of the
age of Ssnian splendor as evoked by its all. However, the poet
appears to desire to present the all motif, in spite of its location
in the ral, for the sake of his upcoming mad for the Ssnian
king. In addition, his sorrow for his misfortune caused by his for-
mer patron resonates in his grief over the ruined abode of the
Ssnians; both the poet and the Ssnians were crowned with glory
in the past, while their present is sadly desolate.
The delineation of the wall painting (ll. 2227) can be regarded
as panegyric for the Ssnians in light of both theme and structure.
That is, what begins as part of a journey through a wasteland (ral )
becomes gradually the poets goal and the subject of his mad (praise).
The wall painting presents the scene of the Battle of Antioch, which
occurred in 540 between the Ssnians and the Byzantines. The
nasb and ral precede the ekphrasis of the battle scene. The battle
scene, where the valor and might of the Ssnian ruler, Khusraw
or Kisr Anshirwn, are dynamically presented, signies eulogy for
the king, like Ab Nuwss use of ekphrasis, but with a dierent
motif.
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In the beginning of the depiction of the wall painting, al-Butur
invites the reader to behold it (l. 22). The commentary of al-raf
informs that al-Butur visited al-Mad"in and actually saw the wall
painting before his composition of the poem in 271 A.H./88485
C.E. The poet shows how realistic the picture is, to the extent that
the reader would be fearful to behold it. Then the poet moves to
the description of the pictorial objectsAnshirwn, his colored
outt, and his enemies. Al-Butur rst focuses on the kings dash-
ing gure and then on the Byzantine soldiers actions. After the
ekphrasis, the personas son pours wine for him. The persona drinks
wine and immerses himself further in the world of reverie. If we
consider the description of the painting as the beginning of the mad,
the rest of the poem should also be the mad. However, nasb ele-
ments, such as the wine and all motifs, occur as well, so that the
poet achieves an unusual hybrid of the martial and heroic motifs of
the mad with the nostalgic and melancholic mood of the nasb. The
speaker fancies that he is Anshirwn and his son is Kisr Aparwz,
Anshirwns son (l. 33). Then the melancholy of the deserted wn
is presented by personifying it as a man who is compelled to divorce
his bride (l. 37).
The melancholic tone of the nasb, in which the persona com-
plains about his previous patron, recurs once more in this mad
section. Melancholy in line 36 shows that the speaker has not over-
come his sorrow even in the mad, after coming through the nasb
and ral. Usually, the poet presents boasting, reunion, or something
invigorating in the mad. Even the power of wine is helpless to stim-
ulate him. This return to the nasb tone conrms the meaning of
humm (cares), signifying reiteration and aimlessness, as was discussed
earlier. The poet still wanders around. The psychological focus of
the persona remains on his misfortune and ill luck. In order to for-
get the sorrow and turn away from it, al-Butur appears to
immerse himself in the marvelous and magnicent environment of
the Ssnian era which exists in his world of reverie through his
intoxication and the image of the painting.
At the same time, by mixing his melancholy with the description
of the buildings and their desolate state, the persona identies his
demoralized and solitary situation with the deserted ruins which used
to be prosperous (ll. 3538). Yet al-Butur gradually deepens the
tone of panegyric, although he keeps neither too close nor too far
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nr\ri+v \xr nryrnir 111
away from the tone of eulogy, being constantly involved in nasb ele-
ments. In other words, he goes back and forth repeatedly between
the nasb and the mad, and because of the mixture it is very hard
to say which prevails. For example, in line 35, the persona cele-
brates the amazing workmanship of the wn, and immediately there-
after he mentions his melancholy. The wn meant, for the 'Abbsid
audience, the marvellous hall on the ground oor, opening through
a high arched entrance, onto a courtyard in Kisrs palace, that is,
a symbol of the glory of the Ssnids. Hence, the poem features a
vacillation representing the personas psychological state.
As the speakers intoxication heightens, the poem securely approaches
true mad. The phrase, when I reached the limit of my percep-
tion, suggests that he sees hallucinations of the ranks of the Ssnian
people, singing girls, and the compartments, as his intoxication attains
its peak (ll. 4547). We can say that the power of the wine helps
to take the speaker to mad proper. That is, the persona has recourse
to the intoxicating eect of wine to nd his goal because he is lost.
Al-Butur started his ode with the personas complaint over his
defeat by his former patron and then aimed at the glory of the
Ssnians instead of that of a new patron. Through the deviation
from the traditional qadah, both in form and in theme, he presents
an indirect hij" (satire, invective) against the 'Abbsid Dynasty,
26
for
which he is supposed to be a panegyrist. At the same time, he pro-
jects his guilt over both his deviation from the poetic tradition and
not composing panegyrics for the 'Abbsid Dynasty. This guilt makes
the persona vacillate and wander around without having a goal until
he seeks a recourse in wine.
Finally, after all the vacillations, wandering about, and hallucina-
tions, al-Butur reaches the rightful mad, starting at line 52. The
ultimate expression of the proper mad is al-Buturs proclamation
that my ode is the Arabic qadah.
27
He displays his individuality
26
See Richard Serrano, Al-Buturs Poetics of Persian Abodes, Journal of Arabic
Literature 28, no. 1 (1997): 6887. Serrano also argues, al-Butur transforms the
trope of the abandoned encampment into a vehicle for harsh criticism of the Arab
culture of his own day. He goes on to say, the traces of the encampment become
a reconstructed imperial Persian city which both precedes and nearly precludes the
abandoned encampment as a source for an 'Abbsid poetics, 69.
27
Gian Biagio Conte, The Rhetoric of Imitation: Genre and Poetic Memory in Virgil and
Other Latin Poets, trans. ed. Charles Segal (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
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rather than his traditionality in this ode, which accounts for his great
deviation from the traditional form and theme. The presentation of
the proper mad in the end is his manifestation of the desire to
prove his victory and to certify himself as a poet of the qadah.
Nonetheless, eulogizing the past glory of the Ssnians instead of the
currently ruling 'Abbsids implies the decline of the latter. He does
not want to admit his defeat, which triggered the rst deviation in
the ode, nor explicitly acknowledge the decline of the 'Abbsids.
That is why he chose an indirect way to defame them. His persona
does not wish to face the severe reality in terms of both his per-
sonal (misfortune) and public reality (the decay of the 'Abbsids). His
goal is a past glory that no longer exists. This ode cannot completely
escape from the concept of the qadah of the losers that shows struc-
tural nonteleology with disjunction and digression.
28
The closing line
attempts to synthesize contemporary 'Abbsid decline with past
Ssnian glory by going beyond distinctions of race and chronology
to express his admiration of nobility from any age or race.
Reality and ReverieCondensation and Stimulus of Ekphrasis
Both wafs of the visual motifs of Ab Nuws and al-Butur achieve
enargeia, that is, they transform the reader into a viewer. Though
Ab Nuwss ekphrasis is composed of brief denotation, it is still
forceful enough for the reader to elicit the image of the Ssnian
nobility and bravery through the depiction of the hunting scene in
which Kisr and his horsemen hunt an oryx with bows. The indi-
cation of the material of the goblet, gold, helps the reader to visualize
1986), 70. Conte maintains that if a poem exhibits the traditional poetic opening
of its cultural tradition, it means that the poetry asserts This is Poetry. Although
here al-Buturs ode does not suggest that my ode is the Arabic qadah by using
the opening line, it suggests so more by its structure.
28
David Quint, Epic and Empire: Politics and Generic Form from Virgil to Milton
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), part 1, chapt. 4. Analyzing epics
of Lucan (65 C.E.), Ercilla, and dAubign, Quint argues that the epics of the
defeated are nonteleological and exhibit narrative disjunction and episodic digres-
sion, in contrast to the epics of the victors, which are informed by teleology. Although
Quints study is based on classical Western epics, the qadah is likewise character-
ized by a coherent thematic-structural development directed at a goal, showing the
teleology. I am aware that the Arabic qadah is not narrative, but in terms of its
tripartite structure, al-Buturs poem shows disjunction and digression.
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nr\ri+v \xr nryrnir 113
the referent. The impact of the image is increased by the presenta-
tion of the spatial arrangement of the gures inside the vessel: On
the bottom is Kisr, and on its sides are horsemen. For the origi-
nal reader, the single word Kisr embodied the Ssnian might
and glory, as discussed above. The ending line is sophisticated: as
the wine is lled up to the horsemens collars and then the water
up to their caps. The described gures gradually vanish, and the
world of the persona or reality and the world evoked by the ekphra-
sis merge and integrate.
Al-Buturs ekphrasis is more extensive and elaborate than that
of Ab Nuws. On the occasion that the persona says, when you
see the picture of Antioch, by mentioning see, the speaker already
signals to the readers that this message appeals to the eyes, not the
ears. Empathy is elicited in the reader when the describer shows his
fearful response to the erce ghting between the Byzantines and
Persians, that is, his response to the referent. The indication of col-
ors in Kisrs robe, green and yellow, specically a yellow color of
turmeric, reveals visible features, which increases the quality of enargeia.
With the soldiers silence, the poem reinforces the silence of the
painting which is by nature silent. The description of the gures
movement and their arms (spears and shields) also emphasizes the
depiction (l. 26).
29
Line 27 states, The eye describes them [the
gures] as really alive. This narrating eye stresses the visual qual-
ity of the painting: the gures in the painting are alive (l. 27)
because they communicate, but since painted gures cannot talk,
they communicate by gesture. The ode rearms their dumbness.
Meanwhile, the painting itself oers speech as represented through
gesture, a detail of visual representation that makes its verbal representa-
tion not only clear and distinct, but also more lively and convincing.
Some theories of rhetorical enargeia associate its realization with a
state of illusion that the describer aims to produce in the readers
mind. According to Becker, the Greek handbooks of rhetoric also
suggest that the two distinct features of ekphrasis, clarity and vivid-
ness, are aimed at achieving unmediated access to visible phenom-
ena; the illusion can be generated by a transparency of language
that leaves a hearer unconscious of the verbal means.
30
29
See Becker, 33.
30
Ibid., 25, 27.
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Ab Nuwss ekphrasis hardly makes the reader feel the existence
of the speakerhe is restrained. In other words, its description is
objective and scarcely shows the describers response to the object.
Becker, using Aelius Theon (a Greek rhetorician, maintained that
the absence of explicit interpretation in ekphrasis contributes to
achieving the desired transparency of language), claims that in rhetor-
ical ekphrasis, the describer encourages the audience to accept the
illusion and, in so doing, diminishes attention to the medium or lan-
guage and the mediators experience.
31
Although explicit interpre-
tation is almost absent in Ab Nuwss ekphrasiswe sense the
description, but not the world describedthe description does not
seem to create the illusion. This can be in part accounted for by its
concision. However, it is possible that a contemporary audience would
supply much information that a modern reader does not possess, so
that the description may have appeared to them much more com-
plete and thus may possibly have come closer to achieving an illu-
sion. They would have known such visual representations on other
goblets, and the compressing power of the waf with its intertextual
implications will have evoked the memory of the glorious Ssnians.
Unlike the description in Ab Nuwss poem, al-Buturs depic-
tion of the wall painting is subjective, and the reader can sense the
existence of the describer. Nevertheless, his ekphrasis comes closer
to creating an illusion for the reader than that of the earlier poem.
Contrary to what Aelius Theon argued, other rhetorical handbooks
implied that an ekphrasis is not only to be a clear and distinct rep-
resentation of visible phenomena but should also draw the audiences
attention to the response of the describer, which lies between the
audience and the world described.
32
It is possible to say that al-
Buturs description calls attention to the world depicted and to the
manner of visual depiction rather than to the description itself, by
presenting the personas interpretation of the wall painting. By hear-
ing the describers interpretation, the reader may come close to expe-
riencing the illusion of mentally seeing, if not the world depicted,
then the depiction itself. Again, it is to be assumed that the audi-
ence would supply many details from other accounts or paintings of
the event they have seen; but with the explicit description provided
31
Ibid., 27.
32
Ibid., 29.
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nr\ri+v \xr nryrnir 115
by the speaker, it can be assumed that al-Buturs description relies
somewhat less on intertextual references than Ab Nuwss.
We become aware of another aspect by a comparison of the two
ekphrastic descriptions. Ab Nuwss manipulation of the design pro-
duces a dierent eect, in his poem, from al-Buturs. That is to
say, al-Butur utilizes the painting motif as the introduction to the
imaginative world. In al-Buturs poem, the painting constitutes the
condensation of reverie because it stimulates ones imagination and
draws one into the magnied imaginative world of the painting. In
order to excite the imagination, it is necessary for al-Butur to
describe the painting, because it constitutes the foundation of the
world of fancy. The foundation should be real, certain, and mani-
fest. The picture is the condensation of the imaginative poetic which
extends towards the reverie of the rest of the poetic discourse.
Furthermore, al-Butur takes advantage of these eects of the pic-
torial motif and employs it as a medium or pivotal point between
the world of reality and the world of reverie. As the readers view
the picture through the poetic presentation, they cross the bound-
ary between the two worlds. Thus, al-Buturs approach moves from
actuality to reverie, whereas Ab Nuwss approach is from reverie
to reality.
If the visual motif constitutes the overture to the imaginative sphere,
the wine motif possesses full-scale power to pull the reader into the
heart of that sphere. Just after the pictorial description, al-Butur
introduces the wine motif in line 29. However, the use of qad and
the m (perfect) in line 29 suggests that the persona started to drink
wine before the ekphrastic description. That is, wine and ekphrasis
mutually increase the power to induce the state of reverie for him.
By drinking wine, the persona becomes engrossed in the imagina-
tive world in which he even hallucinates. Likewise, in Ab Nuwss
qadah, wine plays an important role. The persona and his com-
panions pass wine around among themselves, while they become
absorbed in reecting on the dierent times that left their traces in
the ruins.
Becker calls attention to the medium a defamiliarization that
awakens the reader from the illusion. Both Ab Nuws and al-Butur
bring the eect of defamiliarization or breaking the illusion into
full play at the end of their ekphrastic descriptions.
33
Ab Nuws
33
Becker, 85.
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draws the reader back to the world of reality in the end of his poem,
with line 8: The wine, [pour it] up to where the collars are but-
toned; The water, [pour it] up to their caps! In other words, the
point of contact between the wine cup and the liquid represents the
point of contact between reverie and reality, art and life.
As for al-Butur, he recites, My curiosity concerning them in-
creases until I explore and touch them (l. 28). Starting with line
22, the poem invites the reader into the world of visual art, the rep-
resentation of the Battle of Antioch, through ekphrastic technique.
Al-Butur produces the illusion of visual representation. Despite the
poets achievement in producing the illusion, he himself informs the
reader of the existence of the medium, and so breaks the illusion.
He is going to touch the picture, which makes the reader realize
that what he is viewing is mere illusion, and not real. That is, al-
Butur spontaneously breaks the illusion that has intoxicated the
reader. Al-Butur succeeds in turning art into life. Nevertheless, he
wants to say that the lifelike image is still a replica, thereby fore-
grounding his poetic technique.
34
Becker explicates this phenomenon by saying that identity between
depiction and depicted is not the goalwe are explicitly directed
not to forget the mediating presence of art. He also asserts that,
by doing so, the discourse increases the admiration of the audience
for the mimetic capabilities of the work of art. Both al-Butur and
Ab Nuws seek to make the reader realize the strength of their
verbal power and the mimetic power of the visual art, because the
reader is not aware of the world of illusion until the poets signify it
by making the objects in the world of reality appear. Beckers con-
clusion of the discussion of defamiliarization is that the celebration
of the process, of what art can do, rather than a need for illusion
or a struggle for mimetic primacy, characterizes the mode of mime-
sis in the Iliad and specically the Shield of Achilles.
35
Ab Nuws
and al-Butur too, I argue, desire to conrm their verbal, i.e., poetic
power.
Al-Buturs defamiliarizing eect or the eect of breaking the
illusion appears subtle because the poet is still in the world of reverie
after line 28, though it has a strong impact in traversing reality and
34
Ibid., 84.
35
Ibid., 8485.
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reverie in the concluding sections structure. Line 29, which follows
the defamiliarizing part, introduces the wine motif. As I said before,
although wine appears in line 29 after the ekphrasis, the persona
and his son, Ab al-Ghawth, began drinking wine before the ekphra-
sis, as indicated by the use of the perfect tense (l. 29). I believe that
al-Butur places the wine motif after the ekphrasis, despite the fact
that he demonstrates clearly that the two were already drunk when
wine rst appears in the poem, because he still wants the speaker
to be in the state of reverie. Like Ab Nuws, al-Butur positions
the pictorial motif structurally as the mad. Lines 110 make up the
nasb, and lines 1121 can be considered to be the ral, followed
directly by the ekphrastic description. In brief, al-Butur rigorously
follows the conventional tripartite qadah structure, although after
the ekphrasis the poem deviates from the conventional form. The
pictorial motif of the Battle of Antioch, representing the valor and
bravery of Anshirwn and his soldiers, is employed as mad, pan-
egyric. This employment of ekphrasis as panegyric likewise explains
why al-Butur places the wine motif after the ekphrasis with the
use of perfect tense, despite the seemingly inappropriate sequence of
the motifs. Furthermore, line 28 is ambiguous, for we do not know
if the poet actually touched the picture or not. The tense of the
verb, tataqarr (to explore) after att (until) is imperfect, not past.
Therefore, the poet is still absorbed in the illusion, helped by the
power of wine.
Structural Intent
The concept of reality and reverie within the investigation of the tri-
partite structure of the qadahs is intimately associated with the polit-
ical intent of the poets, particularly for al-Butur. The structure of
the classical Arabic qadah is generally grounded on the real politi-
cal situation of the poet. A poet stands in the all recalling his mem-
ory of the lost love in the nasb, endures the dicult journey in the
ral aiming toward his patron, and nally reaches his destination in
the mad praising his mamd. Generally speaking, this sequence is
predicated on the poets political relationship to his mamd, while
the qadah is the expression of an ideal Islamic polity. If the con-
struction follows the regular, conventional sequence, the poets polit-
ical relationship to his patron should be soundly established. By
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contrast, if we nd the structure irregular or vacillating, the poets
relationship to his patron should likewise be unstable. Moreover,
according to convention the patron is supposed to be alive in order
to be praised in the mad; otherwise it is regarded as a rith" (elegy).
In both Ab Nuwss and al-Buturs poems, praise for bygone
Ssnian glory takes the structural position that the qadah genre
normally reserves for praise of the patron. In al-Buturs poem such
a substitution amounts to a veiled hij" or invective against the
'Abbsids, and in Ab Nuwss too, to a hij" against the 'Abbsids.
In both qadahs the mood of the mad for the Ssnians is that of
the nasbmelancholy for the lost past. The Ssnians were a great
people who achieved renown and glory, which, however, is now lost.
This presentation is closely linked to the Shu'biyyah movement
which ourished especially in the eighth and ninth centuries C.E. In
that movement, a group of authors and scholars demanded the equal-
ity of non-Arabs with Arabs and promoted their own teachings in
the literary eld.
36
Moreover, they celebrated the imperial and civ-
ilized Persian cultures over the primitive tribalism of Arabs.
37
Hence,
the mad for the bygone Ssnianinstead of the 'Abbsid
regime in the poems of Ab Nuws, who was of half-Persian descent,
and of al-Butur appears to reect the Shu'biyyah movement. The
sentiment of the Shu'biyyah movement was ourishing in the age
of these two poets, and admiration for the Persian civilization is
clearly expressed in their poems.
Al-Buturs individual grief caused by his hardship and misfor-
tune, i.e., his maltreatment by al-Muntair, constitutes a predomi-
nant theme in his ode. In light of David Quints contention that the
losers epic shows nonnarratable repetition and a nonteleological
and aimless structure,
38
we can begin to interpret the deviant struc-
ture of al-Buturs qadah. The poet here is a loser, which leads
him to compose the losers qadah, exhibiting reiteration and aim-
lessness. It is not the poet who has failed, however; rather, he implies
36
Ignaz Goldziher, Muslim Studies, ed. S. M. Stern. Trans. C. R. Barber and
S. M. Stern., 2 vols. (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1967),
137.
37
See S. Enderwitz, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. shu'biyyah.
38
Quint, 120. Quint mentions nonnarratable in the sense of epic because an
epic is a narrative. However, in our case of the Arabic qadah, which is lyrical, it
is dicult to say that it is a narrative.
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nr\ri+v \xr nryrnir 119
that the state of political decline among the 'Abbsids/Arabs forces
him to seek a worthy subject for his encomium in the bygone glory
of the Ssnians. The poets looking to a lost past, rather than to a
heroic present or future, creates the predominant nasb atmosphere
throughout the qadah.
Jaroslav Stetkevych points out that a poet utilizes the description
of the beloved to turn memory into reverie as a ight from the
reality of melancholy into the irreality of reverie in the nasb. The
poet tends to escape from the mood of the nasb, the melancholy
caused by reality, into the sphere of reverie.
39
Then, in the mad,
the poet has his feet on the ground and comes to reality after the
sobering journey of the ral. In light of this idea, Ab Nuwss qa-
dah begins with reverie, for the poet himself does not know about
the Ssnian kings and people rst-hand but only imagines them.
Ab Nuwss ode is presented in a fairly straightforward manner
according to the poetic conventionfrom reverie to reality. As for
al-Buturs ode, it opens with his actual reality, grief and complaint
concerning his past patronhis unfortunate political state. His poem
diametrically contradicts the regular qadah construction, because it
starts with reality and ends with reverie. Although al-Butur arrives
at praise of the Ssnians in the end, this panegyric is ultimately
ironic, for the Ssnians glory existed only in the past.
Furthermore, the lyric I, which is a fallacious and predictable
I burdened by the Arabic poetic tradition,
40
is not found in al-
Buturs nasb (rst nasb). His odes nasb is subjective and personal,
and its lyric I is not a false, but a real I. Continuing, Jaroslav
Stetkevych maintains, the naive conception of reality and the unequiv-
ocally simple cognitive optic of the pre-Islamic poets public, wipe
out the limits between the subjective perception of the poet and the
objective collateral framework of his public.
41
If 'Abbsid poetics
also follows the Jhil tradition, the 'Abbsid panegyric poems are
disposed to maintain the fallacious lyrical I. Nevertheless, al-Butur
does not conceal his real I, as we can nd a number of Is
between lines 1 and 13. By contrast, this real I does not seem to
39
Jaroslav Stetkevych, Zephyrs, 21.
40
Jaroslav Stetkevych, The Arabic Lyrical Phenomenon in Context, Journal of
Arabic Literature 6 (1975): 7273. He argues that the lyrical I in the Arabic qa-
dah tradition does not bare the lyrical persona.
41
Ibid., 7374.
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120 cn\r+rn +nnrr
appear in the second half of the nasb (ll. 1421). The only I is
found in line 17, and the entire mood of the nasb is very conven-
tional and collective rather than personal. As for Ab Nuwss poem,
unlike al-Buturs, the only I we nd is the collective. The con-
trasta real I and a fallacious Icorresponds to subjective ver-
sus social.
Each of the topoi of the conventional tripartite form indicates not
only individuality and subjectivity, but also the publicness of society,
memory, emotion, and feelings, i.e., collective memory. For instance,
the traditional nasb shows description of the ruined abode and lost
mistress, which can be taken both as an individual memory and as
a public/social memory that evolved in the entire tradition and cul-
ture. In Ab Nuwss ode, the antithesis can be seen: the subjec-
tivity of the poet and socialness of his society. The all of wn
Kisr joins both the memory of the poet as individual, and of the
society as public, in recollecting the age of the Ssnians. Furthermore,
when the poet says that there are recent and old traces from them
[boon companions] in line 1, he suggests old traces as the traces
of his ancestors. Here the poet alludes to the traditional nasb motif,
all. He establishes the authenticity of his poem, not only by employ-
ing the motif of the ruined abode, but also by mentioning antiquity
and novelty. That is to say, he integrates old and new elements
by mentioning the ancient traces and recent traces, and fusing them
in his mind when he recollects the memories of the two (l. 3). By
this operation, the opposites, old and new, no longer contradict.
The poet succeeds in the assimilation of his innovation to the antiq-
uity of tradition.
Moreover, the ekphrasis in the two qadahs constitutes a metaphor-
ical mad. A metaphor generally has two dierent kinds of mean-
ing at once: a literal and a gurative meaning. These two would be
dened by Conte as the letter (the literal meaning of the sign) and
the sense (the meaning).
42
If we regard the ekphrastic motif of All
nah as a metaphor or trope of the classical rhetoric of the mad
motif in the Arabic qadah, we can say that the visual motif is the
letter, and a concept of the mad is the sense. In short, the two
poets use of the ekphrastic motif is a type of metaphor. For example,
Ab Nuws employs the incision of the goblet as a description of
42
Conte, 38.
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nr\ri+v \xr nryrnir 121
the Ssnians and as an allusion to a panegyric upon them at once.
43
The design literally means the gures of Kisr and his horsemen
who are hunting and does not mean anything other than this.
However, in the sense, the design presents a panegyric on Kisr
and the pomp of the Ssnians. Like metaphor, Conte says, allu-
sion permits the substitution of denotation by connotation.
44
Hence,
Ab Nuwss employment of allusion allows the transformation of
denotation, the letter, to connotation, the sense.
The foregoing analysis has demonstrated that the ekphrastic pas-
sages in Ab Nuwss All nah and al-Buturs wn Kisr
function not only to describe the poetic objects, but also indirectly
to fulll an encomiastic structural expectation. Moreover, the inves-
tigation of the ekphrastic description with the use of Western ekphra-
sis theories has served to clarify the poets manipulations of their
poetic materials. In order to apprehend the qadah rightly, a knowl-
edge of the structural and thematic conventions of the classical Arabic
poetic tradition is indispensable. Otherwise, we can only grasp the
letter, not the sense, of the cultural tradition of the qadah.
43
Ibid., 59.
44
Ibid., 55.
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122
CHAPTER FOUR
SENSIBILITY AND SYNAESTHESIA:
IBN AL
-
RMS SINGING SLAVE
-
GIRL*
Another scene of ekphrasis is again from the same period, the
'Abbsid, but this time of a dierent sort of art, that is, music, entic-
ing us to the sensuous world of a female singer. This chapter deals
with the relation between verbal art and musical art. I explore the
musical art of gesture and singing in a medieval Arabic qadah or
ode from the ninth century C.E., which describes a singing slave-
girl. Re-examining why and how the ode has entranced the listener
or the reader, I make use of modern Western modes of interarts
studies, while not neglecting conventional Arabic literary components
and the medieval Arabic social, artistic milieu of singing-girls. As
theoretical tools, I use the concept of the gestural developed by
Lawrence Kramer.
1
For social ambience, an essay on singing slave-
girls by al-Ji (776869), one of the most prominent classical Arab
littrateurs, will be our source. I also rely on George Sawas study
of the theory and practice of musical performance in the classical
Middle East.
2
Waf (description) occupies a central role in the Arabic qadah tra-
dition and is commonly held to be characteristic of the genre.
3
* An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the annual meeting of the
Middle East Studies Association of North America, Washington D.C., November,
1999, and appeared as Akiko Motoyoshi, Sensibility and Synaesthesia: Ibn al-
Rms Singing Slave-Girl, Journal of Arabic Literature 32, no. 1 (2002): 129.
1
Lawrence Kramer, Music and Poetry: The Nineteenth Century and After (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1984).
2
George Dimitri Sawa, Music Performance Practice in the Early 'Abbsid Era 132320
AH/750932 A.D. (Toronto: Pontical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1989). He
deals with historical Middle Eastern musicology and performance practice with ref-
erence to court musicians of the early 'Abbsid era, in combination with the analy-
sis of classical Arabic theoretical works on music by al-Frb (circa 872/3950),
including Kitb al-Msq al-Kabr (Grand Book of Music), Kitb al-q't (Book of
Rhythms), and Kitb I" al-q't (Book for the Basic Comprehension of Rhythms).
3
The poem I will investigate is often introduced as an excellent model of waf
in works on Ibn al-Rm and other poetry studies. For instance, in the preface of
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 123
Description is one of the literary strategies used by the poet to reect
an aspect of reality, either actual or ctional. As discussed in the
Introduction, the qadah was evaluated negatively by many tradi-
tional Orientalists for what was thought to be its objective descrip-
tiveness; they thought it lacked the expression of emotion, as Gustave
von Grunebaum claims. His conception of the objective descriptive-
ness of Arabic poetry sees the poets faithful, minute description as
based on mimesis (imitation), which is intended to portray a visual/
pictorial image.
4
Rejecting this view, I argue in this chapter that Ibn
al-Rm (83696)s poem presents the singing-girl not only in a visual
dimension, but also in auditory, synaesthetic, sensuous, and intuitive
dimensions by means of description. By using the singing of the
slave-girl Wad as his poetic object, the poet, I argue, has suc-
ceeded in fully expressing emotion and aections within the perfor-
mance context of the ode. He produces not the pictorial image of
the singing slave-girl, but the image of her body revealed by all the
senses. Most intriguing for us is to see how the poet verbally expresses
the female slaves voice and singing. Ibn al-Rm challenged him-
self to represent the beauty of Wad and her singing by evoking
emotions appealing to the senses, not pictorial images, through the
use of synaesthetic and synergical eects. Also implied by the notion
of challenge is the idea that his poetic enterprise constitutes a com-
petition between verbal art and musical performance, which will ulti-
mately lead to a rivalry between the beauty of the singing-girl and
that of the poets penhis portrait of her.
To achieve his goal, Ibn al-Rm selects description by indirec-
tion as one of his strategic devices; he describes Wads singing in
terms of its eects on the listener as well as on the viewer. The
main force of the song seems to lie not only in the aspiration of the
singer, but also in its generation of aections in the listener, this
being grounded in the concept of arab
5
(strong emotion of joy or
Dwn of Ibn al-Rm, the editor Amad asan Basaj introduces the poem under
the categorization of waf. Dwn of Ibn al-Rm, ed. with notes, Amad asan Basaj,
3 vols. (Beirut: Dr al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyyah, 1994), 1: 1213.
4
See p. 4 in the Introduction for a quotation of Grunebaums idea.
5
arab derives from arraba, to sing, in Arabic. This argument is predicated on
the original meaning of murib, singer in Arabic. For further etymological discus-
sion, see p. 147.
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grief ) in the Arab tradition. In order for a musician to win a reward,
transportation of the audience into a state of arab was considered
an indispensable condition, in fact, the most important.
6
From this
perspective, Ibn al-Rms strategy, which involves the choice of
singing as his poetic object and the expression of the beauty of the
singing by means of representing the reactions of the audience, is
ecacious. In a way, the device releases the poet from the tram-
mels of the poetic conventions by which the lyricist is doomed to
be bound. As I show through a close reading of the text, this tech-
nique of using the eects of the song on the audience increases the
poets power of expression and his ability to summon up aective
responses, i.e., emotions. This employment of causality is recognized
as a literary trope among Arab critics.
What is usually overlooked in this kind of study is that the poem
under investigation was not perused on the page, but was intended
to be presented to an audiencemost likely as a song, either by a
singer-musician like Wad or by the poet himself. This performance
context is examined as far as is possible, for it is vital to approach
the poem as it was originally performed or as it was intended for
performance, and not merely as a work to be read in a poetry
anthology. In this light, when we deal with the qadah or any clas-
sical literary genre, it is invariably important to consider what kind
of methodology we adopt in order to bridge the gap between the
original viewers horizons of expectation and those of a present
reader.
7
The term horizon of expectation was proposed by the
theorist of reception, Hans Robert Jauss. In his view, a text cannot
have an objective meaning, but it can have various objectively describ-
able attributes that are derived from the responses of the general
reading public over the course of time.
8
The dierence in these con-
cepts of meaning suggests the source of the otherness or the unique
distance of the text for the contemporary reader.
9
Similarly, Nelson
Goodman presses us to seek and specify the frame of reference of
an artistic work, because systems of representation dier according
to culture, person, and time. He states,
6
See Sawa, 195.
7
See M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 6th ed., s.v. Reception-Theory
(Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1993), 27273.
8
Ibid.
9
For the discussion of horizons of reading, see Hans Robert Jauss, chap. 5 of
Toward an Aesthetic of Reception (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982).
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 125
For a Fifth-Dynasty Egyptian the straightforward way of representing
something is not the same as for an eighteenth-century Japanese; and
neither way is the same as for an early twentieth-century Englishman.
Each would to some extent have to learn how to read a picture in
either of the other styles.
10
Hence, recognizing the importance of recovering the original setting
of a text in all of its philological, aesthetic, socio-historical, and cul-
tural aspects, I will attempt to re-construct/re-produce the meaning
that the qadah held for its audiences and the eect it had on them,
for the original audience would receive much more than what is in
the text. Our target ode is a well-known work by the 'Abbsid poet
Ibn al-Rm. He devotes the entire poem, consisting of fty-eight
lines, to the depiction of the singing slave-girls beauty, including her
fascinating voice and gestures. The poets representation of the singing
girl focuses on her performance as well as on the quality of her
voice, but not on her music itself.
Poet and Poem
The ode I am dealing with is Ode 593 in the Dwn Ibn al-Rm,
entitled Wad, the Singing Slave-Girl of 'Amhamah, composed
by the 'Abbsid poet Ab al-asan 'Al ibn al-'Abbs ibn Jurayj,
known as Ibn al-Rm, born in Baghdad in 836 C.E. and died in
896 C.E. His father, al-'Abbs, was a Byzantine freedman and a
client of 'Ubayd Allh ibn 's b. Ja'far. Al-'Abbs was perhaps the
rst member of the family to be a Muslim. His mother, asanah,
was the daughter of 'Abd Allh al-Sijz who was of Persian origin.
It is said that the poet studied with Muammad ibn abb, a friend
of his father. Although he made his name as a poet at the age of
twenty, he was unable to gain the favor of the court till the end of
his life because of his ardent Sh'ism and his Mu'tazilism. In spite
of his being a Muslim, his Byzantine and Christian origin, and his
aggressiveness and arrogance also helped to repel possible patrons.
As a result of his long opposition to the party in power, Ibn al-
Rm had to seek rich patrons outside the court. According to
S. Boustany, Ibn al-Rm was a society poet, compared to his
10
Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols, 2nd ed.
(Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1976), 37.
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contemporaries, showing his ability to make impromptu rhymes on
command as well as his attachment to wit and originality.
11
Wad, the Singing Slave-Girl of 'Amhamah by Ibn al-Rm
12
1. O my two friends,
Wad has enslaved me,
till my heart is tormented
and broken by love.
2. She was a tender woman,
adorned by the graceful stature
of a pliant bough
and the neck and eyes of a gazelle.
3. Her hair was radiant
in blackness,
13
and her two cheeks,
in redness.
4. Beauty kindled its re
in Wad
over a cheek
unblemished by leanness.
5. So she is coolness and peace
in her cheek,
11
Information on Ibn al-Rm in this paragraph is largely taken from S. Boustany,
The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s. v. Ibn al-Rm. There is an extensive study
on Ibn al-Rms poetry by Robert McKinney, The Case of Rhyme v. Reason:
Ibn al-Rm and His Poetics in Context (Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1998).
12
The meter of this ode is khaff. Though I rely mainly on Frq Aslms edi-
tion, I use four published versions of the Arabic text. Ibn al-Rm, Ode 593, Diwn
Ibn al-Rm, ed. with notes, Frq Aslm, 6 vols. (Beirut: Dr al-Jl, 1998), 2: 57683.
Ab al-asan 'Al ibn al-'Abbs ibn Jurayj Ibn al-Rm, Ode 593, Diwn Ibn al-
Rm, ed. with notes, usayn Nar, 6 vols. (Cairo: Maba'at Dr al-Kutub, 1974),
2: 76265. Burus al-Bustn, ed., Muntaqayt Udab" al-'Arab f al-A'ur al-'Abbsiyyah
(Beirut: Maktabat dir, 1948), 25255 (This version presents only 33 lines out of
58.). Amad al-abbl, Ibn al-Rm, Dirsat Nu wa Kha"i 'mmah (Tripoli,
Lebanon: Dr al-Shaml lil-ib'ah wa al-Nashr wa al-Tawz', 1986), Al-Waf wa
al-Ghazal: Wad al-Mughanniyyah, 1019. See the Appendix for the Arabic text.
13
Zah (to be radiant, shine) can also be to pride oneself in.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 127
while for her lovers
she is eort and strain.
6. She has never marred her face,
like limpid water,
though she has melted hearts
as hard as iron.
7. The passions that
her two cheeks have kindled
cannot be cooled except
by sipping her sweet kisses [lit., saliva].
8. Such kisses would have extinguished
this passion of mine,
except for her refusal
to let me drink.
9. Many a man beguiled by her beauty has said:
Describe her!
I said: that is easy and dicult,
all at once.
10. Its easy to say that shes the most beautiful
of creatures, without exception,
but it is dicult
to dene her beauty.
11. She is the sunshine of a cloudy day;
the sun and moon,
both draw their luminosity
from hers.
12. When she reveals herself
to those who gaze at her
some are tormented by her beauty,
while others delight in it.
13. She is a gazelle that dwells
in mens hearts,
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grazing on them,
and she is a singing canary.
14. She sings
so eortlessly,
it seems shes not singing,
and she sings beautifully.
15. You do not see
her eyes bulging
or her neck-veins
bursting from strain.
16. Because of the calm of her voice,
which is unbroken,
and its stirring passion,
which is unagging,
17. When she sings,
her breath always reaches the end of the phrase;
it is long,
like the sighs of her lovers.
18. Her coquetry and irtation make
her voice even more delicate,
and passion thins it further,
till it almost dies.
19. So her voice seems to be
now dying,
now coming to life,
delightful whether soft or raised.
20. In it are embroidery,
and jewelry fashioned
from the melody,
which the poem wears with pride.
21. Her mouth, and her voice
vibrating in it are sweet;
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everything of hers
bears witness to this.
22. Like cool limpid water,
her kisses quench thirst,
and a song from her lips
evokes lost happiness.
23. Whoever hears her sing
asks her to sing again;
whoever tastes her kisses
asks for more.
24. From passion for one like her,
the forbearing men
lose their composure;
the righteous are seduced.
25. She does not shoot at hearts
with her love,
without hitting her prey
wherever she wants.
26. A lute-string in her hands
is like the bow-string of
an army in which
a sharp arrow is set.
27. When she draws it,
aiming at the drinkers,
the people are sure that
she will hit her mark.
28. When she sings,
its as if Ma'bad and
Ibn Surayj were singing,
as if Zalzal and 'Aqd were playing.
14
14
According to the shar of Aslm, Ma'bad and Ibn Surayj were renowned singers
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29. She is blamed
because when she sings,
the freeborn become
enslaved by her.
30. With her spells
she increases the love for her in their hearts,
though their hearts are
already too full.
31. Beautiful women oered
themselves to me, but I said:
you will not distract
me from Wad.
32. The beauty in her eyes
is without equal;
the love for her
in mens hearts is unique.
33. Many a sincere advisor,
lacking sound judgment,
has rebuked me
for loving her.
34. Yet if one of those who rebuke me
were to see her,
he would be the one
to tarry and ask for more.
35. She has misled the soul
that inclines toward her
as she despised his life
and ensnared him.
in the Umayyad era, whereas Zalzal and 'Aqd were slave-girls famous for their
excellence in playing instruments and producing beautiful rhythm. Sawa records
their high-quality performance based on the Kitb al-Aghn. The poets aim of men-
tioning their names here seems to be to show that Wads singing is as excellent
as theirs.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 131
36. She bewitched him with her eyes,
until for him
her blameworthy traits
became praiseworthy.
37. She was created to tempt
the hearts of men;
in song and beauty
she is entirely without rival.
38. She is a delight
that causes grown men to sway
and a disaster that turns
the hair of newborns white.
39. Wherever I leave her
I nd a companion in passion for her,
wherever she alights,
there is a guardian over her.
40. To my right,
to my left,
in front of me and behind,
how can I get around him?
41. The devil of her love
blocked every access,
the devil of her love
is refractory.
42. I wish I knew
when someone looks at her
a long time,
once, and then again,
43. Does the eye
not tire of her,
or does it always
discover something new?
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44. Nay, more: she is life;
however much you looked at it
it still provides more marvels
for your delight, and benets.
45. She is to be gazed at, heard,
and relished like sweet water;
shes always ready to provide
the entertainment that we love.
46. No boredom with her
ever creeps into the heart,
nor does the rm knot of
her enchantment loosen.
47. Her beauty in the eyes of her beholders
is new beauty every time,
so there is new love
for her in their hearts.
48. O Wad,
may God take from you,
for my heart,
what the avenging victor takes!
49. Others eyes are cooled
by a union with you,
while my eyes weep
because of your rejection.
50. But I divert myself
with your sweet promises,
even though among them
lurks a threat.
51. I still nd that one glance
from you is lethal to me,
while another one
makes me immortal.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 133
52. When we meet,
one glance from you is
a promise of union,
while another is intimidating.
53. You leave healthy men love-sick,
shaking and emaciated,
though you are as graceful as
a swaying bough.
54. In love, a man is
at times weak and defeated,
at others,
steadfast and strong.
55. Your unfamiliar love
alighted in my heart,
and banished
my genial sleep.
56. It amazes me that
the stranger abides in my heart,
while the familiar one
is expelled.
57. We are weary of the veil
that conceals the lovely object
of our desire,
will it ever be stripped away?
58. It dwells in the heart,
and yet is further than the Pleiades;
It is at once
both near and far.
Social Milieu and Performance Context
Since the poet devotes the entire ode to the delineation of Wads
beauty, including her singing, this ode could be termed a ghazal or
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erotic lyric, rather than a qadah, which is polythematic.
15
The
'Abbsid qadah shows, in general, a bipartite structure: nasb (ama-
tory prelude) and mad (praise). The persona traditionally speaks
about the remembrance of his beloved in the rst section, and pre-
sents praise of, and admiration for, his mamd (patron) in the nal
section. Thematically speaking, the despair over his unrequited love
in the nasb should be consoled and compensated for by the gen-
erosity and excellence of the mamd in the mad (praise). Thus, the
qadah genre is highly conventional, regulated by rules and stipula-
tions not only in form, but also in content. Our poem by Ibn al-
Rm, in this context, does not observe the traditional form, because
it ends with the nasb, not reaching its presumed goal, the mamd,
in the nale. However, because of its length, which is that of a full
qadah as opposed to a short ghazal, we must view the poem in light
of the full qadah form, and ask why the poem did not develop
toward a terminal subject, mad (more below).
Kitb al-Qiyn (Book of Singing-Girls), by Ab 'Uthmn 'Amr
ibn Bar al-Ji (776869), one of the great masters of classical
Arabic prose, oers us some brilliant insights concerning certain cir-
cumstances of singing slave-girls in the 'Abbsid era.
16
In his detailed
accounts of them, al-Ji suggests that in those days female singers
would actually sing poems in front of guests.
17
Moreover, this con-
15
The term qadah is generally dened according to its lengththat is from
fteen to eighty lines. In this broad sense the poem under exploration is a qadah,
while in a narrow structural-thematic sense it is a ghazal, an erotic lyric that con-
stitutes an entire (usually short) poem rather than serving as a prelude to further
thematic sections.
16
For information about singing-girls, see al-Ji 'Amr ibn Bar, Kitb al-
Qiyn, Ras"il al-Ji, ed. with commentary, 'Abd Muhann, 2 vols. (Beirut: Dr
al-adthah, 198788), 94117, and al-Ji, The Epistle on Singing-Girls of Ji, ed.
with translation and commentary, A. F. L. Beeston (Warminster, Wilts, U.K.: Aris
& Phillips, 1980), and 'Abd al-Karm al-'Allf, Qiyn Baghdd f al-'Ar al-'Abbs wa
al-'Uthmn al-Akhr (Baghdad: Maba'at Dr al-Tamun, 1969). All quotations in
the text relating to al-Jis book are from Beestons translation.
17
Al-Ji relates some episodes proving that poems were sung in pages 1046
of 'Abd Muhanns edition. Relating to this, Owen Wright maintains that the rela-
tionship between music and verse in the early Islamic period cannot be conrmed
with precision because discussions on the subject do not exist; the study of music
is inclined either toward the theoretical or the performer and his environment.
Owen Wright, Music and Verse, in Arabic Literature to the End of the Umayyad Period,
ed. A. F. L. Beeston et al., The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature (Cambridge,
U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 43359. However, Sawa gives a com-
prehensive study by combining the music theory and practice of musical perfor-
mance in his book.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 135
temporary of Ibn al-Rm indicates that there was a social institu-
tion of qiyn or singing-girls who had muqayyinn (merchants of singing
slave-girls) as their owner-dealers.
18
A. F. L. Beeston thinks of the
geisha of Japan as being similar to the Arab institution of qiyn.
19
Wealthy clients would seek out excellent songstresses to entertain
their guests at parties and for other purposes. In order to elevate
their commercial value, to say nothing of their beauty, the female
singers were supposed to be endowed with highly trained perfor-
mance and social skills, resulting from advanced musical education
and association with intellectual culture under the supervision of the
muqayyin.
20
According to al-Ji, a successful singing-girl had a reper-
toire of as many as four thousand songs comprising ten thousand
verses,
21
which, of course, she knew by heart, besides her erudition
in the traditional sciences and the Qur"n. These are the probable
social surroundings of Wad, the singing girl.
It is assumed that this poem was sung in a courtly setting to enter-
tain rulers and their guests. Even if the poem was not sung, we can
determine from the Kitb al-Aghn (Book of Songs) composed by
Ab al-Faraj al-Ibahn (897967),
22
and its description of poetry
put to music and sung at court, that the poet must have considered
this possibility when he composed it. In his book, al-Ibahn adds
to poems the name of the tonal mode (aba' ) and rhythmic mode
(arb) in which they were sung, along with the names of the singers
and the composers of the melodies.
23
Sawa, investigating the Kitb
al-Aghn thoroughly, documents numerous instances in which poems
were actually sung by jriyahs (slave-girls) in formal and informal
settings of musical majlis, a place where persons sat together and
18
According to C. Pellat, the rst female slave-singers among the Arabs appeared
as early as the Jhiliyyah period. See for more details C. Pellat, The Encyclopaedia
of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. ayna.
19
Beeston, 2.
20
For more information on singing slave-girls education, see Pellat, The Encyclopaedia
of Islam, s. v. ayna.
21
Al-Ji, Kitb al-Qiyn, ed. 'Abd Muhann, 116.
22
Ab al-Faraj al-Ibahn, Kitb al-Aghn, ed. Ibrhm al-Abyr, 31 vols. (Cairo:
Dr al-Sha'b, 196979). This is one of the most important compilations composed
under the 'Abbsid Caliphate, comprising poetry, poets biographical information,
and the melody of poems.
23
A notation or tablature of a song cannot be found in Arabic books on music
until the time of af al-n 'Abd al-Mu"min (d. 1294). Henry Farmer, The Encyclopaedia
of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. ghin".
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conversed, and by extension, an assembly of people sitting together.
24
Ibn al-Rm wrote many nasbs whose objects were qiyn (songstresses),
for he loved them extraordinarily.
25
The poet composed many poems
for singers including the male singer Bunn whom he served for ten
years around 873 C.E.
26
He would constantly spend time together
with young male and female singers who came to perfect their art
under the great master, Bunn. These circumstances helped him to
learn the rules and theories of music as well as to cultivate himself
as a connoisseur of the singing art.
27
The assumption that Ibn al-Rms own ode is conveyed by singing
makes it a frame through which we experience another song and its
performance. The very performance of the ode as a song that evokes
the eects that Wads singing has on her audience, who is charmed
by her, is likely to aect and move the listeners of the frame song/
poem, perhaps in a manner similar to that evoked in the ode. In
this manner, Wads song is repeatedly framed into another larger
setting of representation, accompanied by the multiplied eects of
each singer on his/her audience. This process allows the ode to pro-
duce a profound and dynamic impact with its calculated literary
intention.
The idea of a frame song/poem provides a good starting point
for reconstructing the frame of reference of the ode. First let us
speculate concerning what kind of song Wad was singing. The
poem does not tell us anything about this except for saying a song
from her lips evokes lost happiness (l. 22). Lost happiness, evok-
ing the notion of nostalgia, is generally a theme of the nasb: the
remembrance of the poets beloved and his unrequited love for her.
24
Sawa states that the musical majlis was not invented in the 'Abbsid era, but
that it was already common in Umayyad times, during the rule of the Orthodox
Caliphs, and in the pre-Islamic Arab kingdoms, 11112. For more information on
majlis, which derives from the verb jalasa to sit, see Sawa, 111.
25
Said Boustany, Ibn al-Rm, sa vie et son oeuvre (Beirut: Publications de lUniversit
Libanais, 1967), 3045. The information on Ibn al-Rm in the rest of the para-
graph is taken from this source.
26
The poet has a number of mad (praise) poems as well as hij" (ridiculing)
odes for singers, such as Salmah b. Sa'd al-jib, Durayrah, and Jaah. Boustany
assumes that it was the poets passion that urged him to accept the position, in
spite of the symbolic salary of two dinars per month, 304.
27
Boustany mentions that Ibn al-Rms judgment of singing performance described
in his poems is presented with poetic and literary expressions rather than the tech-
nical terminology of music, 305. These characteristics are likewise seen in the poem
under exploration.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 137
Grief over an unrequited love was one of the common themes in
songs of the early 'Abbsid era.
28
If the song performed by Wad
actually dealt with its personas hopeless love for his beloved, who
had left him, the structure of the frame-song/poem is of signicance,
for Wads song also becomes framed in Ibn al-Rms poem in
terms of theme.
As for the performance context of Wads song, it is known that
she was a jriyah (female slave), for the poem is introduced by the
following passage: He [Ibn al-Rm] said regarding Wad, 'Am-
hamahs jriyah. 'Amhamah is apparently the slave-girls patron, but
we have no information about 'Amhamah beyond this. There were
two kinds of musical majlis (plural of majlis) in the 'Abbsid period,
according to Sawa: the formal type, which was held in the presence
of a patron, and the informal type, which was held without him.
29
We could speculate that the majlis in which Wad sang was formal,
for the introduction of the poem mentions the patrons name. The
patron would issue orders to musicians, including Wad, to come
to a place where the patron wanted the majlis to be convened.
30
Wad is a singer-player, for she herself also plays an 'd while
singing (l. 26). Sawa states that the audience often included nadms
(boon-companions), ghulms (young male slaves/servants), khdims (ser-
vants), khaiyys (eunuchs), and jriyahs (female slaves).
31
Nadms were
highly educated people, having a thorough knowledge of numerous
elds, such as music, literature, and poetry.
32
Additionally, a nadm
was expected to be a arf, that is, he was a gentleman possessed of
adab (good behavior), mur"ah (virtue), and arf (rened, elegant man-
ners, wearing ne clothes). The audience of Wad portrayed in the
poem would be nadms, with the persona among them. Needless to
say, jriyahs were objects of love as well as of erotic admiration for
the audience of those days.
28
See Sawa, 134.
29
See Sawa, 112.
30
See Sawa, 113. He also states that male and female slave musicians were part
of the patrons household in general (115); Wad would have lived in 'Amhamahs
house.
31
Sawa, 119.
32
To be a nadm, Sawa further enumerates as required knowledge: prosody, gram-
mar, history, narration of anecdotes, Qur"n, adth, jurisprudence, astrology, med-
icine, and horse-breeding, in addition to being well-versed in all sorts of games and
entertainments, such as backgammon, chess, buoonery, and magic, 119.
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Poems, either precomposed or improvised, were produced rst and
then set to music by musicians, including singer-composers and poet-
musicians.
33
Sometimes singers were asked by the audience to sing
songs/poems that had previously been set to music. Other times,
they were requested to improvise musical settings for precomposed
poems. Therefore, in the case of the performance of precomposed
poems, the odes were written as poems, but, of course, some poets
envisaged their poems being sung; in the case of the improvised per-
formance, the odes were composed for performance. Also, there
was a strong tradition of double improvisations: the composition of
an impromptu text, followed immediately by an improvised musical
setting for it.
34
Singers were expected to have a large repertoire of
poems, which included not only their own compositions but those
of others, from the Jhiliyyah to their own time.
35
Presumably, such
songs had a great appeal for audiences, as we can conclude from
the odes description of the listeners and their feelings.
Singers could perform the role of messengers between individuals
by their performance.
36
It is conceivable that Ibn al-Rms ode
served to convey a message to the audience or to a particular per-
son on behalf of a third party.
37
Assuming that 'Amhamah and
Wad were real people and that the patron was in love with his
slave-girl,
38
the poet might have been asked by 'Amhamah to com-
pose an ode to regain her love and attention, or the poet might
have composed it spontaneously for that purpose. If Wad was
among the audience, she might have been much aected by the
song. In more general and less speculative terms we can assume that,
while the poem possesses the quality of arab, the aesthetic power to
33
Sawa lists such musician-poets as Isq al-Mawil and 'Ulayyah bint al-Mahd,
or such patrons as the caliphs al-Ma"mn and al-Mu'tazz, 142. He further says
that musicians were male and female slave singers or free singers who could be
Arabs, non-Arabs, or of mixed descent, 114.
34
Sawa, 142.
35
See Sawa, 169.
36
See Sawa, 126.
37
Sawa introduces the following anecdote as an example: 'Ulayyah was asked
by Umm Ja'far to help her regain the love and attention of Hrn al-Rashd, who
had left her for a beautiful new jriyah. 'Ulayyah composed a song, and taught it
to the jriyahs, who entered and surprised Hrn with their performance, 12627.
38
It was common for a patron to fall in love with a jriyah; Sawa indicates an
anecdote: One night, the singer-composer 'Allyah (d. 850 C.E.) invited the poet
Ab al-Asad (d. 835) and a jriyah whom 'Allyah loved, 117.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 139
move its audience, its eect was increased by the force (arab) of its
performance.
Ibn al-Rms poem is found in Diwn Ibn al-Rm, the collection
of his poems; however, his works, including the poem under inves-
tigation, were not included in the Kitb al-Aghn (Book of Songs).
But this does not mean at all that the poem was composed only for
reading.
39
We have seen that the poet lived in the company of singers
and composers, and his Dwn contains poems about other musi-
cians.
40
It is quite likely that he expected the poem to be set to
music and performed, especially as it describes a singer. Songs would
be circulated and preserved in an oral-performance tradition: musi-
cians would learn their repertoire by listening to other musicians.
Therefore, while the poem has come down to us only as a written
text, without a melody, it may well have existed as a song in the
repertoire of performers and may even have been known for some
time as a song by readers of the poem, just as we know melodies
that have been composed for poems found in the collected works of
more modern poets.
Strategy: Emotion and Challenge
The poem opens with the persona addressing his friend, O my two
friends, Wad has enslaved me, till my heart is tormented and bro-
ken by love. The rst line reveals that he is greatly infatuated with
the singing-girl. Also, this opening condenses the theme of the ode:
the personas passion for his beloved and her beauty. The description
of his beloved and his unrequited love constitute the main skeleton
39
Ode 1318 in Nars edition has the following introductory remarks: He [Ibn
al-Rm] said congratulating al-Mu'tamid upon the Feasts of al-Ah (Immolation)
and al-Mihrijn. . . . He [Ibn al-Rm] used to compose poems for the singer Bunn,
and the latter incited the former to do so [write a poem for the occasion of the
two feasts for the ruler], and he [Bunn] conveyed it [the poem] [to al-Mu'tamid],
2444. This episode supports the fact that Ibn al-Rm actually would compose for
singers. Also, it can be a good example of the role of singers in communicating a
message between parties.
40
In Nars edition, we can nd a number of poems about singers and musi-
cians; for instance, the title of Ode 142 is the praise (mad) of Durayrah (the female
slave singer-player) and the invective (hij") of Nuzhah (the female musician), 179,
and there are other odes about the singers Shanaf (e.g., Ode 1499, p. 1932) and
Jaah (e.g., Ode 739, p. 984).
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140 cn\r+rn rotn
of the nasb in the qadah tradition. In short, this phenomenon shows
that the poet is bound by the rules and stipulations of the genre-
dening convention of Arabic poetry, like any other qadah poet.
Ibn al-Rm also relies on conventional gurative techniques and
motifs: for instance, in line 2 there appear the comparisons of the
beloved to a gazelle and to a pliant branch. The major theme of
this qadahthe personas infatuation with Wad, including the
expressive devices of conventional motifsstands rmly on literary
convention. Because of its conventional quality, the poem, accord-
ingly, does not tell if the poet is truly in love with her or not, because
the ctional I
41
or persona of the poet pervades the poem. Wad,
in this light, may even be an invention or conceit and be presented
as a representative of the beloved and beauty.
In the following lines (37), intersensory eects are produced by
synaesthetic fusion. Erika von Erhardt-Siebold describes the eect of
synaesthesia as follows: Synaesthesia, as correspondences or equiv-
alences of sensations, enables the poet to combine the power of sev-
eral sense-impressions into one collective impression.
42
The New
Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics states, synaesthesia suggests
not only a greater renement and complexity of sensuous experi-
ence but also a harmony or synthesis of all sensations and a kind
of supersensuous unity.
43
Erhardt-Siebold further claims that synaes-
thesia not only causes the sense actually stimulated to respond but
also compels other senses to vibrate simultaneously.
44
Although synaes-
thesia is usually understood as the phenomenon wherein one sense
modality is felt, perceived, or described in terms of another, I use
the word synaesthesia in this chapter focusing more on its inter-
sensory eects.
45
Using this multi-sensory force, Ibn al-Rm attempts
to elicit sentiment and sensuality from the audience by stimulating
as well as fusing their sensory organs. Line 3 states, Her hair was
41
For the discussion of the lyrical or the fallacious I in Arabic poetry, see
Jaroslav Stetkevych, Lyrical Phenomenon, 5777.
42
Erika von Erhardt-Siebold, Harmony of the Senses in English, German, and
French Romanticism, PMLA 47 (1932): 584. For more discussion of literary synaes-
thesia, see Nicholas Ruddick, Synaesthesia in Emily Dickinsons Poetry, Poetics
Today 5, no. 1 (1984): 5978.
43
T. V. F. Brogan, New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, s.v. synaesthesia.
44
Erhardt-Siebold, 58081. See also Ruddick, 61.
45
See for the denition of synaesthesia, Brogan, New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry
and Poetics, s.v. synaesthesia.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 141
radiant in blackness, and her two cheeks, in redness.
46
Glowing
black hair and red cheeks merge the optical sense and the bodily
sensation of temperature by stirring up the readers/listeners cor-
poreal sensation; the word radiant (zah) both deepens blackness
and redness and heats up her cheeks as well as the listeners. Color
is used here not only to stimulate visual perception, i.e., to evoke
mere pictorial description, but also to produce sensuality.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that al-Ji, who may have had
direct contact with Ibn al-Rm,
47
indicates some views about the
charm of singing-girls in association with the unication of senses.
They [Singing-girls] provide a man with a combination of pleasures
such as nothing else on the face of the earth does. Pleasures all come
by means of the senses. . . . But when one comes to consider singing-
girls, three of the senses [smelling, gazing, hearing] are involved all
together, and [the pleasure of ] the heart makes a fourth. The eye has
the sight of a beautiful or [otherwise] attractive girl (since cleverness
and beauty are hardly ever simultaneously possessed by a single object
of enjoyment and delight); the hearing has from her its meed of that
which is attended by no inconvenience, that in which the organ of
hearing nds its sole delight; touching her leads to carnal desire and
the longing for sexual intercourse. All these senses are as it were scouts
for the heart, and witnesses testifying before it. When the girl raises
her voice in song, the gaze is rivetted on her, the hearing is directed
attentively to her, and the heart surrenders itself to her sovereignty.
48
According to al-Jis idea, singing slave-girls are the only entity
on the earth supplying a combination of pleasures (ladhdht) by means
of the senses. Al-Ji says that when a person receives more than
one sense at one timefor example, the taste of food and the scent
of perfume concurrentlyhe/she feels disgusted. However, if a com-
bination of sensory perceptions comes with singing-girls, they are
transformed into pleasures.
49
People can enjoy them by seeing the
girls beauty, hearing their voice, and tasting their kisses. This view
46
According to the shar by usayn Nar, the line is associated with the
Qur"nic verse on Ibrhm, O re, be cool and be peace upon Ibrhm (Qur"n
21: 69). In the adth (Prophetic tradition), Ibrhm had been burned at the stake
by the Assyrian King Nimrud, but was saved by Allhs protection.
47
Actually, Boustany suggests that the poet may have been a pupil of this promi-
nent intellectual, 117. McKinney, however, claims that there is no evidence in the
sources to support this, 5.
48
Al-Ji, ed. trans. Beeston, 3031.
49
Ibid., 31.
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142 cn\r+rn rotn
shows that the glamour of Wad is recognized not only by the opti-
cal, but also by the olfactory and auditory organs. For instance, line
45 states, She is to be gazed at, heard, and relished like sweet
water; shes always ready to provide the entertainment that we love.
Being fully exposed to the synaesthetic impact, the admirer is cap-
tivated by her through his whole body. Since appealing to vision is
not the sole weapon for Wad, Ibn al-Rm employs the synaes-
thetic force in order to express the surging passion of her audience.
Wad is ambivalentshe is simultaneously hot and cool (ll. 45).
Although her beauty is like re, it never stains her face, which is
like water, i.e., cool and clear. The power of the re is so great that
it can melt hearts as hard as iron. Clearly here the visual and the
tactile descriptions, eliciting the imagery of being ablaze in re (hot)
and smooth in water (cold), serve not merely mimetically to describe
the physical attributes, but aectively to evoke emotional states. Her
sweet kisses (saliva) are the only thing that can cool down the heat
of passion produced by her cheeks (l. 7). At the same time, the poet
suggests a comparison of the magic of Wads cool re to the divine
command to the re to be cool and peace to Ibrhm.
50
The cool
saliva of a beloved, which is again one of the classical motifs of the
qadah tradition, can extinguish the res of passion. The contrast
between heat (her beauty, re, the enthusiasm of her admirers) and
coolness (her peacefulness, water, her kisses and saliva) is skillfully
shown with a string of correlations among these motifs in the rst
part (ll. 18). She is unique, as embodied in her tell-tale name Wad
(unique, matchless, incomparable), and is a distraction for men who
are frantically in love with her.
One allured by her beauty challenges Ibn al-Rm in line 9:
ifh! (Describe her!). With the phrase ifh, the poet calls the
readers/listeners attention to the medium of expression, i.e., his ver-
bal expression, and its power. In other words, the poet tries to
emphasize his poetic skill in fascinating the reader/listener. The inter-
locutors imploring the poet to Describe her is metapoetic because
the poem itself is the waf (description) of Wad. With this phrase,
he asks himself if he is capable of describing her as he intends. There
is an implicit contest between her physical beauty and song and the
poets verbal work of art. Can he convey with mere words in poetry
50
Qur"n 21:69. See also Aslms edition, 577.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 143
what the ve senses convey in the physical world? Can he elicit the
same emotional response? By the same token, Ibn al-Rms oper-
ation suggests a competition between the verbal art and the musi-
cal vocal art. Through the ekphrastic technique, he challenges himself
to outdo another art (singing) with his own art (poetry) by transforming
an auditory (or multi-sensory) performance into a verbal text.
In fact, the milieu surrounding the qadah tradition has its roots
deep in the paradigm of contest. Its most salient feature is in the
institution of a poetic majlisa social and cultural gathering or assem-
bly in the Arab world. The poetic majlis is devoted to poetry recita-
tion and literary discourse, while other majlises are devoted to
jurisprudence ( qh) and scholastic theology (kalm), not to mention
the musical majlis, which is committed to musical performance. The
context of the musical majlis consists of a gathering of the audience
and musicians, the physical setting of performance, and the occa-
sion and purpose of music-making.
51
The greatest incentive for the
performer to participate in the majlis is to obtain a reward, either
material or in prestige, from the audience, including its patron-host.
Even when the context is not in the explicit form of a contest, i.e.,
the singer or the musician is the only performer in the arena with-
out other contestants, the context of majlis itself contains the concept
of competition, for in the end, the audience or the other partici-
pants judge the performer by demonstrating their reactions. In the
context of our poem, Wad sings before the audience, and it is
obvious that the judge is the poet, whose index is the reaction of
the singers audience. On a higher sphere, the poet vies with other
poets, both contemporary and past, trying to show that he is the
best in describing his own poetic object and in convincing his audi-
ence of that fact.
The poet responds to ifh! by saying that the beauty of the
singing-girl is indescribable. In reply to the request, the poet does
not describe her physical attributes, but answers that describing her
is both easy and dicult (l. 9). Here again the poet suggests the
ambivalence and the mysterious charm of her attributes. He continues
to state, Its easy to say that shes the most beautiful of creatures,
without exception, but it is dicult to dene her beauty (l. 10).
The poet tries to dene her beauty, yet he asserts that her beauty
51
See Sawa, 111.
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is indescribable and beyond our ability to delineate. He appears to
touch upon a crucial point, the limitation of verbal power, while he
continues to describe her as if he is challenging that limitation. The
line suggests the untranslatability of the slave-girls beauty into words.
The eect of this conceit is to make the poets challenge appear
more dicult and hence his accomplishment more valuable. In his
essay Kitb al-Qiyn (The Book of Singing-Girls), al-Ji says,
It [the rhythm (of singing)] is impossible to describe satisfactorily
by a verbal denition, but it can be apprehended intuitively just as
much as it can be apprehended by prosodic analysis.
52
Considering
al-Jis thought, I believe that Ibn al-Rm challenges himself to
describe singing/rhythm, which is supposed to be indescribable,
through a verbal art. By taking up this challenge, the enterprise
becomes a contest between the beauty of singing and that of the
poets words.
Raising an essential issue, the question of description, Ibn al-
Rm gives us a glimpse at his ideas in his expression: Its easy to
say shes the most beautiful of creatures, without exception, but it
is dicult to dene her beauty (l. 10). This verse can be under-
stood as merely stating that to say she is beautiful is easy, but the
problem is how to describe her beauty. The poet implies that when
a poet intends to describe something, it is not sucient merely to
present adjectives, such as beautiful. He searches for a better strat-
egy by way of other literary techniques and devices. That strategy
of delineation should convey some aspects of the truth of the poetic
object and should appeal to the poems reader/listener; Ibn al-Rm
makes use of the reaction of Wads audience as a device. His ulti-
mate goal is to convince the audience by means of words that he
is the best poet among all the qadah poets.
One of Ibn al-Rms techniques is to describe the singing slave-
girl by way of her eect on her viewers. Line 12 states, When she
reveals herself to those who gaze at her, some are tormented by her
beauty, while others delight in it. The viewers are wretched because
she is too beautiful to reach, unattainable, while at the same time
they are lled with delight by her impeccable beauty. As she is
ambivalent, so too are the viewers. Similarly, we nd another reac-
tion of her listeners/viewers in line 23: Whoever hears her sing asks
52
Al-Ji, ed. trans. Beeston, 24.
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her to sing again; whoever tastes her kisses asks for more. Her
charm and beauty are represented in the description of her listen-
ers/viewers. Verses 12 and 23 are among many lines portraying the
singing-girls eect on her audience. Thus, the poet uses the view-
ers as a medium for his artistic expression. In doing so, the poet
does not try to create an objective pictorial image, but rather he
attempts to elicit complete emotions by way of her (male) audience.
There is another technique of indirection in evidence in Ibn al-
Rms description of the beloved. If passion or emotion is consid-
ered among the poetic elements most highly dependent on the poets
own experience, the Arabic qadah lyricist somehow must prove that
his expressions are sincere, notwithstanding the restraint of the pre-
scribed Arabic lyrical mode on the poet. Ibn al-Rm does this by
creating a third party on his theatrical stage within the ode: he
entrusts his personal feelings to Wads audience. The audiences
reaction is a mirror of his feelings of infatuation for the singing-girl.
Through the presentation of the viewers reaction, the poet is capa-
ble of escaping from the tyranny of the fallacious I, for he is
allowed to use they for Wads admirers. At least ostensibly, or
even actually, then, the lyricist is able to attest poetic sincerity with-
out any condition. On the side of the singing-girls admirers, on the
other hand, insofar as al-Ji maintains that the passion of love (in
both senses, for singing slave-girls and for the question of love in
general) is a malady that is uncontrollable, Wads hearers strong
feelings for her are authentic and true.
53
Yet I believe that the dis-
course on poetic sincerity is itself rather unfruitful in regard to clas-
sical Arabic poetry, because, as Jaroslav Stetkevych argues, the tradition
conforms to the Aristotelian premise of mimesis, which distinguishes
between form and content, or means and object, rather than the
Platonic premise, which intends the unity of form and content.
54
Aristotle argues that a poet is not a copier of reality but a creator,
for he/she can envision a deeper and higher order of nature than
an ordinary person can.
55
The subject of poetic sincerity that was
often an object of attack with respect to the qadah genre, thus, does
53
Ibid., 27.
54
Jaroslav Stetkevych, Arabic Qadah: From Form and Content to Mood and
Meaning, Harvard Ukrainian Studies 3/4 (197980): 77577.
55
The thoughts of Plato and Aristotle are concisely presented in T. V. F. Brogan,
The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, s.v. representation and mimesis.
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not vitiate the aesthetic quality of the genre. The poem evokes a
sense of true infatuation towards Wad by Ibn al-Rm and all the
audience. In the ctional realm, their passion is real and sincere.
If a musicians goal is to drive the audience to a state of arab
(acute emotion of grief, joy, or ecstasy), the theatrical setting of the
poem Ibn al-Rm prepared is adequate and powerful.
56
On the
stage, the slave-girl sings before the audience, and the poet is not
only one of them, but also an observer of the whole drama. The
poet combines the arab eect of the song and the performance con-
text for the purpose of conveying to us the audiences aective
response. Although the pure description of Wads singing com-
prises merely nine out of fty-eight lines (ll. 1422 and l. 28), it is
important to note that the rest of the poem speaks about the reac-
tion of her audience toward her singing; that is, all the remaining
portion is the mirror of Wads singing, including gesture and voice.
In this respect, the poem mentions words like song (l. 22) and
singing (ll. 2829) to remind us that the audiences response remains
directed at her singing. The audiences reactions are an index for
judging the quality of the performances execution, and they con-
tain textual and extra-musical skills, such as facial expressions and
gestures. A beautiful face, elegant clothes, coquetry, and the motion
of the eyes are among the important elements in appraising a musi-
cians performance.
57
The theatrical setting enables us to analyze the
drama in the context of performance, because the performance is
based on communication between the singer and the audience. In
addition, as the disposition of music is found in the expression of
passion, the representation of Wads beauty through the expres-
sion of feelings helps achieve the poets goal. The synergistic eects
of the power of music, the performance context, and the applica-
tion of conventional motifs combine to produce a poem that touches
and moves the readers heart.
Kramer suggests that music is the expression of feelings and states
that music possesses the power to embody complex states of mind
as they might arise pre-verbally in consciousness.
58
He also refers
56
See for the function of arab, below, p. 147.
57
Sawa mentions that the reactions are seen in verbal, physical, emotional, imag-
inational, and economic aspects, 206, 17374.
58
Kramer, 6. Before the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, although the cen-
ter of theoretical issues on music was constantly changing from as early as the time
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 147
to Wallace Stevenss remarks that music was a communication of
emotion.
59
To reinforce Kramers notion, the etymological context
of an Arabic term, to sing, arraba, form II of -r-b, deriving from
arab, signies the original function of singing. Major dictionaries
dene form I ariba, which is arrabas reexive mode, as to be/become
aected with emotion, a lively emotion, excitement, agitation, or
unsteadiness, moved with joy or grief, to be delighted, be overjoyed,
be transported with joy, and the verbal noun of form I arab is
translated as emotion (of joy or sadness), a lively emotion, delight,
excitement, agitation, unsteadiness.
60
The form IV active participle
of the same root, murib, means a singer. arraba has another set
of meanings, namely to delight, to ll with delight, to enrapture,
to please, to gratify. Furthermore, to sing arraba is the causative
verb (form II) of ariba, form I (to be aected with emotion); that
is, arraba can also be understood as to stir up or arouse emotion
or to excite someone to joy or sadness. Etymologically deduced,
hence, singing/song in the Arabic perception is the evocation of
emotion and feeling. This view also accords with Sawas argument
as to the signicance of arab, which is the rst and foremost con-
dition to convince the audience of the excellence of the performer.
Wads physical posture is described. She sings so eortlessly, it
seems shes not singing (l. 14) is meant to convey that she sings
naturally, without articiality or strain. Line 15 again says, You
dont see her eyes bulging or her neck-veins bursting from strain.
Wad is able to sing beautifully without moving or perspiring.
Adequate lung power, self-condence, and proper posture are among
the required conditions to be an excellent singer in the classical
majlis.
61
The poet thus begins to describe Wads way of singing by
appealing to the sense of sight, while the reader/listener of the poem
is capable of imagining her smooth voice despite the fact that the
lines (1415) do not use auditory-related terms. The auditory and
of Plato, aect theories of music, that is, that music ought to arouse specic emo-
tions in the listeners, remained through the respective discussions of Aristotle,
Descartes, Kircher, and Rameau. See John Neubauer, The Emancipation of Music from
Language: Departure from Mimesis in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1986), especially, chap. 3, Music and the Aects, 4259.
59
Ibid., 16.
60
See -r-b in Lane and Lisn al-'Arab.
61
See Sawa, 173, 206.
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148 cn\r+rn rotn
the optical stimulate and interrelate with each other. It should be
emphasized that this ekphrastic description in the sense of visual pre-
sentation is intended to express the non-pictorial object, that is, her
voice.
Ibn al-Rm uses gesture and voice, which are closely connected,
as the devices of poetic creation to express sensual feelings. While
lines 1415 depict how she sings mainly in the physical domain,
they are intimately linked to her voice, which is described in lines
1622, because the physical posture enables her to produce such a
bewitching sound. In order to elucidate the relation of the gesture
and the voice, I shall rely on Kramers interpretation of the two and
their relationship. First, regarding the gestural, Kramer uses it as a
key term in understanding a relation between music and poetry in
terms of tempo as follows:
The term [gestural] reects the idea that music and poetry, more than
any of the other arts, dene their formal shape as a function of rhyth-
mically integrated time. A physical gesturebeckoning, waving good-
by, embracingis a complex action so integrated that it is perceived
as simple, its duration can dene the virtual present, and in the right
context it can assume an enormous weight of implication and emo-
tion. Music and poetry seem to share these qualities, doing over a
span of time what a gesture does in a moment. Perhaps, through per-
formance, there is even a direct (but now largely submerged) link
between the expressive gestures of music and poetry and physical ges-
tures. Some poems, some compositions, resist and fragment gestural
continuity, but it is always there to be resisted or fragmented.
62
Kramer further argues as to voice:
The contrast between gestural and narrative organization can be fur-
ther sharpened by reference to what Wolfgang Iser calls consistency-
building. This is a preconscious process by which, according to Iser,
the textual segments of a literary work are linked together to ensure
the feeling of good continuation. . . . Instead of integrating actions
into meaningful sequences, gestural consistency-building evokes the
quality that is sometimes called voice: the feeling of a continuous
planeor several interwoven planesof intentionality. (It does not
matter whether we accept voice as somehow real or regard it as a
logocentric illusion; it is the material at hand in either case.) The sense
of good continuation that belongs to voice is not left half-conscious
but is projected into the work, where it participates in the rise and
62
Kramer, viii.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 149
fall of tension and manifests itself as a rhythmic/sensuous quality rather
than as a conceptual one.
63
According to Kramer, the gestural consistency-building creates the
voice that operates to maintain good continuation in poetry or
music as opposed to the narrative sequence. The voice embodies a
rhythmic/sensuous quality rather than a conceptual one. It is worth
mentioning that al-Ji oers some remarks on the rhythm of singing
that are similar to Kramers view:
The rhythm of poetry is of the same category as the rhythm of singing,
and the domain of prosody is part of the domain of music: it belongs
to the domain of psychology. It is impossible to describe satisfactorily
by a verbal denition, but it can be apprehended intuitively just as
much as it can be apprehended by prosodic analysis.
64
What al-Ji argues is that rhythm is inherent in the psychological
sphere, and music is grasped by intuition (al-jis), not by concept,
which can be convincingly (bi-add muqni' ) dened by a verbal means.
His view also reveals the importance of tempo and prosody.
On the basis of Kramers theory, I argue that in his description
of the songstress Ibn al-Rm eectively employs the attributes of
the gesture and the voice for the purpose of appealing to the sen-
sual faculty of the reader/hearer. With the presentation of the ges-
ture of her singing, lines 1415 show how her body is steady without
making any special kinetic movement, despite which her singing is
splendid and smooth. After this, the poem insinuates good contin-
uation in her singing by means of skills, such as breathing, which
are based on her steady posture, and the voice suggests its inten-
tionality, that is, it is directed to the expression and evocation of
emotions.
The ode states, Because of the calm of her voice, which is unbro-
ken, and its stirring of passion, which is unagging (l. 16). The poet
uses the technique of contrast/antithesis (ibq) between huduww (tran-
quility or silence in the night) and shujuww (stirring of passion of joy
or grief ). Huduww or quiescence in her voice is a common attribute
of her gesture. Despite the fact that her voice bears quiescence, it
stirs passion with spirit. Shujuww bears the very conception of arab
(emotion by reason of joy or grief ). The poet also employs the mode
63
Ibid., 11.
64
Al-Ji, ed. trans. Beeston, 24.
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150 cn\r+rn rotn
of time to present Wads singing, as Kramer claims. Ibn al-Rm
says, in line 16, that the girls voice stretches without interruption
and its passion is resolutely strong and, in line 17, that her voice
always reaches the end of the phrase. The length of Wads voice
is closely connected with passion or emotion both in herself and in
the listener. The poet compares the length of her breathing to the
sighs of the listener with the double use of the tajns (paronomasia)
in line 17. In the rst hemistich, nafas (a noun meaning breath) is
used as the f'il or subject of madda (a verb meaning to extend,
stretch), while in the second hemistich madd is employed as the
adjective extended, stretched of the anfs (translated here as sighs),
the plural of nafas. In combination with these rhetorical techniques,
her lovers long sighs, which are as long as her breathing, express
their infatuation with her and her song. Thus, the sense of a con-
tinuous plane of intentionality in Wads voice, along with the dura-
tion which is immanent in her physical gesture, connotes profound
implication and emotion.
The poet combines gestures with voice in line 18: Her coquetry
and irtation make her voice even more delicate. Synaesthetic eects
are again utilized. Coquetry and irtation are ambiguous when cat-
egorized in terms of the operative senses, for they are a mixture of
vision, touch, and hearing. Nevertheless, her coquettishness increases
the quality of her performance. Grammatically speaking, the coquetry
(al-dall ) and irtation (al-ghunju) are of her voice, because hu (it) of
minhu (of it) refers to her voice. In the second hemistich the poet
personies her voice as if it were alive by stating that her voice
almost dies. Passion (al-shaj) thins (bar) her voice to the extent that
it almost kills it. The word, bar, form I of the verb, means to
sharpen or to wear out.
Her song is described as adorned with washy (embroidery) and aly
( jewelry) that consist of naghm (melody) (l. 20), which produces synaes-
thetic eects. Literary synaesthesia may be dened as a writers use
of the metaphor of the senses or of expressions and concepts related
to it.
65
Jewelry and embroidery are crafts showing a solid pattern,
metaphorically associated with melody, which is linear. From embroi-
dery, the reader/listener can picture the image of a colorful, gorgeous
65
Glenn OMalley, Literary Synesthesia, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 15
(1957): 391.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 151
pattern. On the other hand, jewelry gives an image of glittering,
sparkling stones, that is, brilliance. The melody which she produces
is composed of the image of jewelry and embroidery. Ibn al-Rm
attempts to fuse all of these qualities in these two crafts to create a
complex picture of Wads voice in the listeners/readers mind; this
is his use of metaphor of the senses, or synaesthesia.
Erhardt-Siebold argues, synaesthesia enables the poet to translate
one sense-impression into the terms of another sense.
66
Ibn al-Rm
makes use of the combination and transfer/translation eects of
synaesthesia. Embroidery stimulates the tactile and optical senses,
jewelry the optical sense, and melody the auditory sense. The poet
makes the reader envisage these images of embroidery and jewelry
and combines them with melody into one harmonious impression.
In other words, the senses of seeing and touching are transferred
into the sense of hearing. Then the poem says that even the lyrics
of Wads song boast of the beauty of her singing (l. 20). This state-
ment is metapoetic, insofar as lyrics praising her singing are described
in the poem on her singing. The expression the melody which the
poem wears with pride appears to stress the excellence of Wads
singing by stating that even the lyrics of the poem she is singing are
proud of it. The phrase also suggests that the poem and the song/voice
complement each other. We thus have a poem within the poem
which even praises the poem.
The ode intends to convey its deep, strong emotion to the reader/lis-
tener not only by way of one sense but by way of all possible senses.
This intention is seen in the poets use of the synaesthetic technique
of inter-transferring them and synthesizing the sensations for the
reader/hearer. Line 21 states that Wads whole body testied that
her mouth/voice and its vibration were sweet/pleasant. All parts of
a body can feel the splendor of her voice. In other words, the poet
aims at translating into words what a human being senses, in both
body and mind, through Wads gesture and voice. Furthermore,
the singing-girls power lies in transforming her audience, which is
associated with the function of arab in music, so that she can shift
the spiritual level of the audience. Line 29 states, She is blamed
because when she sings, the freeborn become enslaved by her, while
line 36, her blameworthy traits became praiseworthy. Such is her
power that even the nature of a human being is transformed by it.
66
Erhardt-Siebold, 584.
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152 cn\r+rn rotn
Arts, irrespective of kind, are endowed with an ability to cultivate
aesthetically and enrich the sensibility and sentiments. When they
are unied, as music and poetry are synthesized in the poem, the
outcome will be innitely augmented.
Poetics and Metapoetics
As a qadah poet, Ibn al-Rm naturally makes use of the classical
Arabic conventional motifs. ba fhan (her mouth was sweet), for
instance, is the expression for the pleasant kiss of the personas
beloved, often seen in Jhil poetry. The beloveds thirst-quenching
cool saliva (l. 22) is likewise one of the conventional motifs of the
qadah tradition. A song emitted from the mouth allows the audi-
ence to regain lost happiness. This feeling reminds us of the remem-
brance of the personas beloved in the nasb, the rst section of the
qadah, particularly the all (traces) of her abode where the persona
weeps over his past unrequited or irretrievable love. The poet pro-
vides Wads song with the power to restore bygone happiness to
the listener and give renewed hope. That is why the listener asks
Wad to sing and kiss over and over (l. 23)to portray the euphoria
that has existed in the past. She evokes the nostalgia that everyone
has in his/her mind.
The comparison of the singing-girl to a gazelle (aby), alluding to
the qadah tradition, forms a structural framework for the poem.
The rst appearance of the motif is in line 2, mentioning that Wads
neck and eyes are those of a gazelle. The poem further says that
she is a gazelle that dwells in mens hearts, grazing on them, and
she is a singing canary (l. 13). Wad shoots at mens hearts with
her glance (l. 25). The poet adroitly associates the glance with the
string of a lute in her hands, which is likened to an arrow in the
bow of a soldier (l. 26). (That is, the string of a lute is a metaphor
for the arrow.) Moreover, he connects the magic power of the she-
gazelles glance in the Arabic qadah convention to the singing-girls
bewitching beauty. The topos of the gazelle, snaring the poet with
her murderous eyes, endows the beloved with magical and numinous
attributes.
67
As soon as the persona meets the gazelle/beloved, he is
67
See J. C. Brgel, The Lady Gazelle and Her Murderous Glances, Journal of
Arabic Literature 20 (1989): 9.
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srxsiniri+v \xr svx\rs+nrsi\ 153
bewitched by her stunning beauty. The gazelle metaphor is derived
from the animals gracefulness and the murderous glances that cause
lovesickness and the lovers death.
68
Wad demands mens hearts
with her ruqan (the plural of ruqyah) or magical spells (l. 30). Her
ruqan demonstrate that her singing has the same force as incantations
that enchant the listener. Ibn al-Rm recites, The devil of her love
blocked every access, the devil of her love is refractory (l. 41). All
the transformations she causes within her audience, such as from
being freeborn to enslaved, from being rational to seduced (l. 24),
and from being blameworthy to praiseworthy (l. 36), are indicative
of the supernatural force of her song. The poets frequent mention
of Wads glance towards the end (ll. 5152) likewise evokes the
image of the beloved as a gazelle, which is considered to have mur-
derous eyes which cause the man to be lovesick, sometimes even
unto death.
69
In terms of structure, the ode demonstrates arrested develop-
ment,
70
both psychologically and formally. The ode can be seen as
a ghazal, opening with the tashbb (rhapsody over a beloved woman),
for the entire poem recites the poets love for Wad. The length
of the ode, however, consisting of fty-eight lines, is equivalent to a
full qadah. Following the conventional structure, the ode ought to
move on to mad (or another of the classical aghr) in the last sec-
tion, in keeping with the traditional bipartite structure consisting of
nasb (elegiac prelude) and mad (the praise of a mamd or patron).
The nasb mood is prolonged to the end, thus expressing through
poetic structure the poets inability or unwillingness to move beyond
his infatuation for Wad. In formal terms, he is unable to go beyond
the nasb. In other words, Ibn al-Rm prefers remaining in a state
of adolescent passion or a state of aesthetic ecstasy to attaining the
stage of maturity that characterizes the mad.
The closing lines (5558) appear to operate at both a poetic and
metapoetic level. On the poetic level, they convey the personas
strange and unending passion for Wad. The personas infatuation
has disturbed his usual congenial life and left him insomniac (l. 55).
68
See ibid., 6.
69
Ibid.
70
See Suzanne Stetkevych, chap. 7 of Mute. Stetkevych nds arrested develop-
ment in Imr al-Qayss Mu'allaqah due to its precocious sexuality and prolonged
adolescence.
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154 cn\r+rn rotn
Playing on the antithesis of familiar, or kin, and stranger, the per-
sona expresses his amazement that this stranger has settled in his
heart, while one close to him (his peace of mind) is banished (l. 56).
The persona complains of being veiled or cut o from his desires,
that is, his beloved is unattainable, his love unrequited (l. 57). Finally,
he expresses the enigma that his passionate love dwells in his heart,
yet, as his beloved is unattainable, it is as distant as the stars of the
Pleiades: it is at once both near and far.
The poets metapoetic intent is rst signaled by his repetition of
the word nasb (ll. 55 and 56), meaning on the surface level familiar
or even kin, both times in antithetic word-play with gharb, strange
or stranger. The insistence at the closure of the poem on nasb,
which is also the term for the opening amatory prelude of the clas-
sical qadah, alerts us to the poets metapoetic concern. For what is
formally and structurally strange about his poem is precisely that
the introductory nasb themes, chief among them the tashbb (descrip-
tion of the poets beloved), have been extended all the way to the
conclusion of a fty-eight line qadah, without any modulation into
the praise of the patron (mamd) or any of the other standard con-
cluding themes (aghr). That is, at the (poetic) stage at which the
poet should have left the passions of youth, as expressed in the ama-
tory ghazal and tashbb themes of the nasb, far behind, he has instead
been waylaid, as it were, by a strange infatuation. Thus the repeated
use of the word nasb serves as the link between the poetic and
metapoetic levels of meaning and allows the poet to express his self-
consciousness regarding the unusual structure of his poem.
Harking back to lines 9 and 10 concerning the simultaneous ease
and diculty of describing Wad, the two closing lines (57 and 58)
suggest that the unattainable object of the personas desirethat
which is both far and nearis the perfect poetic response to the
challenge ifh! (Describe her!); his frustration is not merely erotic
or sexual, but artistic. The closing line comprises yet another metapo-
etic play. As far back as pre-Islamic poetry, the antithesis of near
and far was employed as a topos of the mad (praise section) to
describe the personas feeling of simultaneous attachment to (closeness)
and awe for (distance) the mamd. Phrased at it is in the third per-
son masculine, the closing line reads perfectly as a traditional clos-
ing line of a mad. The bivalency of this line, too, then alerts us to
the poets sense of the classical form and his ability to play on and
with it.
Motoyoshi/f6/122-154 9/10/03 10:21 AM Page 154
155
CHAPTER FIVE
POETRY AND PORTRAITURE:
A DOUBLE PORTRAIT IN A PANEGYRIC
BY IBN ZAMRAK*
While the lingering reverberations of the singing-girls voice echo,
we now move on to the waf of a glorious edice composed by an
Andalusian court poet of the Narid era in the fourteenth century
C.E. This chapter concerns a third aspect of the ekphrastic mode
of interarts, architecture, in association with the concept of portrai-
ture. I examine a particular Arabic panegyric, qadat al-mad, in an
unconventional way that is consistent with Western critical concerns,
while heeding the genres traditional topics and features. This studys
key concept is again the concept of ekphrasis, the verbal represen-
tation of real or ctitious texts composed in a non-verbal sign sys-
tem, which includes architecture.
1
I use the comparative methods
of interarts studies to highlight features of a particular ode, includ-
ing some of the conventions under which it operates that have not
yet attracted critical attention.
The Arabic panegyric genre potentially contains both a literary
portrait of the patron and a poets self-portrait in one and the same
ode: a double portrait. Portraiture is a representation or description
of a human subject, and it can be visual, verbal, or musical. The
art historian Richard Brilliant states with regard to visual represen-
tation that portraits express an intended relationship between the
portrait image and the human original.
2
The portraitist plays an
intermediary role between the human subject and his image.
3
Although
* An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the annual meeting of the
Middle East Studies Association of North America, San Francisco, California,
November, 1997, and appeared as Akiko Motoyoshi, Poetry and Portraiture: A
Double Portrait in an Arabic Panegyric by Ibn Zamrak, Journal of Arabic Literature
30, no. 3 (1999): 199239.
1
This denition is by Claus Clver.
2
Richard Brilliant, Portraiture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 7.
According to Brilliant, the intended relationship is created by the portraitist.
3
See ibid., 45.
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156 cn\r+rn riyr
the professed purpose of the Arabic panegyric is to praise a patron
an Arab poet portrays the praised individual in the mad section
(and portrays himself in the nasb, the ral, and the mad sections)
4

the qadah has never been investigated as a verbal portrait or as a


self-portrait until now. This chapter deals with a panegyrical qadah
dedicated to Sultan Muammad V by Ibn Zamrak (133393? C.E.),
an Andalusian poet of the Narid era, which is explored as a dou-
ble portrait of the patron-ruler and the poet himself. I view the por-
trait of the ruler as an emblematic portrait (a concept which is
explained below), because he is rendered by means of an ekphras-
tic representation of the famous palace he (re)built, the Alhambra in
Granada, Spain. The palace is presented as a combination of the
embodiment and characterization of the whole being, to apply one
of Brilliants formulations regarding emblematic portraiture to the
representation of the patron by means of his own creation.
5
Although
there is currently no consensus on dening ekphrasis, I am using
Claus Clvers denition quoted above in this chapter, for it clearly
covers the verbal representation of the Alhambra as ekphrastic poetry.
6
Since the Alhambra is an artistic creation considered as a text in
semiotic parlance, the description of the palace in the poems mad
(panegyric) section (ll. 29146), including its garden and fountain, is
an ekphrasis.
The ode demonstrates the conventional bipartite structure (the
nasb: ll. 128 and the mad: 29146) and uses traditional motifs
and tropes, while Ibn Zamrak shows his originality by giving an
emblematic portrait of the ruler through architectural ekphrasis.
The ode has been studied, along with Ibn Zamraks other poems,
by Garca Gmez, who approaches it from historical, biographical,
and literary perspectives; James T. Monroe has carefully examined
4
Explicit self-portraits by the poet are generally not frequent in the mad.
However, the 'Abbsid poet al-Mutanabb (91565) often praises himself in the
mad section. He also uses the rst-person I in the mad, which seldom occurs
there. For instance, in his 'd-poem, al-Mutanabb presents a relationship between
himself and his patron and boasts of his own poetic power (ll. 3438). See Suzanne
Stetkevych, 'Abbsid Panegyric.
5
Richard Brilliant, Portraits: A Recurrent Genre in World Art, in Likeness and
Beyond: Portraits from Africa and the World, ed. Jean M. Borgatti and Richard Brilliant
(New York: The Center for African Art, 1990), 14.
6
I prefer Clvers denition, for it is not limited as to the kind of verbal rep-
resentation and makes a convincing case for including architecture. For other
denitions of ekphrasis by Spitzer and Heernan, see pp. 1114 in the Introduction.
Motoyoshi/f7/155-193 9/10/03 4:00 PM Page 156
ror+nv \xr ron+n\i+tnr 157
its themes, techniques and styles in detail, including metaphors and
clichs, as well as the historical and biographical aspects.
7
However,
these works do not deal with the function of the ekphrastic descrip-
tion of the Alhambra in light of the whole qadah.
The investigation of panegyrical odes as verbal portraits as well
as the employment of theories of portraiture derived from the visual
arts are new in the study of Arabic qadahs. Also, there has been
no interpretation of the ekphrastic description of a building as an
emblematic representation of a patron-ruler. This exploration of a
qadah as a portrait enables us to introduce both interarts theory
and the perspectives of portrait theory to the academic research of
classical Arabic poetry. My terms are, therefore, derived from con-
cepts of visual arts based on the studies of Western portraiture. I
hope the examination of ekphrasis in this study will enlarge the per-
spectives of the study of the Arabic qadah, for there are many
ekphrastic moments, such as the description of a building, a garden,
or a fountain, in the Arabic poetic tradition.
8
The qadah played a role corresponding to the function of visual
portraits in the Western court culture inasmuch as both the qadah
and the visual portrait serve to conrm the rulers legitimacy and
preserve the social and cultural values represented by the monarchy.
9
This function of the qadah is extremely crucial in the Arabo-Islamic
tradition as it helps the ruler maintain the support of the public and
the dignity of legitimate Islamic sovereignty. Additionally, it can be
argued that the aversion to painting or visual representation in Islam
helped the qadah tradition to develop and prosper, because the
political institution required an equivalent of visual portraiture to
maintain the image of the sovereign and spread the claim of his
authority and legitimacy throughout the land. The means has been
the panegyric qadah.
7
Garca Gmez. Ibn Zamrak: El poeta de la Alhambra (Madrid: Maestre, 1975).
James T. Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry: A Student Anthology (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1974). See also R. Blachre, Le visir-pote Ibn Zumruk et son
oeuvre, Annales de lInstitut dtudes Orientales 2 (1936): 291312.
8
'Al Ibn al-Jahm (d. 863 C.E.) and al-Sar al-Ra" (d. 976 C.E.) describe foun-
tains and palaces in their full qadahs. In al-Andalus, Ibn amds (d. 1132 C.E.)
has some poems with the depiction of buildings and fountains. Jaroslav Stetkevych
investigates some garden poems in chap. 5, In Search of the Garden, Zephyrs.
For fountain odes, Hideaki Sugita discusses a number of poems describing foun-
tains and animal-shaped fountains in 'Abbsid and Andalusian poems in his book
Jibutsu no Koe, Kaiga no Shi (The Voice of Things and the Poetry of Painting).
9
Suzanne Stetkevych, Qadah, 25.
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158 cn\r+rn riyr
After introducing the poet and the Alhambra palace, I rst dis-
cuss the poetic text in terms of what it appears to tell us in the
framework of the Arabic qadah tradition both in structure and
theme. I then move on to the main argument of this study, inter-
preting the ode as a portrait of Sultan Muammad V and as a self-
portrait of Ibn Zamrak. Because Arabic literary conventions have
had a great impact on this ode, without understanding the qadah
within that tradition, it would be quite dicult and confusing to
interpret this long panegyric.
Ibn Zamrak and the Alhambra
The ode was composed by Ab 'Abd Allh Muammad b. Ysuf
b. Muammad b. Amad b. Muammad b. Ysuf al-uray, known
as Ibn Zamrak, an Andalusian poet and statesman of the Narid era
(12321492). Although Ibn Zamrak was of humble origin, he stud-
ied with excellent masters in poetry such as Ibn al-Khab (131374),
who was a Granadan vizier (before Ibn Zamrak became a private
secretary at Muammad Vs court), philosopher, and historian, as
well as a poet.
10
In 1362 Ab 'Abd Allh Muammad V (r. 135459,
136291)
11
appointed him as his private secretary and a court poet
to commemorate recent events. When his master and patron Ibn al-
Khab was dismissed in 1371, Ibn Zamrak succeeded him as vizier
and hired a group of assassins to kill him in prison after his arrest
in Fez. Ibn Zamrak continued to hold the vizierate until the death
in 1391 of Muammad V, whose successor, Ysuf II (r. 139192),
dismissed Ibn Zamrak and imprisoned him for nearly two years.
Later the poet was assassinated on orders of Sultan Muammad VII
(r. 13921408) while he was reading the Qur"n at home, in approx-
imately 1393.
12
The political chaos during the Narid period, to which Ibn Zamrak
was an eye-witness, impelled him to use his artistic skills as a poet
and a secretary (ktib) in order to protect himself. The Narid era
10
See Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, 64.
11
His reign was interrupted by Ism'l II then Muammad VI. See Fernndez-
Puertas, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. Narids.
12
See F. de la Granja, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. Ibn Zamrak.
Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, 6465. Khayr al-Dn al-Zirikl, Al-A'lm, s.v. Ibn
Zamrak.
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ror+nv \xr ron+n\i+tnr 159
witnessed extensive political instability, amply attested by the fact
that one-third of its sultans were assassinated. In those vicissitudes,
the poet greatly exploited his poetic ability for the purpose of defend-
ing and maintaining himself as both a politician and a court poet
by praising his patron and himself. Poetry oered the excellent means
to exhibit his brilliance and to defend himself.
Ibn Zamrak served the Narid court as a lib (apprentice), a ktib
sirri-hi (personal secretary), a ra"s (chief of department), and a vizier
through the eras of the sultans Ysuf I, Muammad V, Ysuf II,
and Muammad VII. These four positions belonged to a particular
governmental department, the Dwn al-Insh" or the writing oce
in charge of handling bureaucratic aairs and ocial correspon-
dence. In addition, the oce had a crucial cultural role in the recon-
struction of the Alhambra and contributed to the architectural design
and the inscription of Qur"nic verses and poems on the Alhambra
walls. The ktibs and ra"ses cooperated with the 'arfs (architects) and
mu'allims (master craftsmen) in the formation of the architecture and
its decoration. In other words, as a ktib and a ra"s, Ibn Zamrak
took part in creating the art of the Alhambra not only as a poet,
but also as a bureaucrat.
13
The poet was a ktib sirri-hi, a ra"s, and
a vizier under Muammad V. While the other three ra"ses in the
Narid period, including his predecessor and master Ibn al-Khab,
gained the post of dh al-wizratayn (double vizier of the pen and
the sword), Ibn Zamrak was appointed to be vizier of the pen,
but not of the sword.
14
Recalling that Ibn Zamrak later carried out
the assassination of Ibn al-Khab, we can assume that the former
was perhaps discontent with the fact that he was not made a dh
al-wizratayn.
We must refer to the question of who actually built the Alhambra
palace in view of my claim that in the poem the Alhambra is designed
to embody the poets patron, Muammad V. According to Andrew
Peterson, most of the Alhambra palace complex was built by suc-
cessive emirs during the fourteenth and fteenth centuries, even
though its oldest part was constructed in the twelfth century.
15
The
13
See Antonio Fernndez-Puertas, The Alhambra, From the Ninth Century to Ysuf I
(1354), 2 vols. (London: Saqi Books, 1997), 1: 14345.
14
Ibid., 1: 146.
15
Andrew Peterson, The Dictionary of Islamic Architecture, s.v. Alhambra, 15. All
the information on the Alhambra in this paragraph is taken from this source.
According to Peterson, the Sala de los Reyes consists of a series of rooms opening
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present form of the largest and best known of the palaces, the Palacio
de Comares, is the result of Muammad Vs rebuilding in 1365.
The sultan also created the Patio de los Leones which leads to the
Sala de los Reyes which was a center for ceremonials. Ibn Zamrak
chose to describe the Alhambra not only because his patron owned
it, but also because he actually (re)built it.
Poetic Strategy in Light of the Arabic Poetic Tradition
First, the structural aspects of the qadah are explored in terms of
Arabic qadah conventions. Ibn Zamraks ode is distinctive in its con-
cluding praise section. In the panegyric, a poet usually praises his
patron by describing his magnicent characterhis valor, leader-
ship, generosity, and intelligenceor his military campaigns. However,
in addition to praising Muammad V, Ibn Zamrak devotes many
lines to the description of the Alhambra, including its garden (trees
and birds) and the sky above it.
16
The poet starts the mad in line
29 after the nasb (ll. 128), shifts to the description of the Alhambra
in line 60, and goes back to praising the patron himself in line 121.
The description of the palace covers sixty out of one hundred forty-
six lines, and the description is situated between two sections of praise
for the patron (ll. 2959 and ll. 12146). Considering its location,
the description of the Alhambra should be viewed as a part of the
mad. Functionally, however, the description may also be seen as a
sort of ral, a notion which I discuss later. I argue that the ekphra-
sis of the Alhambra has three functions for the poet: 1. to praise his
patron by creating an emblematic portrait of him, 2. to cultivate
onto a larger vaulted area, which in turn opens on to the Patio. Although Ibn
Zamrak does not mention the names of the sections of the Alhambra in his poem,
we can assume that the Patio characterized by the fountain in its center as well as
the Tower of Comares are described in his qadah based on the fact that the
description of the materials and forms accord with those of the actual Alhambra.
Therefore, it may be assumed that the portions in the Alhambra complex that are
depicted in Ibn Zamraks ode were largely created by Muammad V. On the
eleventh century Jewish origines of the Alhambra, see Frederick P. Bargebuhr, The
Alhambra: A Cycle of Studies on the Eleventh Century in Moorish Spain (Berlin: Walter de
Gruyter & Co., 1968).
16
The description of a building as praise is not, however, entirely without
antecedents. See, for example, the description of the ruins of wn Kisr (the res-
idence of the Ssnian Kings) in the mad of al-Butur. See chap. 3.
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ror+nv \xr ron+n\i+tnr 161
himself through showing the brilliance of the patron, and 3. to cre-
ate a self-portrait that amounts to self-praise.
Ibn Zamraks Qadah in Praise of Muammad V of Granada
17
1. Ask the horizon that is adorned
with owers of stars,
for I have entrusted it
to tell you how I am.
2. I made the languid breeze
bear my trust,
through which my hopes
traversed the age of time.
3. O you who nd
[mens] souls weak,
I have placed burdens on them
that make mountains seem light.
4. How many mens whispered rumors
were taken seriously,
while only passion was serious to me,
so that my upset heart was thought to be mocking [dying].
5. Whoever obeys the glances
according to the law of love
will surely disobey a good advisor
as well as a reviler.
17
The meter of this ode is awl. The translation is a cooperative eort by myself
and Suzanne Stetkevych. There are three published versions of the Arabic text: by
al-Nayfar, James T. Monroe, and al-Maqqar. Unless otherwise noted, we have fol-
lowed Monroes version. Ibn Zamrak al-Andalus, Ode 105, Dwn Ibn Zamrak al-
Andalus, ed. with notes, Muammad Tawfq al-Nayfar (Beirut: Dr al-Gharb al-Islm,
1997), 51926. Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, Ode 40, 34665. Amad ibn Muammad
al-Maqqar al-Tilimsn, Naf al-b min Ghun al-Andalus al-Rabwa Dhikr Wazrih
Lisn al-Dn Ibn al-Khab, ed. Muammad Muy al-Dn 'Abd al-amd, 10 vols.
(Beirut: Dr al-Kitb al-'Arab, 1949), 10: 4956. See the Appendix for the Arabic
text.
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162 cn\r+rn riyr
6. I turned my heart from
the dominion of [loves] rule
when it was content with
the tyrannous glance as its ruler.
7. Love is but a glance
that stirs up passion
and causes maladies
no doctor can cure.
8. How amazing is the eye
allowed to roam at will
that stirs the heart
to consternation.
9. Is there no precious soul,
striving in Gods path,
whose dear price love
does not cheapen?
10. How many a pact
with youthful passion did I fulll,
and how well I paid
love-unions debt!
11. I was alone with the one
I loved, unwatched;
but I was never lacking
in virtue or modesty.
12. Many a day I spent
with shy skittish gazelles/maids
exerting myself in love-union
till I was worn out.
13. I did not sober up
from the wine of the glance
with which the bright countenance,
sunlit, ignites the air.
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14. It [His glance] unsheathed
a sharp sword of lightning
from the sheath of the clouds,
its blade polished and pure.
15. He smiled and moved my eyelids
to abundant weeping
that lled my cloak
with the pearls of tears.
16. He reminded me of a mouth
at which I wanted to quench my thirst
and no, I swear by 'Udhrite love,
I had not forgotten it.
17. And it continued in the evening
with a throbbing like mine
as if the lightning of the tribal precinct
were heartsick like me.
18. And one night when the full moon
spent the night in my bed
and the eyes of the shining stars
spent it gazing at me,
19. I sipped between the sweet [saliva]
and ashing [teeth]
from the drinking place of a mouth
adorned all night with pearls.
20. I sucked from it the honey of saliva
like the best wine
and kissed dewdrops
from the delightful chamomile.
21. O coolness of that mouth,
you have quenched my burning thirst,
and O the heat of my sighs,
you have melted my heart!
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22. Many a garden of beauty
and youthful freshness,
there I saw the branch of a willow tree
ready for plucking.
23. I spent a night watering
the rose of the cheek with my tears,
till the narcissus of the glance
became withered on the morn.
24. The girls with swaying gures
swayed my heart;
so what do I care about
those swaying gures?
25. May God reward that
time of aection by renewing it;
it has been a long time
since He brought rain on the abode of the gazelles.
26. Say to the nights
which I enjoyed in my youth
and which I spent in intimacy,
May you be watered, my nights!
27. O my riverbed whose shadows
were spread over me
as we passed the cup of companionship:
may you be ransomed, O my riverbed!
28. In it the gazelles eyes
shot [their glances] at me,
but in their passion the only target
they hit was my heart.
18
29. Had it not been for my seeking
the protection of Prince Muammad,
18
The second hemstich literally means the only thing they shot at the targets
was my heart (qalb).
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I would never have been saved
from those lethal glances.
30. Say to him whose poetry
is built on beauty,
May you ever build
well upon it.
31. How many a complaint of love
have you allayed
and alleviated with praise,
since [praise] followed it.
32. How many a night I passed awake
competing with the shining stars
in order to praise him
by virtue of the pearls of poetry.
33. And then the column of dawn
appeared luminous as his ancestry
and on it I raised
the edice of my praise,
34. For an imm whose age has beneted
from his noble deeds
and has dwelt with him
in heights above the stars.
35. He surpassed the full moon
in brightness and loftiness
and was satised with
no friend but perfection.
36. He is the sun which has spread
its benecence over the earth
and whose light has guided everyone,
both near and far.
37. He is the salt sea whose waves
swell with benecence,
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but he is (abundant) sweet water
to every supplicant.
38. He is abundant rain that pours forth
when the clouds withhold their rain,
quenching whoever is thirsty
with clouds of generous rain.
39. He has good qualities;
if the garden had their beauty,
its fresh owers
would never fade.
40. O son of the proud kings
from the family of Khazraj
possessing a lineage that is powerful
19
and like the dawn exalted.
41. Are you not the one
whose favor petitioners seek
till your gifts embarrass
the early morning clouds?
20
42. Are you not the one
whose assault the tyrants fear
till your augustness frightens o
hardships assault?
43. Whose guidance, whenever the shooting stars
stray from their goal,
they take as their guide
under the wings of darkness.
44. Your resolve is more incisive
than your sword in the din of battle,
even though the swords two edges
are polished to be sharp.
19
Dh can mean either possessing or this (hdh).
20
This line follows al-Nayfars vocalization.
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45. For how many a defamer of religion,
denying his Lord,
did you strike the int of your anger,
setting it ablaze!
46. Nothing alarmed him
except for a sword and a resolve
that illuminated the night
of dark aairs.
47. Were it not for you,
O Sun of the Caliphate,
the path to holy war, which lay concealed,
would not have come to light.
48. Were it not for you,
the sky would not have been darkened by battle-dust,
in which white spearheads shone
like shining stars.
49. Were it not for you,
the branches of the lances would not have drunk a rst
draught,
though they were thirsty
for the watering place of blood.
50. The spearhead bore
the fruit of a mighty victory
and plucked the fruit of conquest,
fresh and close at hand.
51. Whenever your blood-shedding sword
goes forth naked,
leaving the face of the earth
clothed with blood,
52. God decrees from
above the heavens
that it slay whoever on earth
has rejected Islam.
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53. How many an indel stronghold
did you attack at dawn
with an army that turned
the dawn back to darkness.
54. You ascended to it,
while the swords were drawn,
and the souls in it had reached
the point of ascending.
55. You conquered
its fortied citadel by force,
and in it through the night
monotheism rose to announce [its victory].
56. Its bell was forced into
silence that evening,
while in the morning its pulpit was adorned
by the invocation [of Allahs name].
57. [In it were]
unimaginable wonders
and only through your unique aspiration
did we triumph over them.
58. Thus it was from you that
fate acquired every wonder
for which kings will compete
till the end of time.
59. It is about you that
men relate every marvelous deed
that is dictated and inscribed
upon the page of Time.
60. How beautiful
your building is,
for by the decree of good fortune,
it transcends all others!
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61. How many joyful comforts
for the eyes are found in it,
it rekindles the passions of
even a sedate mans soul!
62. The luminous stars would love
to be xed in its vault
rather than traverse
the vault of heaven.
63. Were they to present themselves
among its rst arrivals,
they would vie with the handmaidens
to serve your pleasure.
64. It has a portico of
surpassing beauty,
through which the palace vies in beauty
with the vault of heaven.
65. With how many ne draperies
have you adorned it!
whose colorful embroidery
makes us forget the Yemeni brocades!
66. And how many arches rise up
in its courtyard supported by columns
which all night long
are adorned with light,
67. Till you think them the celestial spheres
that have revolved in their orbits
overshadowing the pillars of dawn
that shone dimly through the night.
68. The columns have produced
every rare wonder
that proverbs carry o
spreading far and wide.
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69. In the palace there is burnished marble
whose luminous sheen
has revealed what lay hidden
in the darkness.
70. When the columns are
illumined by the suns rays,
you would think them,
despite their huge size, pearls.
71. In it is a fountain that
spurts forth rippling waters,
till you imagine, when it pours forth,
it is vying with the [water rippling] breeze.
72. When the hands of the east wind
polish its surface,
they show us coats of mail
that have won us great power.
73. Prancing/dancing in the fountain,
obedient to her rein,
she responds to
melodies of the singing girls.
74. When she rises in the air
and sinks again,
scattering loose pearls
in all directions,
75. Silver melts
that has owed among jewels
and has become/appeared like her
in beauty, pure white.
76. A liquid appeared to the eyes
like a solid
so that I cannot discern
which of them is owing.
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77. If you want a perfect simile
that so hits the mark
that you will be congratulated
as a marksman,
78. Then say that the pool
made her back dance
as someone playing
with a baby makes it dance.
79. She showed us her generous nature
while she was still small,
she was not content
save with abundant benecence.
80. She watered the mouth of the owers
in the garden with the sweetness of her cool waters,
and began to conduct
a streamlet [that ows] forever.
81. As if she had seen
the river of the Milky Way owing
and had undertaken
to make the streams ow into it.
82. The daughters of the lofty trees
[i.e., saplings planted in the garden]
pose gracefully,
21
some singly,
others following in pairs.
83. Sucking at the breast of passion
they grew and became young [maidens]
and kindled love
for them in my heart.
84. From each of them hangs
a branch of braided locks,
21
In al-Maqqars text, there is a variant of maw"ilan (that is found in Monroes
text): mawthilan (standing). We adopt mawthilan.
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that is passed around in circles
by the breezes hands.
85. In it the branch held high
its slender neck, unadorned,
then the blossoms formed a necklace
on its collarbone.
86. When its shoots were adorned
by pearls of owers,
the wild thyme embellished it
with fragrance through the night,
87. The exchange of two currencies
in her for their likes
was permitted by the judge
to beauty to pay her due.
22
88. If she lled the palm of the breeze
in the bright morning sun
with dirhams of light,
it would accept them [for silver dirhams].
89. Then the enclosure of the garden
would be lled around their branches
with dinars of sunshine
that leave the garden adorned.
90. The birds visit
its branches frequently
whenever the hands of the singing girls
play their instruments there.
91. The birds respond to the singing girls in rhyme,
so that you would think the birds
22
In al-Maqqars version, the second hemistich is Murifatu n-naqdayni fh bi-
mithlih, ajza bi-h al-naqdayni min-h kam hiy. Two currencies are dirham (silver)
and dinar (gold).
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by their voices
were dictating their songs to them.
92. We did not know of any other garden
more delightful in freshness,
more fragrant in all its directions,
or more pleasant in the picking of its fruits.
93. Nor have we seen a palace
loftier in its lookouts,
more distant in its views,
or more capacious in its assembly halls.
94. Good qualities you selected
from perfection itself,
and with them you adorned
the abodes with beauty.
95. You inaugurated its construction
on a holiday,
when you began to spread the felicitations
both east and west.
96. When you called on
the people to build it,
they responded to your call
from as far as the Ghawr.
97. They directed their steps towards it,
drawing near from the most distant lands,
and the good fortune from you
still brings those distant near to you.
98. You reminded [men] of Judgment Day
in your municence and might
when, seated in judgment,
you dispensed rewards.
99. There you rewarded everyone
according to his due,
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so that he gathered the fruits of
whatever his right hand had planted.
100. [Then you sent them away] on howdahs,
with high wooden frames
that reminded the heedless of the day of departure
[from Mina to Mecca during the ajj].
101. In the morning [sun]
[the palace] gleams like aring beacons
for the villages, so it is no wonder
that you have streams running through it.
102. And a [tower] rising proudly
in the air, unreachable,
so lofty it repels
and weakens the glance.
103. Gemini extends to it
a ready hand,
and the full moon of the heavens
draws near to whisper secrets.
104. It is no wonder that
it exceeds the stars in height
and goes beyond
their furthest limits.
105. Before your abode [this tower] has risen
to perform its service;
for whoever serves the highest
wins nobility thereby.
106. The proof of this is that
I am standing at your door/court,
and that even the blossoms of the stars
have envied my position.
107. The [owers/stars] suckled
the breast of the clouds before this
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in the precinct of the gardens
in which they had grown.
108. And no sooner did they sprout
from the soil of their roots,
than they aspired to reach
the height of the clouds.
109. They considered meeting the clouds
a feast and festival,
so they rose early to delight the morning clouds
with the sound of the ute.
110. So [the owers/stars] made
the joyous lightning laugh among them
and all night long [the lightning] oered
drink to their pearly cups.
111. They saw themselves
grown so tall that
they thought they surpassed their goal,
though they had hit it.
112. The fading [owers/stars]
rushed to [the clouds]
as if they were exhausted birds
after long ight collapsing in their nest.
113. They resembled bees
when the honey gatherer
pokes his stick into their hive,
rising in a swarm.
114. Some head straight for their goal
and reach it,
while others, unsteady,
circle wearily in the air.
115. It is an invincible fortress
that has been elevated to the height [of the stars],
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its highest towers
vanishing in the upper air.
116. It is as if the towers of the Zodiac
had fallen to earth
and had seen the towers of the palaces
you built rising [to the sky].
23
117. You built a soaring tower,
gradually descending
to be a attering messenger
among [palaces].
118. The palace has developed
in various stages,
exciting [the jealousy] of beautiful women
with its varied ornaments.
119. It has anklets on its feet
and a sash around its waist,
and a crown adorns
its highest parts.
120. The crown is none other than
a bird of good omen at its summit,
which in the early morning
drives back the gray falcon of dawn.
121. O my lord,
pride of kings,
in whom the religion of God
attains what it desires!
122. By the decree of good fortune,
your sons are ve
23
We use al-Nayfars version, Ka"anna burja l-ufqi (See 4 n, 525.) ghrat wa-qad
ra"at. In Monroes version, It is as if the ashes of lightning hit the earth and
had revealed the towers of the palaces you built rising [to the sky].
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and that number grants protection
from the evil eye.
123. All night the hand of the Pleiades
invokes Gods protection for them,
and at morn the gentlest breezes
will arise for them.
124. Names impressed upon them
for felicitys sake,
in which you see might,
both implicit and explicit.
125. You put Ab al-ajjj
at the head of their list,
you through whom conquests
were successive.
126. May you be satised
by Sa'd and by Nar,
followed by Muammad al-Ar,
and you continue to be content.
24
127. In him [Ab al-ajjj]
you established a Tradition based on Religion [Islam],
and restored the eaced trace
of the Holy Guidance.
128. They brought him,
his comeliness lling [the beholders] eyes,
kissing the face of the earth,
bright and resplendent.
25
129. O censurer, there was
never anyone as bold as he,
24
See al-Nayfars edition, 6 n. 525. It says that the patrons ve sons are Ab
al-ajjj Ysuf, Sa'd, Nar, Muammad, and 'Al.
25
We use al-Nayfars vocalization, wajha as the direct object of yuqabbil.
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and one like you will never shed
the blood of ferocious lions.
130. Greetings came to you from Egypt
like precious gifts,
whose costly goods
the merchants hands could not tear open.
131. An amulet came to you
from the land of al-ijz
completing Gods creation,
may it be unceasingly revealed.
132. The Sultan of aybah
called you the dreadful,
O fragrant one, how tting the name
that he bestowed on you!
133. He stood, after
visiting Muammads tomb,
praying there
for your exalted dominion.
134. Your merciful soul,
may it be rewarded
for its endeavor by a God
who gives all eorts full recompense.
135. For, by God,
were it not for the Tradition of the Prophet,
by which we recognize him [the patron-ruler]
to be both guided and guide,
136. And an act of forgiveness
that was decreed according to Law
by news that raised
the spears [led to a truce],
137. [You would have
wreaked] a slaughter
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whose horrors would have turned
the very spearheads hoary,
138. In this you deserve praise
for a deed that you reckon,
then its third in glory
has exalted a second.
139. For it Gemini fastens
the knot of its Orions Belt,
so that it may serve in it
to win nobility.
140. You have been congratulated for it
with poetic praise,
and by it your existence has come
to overow with generosity.
141. And before you
there are jewels from the sea of rhetoric,
which are high-esteemed,
for they are not sold except at a high price.
142. I pursued in them
the description of every wonder,
for I have outdone all those who will come
as well as those who have gone before.
143. O heir to the Anr,
and not based on remote kinship,
the inheritance of majesty
makes mountains seem light.
144. The scripture has brought his praises,
divided in parts,
he who recites it will chant it
invoking [H/his] name.
26
26
Qur"nic and Qur"n-related diction identies his poem with the Holy Qur"n.
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145. Islam has recognized,
from what I have conveyed,
the noble deeds of the Narids
and their power.
146. The peace of God be upon you,
so be forever safe,
renewing holidays
and destroying the foe.
Richard Brilliants term emblematic portrait helps us to compre-
hend Ibn Zamraks poetic strategy which employs the description of
architecture for the purpose of portraying the sultan.
27
In the ekphras-
tic representation of the Alhambra, the poet portrays Muammad
V not in a descriptive or iconic mode that demonstrates a strong
likeness shared by the image and its referent,
28
but in an emblem-
atic mode. For Brilliant, emblematic portraits rely on a nonde-
scriptive, but evocative, symbolism to signify the person in a synecdochic
manner.
29
I argue that Ibn Zamraks representation of the sover-
eign is metonymic rather than synecdochic, for it is a case where
one thing is applied to another with which it is closely associated,
because of contiguity in common experience.
30
Although the poet
praises his patrons inner attributes, he scarcely describes him phys-
ically;
31
instead, he depicts the Alhambra as ideal architecture that
signies the glory of Muammad V.
In light of the thematic development in relation to the structure,
since the rst (nasb) part presents the poetic personas unhappy love,
the nasb itself hardly mentions Muammad V, the object of his
27
Brilliant, Portraits, 14.
28
Ibid., 15. Brilliant further says, Iconic portraits rely heavily on the represen-
tation of the recognizable face and body as the primary vehicles of the portrait
repertory, 15. The Arabic qadah usually does not describe the physical features
of a mamd (one praised), but rather presents his inner attributes in the mad sec-
tion. However, I consider the presentation of a patrons inner attributes as an
iconic portrait, because it is based on a strong likeness shared by the image and
its referent. Also, it is much more realisticand descriptive than an emblematic
portrait which relies on an arbitrary, abstract symbol.
29
Ibid., 14.
30
M. H. Abrams, Glossary, 6869.
31
The only vague physical description in the ode occurs in line 128: . . . his
[the sultans] comeliness lling [the beholders] eyes. . . .
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praise. Nevertheless, the relationship between the nasb and the mad
is important for understanding the poets entire thematic enterprise.
If we view the ode from the perspective of Stefan Sperls dialectical
paradigm, the contrast between barrenness in the nasb and fertility
in the mad is clearly shown in the panegyric;
32
that is, as Monroe
states, the poem progresses from initial despair to nal consolation
found in the glory of the sovereign.
33
In the former the persona is
the protagonist, and his unrequited love is rendered in lines 428.
The nasb part shows conventional concepts of love and scarcely devi-
ates from the convention. 'Udhrite love, an early Islamic revival of
Bedouin lyricism expressing passionate, sentimental, and idolatrous
love, is the central theme of the nasb.
34
The poet employs conven-
tional clichs: he is snared by the beloveds glances (l. 5) and com-
pares his mistresses to gazelles (l. 12). Yet, Monroe states that Ibn
Zamrak employs these well-worn clichs in a very fresh and origi-
nal way.
35
His unhappy love is then overcome by the integration of
the persona into the sphere of his patron, Muammad V, in the
mad. Starting with line 29, which is the beginning of the mad,
the persona turns to the sultan, seeking his protection from the deadly
glances of the seductresses. The feeling of loss in the nasb is assuaged
by the patrons generosity. The description of the pool and trees (ll.
7886) presents the echoes of the nasb and makes the palace the
ultimate compensation for the personas lost loves.
Ibn Zamraks rhetorical strategy is to compare art to nature and
to elevate the arts of poetry and architecture by making them supe-
rior to nature. Monroe rightly observes that this strategy contrasts
with that of the other Andalusian poets, such as Ibn Khafjah and
al-Ruf, who admire and poeticize nature.
36
In the rst line, Ibn
Zamrak has entrusted the horizon adorned with owers of stars to
convey a message about himselfthe persona casts the horizon and
the stars as his servant. The stars continue to appear throughout the
ode. For instance, line 32 says that when the persona stayed up late
32
Sperl, 25. Sperls work on the bipartite nasb-mad qadah of the 'Abbsid
period shows a coherent thematic development by identifying a dialectical strophe/
antistrophe structure and relating this to ancient Near Eastern kingship rituals.
33
Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, 365.
34
See Jaroslav Stetkevych, Zephyrs, 113.
35
Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, 65.
36
Ibid.
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182 cn\r+rn riyr
eulogizing his sovereign, his pearls of poetry competed with the stars.
The shining stars are capable of exalting the ruler of Granada by
illuminating him, whereas the poet can glorify him through his art,
poetry. The poet not only compares nature to art, but also makes
use of nature to magnify his patron. Although humans normally use
the stars for guidance, line 43 reverses the order and has erring stars
seeking the rulers guidance. This concept conveys the message that
since you cannot rely on the stars, you must follow the commands
of Muammad V, who is the divinely guided sovereign. The poet
returns to this topic in the ekphrastic section, where the wandering
stars want to establish themselves in the rulers palace (l. 62). This
line implies that his abode is a permanent abode and, that signies
the perfect political realm of the Islamic kingdom, in contrast to the
unreliable abode of the stars.
37
Ibn Zamrak devotes so many lines (60105) to the description of
the Alhambra palace, including its garden, not only to show how
magnicent the building is, but also to make it symbolize the Narid
kingdom and at the same time the ideal heavenly polity where every-
one desires to live. The architecture stands as a representation and
a portrait of the sovereign as the artist of its perfection. The poet
opens his description of the Alhambra by presenting a general visual
image of the palace, which is evoked by external, material, and phys-
ical qualities, excellence and beauty, while it is simultaneously metaphor-
ical (see gure 1, between the pages 198 and 199. Lines 6162
emphasize the internal, spiritual, and metaphysical qualities of solace
and comfort. The poet compares the palace with the vault of the
sky and shows the superiority of the palace by the fact that the stars
will now come to the comfortable palace as guests and even as ser-
vants (l. 63). Drawing a parallel between the heavens and the palace
(l. 67), Ibn Zamrak expresses a parallel between God and his patron.
The elaborately carved capitals of the columns have become prover-
bial for their rare wonders (see gure 2, between the pages 198 and
199). The poet projects the imagery of the illuminating light of pol-
ished marble (ll. 6970). The description of the xed abode as a
match for heaven is an original eulogy to create the ideal image of
an Islamic polity and its ruler.
If the creator of the universe is God, the creator of the recon-
structed palace is Muammad V, who is not merely its owner but
37
See Suzanne Stetkevych, Ab Tammm, 151.
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also its architect, responsible for its design and decoration. On the
metaphorical level, he emerges as the builder of the rightly guided,
eternal Islamic polity and thus deserves to be the leader of the realm.
The comparison of the ruler of Granada to the Creator of the world
constitutes one of the main themes in this panegyric. The poem not
only compares them, but even shows them as rivals. Of course, the
sovereign cannot declare himself a rival of God, who is matchless,
but his power is legitimized by God. Nevertheless, the ode occa-
sionally implies that the sovereign attempts to surpass Him on var-
ious levels, as in the allusive comparison of his garden to the Garden
of Eden which is discussed below.
A parallel is also implicitly drawn between the artistry of the patron
and of the poet. Ibn Zamrak introduces this parallel by his use of
the verb ban (to build) for composing poetry in line 30. Ban is usu-
ally employed for a building. Therefore, the poet suggests that his
construction of the poem is like the patrons building of the palace.
Both their works are in the sphere of art, i.e., one is a poetic artist,
and the other is an architectural artist. The poetic artist uses poet-
ical means to express another art, architecture. Through the use of
ekphrasis, he fashions the Alhambra marvelously, by rhetorical devices,
to the extent that nobody has ever seen such beauty before.
Moreover, it is worth noting that some of the verses of the pan-
egyric (lines 6070, 8789, 9293, 1035, 123) were actually inscribed
on the wall of the Sala de las Dos Hermanas in that palace circa
1350 (see gure 3, between the pages 198 and 199).
38
The inscribed
verses are intertwined with the ornamentation of the palace. They
demonstrate complex interreferentiality among the visual art (the
architecture), the verbalized visual art (the ode), and the visualized
verbal art (the inscribed verses). In other words, the architecture was
verbalized, and in turn, the verbalized art was returned to the archi-
tecture; the ekphrasis of the palace has become a part of ornamen-
tation in the architecture and has been assimilated into the building.
38
Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, 34647 and Desmond Stewart and the Editors
of the Newsweek Book Division, The Alhambra (New York: Newsweek, 1974), 13845.
According to Stewart, there are three kinds of inscriptions in the Alhambra: verses
from the Qur"n, traditional religious sayings, and verses from Ibn Zamraks odes.
See Stewart, 140. The inscribed verses should have a cumulative aesthetic eect,
for the ekphrasis of the palace or the verbalized architecture has become a part of
ornamentation in the architecture and has been assimilated into the building.
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184 cn\r+rn riyr
The inscribed verses form the inversion of the verbalization of the
visual art, i.e., the visualization of the verbal art. The relation of
image and word or the issue of visual language including callig-
raphy requires more theoretical examination and discussion, which
is beyond this study.
39
Nevertheless, I here would like to touch on
the interpretive function of the inscribed verses.
40
The inscribed verses
should have not only a visual, aesthetic eect but also a verbal, per-
ceptive eectthey may function as a commentary to the text.
If the beholder is able to read and comprehend the verses, the speech
on the building possesses exegetic power for understanding the sym-
bolic meaning of each section of the palace and its whole.
The description of the Alhambra moves to the garden and foun-
tain and ultimately comes back to the sky with a dierent motif. In
his description of the fountain, the poet uses a gurative technique
that is often found in Andalusian poetry, such as Ibn Shuhayds
(d. 1035).
41
The poem moves from architectural features to the descrip-
tion of a jet of water in a fountain as a dancing girl (l. 73). The
dancing girl or rqiah is suggestive of a maiden or houri in the
Garden of Eden, which is a conventional implication.
42
Lines 79 and
80 show the generosity of the fountain as a symbol of fertility,
43
because water/rain has been regarded as a blessing in the dry cli-
mates of the Arab world. Feminine qualities in the garden are con-
trasted to masculine qualities in the building. For instance, whereas
line 92 stresses delightfulness, freshness, fragrance, and pleasantness
as qualities of the garden, line 93 concentrates on military strength,
loftiness, and magnicence as qualities of the palace.
After the description of the fountain and birds in the garden, the
poem reintroduces the motif of the sky in a dierent fashion in lines
1036. The palace competes with the sky and stars and surpasses
the celestial bodies. The stars serve the Alhambra just as the persona
39
See Mitchell, Iconology (esp., chap. 2) for the discussion of word and image.
40
In the future, I hope to work on the subject of the inscribed verses in terms
of their mutual and composite eect, consisting of both visual and verbal arts, i.e.,
as a natural sign and an arbitrary sign, on the beholder and the reader.
41
See Ibn Shuhayd, Rislat al-Tawbi' wa al-Zawbi', ed. Burus al-Bustn (Beirut:
Maktabat dir, 1951). For example, he personies a wind as a lovely woman in
the rst line of p. 130.
42
Jaroslav Stetkevych nds the evocation of a maiden from the Garden of Eden
in a poem of Ibn al-Rm (d. 896), Zephyrs, 173.
43
Sperl says, Blood and water symbolize the new fertility which the Caliph cre-
ates in the land; they overcome the grief of barrenness expressed in the tears, 30.
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serves the ruler and his palace. The persona has a greater eect and
merit than the stars; that is why the stars envy the position of the
persona who is standing in the marvelous palace (l. 106). Height is
an important criterion for nobility to serve the ruler (l. 105); the
tower rises exceeding even the stars in height (l. 104). In 10713 the
images of the owers and the stars are employed ambiguously through
the use of the female third-person form (which is used for nonhu-
man plurals in Arabic) in verb conjugation; the poet plays both in
such a way that they can be either the owers or the stars. The
ambiguity gives the phrases a poetic eect. In lines 1089, however,
they are the owers which try to ascend to the level of the clouds
(l. 108), i.e., their thirst is quenched as shown in line 107, The
[owers] suckled the breast of the clouds before this in the precinct
of the gardens in which they had grown. The poet skillfully manip-
ulates the conjunction of owers, clouds, lightning, and stars through
the use of space (the earth and the air), as well as the passing of
time. He is not merely an observer of the garden on the earth, but
also an observer of the garden in the heavens, as if the Alhambra
had two gardens. Now the persona is a stargazer, standing in his
patrons court.
Then he reintroduces the building, emphasizing the strength and
loftiness of the fortress (ll. 11517), as opposed to the imperfection
of the stars and the owers. This presentation is in keeping with the
contemporary view that an attribute of monumental Islamic archi-
tecture, including palaces, citadels, and fortications, is the expres-
sion of power.
44
Oleg Grabar also argues that the Alhambra as a
building complex has three symbolic and ceremonial meanings: as
a fortress it signies power, its waters fertility, and the mosque the
faith in Islam and allegiance to God and the ruler.
45
Lastly, the long
description of the Alhambra ends with the good omen of a bird
perched at the summit of the palace (l. 120).
Ibn Zamrak does not describe objects as they are; rather, he enno-
bles and idealizes them. He uses similes likening the water emitted
from the jet of the fountain to scattered pearls (l. 74) and rose blos-
soms to a necklace decorating the top of the branch (l. 85). The
44
Oleg Grabar, The Architecture of Power: Palaces, Citadels, and Fortications,
Architecture of the Islamic World, ed. George Michell (London: Thames and Hudson,
1995), 65.
45
Oleg Grabar, The Alhambra (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 10335.
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186 cn\r+rn riyr
poet imitates and improves on both nature and architecture, the
palace, in his ode. That is to say, both of them are materials for his
poetry, because he even idealizes the palace that is already a com-
plete architectural work of art. What we experience is not the palace
itself, but the mediated, i.e. verbalized, form ennobled by him.
The poet wrote for an audience that was supposed to know the
actual Alhambra. Consequently, he did not have to describe it as it
was; it was not necessary for him to resort to enargeia, pictorial vivid-
ness, on the descriptive level.
46
The poet needed to surpass that
level by appealing to the imagination of the audience and giving
them a fresh and creative image of the palace. Jean Hagstrum, writ-
ing about eighteenth-century English poetry, argues that pictorial
imagery is most ecacious when it is presented metaphorically rather
than as purely descriptive or exactly imitative of visual reality.
47
Similarly, Ibn Zamrak turned his ekphrastic description of the Alhambra
into an expression of the sultans might and legitimate rule. The
poets self-appointed task was to make an audience that is familiar
with the palace realize the beauty and brilliance of the Alhambra
in a way in which it has never been presented beforethe ode
should be eective poetry. On the other hand, he gives it a metaphor-
ical signicance as the ideal polity. And nally, he uses the ekphras-
tic representation of the building and its metaphorical interpretation
to create an emblematic portrait of the sovereign as part of his praise.
In line 124 the poem returns to a more conventional level of lit-
erary portraiture depending on likeness.
48
According to Brilliant,
any portrait is fundamentally denotative, for it refers particularly to
a human being who has a proper name.
49
By mentioning Muammad
Vs sons in lines 12627, the panegyrist conrms that this ode is
dedicated to the father of the blessed sons, that is, to a specic ruler.
By enumerating the sovereigns excellent deeds and position, the poet
demonstrates his legitimate sovereignty which is defended and acknowl-
edged by the religion of Islam (l. 127). Towards the end, the poet
46
For the word, enargeia, pictorial vividness, see Hagstrum, 11. According to
Hagstrum, the Greek word enargeia was used to describe the power that verbal
visual imagery possessed in setting before the hearer the very object or scene being
described, 11. For further discussion on enargeia, see pp. 710 in the Introduction.
47
Hagstrum, xx.
48
I understand that likeness is not only based on physical attributes but also
on internal ones.
49
Brilliant, Portraiture, 46.
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subtly (con)fuses, at least verbally, the identities of the mamd (patron)
and Allh and of his own qadah with the Qur"n. The poem shows
its quasi-liturgical, Qur"nic character by using a Qur"nic and
Qur"n-related diction: in line 138 al-amd laka (praise be unto you,
usually of Allh) and in line 144 al-kitb (composition), yurattil (to
chant), al-dhikr (invocation of Allh, Muammad), tliy (to recite,
usually the Qur"n). In line 142 a'jaztu elicits the concept of i'jz al-
Qur"n, i.e., that the Qur"n is miraculously and inimitably beauti-
ful. Also, the poem emphasizes the sovereigns descent from the
Anr (early Medinan supporters of the Prophet Muammad) as one
of the sources of his legitimacy (l. 143). Thus, the poet implies that
his qadah has an eect and importance similar to the Qur"n and
that his mamd possesses the same power as God. The poet empha-
sizes that he has composed his panegyric in such a manner that
whoever recites it will invoke the name of the patron Muammad
V (rather than the name of God; l. 144).
Qadah and Portraiture
The nasb section of the ode constitutes the beginning of the poets
self-portrait. Here, it is mostly controlled by the Arabic panegyric
convention. The persona fashions himself, creating his self-image as
that of a miserable and immature man discarded by his beloved.
That image is intimately connected to the conventional thematic
relationship between the nasb and the mad, as I have discussed
earlier. A persona can hardly be satised and happy in the nasb
because he must be saved by his patron in the mad. Poetic con-
vention also inuences the mad. Ibn Zamrak has to portray the
sultan as an ideal ruler and his palace as the ideal and eternal Islamic
abode for his subject. This tradition, however, also ts the poets
poetic enterprise through his real experience and ambition.
In the mad, the panegyrist praises the sovereign and at the same
time prides himself on his poetic skills. A poets boasting of himself,
in addition to praising his ruler, became increasingly conventional
after 'Abbsid poets, such as al-Mutanabb (91565), established the
theme. Ibn Zamraks poem says that the stars, like the owers, envy
the position of the persona who is standing in the marvelous palace
(l. 106). He is proud of having been chosen as the court poet of his
patron and of the privilege to be in the glorious palace. What was
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amply pregured in lines 3033 is stated unequivocally in line 140:
he has exalted the patron with praises by using the words mad
(praise), mad (praise), and amd (a plural form of mad). This
metapoetic way of presentation makes the reader aware of his poetic
skill and stresses his poetic power. Just as he wrote of his pearls of
poetry in line 32, he asserts that jewels from the sea of rhetoric,
i.e., his poem, cannot be sold except at a high price (l. 141), and
that he has outdone other poets before him and after with his art
(l. 142).
50
Although he boasts of his art, he also declares that what
enabled him to create the marvelous ode was the wonderful poetic
subject, the sultan. The poets skillful manner of self-magnication
under the original and main pretext, the eulogy of the sultan, is
impressive.
Furthermore, as I have discussed earlier, the poet attempts to iden-
tify the sultans legitimate rule with Gods rule as established by the
Qur"n. Just as the Qur"n keeps Islam alive, the poets words make
the Nards come alive. He implies a parallel relationship between
God and Muammad V, and the Qur"n and his ode.
51
The patron
acts, while the poet makes him and his name immortal. The pane-
gyric thus functions to interpret the patrons essence, to represent it
by poetic power, and to convey a message to the world that the
patron is the consummate Islamic ruler. Without the poet, the rulers
name and value could never be spread. Ibn Zamrak elevates his own
poem and his sovereign at the same time. This strategy is associ-
ated with the scheme of his double portrait.
The description of the Alhambra also functions to praise the poet
himself. Ekphrastic description can be a form of praise in epideictic
discoursepraise of gods of men.
52
Considering that Ibn Zamrak
himself was a ktib and a ra"s taking part in creating the architectural
art of the Alhambra both as a poet and as a bureaucrat, his depiction
50
The poet uses the verb a'jaza that means to outdo or to speak in an inim-
itable way. The concept of i' jz (the verbal noun of the verb) is inimitability, the
wondrous nature of the Qur"n. He implies that his poem is entering the realm of
the religious text.
51
Of course, the poet can never equate his ruler with God or his ode with the
Sacred Qur"n because that would be blasphemy; his manner is skillfully sugges-
tive and allusive.
52
See Stephen G. Nichols, Ekphrasis, Iconoclasm, and Desire, Rethinking the
Romance of the Rose: Text, Image, Reception, ed. Kevin Brownlee and Sylvia Huot
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992), 133.
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ror+nv \xr ron+n\i+tnr 189
of the Alhambra amounts to praising not only Muammad V, but
also himself. By depicting the excellence of the Alhambra, he indi-
rectly boasts of his own aesthetic talent in order to raise the esteem
and appreciation of the intended audience for his art. Moreover, Ibn
Zamraks self-praise lays the foundation for his eulogy of his patron.
Simon Goldhill has argued about Pindars odes that the poets
gloryhis self-gloricationis a constant grounding for the glorication
of the victor. . . . The self-representation of the poet, then, plays a
crucial role in the voices of praise.
53
By self-praise, the poet is able
to glorify his patron, while simultaneously his self-esteem is conrmed
by his patrons greatness. In other words, self-praise and the praise
of his patron are intimately intertwined and interact positively with
each other.
Ibn Zamraks panegyric is a poem dedicated to the sovereign in
a particular context, which makes it an occasional work. However,
beyond the fact that the poet composed a panegyric for his ruler,
the specic occasion is hardly noticeable and cannot be reconstructed.
This occasionality is true of every panegyric qadah which is a
result of a particular occasion, i.e., the relationship between a poet
and his patron. The concept of occasionality is used by Hans-
Georg Gadamer with regard to such art forms as visual portraits
and poems dedicated to someone. Occasionality means for him that
meaning and contents are determined by the occasion for which
they are intended, so that they contain more than they would with-
out this occasion.
54
Occasionality and convention can have a close
relationship in art and literature. The second will have a strong
impact on the rst in literatures such as Arabic and Japanese which
are substantially controlled by their traditions and where the occa-
sion requires the use of an established conventional genre. The occa-
sion selected by Ibn Zamrak enabled him to employ the entire scheme
of the traditional qadah in order to demonstrate that his ode is a
portrait and a qadat al-mad (panegyric). Using the Alhambra to
portray his patron who built it did not violate convention and meant
53
Simon Goldhill, The Poets Voice: Essays on Poetics and Greek Literature (Cambridge,
U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 16566.
54
Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd revised ed., trans. revised. Joel
Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall (New York: Continuum, 1995), 144. This
idea indicates that Gadamer also places visual portraits and poems composed for
someone into the same category, which supports my argument that the Arabic pan-
egyric is a verbal portrait.
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to exploit a particular occasion that made the ode eective only for
Muammad V. Neither occasionality nor conventionality should be
seen as a negative aspect of the tradition. Conventionality, which
governs the occasionality of the qadah genre, could be considered
as a demerit in light of aesthetic value; a century ago, an Orientalist
like Ignaz Goldziher could claim that the preservation of a conven-
tional motif like a'n (departing women) was a sign of slavish imi-
tation of the old qadah.
55
I have already indicated that a skillful
poet would work variations on conventional motifs; and the use of
panegyrical conventions in creating the portrait of a ruler has to be
understood in terms of its larger functions and not as a blemish on
the poets art.
When they praise an undeserving monarch with extravagant com-
pliments by following rigorous conventional rules, Arabic panegyrists
have been questioned as to their sincerity. This doubt has certainly
impeded the appreciation of the Arabic qadah, as Sperl has pointed
out.
56
I believe that sincerity should not be dened as truthfulness
to the ruler as an individual. An Arabic panegyric should still be
understood as a portrait even when the original is very far from the
poetic image. The question of whether a poets patron is truly as
wonderful as the poet presents him hardly matters. The portrayal
should be seen as the image of a ruler, not as the image of an indi-
vidual. As Gadamer maintains, by way of its own pictorial content,
a portrait contains a relation to its original. This does not simply
mean that the picture is like the original, but rather that it is a pic-
ture of the original.
57
The qadah poet does not intend to oer a
likeness of his patron, but rather to present a picture of the origi-
nal as a ruler much more than an individual. The qadah was the
major literary genre in Arab culture for a long period because it
functioned to maintain the basic values and political ideals of each
age and to exalt the role of Kingship.
58
Also, the image of a sov-
ereign portrayed in his panegyric can be a model for him; he should
attempt and seek to emulate and achieve the perfect image when
55
Goldziher, Alte und Neue Poesie im Urtheile der arabischen Kritiker,
Abhandlungen zur arabischen Philologie (Leiden: Buchhandlung und Druckerei vormals
E. J. Brill, 189699), part 1, 12324. See also Jaroslav Stetkevych, Arabic Poetry,
12023.
56
Sperl, 34.
57
Gadamer, 145.
58
Sperl, 33.
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he listens to the qadah. I argue that, by evoking the sultans ideal
image through the awe-inspiring Alhambra, Ibn Zamraks qadah
functioned in society in this manner; the rst line after the conclu-
sion of the ekphrastic part reads, O my lord, pride of kings, in
whom the religion of God attains what it desires (l. 121).
It can be assumed that the balance between creativity and con-
ventionand the Arabic qadah tradition required bothwas often
a dilemma for a qadah poet. The more conventional the poetic
genre is, the more rules the poet is required to follow, and the more
dicult it is for him to demonstrate his creativity. I believe, however,
that the poet can yet display his originality and creativity without
devaluing the convention, though usually only distinguished poets
are capable of this task. Although the descriptions of a garden, a
fountain, owers, and stars are typical motifs in medieval Arabic
poetry, Ibn Zamrak has incorporated those motifs into a larger
scheme, the representation of the Alhambra that embodies his patron-
ruler. The presentation of a building is not uncommon;
59
however, the
employment of its description as a portrait of a ruler is rarely seen.
60
It should be noted that another important function of the descrip-
tion of the Alhambra palace is to exalt, ennoble, and purify the per-
sona. It appears to me as if the persona were moving through the
palace complex from one room to another and from the tower to
59
Grunebaum says that the motif of buildings was accepted as a legitimate inde-
pendent poetic theme in the 'Abbsid period. Grunebaum, Response to Nature,
144. Until then, the description of buildings had been seen as merely the devel-
oped motif of the all (the deserted encampment) in the nasb. He further states
that in the ninth century C.E., literary modernism in Arabic literature began to be
interested in waf (description/pictorial poetry) including the description of build-
ings. Grunebaum, Aspects of Arabic Urban Literature mostly in Ninth and Tenth
Centuries, Islamic Studies 8 (1969), 28587. He lists Ibn al-Mu'tazzs (d. 908 C.E.)
ode describing the Palace of the Pleiades that was erected by the Caliph Mu'tai
(892902), and al-anawbars (d. 945 C.E.) poem with the description of the cathe-
dral mosque of Aleppo.
60
Al-Butur (82197), the 'Abbsid poet, composed an ode dedicated to the
'Abbsid caliph al-Mutawakkil, describing the Ja'far castle that was built by the
caliph. The ode consists of ten lines and only describes the castle. Although it does
not show either a traditional bipartite or tripartite form like Ibn Zamraks, the entire
ode may be considered as waf (description) or the mad for the building, i.e., for
the caliph, rather than a full qadah. However, it might be hard to read it as a
portrait because it has no reference to the ruler as an architect. Al-Butur also
has a poem describing the pond of the Ja'far castle composed for al-Mutawakkil.
It consists of sixteen lines and only presents the description of the pond, although
there are more varieties of the motifs, such as birds and sh (cf. Badaw, Al-Butur).
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the garden, when he describes the Alhambra. Clearly, the ekphra-
sis is already part of the praise, the mad; however, the travel motif
is representative of the transitional second part. The ral of a pan-
egyric qadah usually presents a poets journey on a she-camel whose
destination is his patron, and during which he experiences some
hardships. Besides its placement as the second section of the mad
part, it might be hard to regard the poets description of the Alhambra
as the ral of the poem because the description does not mention
any hardships or troubles, but just presents the Alhambra in an
admiring fashion. Nevertheless, if we take the function of the ral
to be the transitional or liminal phase within the poetic transfor-
mation, the description may have a similar function to that of the
ral. It not only has a therapeutic and self-purifying eect on the
personas heart that has been devastated by his mistresses, but also
further cultivates and renes him through the experience of the aes-
thetic of might and beauty. The entire poem expresses the growth
of the persona. Before the ekphrastic description of the palace, the
ode already reaches his patron, Muammad V, and praises him (l.
29). The persona is already saved by the ruler at that point. But
the depiction of the marvelous Alhambra and its gracious garden
and fountain further gives the persona comfort and self-esteem. He
develops himself not through undergoing hardships to reach his
patron, but through experiencing a higher aesthetic value by mov-
ing through the brilliant palace created by his patron.
After the description with its implicit ral function, the poet
once again returns to praise his patron directly in a closing passage
that further conrms the legitimate Islamic sovereignty of the sul-
tan. It seems to me that Ibn Zamrak desired to achieve the success
of his panegyric by two modes of praising description: iconic
(through the patrons attributes) and emblematic (through the
palace). He places the emblematic passage between two iconic
passages in order to make it appear as part of the praise, connect-
ing rather than separating. Furthermore, the eect of the beautiful
architecture is identical to that of poetry for those who are part of
that society. When we read a good poem, we are also spiritually
rened, enriched, and cultivated. To create a qadat al-mad (pane-
gyric ode) is not merely to create an idealized portrait of the mamd
(the one praised), but also to make an impact on the reader psy-
chologically, just as the viewer of a visual portrait of a ruler is poten-
tially changed and rened through viewing it.
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ror+nv \xr ron+n\i+tnr 193
The use of contemporary Western theories and methods has allowed
us to look at Ibn Zamraks ode as a double portrait of ruler-patron
and poet and at the description of the Alhambra as an emblematic
portrait of its builder. Although the ode has apparently never been
discussed in these terms, I do not mean to suggest that it has not
been understood in this manner before. I would not have made most
of my claims had I not believed that they did somehow correspond
to the meaning the poem held for Ibn Zamraks original audience.
Central to my study is the exploration of the functions served by
the description of the palace. Such descriptions have often baed
critics.
Motoyoshi/f7/155-193 9/10/03 4:00 PM Page 193
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1. The Alhambra (Chapter Five).
chapter two
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2. The Columns in the Alhambra (Chapter Five).
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3. Ibn Zamraks verse (line 64) inscribed on the wall of Sala de Dos Hermanas in the Alhambra (Chapter Five).
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194
CONCLUSION
My major contention throughout this book has been that description
in Arabic poetry not only attempts to express pictorial, mimetic
images of objects but also to convey some larger concept in a
metaphorical, emblematic, metonymical, psychological, spiritual, or
symbolic manner. This examination has shown that the physical
description in waf can be conceptually interpreted through symbolic
connections, as shown in the relationship between the Alhambra
palace and its owner/builder, Muammad V in Ibn Zamraks
encomium, for instance. In this understanding, waf as a poetic device
does not only seek mimetic representation and should not be con-
sidered merely description, but rather should be interpreted as
metaphorical image.
We have examined several wafs in classical Arabic poetry from
multifaceted angles both in subject and theory. In the Introduction,
I rst attempted to sketch the problems of the classical Arabic qa-
dah tradition and their background with regard to waf, as well as
its signicance. Taken mostly at its literal and face value, waf was
often labeled as second-class poetry with erroneous assumptions, such
as objectivism or atomism, by many traditional Orientalists who had
not examined waf seriously from a critical literary viewpoint. In pur-
suit of a new perspective, I found ekphrasis to be useful for eluci-
dating the function and the meanings of waf, for ekphrasis has been
theoretically investigated since the age of Antiquity. Hoping that a
reliance on Western theories of ekphrasis in addition to critical stud-
ies in other disciplines, such as anthropology and ethnomusicology,
would enlighten the interpretation of the waf, I have introduced the
critical background and the notion of ekphrasis, including enargeia,
ekphrasis in its interarts implication, representation, and word and
image, inasmuch as they are helpful for initiating the theoretical
examination of waf.
Chapter One dealt with the poetic contest or mu'raah between
Imru" al-Qays and 'Alqamah al-Fal, whose poems have the same
rhyme and meter. This study is characterized by the use of a khabar
that presents a new understanding of the horse description in the
Motoyoshi/f8/194-198 9/10/03 10:27 AM Page 194
195
poems. The khabar, providing for the two qadahs a suitable milieu
in the framework of a poetic contest, attempts to explain why the
two odes are so alike. With the employment of the concept of play,
the poetic or technical trait of a contest implies the idea that there
actually occurred a mu'raah. The female judge appears to play the
pun of a stallion and a master poet in the meaning of the fal.
The khabar stresses sexual prowess, which is prominent enough to
make a joke, but what the tradition tries to convey most is mur"ah,
mature manhood, manly perfection or male aggression through the
waf of the horse. Epithets express not only the physical appearance
of the target, but also its qualities and metaphorical meanings. This
chapter tells us that the physical description can be metaphorically
and emblematically understood.
Chapter Two aimed to explore the functions and symbolism of
waf of the bee, honey, and its collectors in two Hudhal odes, one
by the pre-Islamic poet S'idah ibn Ju"ayyah and the other by the
Mukharam poet, Ab Dhu"ayb al-Hudhal. Based on Arabic poetic
conventions and other ancient literary traditions, the bee and honey-
gathering can form symbols of remedy and resolution in both poems;
the bee and honey with the wine motif express healing for the two
poets, while the mens honey-gathering is presented as a locus for
trial and quest. The waf of the bee and honey is also a metaphor
for the lost meadow. I have demonstrated that the stylistic and struc-
tural disparities between the two poems reect a contrast in their
mood and meaning. Those dierences also suggest that the full tribal
qadah may have fallen into a period of crisis with changes in terms
of allegiance and leadership that accompanied the coming of Islam.
The chapter on the two 'Abbsid poets Ab Nuws and al-Butur
conrms that the employment of the theory of ekphrasis is helpful
in the exploration of waf, for the visual motifs of the goblet and
the wall painting can be categorized according to a general under-
standing of ekphrasis, the verbal representation of visual art.
1
Since
the sister arts (poetry and painting) occupy a central place in the
sphere of the study of ekphrasis and interarts, there are many crit-
ical theories available. I have claimed that the ekphrasis in the two
1
This interpretation conceptually accords with both the denitions of Spitzer
and Heernan. See pp. 1114 in the Introduction.
Motoyoshi/f8/194-198 9/10/03 10:27 AM Page 195
196
poems is a metaphor for mad or praise, based on the theme of
visual motifs. Both poets use ekphrastic techniques to make the reader
traverse the boundary between reverie and reality. In each ode, the
poets touching the visual objects helps to draw the reader back to
the sphere of reality through the eects of defamilialization. This
study has proved that the structural vicissitudes of the qadahs are
intimately related to the poets political intent, which turns the mad
(encomium) into indirect hij" (lampoon). In this chapter, it has been
demonstrated that the ekphrasis in the two odes functions not only
to describe the poetic objects, but also indirectly to fulll an enco-
miastic structural expectation.
In Chapter Four, the waf of a singing slave-girl in the 'Abbsid
qadah of Ibn al-Rm, composed in the ninth century C.E., was
explored, treating the relation between verbal art and the musical
art of gesture and singing. I have argued that Ibn al-Rms poem
presents the singing-girl not only in a visual dimension, but also in
auditory, synaesthetic, sensuous, and intuitive dimensions by means
of description. The poet challenged himself to represent the beauty
of Wad and her singing by evoking emotions appealing to the
senses, not by pictorial images, through the use of synaesthetic and
synergical eects. Description by indirection is ecacious as a device
for the expression of the beauty of the beloved. Ibn al-Rms poetic
enterprise establishes a competition between verbal art and musical
performance, which leads to a rivalry between the beauty of the
singing-girl and that of the poets pen. In the end, the ode operates
at both a poetic and metapoetic level, showing the poets pursuit of
not only erotic/sexual ecstasy, but also artistic ecstasy.
The last chapter dealt with a panegyrical qadah dedicated to
Sultan Muammad V by Ibn Zamrak, an Andalus poet of the
Narid era in the fourteenth century C.E., which was explored as a
double portrait of the patron-ruler and the poet himself. The por-
trait of the ruler can be viewed as an emblematic portrait, because
he is rendered by means of an ekphrastic representation of the famous
palace he (re)built, the Alhambra in Granada. The investigation of
panegyrical odes as verbal portraits, as well as the employ of theo-
ries of portraiture derived from the visual arts, are innovative in the
study of Arabic qadahs. Also, there has been no interpretation of
the ekphrastic description of a building as an emblematic represen-
tation of a patron-ruler. This exploration of a qadah as a portrait
enables us to introduce both interarts theory and the perspectives of
Motoyoshi/f8/194-198 9/10/03 10:27 AM Page 196
197
portrait theory to the academic research of classical Arabic poetry.
The foregoing ve case studies of waf poems have demonstrated
that the function of waf has an intimate relationship with the polit-
ical, social, economic, and individual ambiance of each poet, includ-
ing his psychological and emotional states. These circumstances aect
the theme and form of the waf, particularly the form. The order
of the ve types of waf in this study has been set according to the
chronology of their production. The two poems in the opening chap-
ter, dealing with the poetic contest in horse descriptions, convey an
exemplary picture of the chivalrous hunt, buttressed by the stability
and steadiness of the heroic Jhiliyyah era. In the second chapter,
the complete tripartite qadah form of S'idah shows a stable socio-
cultural situation, while Ab Dhu"aybs ode-structure, consisting only
of nasb, suggests the turmoil of the poets circumstances and his age
(straddling the pre-Islamic and Islamic times), which witnessed dras-
tic changes in values, beliefs, and traditions. The contrast between
the odes of al-Butur and Ab Nuws betrays that, though Ab
Nuws insinuates encomium in his poem, al-Butur demonstrates a
nonteleological contour based on the unrest of his situation, both
individually and publicly. Ibn al-Rms Wad, remaining a nasb
to the end, does not ascend to a concluding theme; this is a struc-
ture that expresses his desire to remain in a state of aesthetic ecstasy
on a metapoetic level. The last chapter, by contrast, shapes a magni-
cent mad by means of the emblematic ekphrasis of the Alhambra
palace. Ibn Zamrak, with the composition of this poem, was at the
zenith of his political and artistic capacity. Though al-Butur, in
his ode wn Kisr, shares the same motif, building, with Ibn
Zamrak, the two poets qadahs display a sharp contrastIbn Zamraks
shows an ideal image of the legitimized polity, whereas al-Buturs
implies the complexities of a transitional period of the 'Abbsid
dynasty.
Since I have examined only two poems of visual arts, two odes
of building, and one poem of musical performance, to further elu-
cidate the waf, in light of the theories of ekphrasis and interarts
studies, it is necessary, in the future, to examine more qadahs con-
taining ekphrastic moments. I am also interested in the relation
between image and word or the issue of visual language, including
inscribed verses or calligraphy, as well as the relation between music
and poetry, which requires more theoretical exploration and discus-
sion. Moreover, because waf is a broad subject, being found in most
Motoyoshi/f8/194-198 9/10/03 10:27 AM Page 197
198
of Arabic poetry, there still remains much to be studied; particu-
larly, certain types of waf, such as, gardens, owers, and various
sorts of architecture. Waf in dierent subgenres of the qadah, hij"
(lampoon) and rith" (elegy), would also be intriguing to investigate.
Furthermore, the concept of competition, through the mechanism
of contest or mu'raah, constitutes a fundamental foundation and
functions powerfully in all the wafs. By the use of waf as an artistic
weapon, poets attempt to outdo another poet, either their contemporary
or predecessor. They also aim to demonstrate their verbal force and
to prove artistic accomplishment by fullling artistic/poetic desire as
well as individual and social desire. The beautiful ekphrasis allowed
them to gain fame and to immortalize their names as prominent
poets. Waf was a tting arena for them to challenge themselves in
creative and original production. Each poet utilized his own strat-
egy and entrusted waf with a certain role according to his purpose.
The ekphrastic power can be fully exercised, maintained by the
characteristics of intertextuality and interreferentiality, on which the
classical Arabic poetic tradition rmly stands. The highly conven-
tional framework of the literary tradition does not hinder the tradi-
tions growth or innovation; on the contrary, it furthers it. Through
my studies, I have also attempted to reproduce or reconstruct the
original setting of each qadah, seeking the frame of reference,
with the help of both modern Western theories and studies of clas-
sical Arabic poetic traditions. Hardly exhausted by the innumerable
uses of many qadah poets in dierent ages, waf is endowed with
resilience and malleability. The poet makes the best use of the merit
of waf which is not a dead agent, but actively functional.
Motoyoshi/f8/194-198 9/10/03 10:27 AM Page 198
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'Abbsid, 92, 99100, 109, 11112,
11819, 122, 134, 137; 'Abbsid
poet, 12, 93, 95, 100, 112, 125,
134, 187; 'Abbsid poetry, 95, 98
Ab Dhu"ayb al-Hudhal (poet):
biographical information, 62; elegy
on the death of the sons of, 62
Ab Dhu"ayb al-Hudhals ode, 195,
197; bees and honey-collector,
8688; departing women (a'n), 85;
dierence from S'idahs ode, 63,
8991; elative extended simile of the
beloved, 88; fumigation used by the
Khlid honey-collector, 8687; nasb
(elegiac prelude) elements, 8588;
the personas identication with
bees, 87; translated, 8185; wine,
8586
Ab Nuws (poet), 12, 93;
biographical information, 9596
Ab Nuwss ode, 9394, 97100,
19597; in association with
Shu'biyyah movement, 99100;
all, 98; in comparison with
al-Buturs ode, 11317;
defamiliarization, 11517; design of
Kisr (Khusraw) and his horsemen
on a wine goblet as mad
(panegyric), 98100; political intent
of, 11719; poured wine and water,
100; reality and reverie, 115;
theoretical exploration of ekphrasis,
11314; translated, 9697
abode, 182, 187. See also all (ruined
abode)
Alhambra palace, 14, 16, 15659,
18089, 19193, 196; Palacio de
Comares, 160; Patio de los Leones,
160; Sala de las Dos Hermanas,
183; Sala de los Reyes, 160
'Alqamah al-Fal (poet), 2021, 23,
2531, 5860; 'Alqamah al-Kha
and, 28, 30
'Alqamah al-Fals ode, 195: fakhr
(boast), 5657; nasb (elegiac
prelude), 56; ral ( journey section),
56; translated, 4955
al-Amn (caliph), 9596
al-Andalusian (Muslim Spain) poet,
15558, 181, 196
anecdotal materials (khabar, akhbr),
195; about Ab Dhu"ayb and the
Prophet Muammad, 62; as
conceptualized knowledge, 5859;
desire of, 30; double entendre of,
26, 2930; historicity of, 41; isnd
(chain of authorities) and matn (the
narrative itself ), 25; the khabar gives
'Alqamah the glory of victory and
the foundation of heroic honor, 60;
poetic contest in horse description,
2021, 23, 25; poetic contest
between Imru" al-Qays and
'Alqamah al-Fal, 2629; traditional
Arabic literary context of, 57;
translated texts of three khabars
about the poetic contest, 32
animal, 44, 56
architecture, 12, 14, 155, 159, 180,
18283
'arf (architect), 159
Aristotle, 9, 76, 145
'asal (honey), 7778. See also honey
all (ruined abode): in Ab Nuwss
ode, 9798, 100; in al-Buturs ode,
10910, 120; in Ibn al-Rms ode,
152
All nah (The Ruins of a
Tavern). See Ab Nuwss ode
audience, 44, 76, 80, 111, 114, 124,
13639, 14247, 15152, 186, 189;
imagination of, 44; in musical majlis
(session), 137; original audience, 125,
193; reaction of, 14546
authenticity, 93, 120; of pre-Islamic
poems, 23, 31; of ruler, 93; of
al-Buturs poem, 120
Battle of Antioch, 109, 113, 116
bee, 6, 61, 195; humiliation and
sadness of, 87; as models of
industry, order, purity, economy,
courage, prudence, and communal
cooperation, 75; origin and nature
INDEX
243
Motoyoshi/index/242-251 9/10/03 10:40 AM Page 243
of, 61; the personas identication
with, 87; as sacred, 61; as symbols
of purity, assiduity, rebirth, and
spirit, 61; as symbol of soul, 75;
sweetness and purity of the bee and
honey compared to the beloveds
saliva, 74
beloved: as apparent object of
description, 16; cheeks of, 142;
description of, 75; glances of, 152,
181; hair of, 73, 14041; the image
of in relation to bees, 63; infatuation
with, 139; kiss of as sweeter than
wine, 79; kisses of, 14142, 152;
kisses and nights with, 77; as
representative of, 140, saliva of, 73
bird: in association with horse, 42; as
bad omen, 85; in garden, 184; as
good omen, 185
blood, 49, 73
bragging and scong, 57
Brilliant, Richard, 15556, 180, 186
al-Butur (poet), 12, 94; biographical
information, 100101
al-Buturs ode, 94, 19597; in
comparison with Ab Nuwss ode,
11217; defamiliarization, 11517;
description of wall painting as mad
(panegyric), 10910; lyric I in,
11920; between nasb and mad,
111; political intent of, 11719; ral
( journey section), 109; reality and
reverie, 115; theoretical exploration
of ekphrasis, 11314; translated,
1018; nasb (elegiac prelude),
10811
building, 16, 157, 18385, 191, 197
calligraphy, 184, 198
chivalrous hunt, 1920, 4142, 56, 60,
197
clear and distinct description, 6, 9, 15,
20, 62, 64
concept, 1516, 2021, 23, 26, 43,
4546, 60, 194
color, 113, 14041
competition: idea of, 58; between
verbal art and musical performance,
123
contest, 20, 23, 5760, 144;
ceremonial contest, 59; etymological
origin of, 59; between the hunter
and the hunted, 56; narrative
context of poetic contest, 21;
pervasiveness of, 57; poetic contest,
21, 25, 5759, 197; in relation to
musical majlis (social gathering), 143;
between S'idah and Ab Dhu"ayb,
63; between the singing-girls
physical beauty, song, and the poets
verbal work of art, 142. See also
mu'raah (opposition, contest)
contract, 5859
Ctesiphon (al-Mad"in), 9697, 99
cultural codes, 810, 74, 79, 90
decoration, 159, 183
defamiliarization, 11517
departing women motif (a'n), 85, 190
description, 1516, 2021; the
Alhambra palace, 160, 182, 191; as
allegorical, metaphorical, symbolic
meanings, 11; bees, honey, and a
honey-gatherer, 6164; dierent
functions of description of
honey-collecting in Ab Dhu"aybs
ode and S'idahs, 8991; ekphrastic
description, 12, 41, 188; as element
in traditional Orientalists negative
judgment of the qadah, 34; as
expression of mur"ah (virility), 60;
garden and fountain, 184; horse,
3132, 4546, 60, 195; horses body
parts, 45; iconic and emblematic
descriptions, 192; by indirection,
123; wn Kisr, 111; journey, 41;
mimetic description, 90; minute and
thorough description, 4; more than
mere description, 9495; objective
description of Ab Nuws, 114;
objective, dispassionate description of
S'idahs honey-collector, 76, 89; as
the objective hypothesis, 2, 4, 123;
physical description, 56, 90, 194;
the question of in Ibn al-Rms
ode, 14244; subjective description
of al-Butur, 114; subjective,
emotional description of Ab
Dhu"aybs honey-collector, 86, 89;
travelling cloud, 73; visual
description, 142; wall painting,
10910; wine goblet, 98100.
See also waf
descriptiveness of the qadah, 24, 94
desert, 24, 32, 48
dh al-wizratayn (double vizier of the
pen and the sword), 159
dwn (poetry collection), 5
244
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Dwn al-Insh" (writing oce), 159
double-entendre, 26, 2930
drinking, 24, 98, 100, 117
ekphrasis, 611, 1415, 20, 192,
19498; the Alhambra, 160, 183; in
association with the notion of reality
and reverie, 93, 113, 11617; bees
and honey-collecting, 76, 91; bee
description as ekphrasis in its
original sense, 61; denition of, 6,
1213, 155; description of a palace
as, 156; ekphrasis of bees oers a
visual picture before the hearers
eyes, 63; ekphrastic force, 74;
etymological context of, 67; eyes
in, 113; as form of praise, 188;
illusion of, 11314; letter and sense
of, 12021; as mad (panegyric),
98100, 117; modern conception of,
9293; response of describer, 114; in
the Shield of Achilles in the
Homeric Iliad, 93, 116; silence in,
113; theoretical discussion on
ekphrasis in Ab Nuwss ode and
al-Buturs, 11214; transparency of
language, 11314; wine and water
in a wine cup as ekphrastic, 100
emblem, 21; emblematic identication,
30; emblematic meaning, 17, 43;
emblematic mode, 180; emblematic
passage, 192; emblematic portrait,
156, 160, 180, 186, 19293, 196
embroidery, 15051
emotion, 12224, 14551; emotional
description, 87; emotional
movement, 79; emotional response,
143; emotional state, 87, 142
enargeia (pictorial vividness), 79,
11213, 186, 194
energeia, 9
engagement, 58
epithet, 4245, 73, 195
eroticism, 63, 7778, 86
eye, 4, 78, 11, 113
fal (stallion or master poet), 20, 24,
28, 5860
fakhr (boast), 1, 19, 58; in 'Alqamah
al-Fals ode, 5657; chivalrous hunt
in, 21, 23, 32, 4142, 47; goal of,
58; honor and glory in, 46; horse
as, 60; in Imru" al-Qayss ode,
4149; purpose of horse description
in, 60; mufkharah (boasting contest,
yting), 58; in S'idahs poem,
8081; S'idahs poem as an
exemplary model of fakhr, 64
fallacious I, 11920, 145
fame, 5860
feast, 48, 57
fertility, 19, 21, 4143, 48, 57, 181,
184
ower, 181, 185, 191
yting, 5758
fountain, 15657, 191
frame of reference, 12425, 136, 198
frame song/poem, 13637
Gadamer, Georg, 18990
garden, 15657, 160, 182, 192
Garden of Eden, 18384
Garden of Paradise, 7475, 79
gazelle, 16, 73, 89, 152, 181
generosity, 60, 108, 160, 181, 184
gesture, 10, 146, 148, 150, 196;
gestural, 122, 14849
ghazal (amatory lyric), 5, 13334, 154
ghulm (young male slave/servant),
137
ghurrah (a white mark in the middle of
the forehead of a horse), 19
glance, 15253, 181
glory, 19, 41, 60, 99, 11112, 118,
180, 189; in opposition to
humiliation, 59
goblet, 93, 98, 100, 112, 114, 121,
195
God, 14, 19, 42, 47, 75, 92, 18283,
18788
Goodman, Nelson, 124
adth (Prophetic sayings and acts), 13,
62, 7476
Hagstrum, Jean H., 7, 186
hij" (invective, lampoon), 109, 111,
118, 196, 198
honey: as eroticism and fertility, 77;
honeycomb, 75, 86; medical eect
of, 7677; sterilizing power of, 61;
symbol of celestial food, eloquence,
eroticism, and immortality, 61;
sweetness and purity of, 74; thawb
(water, honey, or reward), 74; used
as part of libation, 61. See also 'asal
honey-gathering, 76, 195; in Ab
Dhu"aybs ode, 76; danger and risk
of, 79, 8687; fumigation, 8687;
245
Motoyoshi/index/242-251 9/10/03 10:40 AM Page 245
prehistoric rock paintings of, 78; in
S'idahs ode, 86
honor, 5960
horizon of expectation, 124
horse, 1921, 2526, 2829, 32,
4246, 59; excellence of, 46; tail of,
49; huge body and smooth coat of,
56; as lord of beasts, 47; symbiotic
relation of poet and, 47. See also
description, horse
Hudhal poets, 63. See also Ab
Dhu"ayb al-Hudhal and S'idah ibn
Ju"ayyah
Hudhal tribe, 61, 81
Huizinga, Johan, 23, 5758
humm (cares), 10910
hunt, 21, 29, 32, 41, 4749, 5657,
98, 100
usayn, h, 31
Ibn Khafjah (poet), 181
Ibn Khab (poet), 15859
Ibn Manr (lexicographer), 77
Ibn Qutaybah, 26, 43, 49
Ibn Rashq (literary critic), 45, 78
Ibn al-Rm (poet), 141; biographical
information, 12526
Ibn al-Rms ode, 19697; the
comparison of the singing-girl to a
gazelle, 15253; infatuation with the
beloved, 13940; the poets
frustration not merely erotic or
sexual, but artistic, 154; the poets
inability to go beyond the nasb
(elegiac prelude), 153; posture of
Wads singing, 14748; the
question of description, 14244;
sensual feelings through gesture and
voice, 14850; social milieu and
performance context of, 13339;
synaesthetic eects of embroidery,
jewelry, and melody, 15051;
synaesthetic, intersensory eects,
14042; arab, the expression of
feelings, 14647; technique of
presenting Wads charm by way of
her audience, 14446; translated,
12633
Ibn Shuhayd (poet), 184
Ibn Zamrak (poet), 156; biographical
information, 15860
Ibn Zamraks ode, 19697; comparing
nature to art, 181; creativity and
convention, 191; garden and
fountain, 184; iconic and
emblematic descriptions, 192; mad
(panegyric), 18187; metaphorical
signicance of the Alhambra as the
ideal polity, 186; nasb (elegiac
prelude), 18081; occasionality of,
189; parallel between the artistry of
patron as architect and of poet, 183;
parallel between the heavens and
the palace and parallel between God
and the poets patron, 18283; the
patrons abode as perfect political
realm of Islamic kingdom, 182; the
portrait and self-praise of the poet
himself, 18788; ral-like function of
description of the Alhambra, 192;
relationship between nasb (elegiac
prelude) and mad (panegyric), 181,
187; subtle identities of the patron
and God, and of the poets ode
with the Qur"n, 18788; translated,
16180; the use of Qur"n-related
diction, 187
iconic mode, 180, 192
image, 10, 14, 21, 180, 190; of
beloved, 63, 73; of owers and stars,
185; of honey, 62; of horse, 29,
4447, 60; metaphorical image, 194;
mimetic image, 19; pictorial image,
79, 123, 194; self-image, 187; rah,
1516; visual image, 182; word and,
1416, 194
imagery, 14; of birds and water, 42;
integrated multilayered imagery, 17;
of Paradise, 76; pictorial imagery,
186
imitation, 10, 12, 123; as act of
homage, 20; emulation and, 20;
literary imitation, 20; mimetic
imitation, 14
immortality, 19, 29, 63, 75, 78. 8687,
90
improvisation, 138
Imru" al-Qays (poet), 2021, 2528,
3031, 5660; biographical
information, 2324; as disgraced and
loser, 5960; as womanizer, 29
Imru" al-Qayss ode, 195; abstract
concepts through physical attributes
of concrete objects, 4647;
'Alqamahs identical verses in,
5657; birds and water, 42;
bloodstain on the horses chest, 49;
chivalrous hunt as expression of
246
Motoyoshi/index/242-251 9/10/03 10:40 AM Page 246
virility, 4849; in comparison with
'Alqamahs poem, 5657; fakhr
(boast), 4149; feast scene, 48; the
horses tail, 49; the importance of
quality in epithets, 4243; nasb
(elegiac prelude), 41; poetic creation
as compensatory for the sexual act,
60; presentation of glory, fertility,
and prowess through the chivalrous
hunt scene, 41; ral ( journey
section), 41; similes of the horses
parts, 4245; symbiotic relationship
of poet and horse, 47, 60;
translated, 3341
inscription of Qur"nic verses and
poems, 159, 183; as commentary to
the architecture, 184
intentionality, 14850
interarts, 6, 14, 92, 122, 155, 194,
19697
interreferentiality, 1, 31, 44, 198
intersensory eects, 140
intertextuality, 1, 31, 44, 11415, 198
'itq (beauty and nobility) of a horses
sharp-pointed ears, 45
wn Kisr (The palace of the
Ssnian kings), 94, 98101, 12021,
197
Jhiliyyah (Age of Ignorance), 1, 20,
2627, 138, 197
al-Ji (littrateur), 20, 13435, 141,
149
jriyah (slave-girl), 13, 135, 137
Jauss, Hans Robert, 124
jewelry, 15051
joke, 26
Justinian (the Byzantine emperor), 24
ktib (secretary), 158
ktib sirri-hi (personal secretary), 159
khabar (singular form of akhbr). See
anecdotal materials
kha (to geld, to castrate), 30; khaiyy
(eunuch), 137. See also 'Alqamah
al-Fal, and 'Alqamah al-Kha
khayl (horse), 20
khayr (moral, physical good), 47
Kisr (Ssnian King Khusraw),
97100, 109, 11113
Kitb al-Aghn (Book of Songs), 135,
139
Kitb al-Qiyn (Book of Singing-Girls),
134, 144
kleos (honor, glory, fame), 5860
Kramer, Lawrence, 122, 14749
kumayt (red mixed with black), 19, 56
legitimacy, 157, 187
letter and sense, 121, 157
life-world, 8, 90
likeness, 14, 180, 186, 190; abstract,
general, spiritual likeness, 1516,
7374; physical likeness, 16, 73
listener, 4, 710, 15, 64, 80, 12223,
136, 138, 141, 144, 145, 147, 150,
15253
loss, 64, 87, 181
lost garden, 62, 75, 79, 86
lost meadow, 64, 7475, 7779,
8990
love, 91, 145, 152
loyalty, 60, 91
lyric I, 119. See also fallacious I
mad (panegyric), 1, 160, 19697; in
Ab Nuwss ode, 98100; in
al-Buturs ode, 10911; in Ibn
Zamraks ode, 18187
majlis (session), 13537; in the
paradigm of contest, 143
male, 26, 2930; male animal, 28
manly virtue (mur"ah). See mur"ah
masculinity, 21, 29. See also mur"ah
master poet, 20, 24, 28
melody, 135, 139, 15051
metaphor, 21, 64, 151, 186, 196;
sexual metaphor, 30; letter and
sense of, 120, 157
metapoetic, 60, 142, 15254, 188
meter, 2021, 25, 195
metonymy, 16, 180; metonymic
relation, 90; metonymic
representation, 180
mimesis, 910, 123, 145
mistress, 41, 73, 90
Mitchell, W. J. T., 10, 1415
Mu'allaqt (The Suspended Poems), 23
Mu'allaqah: of Imru" al-Qays, 42, 44,
47; of Labd, 91
mu'allim (master craftman), 159
mu'raah (opposition, contest), 20, 25,
60, 195, 198: involved in description
of honey-bees and honey collecting,
63; for public recognition, 59
Mufaaliyyt (anthology), 2627
Muammad V (sultan), 156, 15859,
18081, 18687, 18992
247
Motoyoshi/index/242-251 9/10/03 10:40 AM Page 247
Muammad VII (sultan), 15859
Mukharam (which spans the
pre-Islamic and Islamic periods), 62,
91
al-Muntair (caliph), 101, 108, 118
mur"ah (manly virtue, virility), 26,
60, 195; as the pre-Islamic tribal
notion, 21; as prerequisite of nadm
(boon-companion), 137
music, 14, 92, 122, 125, 146, 14849,
151
music and poetry, 148, 198
al-Mutanabb (poet), 187
nadm (boon-companion), 137
nqah (she-camel), 43
nasb (elegiac prelude), 1, 16, 23,
32, 41, 47, 62; in 'Alqamah
al-Fals ode, 56; aspect of Ab
Dhu"aybs nasb (elegiac prelude),
62; in al-Buturs ode, 10811;
in Ibn Zamraks ode, 18081;
as Ibn Zamraks self-portrait, 187;
in Imru" al-Qayss ode, 41;
metapoetic intent in the word nasb
in Ibn al-Rms ode, 154; nasb
(elegiac prelude) elements in Ibn
al-Rms ode, 134, 15253; in
S'idahs ode, 7380; 'Udhrite love,
181
Narid, 15556, 158, 182, 188
nectar, 63, 74
non-verbal text, 6, 1113
nostalgia, 136, 152
oath, 59, 73
occasionality, 189
Ong, Walter J., 23, 29, 5759
oral-formulaism, 31
oral transmission, 21, 25, 32
originality, 4, 126, 156, 191
ornamentation, 183
oryx, 45, 48, 5657, 89, 98
overlapping verses in Imru" al-Qays
and 'Alqamah al-Fal, 22
painting, 6, 910, 92
panegyric. See mad (panegyric); qadat
al-mad (panegyric ode)
Paradise, 7476, 79
paronomasia, 150
Parry-Lord theory, 31
passion, 29, 73, 87, 141, 146, 14950,
153
patron, 92, 109, 117, 134, 138, 154,
15657, 187, 191, 193, 196
Peirce, Charles Sanders, 10
performance, 6, 12224, 136, 138,
146, 150, 197
Persian elements, 9495, 99, 118, 125.
See also Ssnian motifs
physical appearance, 43, 73
picture, 15, 151, 190, 197; as
condensation of reverie, 115
plagiarism, 31. See also saraq, sariqah
play, 25, 5859, 195; playfulness, 21,
59
poems: competing with stars, 182; as
cultural signicance of, 57; more
authentic than khabar, 25; poem and
song/voice complementing each
other, 151; sincerity of, 145, 190; as
a written text, 139
poetic enterprise, 64, 90, 123, 187
poetic strategy, 60; comparing art to
nature, 181, representing reactions
of audience, 124
poetry: composition in a contest
system, 58; ekphrastic poetry, 156;
in pursuit of kleos (fame) through, 60
poetry and painting, 10, 93, 196;
paragone (contest) between, 13
poets: poets inability to go beyond the
nasb (elegiac prelude), 153; poets
poetic ability for defending and
maintaining himself as politician and
court poet, 159; poets poetic
knowledge of the horse, 45; political
intent of, 117; political situations of,
95; symbiotic relationship of horse
and poet, 47
portrait, 123, 155, 182, 189, 191;
double portrait, 156, 188, 193, 196;
emblematic portrait, 156, 160, 180,
186, 19293, 196; as an intended
relationship between portrait image
and the human original, 155;
self-portrait, 156, 158, 160; in
Western court culture, 157
portraiture, 13, 92, 155; theories of,
157
power, 21, 4849; as concept behind
appearance, 43; expression of, 185;
poetic power, 60
praise and blame, 59
pre-Islamic age, 1, 23, 62, 187;
pre-Islamic poems, 23, 31;
pre-Islamic poetry, 31, 73;
248
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pre-Islamic poets, 45, 6162, 195;
pre-Islamic qadah (ode), 91
pride, 91, 151
prohibition of painting in Islam, 12,
92
Prophet Muammad, 42, 49, 7677,
91
prowess, 19, 29, 41; poetic prowess,
5960. See also sexual prowess
psychological movement, 79;
psychological sphere, 149;
psychological state, 93, 111
pun, punning, 28, 59
qadah (classical Arabic ode): 21, 23;
aesthetic, literary qualities of, 4;
animals in, 44; authenticity of
pre-Islamic, 31; bipartite structure,
63, 156; in comparison with visual
portraits, 157; convention, 73, 98,
134, 140, 152, 181, 187, 18991;
creativity and convention, 191;
descriptive passages of, 94; as
expression of an ideal Islamic
polity, 117; form of, 1; a fragment
of, 88; as genre, 1; life-world and
cultural codes of, 89; losers qadah
showing nonteleology, 112, 118;
occasionality of, 189; in poetic
scheme, 10; as portrait, 197; as
similar power to the Qur"n, 187;
sincerity of, 145, 190; tripartite
structure, 1; waf of, 16. See also
specic subjects
qadat al-mad (panegyric ode), 13, 92,
155, 189, 192; as verbal portrait of
ruler, 93
qi'ah (short poem or fragment), 96
qiyn (singing-girls), 13536
quest: for fame, 58; for eroticism and
immortality, and the beloved, 78,
87, 91
Quintilian (Roman rhetorician), 8
Qur"n, 12, 32, 62, 7477, 91, 135,
158, 18788
ral (the poets journey section), 1, 23,
32, 41, 43, 98, 160
ral-like motif: in the Alhambra palace
description, 160, 192; in the bee
and honey-collecting description, 62,
64, 8889
rain, 42, 184; rain-cloud, 57;
rainstorm, 74, 78, 89
ra"s (chief of department), 159, 188
rqiah (dancing girl), 184
rw (reciter, transmitter), 23, 32, 62,
85
reader, 8, 30, 79, 94, 99, 114, 116,
122, 141, 144, 147, 149, 151
reality and reverie, 93, 95, 11617,
119
remedy, 64, 195
representation, 6, 8, 10, 146, 180, 182,
194; ekphrastic representation of
palace, 156; emblematic
representation, 157, 196; graphic,
pictorial representation, 14; Islamic
prohibition of idolatry or
visual/pictorial representation, 12,
11314; mimetic representation, 16,
194; symbolic representation, 16;
verbal and visual representation, 12;
verbal representation, 13, 92, 195;
visual, verbal, or musical
representation, 155
resemblance, 10, 1516, 21, 45, 74
resolution, 64, 7879, 89, 195
reward, 124, 143
rhyme, 2021, 25, 195
rhythm, 135, 144, 149
rith" (elegy), 118, 198
ritual, 5859
rivers of the Garden of Paradise,
7475
ruqan (magical spells), 153
al-Rusf (poet), 181
S'idah ibn Ju"ayyah (poet);
biographical information, 62
S'idah ibn Ju"ayyahs ode, 195, 197;
bees and honey as healing and
restraint, 78; bees gathering nectar
signifying the lost meadow, 7476;
bipartite structure, 63; dierence
from Ab Dhu"aybs ode, 63,
8991; erotic, sexual image of bees
and honey, 7678; honey-collecting
as resolution, 78; fakhr (boast),
8081; nasb (elegiac prelude), 63,
7380; the personas separation from
his beloved, 73; ral-like function of
bees and honey description, 79; the
sayings of Qur"n and Hadth,
7477; storm cloud scene, 73; a
string of similes for the beloved,
7374; translated, 6473; transition
from evening to morning, 80, 90;
249
Motoyoshi/index/242-251 9/10/03 10:40 AM Page 249
the ultimate goal is the lost garden,
79
saraq, sariqah (theft, plagiarism), 31
Ssnian motifs, 12, 94, 96, 98100,
10912. See also Persian elements
scarcity of pictorial representations in
the Arabo-Islamic tradition, 12
sense, 14041, 151; the auditory and
optical, 14748; auditory, sensuous,
intuitive dimensions, 123, 196;
optical, olfactory, and auditory
organs, 142; sensation, 140;
sensibility and sentiments, 152;
tactile and optical and auditory,
151; vision, touch, and hearing, 150
sexuality, 21, 87
sexual prowess, 25, 2930, 60
she-camel, 26, 32, 57; sacricial
she-camel, 73
Al-Shi'r wa al-Shu'ar" (Book of Poetry
and Poets), 26, 28
Shu'biyyah movement, 99, 118
similarity, 21; in contrast to contiguity,
16; spiritual similarity, 15
simile, 11, 16, 185; for the beloved,
7374; elative extended simile, 88;
extended similes, 62, 73, 88; in
honey-collecting scene, 76; in horse
description, 4346
singing, 12224, 133, 13638, 14346,
15253; posture of, 147. See also
song
singing-girl, 111, 12223, 125, 13435,
141, 152, 196
sky, 160, 182, 184
song, 14, 24, 13539, 14446, 151; as
messenger, 138
spear, 48, 81, 113
speed, 19, 43, 45, 48, 57
stallion, 20, 24, 2728, 30
star, 181, 18485, 191
stargazer, 185
steed, 29, 44, 4648, 56, 81; sleek,
swift steed (munjarid), 4243; physical
beauty of, 47
strength, 21, 30, 44
rah (image), 15
symbol, 21, 99, 195; beyond the
archetype, 44; of masculinity,
reproduction, and immortality, 29;
of speed, fertility, 57; symbolism of
honey and bees, 76, 79; symbolism
of waf, 195
synaesthesia, 123, 14042, 15051,
196; transfer/translation eects of,
151
synecdoche, 16, 180
al-abar (historian), 75
tamn (textual contamination), 21
lib (apprentice), 159
arab (strong emotion of joy or grief ),
123, 13839, 151; etymological
context of, 14647
tashbb (rhapsody over a beloved
woman), 15354
tent, 48, 57
text, 6, 32, 61, 93, 156; original
setting of, 125
ibq (antithesis), 98, 149
traditional Orientalists, 25, 10, 15,
21, 94
transparency of language, 11314
trial, 64, 89
tribal community, 21, 43, 47
trope, 11, 156
'Udhrite love, 181
Umm Jundab (Imru" al-Qayss wife),
20, 26, 27, 41, 58
ut pictura poesis, 1213
verbal art, 123, 14344; verbal art and
visual art, 12; verbal art and
musical art, 122
verbal duel, 20, 57, 60; in Homeric
epics, 58
verisimilitude, 911; mimetic
verisimilitude, 10
viewer, 12324, 14445
virility (mur"ah), 21, 30, 59
vision, 7, 142, 150
visual art, 13, 9293, 157, 195; visual
art, verbalized visual art, and
visualized verbal art, 183
visual language, 184, 198
visual portrait, 9293, 157
voice, 123, 125, 141, 14651
Wad (the singing slave-girl in Ibn
al-Rms ode), 123, 13540,
14247, 15054, 196
wall painting, 6, 93, 10910, 195
waf (description), 19498; the bee,
honey, and its collectors, 61, 7479,
8688; as criterion for evaluation of
poetry, 5; as exible and serviceable,
90; in imitation and emulation, 20;
250
Motoyoshi/index/242-251 9/10/03 10:40 AM Page 250
important thematic and structural
role of, 9495; as key element of
the qadah, 45, 122; as mad
(panegyric), 95100; mission of, 14;
physical description in, 194; as
profound functions, 10; in relation
to political, social, economic, and
individual ambiance of each poet,
197; striving for verisimilitude, 10;
synonym of, 5; tawr and tamthl as
synonym of, 1516; technique of 47.
See also description
water, 42, 7475, 78, 98, 100, 108,
113, 18485
wild ass, 4344, 48
wind, 19, 46
wine, 9394, 100, 117, 195; in
association with honey, 62;
compared to the beloveds saliva,
73; rivers of, 75; mixed with honey,
79; precious, delicious wine, 85
wine cup, 6, 93, 100. See also goblet
wit, 21, 59, 126
withers (sart), 43, 45
word, 14, 32, 194
Ysuf I (sultan), 159
Ysuf II (sultan), 15859
251
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BRILL STUDIES IN MIDDLE
EASTERN LITERATURES
( formerly Studies in Arabic Literature)
SUPPLEMENTS TO THE
JOURNAL OF ARABIC LITERATURE
ISSN 0169-9903
1. Khouri, M.A. Poetry and the Making of Modern Egypt (1882-1922).
1971. ISBN 90 04 02178 7
2. Somekh, S. The Changing Rhythm. A Study of Najb Mafs
Novels. 1973. ISBN 90 04 03587 7
3. Semah, D. Four EgyptianLiterary Critics. 1974.
ISBN 90 04 03841 8
4. Cantarino, V. Arabic Poetics in the Golden Age. 1975.
ISBN 90 04 04206 7
5. Moreh, S. Modern Arabic Poetry, 1800-1970. 1976.
ISBN 90 04 04795 6
6. Jayyusi, S. K. Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry. 2 pts.
1977. ISBN 90 04 04920 7
7. Kurpershoek, P.M. The Short Stories of Ysuf Idrs. A Modern Egyp-
tian Author. 1981. ISBN 90 04 06283 1
8. Gelder, G.J.H. van. Beyond the Line. Classical Arabic Literary
Critics. 1982. ISBN 90 04 06854 6
9. Ajami, M. The Neckveins of Winter. 1984. ISBN 90 04 07016 8
10. Brugman, J. An Introduction to the History of Modern Arabic Litera-
ture in Egypt. 1984. ISBN 90 04 07172 5
11. Malti-Douglas, F. Structures of Avarice. The Bukhal} in Medieval
Arabic Literature. 1985. ISBN 90 04 07485 6
12. Abdel-Malek, K. A Study of the Vernacular Poetry of Amad Fu}d
Nigm. 1990. ISBN 90 04 08933 0
13. Stetkevych, S.P. Ab Tammm and the Poetics of the {Abbsid Age.
1991. ISBN 90 04 09340 0
14. Hamori, A. The Composition of Mutanabbs Panegyrics to Sayf al-
Dawla. 1992. ISBN 90 04 09366 4
15. Pinault, D. Story-Telling Techniques in the Arabian Nights. 1992.
ISBN 90 04 09530 6
16. al-Nowaihi, M.M. The Poetry of Ibn Khafjah. A Literary Analysis.
1993. ISBN 90 04 09660 4
17. Kurpershoek, P.M. Oral Poetry and Narratives from Central Arabia.
4 volumes.
Vol. I. The Poetry of ad-Dindn. ABedouin Bard in Southern Najd. An
Edition with Translation and Introduction. 1994. ISBN 90 04 09894 1
Vol. II. The Story of a Desert Knight. The Legend of lw al-{Awi
BSMEL-serie.qxd 09/09/2003 16:58 Page 1
and Other {Utaybah Heroes. An Edition with Translation and Intro-
duction. 1995. ISBN 90 04 10102 0
Vol. III. Bedouin Poets of the Dawa
-
sir Tribe. Between Nomadism and
Settlement in Southern Najd. An Edition with Translation and
Introduction. 1999. ISBN 90 04 11276 6
Vol. IV. A Saudi Tribal History. Honour and Faith in the Traditions of
the Dawsir. An Edition with Translation and Introduction. 2002.
ISBN 90 04 12582 5
18. Bounfour, A. De lenfant au fils. Essai sur la filiation dans les Mille et
une nuits. 1995. ISBN 90 04 10166 7
19. Abdel-Malek, K. Muammad in the Modern Egyptian Popular Ballad.
1995. ISBN 90 04 10217 5
20. Sperl, S. and C. Shackle (eds.), Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and
Africa. 2 volumes. ISBN (set) 90 04 10452 6
Vol. I. Classical Traditions and Modern Meanings. 1996.
ISBN 90 04 10295 7
Vol. II. Eulogys Bounty, Meanings Abundance. An Anthology.
1996. ISBN 90 04 10387 2
21. Frolov, D. Classical Arabic Verse. History and Theory of {Ar. 2000.
ISBN 90 04 10932 3
22. al-Saraqus, Ab l-hir Muammad ibn Ysuf. Al-Maqmt Al-
Luzmyah. Translated, with a Preliminary Study by James T. Monroe.
2002. ISBN 90 04 12331 8
23. al-Musawi, M.J. The Postcolonial Arabic Novel. Debating Ambi-
valence. 2003. ISBN 90 04 12586 8
24. {Ar}is al-Majlis f Qia al-anbiy} or Lives of the Prophets. As
Recounted by Ab Isq Amad ibn Muammad ibn Ibrhm al-
Tha{lab. Translated and Annotated by William M. Brinner. 2002.
ISBN 90 04 12589 2
25. Motoyoshi Sumi, A. Description in Classical Arabic Poetry. Waf,
Ekphrasis, and Interarts Theory. 2004. ISBN 90 04 12922 7.
26. Yamamoto, K. The Oral Background of Persian Epics. Storytelling
and Poetry. 2003. ISBN 90 04 12587 6
27. Seyed-Gohrab, A.A. Layl and Majnn. Love, Madness and Mystic
Longing in Nims Epic Romance. 2003. ISBN 90 04 12942 1
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