The Wine Song in Classical Arabic Poetry: Abu Nuwas and the Literary Tradition

By Philip F. Kennedy | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

In Abū Nuwās there is a forceful direction of attitude which holds some of his khamriyyāt together, and sets them cumulatively against religious conservatism.159 If in Abū l˓Atāhiyaal-dahr is given a pious direction, in the wine poem this direction is reversed. To this extent one is justified in speaking of two tiers of transcendence--two orders. Abū Nuwās˒ Yā sāḥir al-ṭarf posed the question, poems such as ˓Afā l-muṣallā and Yā bnata l-šaykhi ṣbaḥī-nā bear the question out in different ways within the particular context of individual poems. The spirit of indulgence highlights the transcendence of al-dahr, suggesting that in the early "Abbāsid period, as indeed before, there were two contrary ways of responding to the transcendence of al-dahr. Furthermore, several poems have shown the artistry of the poet in constructing the whole poem around or towards this essential notion.

The literary antagonism in the poetic voices which emerges between the khamriyya and the zuhdiyya introduces the subject of the next chapter.

turāth dīnī and turāth thaqāfī, both of which Abū Nuwās sets himself against. However, I would suggest, even this division isolates the parts of the poem too much; for there is mockery of religion implicit in the mockery of the aṭlāl. To understand this we need to appreciate the levels of time invested in the traditional image, and how the different significances of time might have affected variously the protagonists of the poem. "The miserly (scilicet religious) man (al-bakhīl al-mu˒min bi- l-bukhl) feels that worldly time is oppressive and slow. The drinker, on the other hand, sees in the present moment an incorporation of absolute time . . . intoxication draws all time into its presence" (ibid. 174). One should add that the fundamental spirit of indulgence is that time is forgotten--wine escapes awareness of al-dahr; the pious man, however, is only too aware of al-dahr hence his fear of death and judgement. "The aṭlāl section of the ancient qaṣīda was of great importance for in it were crystallized the poet's views on time and death" (ibid. 175). We should add that wine always fitted into this system. In fact, Abū Nuwās is at once rejecting the old world-view (archaic literary attitudes) and accepting it (the old world-view of al- dahr, which is encapsulated by ˓Amr b. Kulthūm Muallaqa and which encouraged heroic recklessness not pious fear).

____________________
159
The kind of treatment of material seen to exist in Abū Nuwās ˒ khamriyyāt survived after him. A good example is to be found in Tha˓ālib ī's Yatimat al-Dahr ( Cairo, 1947), iv. 71 f. It is a poem attributed to Abū l-Ayyūb al-Ṭhirī which parodies the literary form of the zuhdiyya, conforming to the ordering of gnomic motifs in libational poetry; it can be schematized by the following three lines (1, 4, and 6): awdā mulūku banī sāsāna wa-nqaraḍū \ wa-aṣbaḥa l-mulku mā yanfakku yantaqiḍu ∥ man lāna marqadu-hu fa-l-dahru mubdilu-hu \ ˓an-hu firāšan la-hu min taḥti-hu qaḍaḍu ∥ da˓-hum ilā saqarin wa-šrab ˓alā ṭarabin \ fa-l-fajru fī l-ufuqi l- gharbiyyi mut˓ariḍu.

-148-

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The Wine Song in Classical Arabic Poetry: Abu Nuwas and the Literary Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Khamr, Nasīb, and Ghazal 19
  • Conclusion: Muslim B. Al-Walīd and Abū Nuwās 81
  • 2 - Islam and Al-Dahr in the Khamriyya 86
  • Conclusion 148
  • 3 - Hijā', the Bacchic Naqā'Iḍ, and the Rhetorical Wine Poem 149
  • 4 - Ḥilm and Tawba 194
  • Conclusion 240
  • Conclusion 241
  • Appendix a the Qaṣīdas of a L-A ˓šā Containing Khamr 245
  • Appendix B - Texts and Translations 262
  • Glossary of Arabic Terms 280
  • Bibliography 286
  • Index of Authors of Secondary Literature 295
  • General Index 297
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