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

By Philip F. Kennedy | Go to book overview

APPENDIX A
The Qaṣīdas of A l-A ˓šā containing Khamr

The following are brief analytical synopses of the qaṣīdas of al-šā ( d. c.629) that contain passages of wine poetry. The purpose is to present a detailed picture of how such passages are contained by and interact with the other major themes of the qaṣīda. These outlines can only be preliminary to analysis of the khamr of al-šā as a study of waṣf.1 The elements of khamr in the poems emerge as relating primarily to nasīb, ikma, or fakhr or all three. Whilst the treatment of khamr in jāhilī poetry has been seen in Chapters 1-4 to be part of some manner of subordination to these three themes, we have in those chapters concentrated on each individually in its relationship with khamr. This method provides a holistic view of composition, but it falls short of showing how khamr may gain its fullest meaning from the contextual influence of a particular composition, where emphases can vary enormously. That is to say, nuances or shades of meaning give individual character to individual compositions, despite the fact that the themes from which these compositions are constructed are easily identifiable within a traditional framework.2 Bearing this in mind, therefore, we must not embark upon the study of any qaṣīda with rigid preconceptions about the exact function of the identifiable "movements"3 it contains; in the analysis below each qaṣīda may be seen to give different emphasis, however small, to the relationship between khamr on the one hand and fakhr, nasīb, and ikma (and even waṣf) on the other.

____________________
1
The synopses presented here are all that can be fitted in at this stage to the overall theme of the book. However, there is a clear need for a separate study entailing a succinct catalogue of the development of bacchic descriptive topics from the Jāhiliyya to the time of Abū Nuwās. Bencheikh has already amply charted the descriptive topics in Abū Nuwās' khamriyyāt ("Poésies bachiques d'Abū Nuwās: Thèmes et personnages", BÉO 18 (1963-4)); the object should be to present a clear inventory of earlier topics, thus facilitating a broader appreciation of Abū Nuwās' descriptive repertoire.
2
This method is consonant with observations made by Renate Jacobi in "The Camel-Section of the Panegyrical Ode", JAL 13 ( 1982), 4: "As is well known, a theme or motif may acquire a special function in one particular poem, or it may function differently at different semantic levels . . .".
3
I borrow this term from Montgomery; see "Dichotomy in Jāhīli Poetry", JAL 17 ( 1986).

-245-

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