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

By Philip F. Kennedy | Go to book overview

analysis, the reader cannot be sure of the exact nature of Abū Nuwās' desires and passions; this ambiguity is contrived by the qaṣīda's dichotomy which is reminiscent of the same common division in other poems where there is a clear transition from chastity towards carnal gratification.

Other examples of the gazelle motif can be culled from the collection of al-˓Abbās b. al-Aḥnaf's poetry;162 they are all at one in articulating the disconsolate sentiments of a courtly poet. Abū Nuwās had access to the same stock of imagery as al-˓Abbās; hence, for example, his yā sāḥira l-ṭarfi anta l-dahra wasnānu is analogous to al-˓Abbās' ghazālun gharīrun fātiru l-ṭarfi sāḥiru-hu;163 whilst Abū Nuwās' sirru l-qulūbi ladā ˓aynay-ka i˓lānu has its equivalent (if only on a purely lexical level) in al-˓Abbās' fa-thiqī fa-anti a˓rafu minnī | bi-ḥifāẓin fī l-sirri wa-l-i˓lāni.164 It is important to emphasize, however, that al-˓Abbās' use of the motif followed a more dominant convention and was in harmony with the largely homogenous tone of his poems; conversely Abū Nuwās stepped beyond the convention to produce a rich texture of eroticism.


Conclusion: Muslim b. al-Walīd and Abū Nuwās

Seduction is one clear feature of the wine poems of Abū Nuwās. The originality of the Basran in this respect can be gleaned by observing that seduction in bipartite or even chiastic poems is not a common feature amongst the poets that preceded him, nor even amongst his contemporaries. For example, Abū Jilda al-Yaškurī (d. 83/702) in a relevant poem describes a sāqī in impassioned terms, but there is no reference to sexual requital.165 The mājin of Kūfa, ˓Ammār Dhū l-Kibār, in a poem contained in the Aghānī celebrates a number of young gazelles who have captivated him; in view of his shameless candour (mujūn) elsewhere one might expect more than this conventionally frustrated depiction of love, typified by the final line of the poem:166yumannīna l-abāṭla | wa-yajḥadna lladhī qulna-hu (They instil hope for vain pleasures, then deny what they have promised).

More significantly, Muslim b. al-Walīd's bacchic imagery is much akin to that of Abū Nuwās, though the cast of his poems is distinct: the use of imagery shows a deft fusion of khamr and

____________________
165
See Ḥāwī, Fann al-Ši˓r al-Khamrī, 136.
166
Aghānī, 23/382.

-81-

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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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