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

By Philip F. Kennedy | Go to book overview

2
Islam and al-Dahr in the Khamriyya

THE QAṢĪDA1

The Jāhiliyya

ḥikma--an important category of poetry2--is the poet's wisdom and most commonly, though not exclusively, takes the form of an aphoristic statement about the fleeting nature of life and the unpredictable vagaries of Fate. al-Dahr is a prime mover in the jāhilī vision of existence and has a dominant role in a limited but powerful philosophy. Preoccupation with death (represented largely by al-dahr) is an important aspect of the jāhilī view of life, and ḥikma--certain knowledge of death--is an essential part of this. Line by line, however, ḥikma seldom comprises a substantial section of any poem--a qaṣīda such as Zuhayr b. Abī Sulmā's Mu'allaqa is unusual in this respect.3 In many places ḥikma is implicit rather than explicit; Labīd's hemistich: inna l- manāyā lā taṭīšu sihāmu-hā4 sums up the essential message of the extended simile of the oryx, yet the message would not be entirely lost were it not uttered. This chapter focuses on existential ḥikma, underpinned by al-dahr,5 where the aphorisms and

____________________
1
Some of the following material has appeared in my "Khamr and ḥikma in jāhilī Poetry", JAL 20/ 2 ( 1989), 97-114.
2
J. E. Montgomery includes ḥikma in his list of the seven principal "movements" of pre-Islamic poetry; see "Dichotomy in jāhilī Poetry", JAL 17 ( 1985), 1-20.
3
Also unusual is poem 116 of the Mufaḍḍaliyyāt by 'Abd Qays b. Khufāf in which the poet seeks to educate his son and provides what approximates to a manifesto of muruwwa.
4
See Mu'allaqa, line 39b of al-Tibrīzī's recension.
5
al-Manāyā, al-Manūn, al-Zamān, al-Layālī, al-Ḥawādith, etc. are all corollaries of al-Dahr and share its significance. However, the varying semantics of some of these items in certain contexts is discussed by Rosenthal in "Sweeter than Hope": Complaint and Hope in Medieval Islam ( Leiden, 1983), 4 ff; see also A. Arazi, La Réalité et la fiction dans la poésie Arabe ancienne ( Paris, 1989), pp. 49-103. For a general discussion of Fate in early Arabic poetry see Caskell Das Schicksal ( Leipzig, 1926) and Abdesselem Le Thème de la mort dans la poésie arabe des origines à la fin du IIIème/IXème siècle ( Tunis, 1977).

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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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