By Philip Kennedy
A readable survey of this celebrated ninth century Arab poet.
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Extra info for Abu Nuwas (Makers of the Muslim World)
While he is often remembered for a bawdy register of poetry that could shatter all literary strictures of decorum, his chaste love poems at their finest can be deemed second-to-none in the Arabic tradition. 045 19/02/2005 11:37 AM Page 30 30 ABU NUWAS – were in fact also songs, as “lyric” of course connotes, and did not require, in each and every case, distinctive explorations of theme or sentiment. However, across well over 500 poems and fragments of erotic verse, there are indeed numerous images of either extraordinary delicacy or striking, at times seemingly irrepressible invention.
That was in Hafs’s schoolroom – How lucky is Hafs! ” Silk robes were stripped from him And a striped garment, Then they “terrorized” him with molly-coddling Castigation, without even a stick; Then my sweetheart cried out: “Sir! ” (D. iv, 194) Castigation is a double-edged theme and part of the erotic tension of the piece in which, with perfectly pitched understatement, chastisement-and-leniency or servitude-anddomination, swap roles with each other. Pandering (to) Satan “Reveal your feelings to him, Tenderly ...
045 19/02/2005 11:33 AM Page 19 “DANGLING LOCKS AND BABEL EYES” 19 the palm of the hand. ” (D. iv, 141–2) Al-Jahiz ascribed the same practice, and the same underlying causes, to “Masjidites” (men who spent time discussing religion and theology in the mosques) and the men and adolescent boys of the secretariat. Al-Isfahani peddles these sociological opinions of al-Jahiz (and his own) without any reference to the literary aspect of the poems he is introducing. Rather he tries, unconvincingly, to suggest that Abu Nuwas had been “respectable” and restrained when he wrote under the aegis of Harun al-Rashid but then allowed his sexual profligacy to come to the fore under the license and mutual influence of al-Rashid’s licentious son and successor, al-Amin (d.
Abu Nuwas (Makers of the Muslim World) by Philip Kennedy