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Arabic poetry

Arabic poetry

the periods of Arabic poetry

traditional Arabic poetry of bedouin, before Islam (6th and


7th centuries)

type: qasida
Arabic poetry

the Arabic poetry of the Umayyad and Abbasid-period (until the


13th century)

– a 'high poetry'

– a courtly poetry

– poetry with new forms and new themes


Arabic poetry al-Andalus

the contribution of al-Andalus, Ahmad al-Tifasi (1184-1253), a


Tunisian scholar, wrote

– the songs of the people of al-Andalus were, in ancient times,


either in the style of the Christians, or in the style of the Arab
camel drivers

– Ibn Bajja (d. 1139) combined the songs of the Christians with
those of the East, thereby inventing a style found only in al-
Andalus, toward which the temperament of its people inclined, so
that they rejected all others
Arabic poetry al-Andalus

the contribution of al-Andalus: the invention of new poetic forms

– the muwashshah (11th century), 'high' poetry

– the zajal (13th century): 'popular' poetry

an example: the vagant poet Ibn Quzman (died 1160)


Arabic poetry Jewish poetry

Jewish poets assimilated

– the forms

qasida, muwashshah

– the themes
Arabic poetry Jewish poetry

the poets

– Solomon ibn Gabirol


circa 1020 - circa 1055, born in Malaga

– Moses ibn Ezra


1055 - circa 1135, born in Granada

– Judah Halevi
1075-1141, born in Toledo
Arabic poetry of love
Arabic poetry of love

importance and centrality of love

– Arabic love poetry was on the beloved and on the pains and joys
of love

– Arabic love poetry included regularly sexual intercourse

– neither love and joy nor sexual intercourse are linked by Arabic
poets to vice and sin
Arabic poetry of love

importance and centrality of love

– the poetry of love is on girls (yawari), not on married women

– the poetry of love is on boys (homoerotic poetry, same gender


love)

Abu Nuwas, Perfumed Garden: O the joy of sodomy! / So now be


sodomites, you Arabs. / Turn not away from it- / therein is wondrous
pleasure. / Take some coy lad with kiss-curls / twisting on his temple /
and ride as he stands like some gazelle / standing to her mate. / A lad
whom all can see girt with sword / and belt not like your whore who
has / to go veiled. / Make for smooth-faced boys and do your / very
best to mount them, for women are / the mounts of the devils
Jewish poetry of love

importance and centrality of love, pleasure and joy in Jewish


poetry, as in Arabic poetry

– poetry on the beloved and on the pains and joys of love

– poetry of love included regularly sexual intercourse

– neither love and joy nor sexual intercourse are are linked by
Arabic poets to vice and sin
Jewish poetry of love

importance and centrality of love

– the poetry of love is on girls, not on married women

– the poetry of love is on boys (homoerotic poetry, same gender


love)

Yishaq ben Mar-Saul (Lucena, 11th century): Gazelle desired in Spain /


wondrously formed, / Given rule and dominion / over every living thing.
/ Lovely of form like the moon / with beautiful stature / Curls of purple /
upon shining temple. / Like Joseph in his form / like Adoniah his hair /
Lovely of eyes like David, / he has slain me like Uriah / He has
enflamed my passions / and consumed my heart with fire. / Because of
him I have been left / without understanding and wisdom. / Weep with
me every ostrich / and every hawk and falcon! / The beloved of my soul
has slain me-/ is this a just sentence / … / Because of him my soul is
sick, / perplexed and yearning. / His speech upon my heart / is like dew
upon a parches land. / Draw me from the pit of destruction / that I go
down to Hell
Crossing the boundaries
crossing the boundaries

love and sexual intercourse between women and men members


of a different religion, basically

– Jewish and Muslim men loving Jewish and Muslim women

– Jewish and Muslim men loving Jewish and Muslim boys

consider: mixing (interfaith sexuality) was strictly prohibited by


the laws and the religious establishment of all three
communities
male
community
boy
girl A
B
crossing the boundaries

love between Jewish males and Muslim females

– Samuel Ibn Naghrilla

the eyes of the daughter of princes of Midian have melted my soul, and
the arrows of their beauty have shot me

– Moses Ibn Ezra

by the hand of the Muslim doe / is my soul destroyed and my heart by


her eyes is torn - / By a lip colored by the blood of my heart / and an
eye painted in mine
crossing the boundaries

love between Mulsim males and Jewish boys

Ibn al-Zaqqaq

I was compelled to love the Sabbath, the day I spend in my beloved's


company. Is not this curious? I am an orthodox Muslim and yet the
most delightful day for me is the Sabbath
crossing the boundaries

love between Jewish males and Muslim boys

– Samuel ibn Naghrillah

the eyes of the gazelle who is my servant have ravished me; the heart of
his he catches without a net

– Moses ibn Ezra

my heart mourns because of a son of Qedar, fawn lovely of appearance,


young of years. His cheeks are like scarlet and black his hair, and his
lips are like crimson
crossing the boundaries

conclusions: the poets crossed boundaries of two kinds

– the boundaries of gender

– the boundaries of religion


crossing the boundaries

consider

– poets made no secret of their behavior

– their behavior was accepted by a large part of their society and


their community
crossing the boundaries

to be remarked: the absence of Christians girls and boys

Todros Abulafia, a Jewish poet

yea, one should love an Arab girl / Even if she's not beautiful and pure. /
But stay far away from a Spanish girl / Even if she's radiant as the sun!
… / Her clothes are filled with crap and crud, / her hems are blotted
with her uncleanness. / Her harlotry is not taken to heart; / she is so
ignorant, of intercourse she knows nothing. / But every Arab girl has
charm and beauty … / She knows all about fornication and is adept at
lechery