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By Margaret Larkin

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This exhaustive and but spell binding learn considers the lifestyles and paintings of al-Mutanabbi (915-965), usually considered as the best of the classical Arab poets. A innovative at center and infrequently imprisoned or pressured into exile all through his tumultuous existence, al-Mutanabbi wrote either arguable satires and whilst hired via considered one of his many consumers, laudatory panegyrics. making use of an ornate variety and use of the ode, al-Mutanabbi used to be one of many first to effectively circulate clear of the commonly inflexible kind of Arabic verse, the ‘qasida’.

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The figure of rugged manliness they portrayed found impassioned reprise in many of the compositions of al-Mutanabbi, who obviously saw a kindred spirit in the world-weary tough guy that Ta‘abbata Sharran described: I do not say when a friendship has been cut off “Woe to me,” out of longing and compassion No! my weeping – if I am brought to weeping – is for a man skilled in acquiring praise, who is always ahead, Bare of flesh on the shins, the sinews of his arms standing out, often venturing out on nights that are inky black and pouring with rain.

The factionalism that challenged the community was as often religious and political in nature as it was tribal. 36 Despite – or perhaps partly because of – this general opening up of Arabian tribal society and the many social, political, and economic transformations it was undergoing, Arab poets in the century following the death of Muhammad clung to essentially the same poetic conventions as had prevailed in pre-Islamic Arabia, especially where the polythematic ode was concerned. There were developments toward a more straightforward and simple language in the occasional, monothematic poem, and both the love poem and the wine-song blossomed at this time.

In the multi-cultural environment of the ‘Abbasid caliphate, where many of the outstanding poets were of Persian origin, the poet’s stock-in-trade was his ability to produce compelling panegyric poems that served to legitimize and aggrandize the caliph and his officials or whoever was wealthy enough to engage the poet’s services. Despite the powerful claim of genealogical ties to the prophet, the ‘Abbasid caliphate, which had been brought to power by the Persians of Khurasan, needed to present itself to the Muslim public as a faithful adherent to ancient Arab tribal values.

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