The Discreet Pleasures of the Courtly Hunt Abū Nuwās and the ‘Abbāsid Tardiyyah

in Journal of Arabic Literature
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Abstract

In the hands of the early ‘Abbāsid poet, Abū Nuwās (d. 199 or 200/814 or 815), the free-standing tardiyyah (hunt poem) no longer features the pathos-laden wretched hunter of the pre-Islamic rahīl nor the chivalrous heroic hunter of the fakhr of the pre-Islamic qasīdah, but rather a hunter who is courtly and discreet and, as a persona, almost invisible. In the extensive corpus of hunt-poems attributed to Abū Nuwās, two basic types are identifiable. The first exhibits a subjective perspective in which the poet is the agent of the hunt. This type typically opens with the Imru' al-Qays-derived wa-qad aghtadī (“I would set out early in the morning”) formula and can be characterized as wasf (subjectively-involved description). Typologically and terminologically distinct from this is the second type, the hunt-poem of objectively distanced description (na‘t), which characteristically opens with the formula an‘atu (“I shall describe”). Through selected examples, the study analyzes the thematic and stylistic differences between these two types as well as their overlap in intermediate subjective-objective hunt-poems.

The Discreet Pleasures of the Courtly Hunt Abū Nuwās and the ‘Abbāsid Tardiyyah

in Journal of Arabic Literature

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