“A Marvelous Painting”: the Erotic Dimension of Saʿdi’s Praise Poetry

In: Journal of Persianate Studies

Abstract

This article approaches Saʿdi’s little-studied panegyric production. The contribution focuses on an encomiastic modality that is almost completely neglected when it comes to the study of the Persian qasida as a performative text that enacts the political, ethical, and aesthetic values of the court. This modality is primarily amatory, and combines the standard erotic discourse of the Ghaznavids and late Saljuq poems of praise with Saʿdi’s original theo-erotic lyricism, which is mostly known through his ghazals. This critical approach will unfold by unearthing its underlying functions in a broad variety of qasidas that relate to the courtly conversations between Saʿdi and two young rulers who patronized the majority of Saʿdi’s literary activities: the Salghurid prince Saʿd b. Abi Bakr (d. 1260), and the minister of finances (sāheb divān) of the Il-khanid empire, Shams al-Din Jovayni (d. 1284).

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