The Cooing of the Dove and the Cawing of the Crow: Late ʿAbbāsid Poetics in Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī’s Saqṭ al-Zand and Luzūm Mā Lā Yalzam


In The Cooing of the Dove and the Cawing of the Crow Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych offers original translations, close readings, and new interpretations of selected poems from the two contrasting diwans of the blind Late ʿAbbāsid master-poet, Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (d. 449 H./1057 C.E.). The first is Saqṭ al-Zand (Sparks of the Flint), the highly esteemed collection of qaṣīdah poetry of his youth, which he later disavowed. The second is Luzūm Mā Lā Yalzam (Requiring What Is Not Required), the programmatic double-rhymed collection from his later period of withdrawal and seclusion. She argues that the contrasting ‘poetics of engagement’ and ‘poetics of disengagement’ of the two diwans reflect the transition from High Classical to Post Classical aesthetics.
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Suzanne Pickney Stetkevych, Ph.D. (1981), The University of Chicago, is Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. Her publications on Classical Arabic poetry include The Mantle Odes: Arabic Praise Poems to the Prophet Muḥammad (2010).
Note on Transliteration and Translation


Introduction: Approaching Saqṭ al-Zand: The Poetics of Engagement

Part 1 The Poetics of Performance in the Late Classical Qaṣīdah

1 A Long Night’s Journey into Day: Nocturnal Passages and Celestial Journeys
 1 Introduction
 2 Section I: Nocturnes, or Lyric ‘Fragments’
 3 Section II: A Master Qaṣīdah with Nocturnal Raḥīl: A Long Night’s Journey into Day

2 Performative Poetics: The Art of Defense and the Art of Self-Defense
 1 Introduction
 2 Section I: The Art of Defense: Saqṭ al-Zand 15 Mīmiyyah
 3 Section II: The Art of Self-Defense: Saqṭ al-Zand 16 Lāmiyyah

3 The Cooing of the Dove and the Cawing of the Crow: Elegy as Performance
 1 Introduction
 2 The Cooing of the Dove: Saqṭ al-Zand 43 Dāliyyah, Rithā’ to a Ḥanafī faqīh, Abū Ḥamzah
 3 The Cawing of the Crow: Saqṭ al-Zand 60 Fāʾiyyah, Rithāʾ to al-Sharīf al-Ṭāhir al-Mūsawī

4 Yearning for Syria/Yearning for Baghdad: The Poetics of Longing and the Performance of Nostalgia
 1 Introduction
 2 SZ 58: Our Camels’ Yearning
 3 Saqṭ al-Zand 66: Greetings Worthy of Kisrā and Tubbaʿ

Part 2 Stylistic Poetics and Postclassical Aesthetics

Introduction: Approaching Al-Luzūmiyyāt: The Poetics of Disengagement and Poetry as Programmatic Project

5 Irony, Archeology, and ‘Stopping at the Ruins’: Two Readings of the Ṭasmū Luzūmiyyah
 1 Introduction
 2 Section I: Irony, Archeology, and Stopping at the Ruins
 3 Section II: Lexical Exile and the Tyranny of the Rhyme
 4 Conclusion

6 Labīd, ʿAbīd, and Lubad: Lexical Excavation and the Reclamation of the Poetic Past in Al-Luzūmiyyāt
 1 Introduction
 2 Conclusion

Conclusion: Beyond the Great Divide

Works Cited
Students, scholars, and poetry afficionados interested in classical and post-classical Arabic poetry and rhetoric and their relation to religion and politics in the Arabo-Islamic world.
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