As is the case with many other civilizations, the cultural heartlands of the classical Arab-Islamic world have often tended to be more progressive and innovative than its outlying, marginal regions. The latter, in contrast, have sometimes tended to be more conservative. For this reason, when Ibn Quzmān, in Andalus, raised the native, popular, and colloquial zajal form to a higher literary level than it had previously enjoyed in his homeland, his work found greater acceptance in Baghdad than it did in the far West of the Islamic world. With one notable exception, Andalusi and North African scholars and critics, while they could not categorically deny that poet’s remarkable literary achievements, all tended to downplay them, by highlighting instead, passages from his classical Arabic production in verse and in prose (none of which has survived, aside from the handful of fragments they quote), while at the same time ignoring his zajals to the best of their ability. Like their Greek predecessors, however, these critics were prescriptive, not descriptive. Thus, they did not possess the adequate vocabulary with which to express their appreciation for, or understanding of, the significance of Ibn Quzmān’s strophic compositions in the colloquial dialect. This article analyses one poem by Ibn Quzmān (Zajal 96), and compares it to a classical composition by Abū Nuwās (the Andalusi poet’s Eastern predecessor and deeply admired literary role model), in an attempt to identify some of those virtues the Maghrebi critics failed to define in his work.