By Philip Kennedy
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Extra resources for Abu Nuwas: A Genius of Poetry (Makers of the Muslim World)
Her house is said to have been a meeting place for singing girls. ”). She outlived her son and Abu Nuwas’s paltry estate came into her possession upon his death. It is said he bequeathed her as little as 200 dinars – astonishingly little given his eminence as a poet and the rewards that were probably heaped upon him, sporadically, during his lifetime. Unlike his mother, Abu Nuwas both mastered and crafted the Arabic language as well as any poet ever has and it provided him with a living, but he was also recklessly generous and a hedonist to boot – he suffered materially from the very same impulse that enriched his poetry.
Yet Arabic poetry has its own largely unique norms and conventions: of form, meter, subject and the distinct collocation of themes. It can, of course, only be judged fully on these terms. ) are largely trapped in the enhanced Arabic of the original poetry; but one can endeavor to translate and discuss the essential spirit of the themes. It is hoped that the latter will begin to emerge, according to distinctive genres and relating to the strong literary persona of Abu Nuwas, in the course of this introductory work.
The khamriyya which Abu Nuwas mastered and perfected as a genre in the Abbasid capital allows one to situate the man best of all as a poet, absorbing and transforming a whole tradition, and as a person more generally who, in some minimal measure at the very least, was also reacting to his environment. The “Modern” Poet In reviewing the wine song we must note: (i) its literary genealogy, of which Abu Nuwas was so clearly conscious (and respectful of, on the whole): he clearly saw himself as the inheritor of a pre-Islamic tradition, and in particular of the poetry of al-A‘sha (d.
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