Sunday, May 22, 2011

Qasida of the Lost Tribe

By the time I reached the campsite of my beloved,
her caravan had already moved on.

I contemplated the harshness of Nature
and my self-imposed life away from the tribe.

Tribal life may be blessed, but is it for you?
I smart for the caravan, and for you to diverge.

– Leonard “Heretic” Blumfeld (© 2011)


In the quest for a quasida according to Poetic Asides I looked at the Wikipedia definition and wrote one that is 100% true to the old concept (quoted here from Wikipedia):
In his 9th century “Book of Poetry and Poets” (Kitab al-shi'r wa-al-shu'ara') the Arab writer ibn Qutaybah describes the (Arabic) qasida as formed of three parts:

• a nostalgic opening in which the poet reflects on what has passed, known as nasib. A common concept is the pursuit of the poet of the caravan of his beloved: by the time he reaches their campsite they have already moved on.

• a release or disengagement, the takhallus, often achieved by describing his transition from the nostalgia of the nasib to the second section, the travel section or rahil, in which the poet contemplates the harshness of nature and life away from the tribe.

• the message of the poem, which can take several forms: praise of the tribe (fakhr), satire about other tribes (hija) or some moral maxim (hikam).
A big part of the fun I have with poetic forms is to distort, overcome or disobey them (hence the “Heretic”). By the way: Federico García Lorca also wrote qasidas (“casida” in Spanish), and if I remember correctly, he didn't give much of a hoot about adhering to the form either.

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