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1) Describe how the representation of the natural environment reflects the different moods and thematic content of the three different sections of the.

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Presentation on theme: "1) Describe how the representation of the natural environment reflects the different moods and thematic content of the three different sections of the."— Presentation transcript:

1 1) Describe how the representation of the natural environment reflects the different moods and thematic content of the three different sections of the qasida ( nasib, rihla and "boast"), using examples from any of the poems that you have read in Desert Tracings. How do different representations of the desert reinforce the distinct emotional tone of the three sections? 2) Contrast the representation of the desert in the poems by two or more of the following poets: al-Shanfara ( DT, p ), Labid ( DT, p ) and Dhu al-Rumma ( DT, p ). What do you think that these contrasts say about the different meanings of the poems? 3) As Michael Sells notes ( Desert Tracings, p. 4-5) metaphors in the pre-Islamic qasida often overrun their "bounds," leading from one metamorphosis to another through a chain of digressions and associations. Identify three such extended metaphors in any of the poems from Desert Tracings and describe what purpose these extended metaphors serve in terms of the overall meaning of the poem. Topics for Paper #1

2 The Desert in the Nasib, Rihla & “Boast” Nasib : wild animals, place names, deserted encampment, moisture, undomesticated fertility, natural permanence, denuded of humanity, silence, indeciferable Rihla : Heat, cold, rain, sun -> natural extremes, danger, excitement, proving ground, solitude, invigorating, breaking with lover and memory “Boast”: Heat, dust of battle, endured for society’s sake, guarding dependants

3 The Desert According to ‘Alqamah Nasib : Rihla: “Boast”: danger, inauspicious (owl’s cry), forage, drizzle, clouds -> eggs & fertility!, reunion w/mate, place of welcome to the “antisocial” Alqamah hardship faced with a “band of braves”, proving ground for collective responsibilities, hot, pestilent, blistering, hostile to the “social” Alqamah Beloved has moved on to “greener pastures”, place of abandonment, sorrow and loneliness

4 The Desert according to al-Shanfara By your life! It crowds on no man who travels by night, In fear or in desire, and keeps his wits about him … On how many a night of ill luck when the hunter burns his bow For fuel and his arrow wood Have I trodden through darkness and drizzle, on fire with hunger, Grinding inside, shivering, filled with dread … To how many a day of the dog star, when the sun drools heat And snakes writhe on the burning ground Have I turned my face, no veil to protect it But the tattered shreds of an Athami cloak

5 Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands (1959): A cloud gathers, the rain falls, men live; the cloud disperses without rain, and men and animals die. In the deserts of southern Arabia there is no rhythm of the seasons, no rise and fall of sap, but empty wastes where only the changing temperature marks the passage of the year. It is a bitter, desiccated land which knows nothing of gentleness or ease. Yet men have lived there since earliest times. Passing generations have left fire-blackened stones at camping sites, a few faint tracks polished on the gravel plains. Elsewhere the winds wipe out their footprints. Men live there because it is the world into which they were born; the life they lead is the life their forefathers led before them; they accept hardships and privations; they know no other way. ( Prologue)

6 “Telescoping” Metaphor What we have is not poetry that of necessity unfolds line by line, sequentially. That may happen, but more commonly new material appears to build on previous material then push it step by step in the background. In such cases, any line of a poem or of a section of a poem assumes a knowledge of the lines that have preceded it. Alan Jones, Early Arabic Poetry (vol. 1), p. 9

7 From Antara’s mu’allaqa : ‘Abla’s mouth -> draft of musk = untouched meadow -> pools of water [= silver dirhams] -> buzzing fly = humming wine drinker = one-armed man kindling a fire From qasida by Dhu al-Rumma: Mayya reveals [teeth] = petals of camomile -> Ráma oasis -> earth scent of garden -> musk pod From al-’A’sha’s mu’allqa : Hurayra’s saunter = tender-hoofed gazelle = gliding of a cloud -> anklets whisper = cassia rustling From qasida by ‘Alqamah: eye = water bag -> roan mare [hump = smith’s bellows] = spilling water = ripening fruit Naqa = oryx = ostrich -> mouth = split stick, -> chest = strings of a lyre, = water bird, --> ostrich -> voice = Greeks, wings & chest = caved in tent --> female ostrich & reunion!

8 The Rite-of-Passage Ritual (as articulated by Edmund Leach based the work of Arnold van Gennep [1960]): “[Rituals] which result in the change of ritual states of an initiate…always have a tripartite structure: (i) ‘a rite of separation,’ in which the initiate is separated from his/her original social role…is followed by (ii) a marginal state in which, temporarily, the initiate is outside society in a ‘tabooed’ condition which is ambivalently treated as dangerous-polluting or dangerous-holy. This is followed by (iii) ‘a rite of aggregation’ in which the initiate is brought back into society in his/her new social role.” (adapted from Suzanne Stetkevych, The Mute Immortals Speak, p. 56)

9 The Rite-Of-Passage paradigm in the Qasida? Nasíb: Movement away from society, separation, departure, youth, infertility, passivity, death, erasure, loss, memory Rihla: Transition, “In-between-ness” (liminality), margins, the desert, solitude, hardship, activity and agency, “the teenage years,” danger “Boast”: Self-affirmation, maturity, fertility, procreation, aggregation, self-sacrifice (for community), production, participation, social duties and rights


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