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38 38 A Ghazal by Abū Nuwās: On a Boy Called ʿAlī ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ت‬� ‫ا‬‫�ؤ‬�‫ي‬ �� ‫�ا‬‫م‬� ‫ا‬ ً ‫ر‬ ‫ج‬ � �‫�ا‬‫�ه‬‫و‬�� ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ت‬� ‫�ا‬ ‫ي‬ �‫ح‬ �‫ب‬ � ‫بً�ا‬ �‫ع‬ � ‫ا‬ � ‫ل‬ � � ‫�ا‬ ‫ي‬ �� ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ت‬� ‫ا‬‫�د‬ِ ‫ع‬ � ‫ي‬ � �‫�ب‬� ‫تً�ا‬ �ِ ‫�م‬ ‫ش‬ ���‫�م‬ ‫و‬�� ‫ي‬ � � ‫ل‬�� ‫ص�ا‬� �ِ ‫و‬�� ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫ا‬ ً ‫�ه�د‬‫ا‬ ‫�ز‬ ‫و‬�� yā lāʿiban bi-ḥayātī wa-hājiran mā yuʾātī wa-zāhidan fī wiṣālī wa-mushmitan bī ʿidātī141 Meter (al-mujtathth): XLSL XSLL / XLSL XSLL. Abū Nuwās was the first great Arabic poet to cultivate the genre of ghazal mudhakkar, love poetry about boys, although he also produced ghazal muʾannath, about women. Arabic homoerotic poetry is not known before the Abbasid period and references to homosexuality, although not absent, are rare; consequently, Arabs both ancient and modern have ascribed its introduction to the Persians.142 You who play with my life, who shun me and play hard-to-get, You who are stingy with your trysts and make my enemies gloat, Taking my heart away from me, planted on a lance tip, And who unjustly has confined my passion to my soul, unable to speak it: This is a letter meant for you, my tears its ink, Its contents my heart’s yearning for you, myself laid open. If only you would hear my excuse or accept my innocence 5 39 39 39 39 Abū Nuwās My sleepless eyes would not observe the rising stars. You peerless novelty, beyond description! Your face is the full moon, Your eyes those of desert gazelles, Uniquely blessed among those gazelles that143 Explore meadows in winter or summer pastures. Frail of frame, near-falling, slender-necked, You have the body of a boy, though you flirt like a girl. Male in your appearance, female in private; Locks like a pretty girl, with curls in ringlets Above smooth cheeks lighting the dark, And a moustache starting to sprout: That is the one I shall not name, for I respect my friends. But when I can take it no more, I mention him by spelling out his name: An A, an L, an I: such a sweet sound they make! 10 15 20 ...


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