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53 53 A Qaṣīdah by Ibn al-Rūmī: A Party at ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Ṣāliḥ al-Hāshimī’s ِ‫ق‬ � � َ ‫ل‬�� َ ‫ع‬ � ‫ن‬ �‫م‬�‫و‬�� ‫ة‬ � ‫أ‬ �� ْ ‫�م‬ َ ‫ح‬ � ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ع‬ ‫ر‬ ‫ب�ا‬ �‫ل‬� � ‫ا‬ ‫م‬ �‫ر‬‫ك‬ � � �‫ل‬�� ‫ا‬ ‫ق‬ � � ‫ل‬� � ‫�خ�ا‬ � ‫ه‬‫لل‬‫ا‬ ‫ك‬‫ر‬ ‫ب�ا‬ �‫�ت‬� ِ‫ق‬ � � َ ‫��س‬ َ‫�غ‬ �‫ل‬� � ‫ا‬ َ ‫ي‬ � � ِ‫ش‬ ���‫ا‬‫و‬� ‫�غ‬ � ‫و‬�‫ل‬��‫�ج‬ �‫ي‬ � ‫ر‬‫�د‬‫ب‬ �‫ل‬� � ‫�ا‬‫ك‬ � �� ‫ى‬ � ً‫ت‬ � ‫ف‬� � � ‫ب‬ �‫�ا‬‫ن‬ � ‫�ج‬ � ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫�اه‬‫ن‬ �‫ي‬ �‫ع‬ �‫ر‬ ‫ا‬ ‫�ا�ذ‬ ‫م‬� tabāraka llāhu khāliqu l-karami l- bāriʿu min ḥamʾatin wa-min ʿalaqī mādhā raʿaynāhu fī janābi fatan kal- badri yajlū ghawāshiya l-ghasaqī167 Meter (al-munsariḥ): XXSL LSLS LSSL / XXSL LSLS LSSL. The poem begins as a eulogy (with some twenty rather unremarkable lines), on the patron, Abū l-Faḍl ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Ṣāliḥ, a rather obscure member of the ruling Abbasid dynasty.168 More interesting is the description of a drinking party in ʿAbd al-Malik’s house, which serves as an excuse for singing the praises of a black slave girl belonging to him, in highly erotic, even pornographic style. The section on the black girl is often quoted in medieval anthologies. The anthologist al-Ḥuṣrī (Zahr al-ādāb, pp. 274–277) praises the poem because of its original and unconventional argument in favor of the color black.169 Perhaps because of the presence of the erotic passage in the course of the poem the poet has dispensed with a nasīb (“amatory introduction.”) Blessed be God, creator of munificence, who made mankind from mud and clotted blood! Such things we saw in the protection of a man like the full moon, dispelling twilight’s gloom! All times are, through his bounties, like the springtime in its loveliness. More famous for his bounty among men than Piebald Palace, for all its colors;170 A valiant man who thinks that glory is impaired by being glorified, a box without a lid. 5 54 54 54 54 Verse He dearly pays for praise, even though it robs him of everything except the barest needs.171 You’ll find in him, if you desire, a pasture lush or else a flowing well; Thus one may graze there, without fear of surfeit, or one drinks there without fear of being choked. His name is Abū l-Faḍl, “Favor’s Father,” favor’s refuge—I speak not out of flattery. The best of names for men to have are those not arrogated falsely, names not stolen. He, ʿAbd al-Malik has adorned himself with necklaces of splendid favors172 as of old. He uses money, when he has it, as protection like coats of mail or shields.173 His kin are the Abbasids, noble folk, leaders, at the forefront from the start. He is a sea of seas: you stay with him and you’ll be buffeted by waves of his munificence. His bucket overflows with boons for those who ask for them. His hands give freely and his tongue speaks freely when approached for gifts: A gift of goods and one of wisdom, in one man most perfectly combined. He strives for any aim that is extreme, never yet sought, never achieved, Like an unstumbling noble steed, without knock-knees that might impair his speed. A witness testifying to his noble stock is his pure character, unstained. His excellence makes him the meeting-place of every creed or sect or tendency. We fell on fertile ground with him, a pasture ground, or rain-soaked land. A singer like a bird sang at his place for us, a first-class singer, and no mere supporting act.174 10 15 20 55 55 55 55 Ibn al-Rūmī He sang, and he revived our happiness, even when he found it on the point of death. He whose good fortune makes him drink with him at dawn will still be drinking in the evening. He pours the wine for them: they drink like Pharaoh when he drowned.175 His old and modern songs both give delight; the new and threadbare, both sound new with him.176 His only fault is that he is a man who calls upon wise people to be frivolous. The good things that he brings upset a sober man but soothe someone who is upset. His nickname: “Piece of Well-Being and Peace”: peace be upon those pieces!177 It’s Abū Sulaymān, the master of what’s right and beautiful, the son of princes, not the common crowd. How beautiful that singing, in duet with the sad cooing of the doves, From one with many-colored, finely-woven clothes, from gloom of night to snowy white, While we are given wine to drink, poured in profusion, praised by pleasant company...


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