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93 93 Rajaz Rajaz is the simplest Arabic meter (a basic foot of XXSL, not unlike an ancient Greek iambic metron;296 lines are normally short and not divided into two hemistichs) and generally believed to be the oldest. There are some early pieces that are irregular and difficult to distinguish from early sajʿ. Poetry in rajaz was never accepted as being on a par with poetry in other meters (collectively called qarīḍ, sometimes qaṣīd), which is one reason why I have banished it to the end of the poetry section (compare Abū l-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī’s description of the rajaz poets on the outskirts of heaven, below). It was used for short, improvized utterances, for instance at the beginning of a battle, such as the lines attributed to Hind bint ʿUtbah given below. In early Islamic times rajaz was also used for longer poems, notably by some specialists who were very popular with lexicographers because of their extravagantly large and exotic vocabulary.297 Abū Nuwās and others employed it especially in poems describing hunting animals such as dogs, falcons, or cheetahs. Rajaz was also used for longer narrative poetry (see the comic poem by Abū l-Ḥakam al-Maghribī translated below) and didactic verse (as in the fragments by Abū l-ʿAtāhiyah and Ibn Mālik, below), in which monorhyme was normally abandoned in favor of paired rhyme (aabbccdd…), which allowed for poems of indefinite length. Such versified knowledge has no literary pretensions ; it is different from the “educational” but entertaining verse illustrated below by Ibn Makānis’s poem. ...


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