Zarqā' Al-Yamāma in the modern Arabic poetry, a comparative reading

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Abstract

Since the beginning of the 1950s Arabic poets have demonstrated a clear, sometimes even excessive, predilection for legendary characters and events in their writings, occasionally resulting in obscurity. This tendency helped to raise the level of dramatic expression in poetry, at the expense of musicality and rhythm. With time the narrative nature of poetic writing became ever more clearly a salient feature in the evolution of Arabic poetry, accompanied by important stylistic, artistic and formal changes as well. Simultaneously with these changes interest grew in folk literature, various aspects of which, especially folktales, imposed themselves as one of the most vital and significant sources of Arabic poetry. A number of poets took inspiration from these tales, or from some of their characters, and turned them into instruments of artistic expression. Among the most prominent of these poets we may count Amal Dunqul and 'Izz al-Dīn al-Manāscombining dot belowra. The present study presents a comparative reading of poems written by these two writers, with a focus on uncovering the folk elements in them, providing an analysis of the artistic features of each poem, and inquiring into the extent to which folktale and folktale techniques entered into their overall artistic structure. A thorough investigation has revealed that al-Manāscombining dot belowra pioneered the literary use of the character of Zarqā' al-Yamāma as a pivotal element in the text, something which no modern Arab poet did before him. He was followed in this by Amal Dunqul with his poem 'Crying before Zarqā' al-Yamām' (al-Bukā' bayna yaday Zarqā' al-Yamām), which became better-known than the poem of his predecessor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-328
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Semitic Studies
Volume53
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

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