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جذور الشعر العربي مرجوليوث


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جذور الشعر العربي مرجوليوث

  1. 1. The Origins of Arabic Poetry Author(s): D. S. Margoliouth Source: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 3 (Jul., 1925), pp. 417-449 Published by: Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland Stable URL: Accessed: 13/01/2010 09:48 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
  2. 2. The of Arabic Origins * Poetry By D. S. MARGOLIOUTH of poets in Arabia before the rise of Islam one Surah contains by the Qur'an, which alludes to them elsewhere. named after them, and occasionally of the Prophet given by his opponents Among the descriptions " was a Jinn-ridden there (xxxvii, 35), to which he poet" existence rpHE is certified In another passage that he has brought the truth. the suggestions that he was a kdhin, a jinn-ri&den (Iii, 29) Since those who man, and a poet are offered as alternatives. described him as a poet said they would wait to see what would replies happen to him (Iii, 30) it might be inferred that poets were in the habit of foretelling Elsewhere he asserts the future. that his language is not that of a poet, but rather of an honourable messenger (lxix, 41), and that God had not taught him poetry, which would have been of no use to him (xxxvi, 69); " were his utterances and clear lesson ", whence statement we should infer that poetry was obscure. These hints about the poets name are in the summarized Surah are that bears their 224, foil.), they are rave in every valley, and say what followed by the misguided, seem to except certain they do not do. The sequel might bards from this condemnation, but the style of the pious renders it uncertain whether this exception Qur'an really where (xxvi, applies to bards. that the demons they descend communicate we told that it might be inferred precedes on poets; descend for it is asserted that on every guilty to whom they fabricator, This seems to rumour, mostly mendaciously. From what 1 The of this paper was treated in a monograph subject by Ahlwardt der alien ilber die AechtJieit arabischen Gedichte, Bemerkungen in the Preface to vol. ii of his 1872, and by Sir C. Lyall Greifswald, The former is not very confident, and calls attention to Mufa(l4aliyyat. some of tho matters which have been discussed rather more ; fully below called Sir C. Lyall rates rather deals chiefly more highly with than tho character tho present of tho writer. transmitters, which ho
  3. 3. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 418 refer to the practice 10) of eavesdropping which stars. they And ascribed to the demons elsewhere (xxxvii, councils, an offence for are punished by being fired at with shooting this again brings the poets into connexion with at the heavenly prophecy. If by poetry the same be meant are confronted with as in the later literature, we a slight puzzle : Mohammed, who was not acquainted with the art, was aware that his revelations were not in verse; whereas the Meccans, who presumably knew poetry when they heard or saw it, thought they were. should have expected the converse. Perhaps we might infer that a poet was in general known rather by his matter than by the form of his utterances ; whence the repudiation not to the absence of regularity in the form of the points We but to the nature of the matter communicated. utterances, " " we have not taught him poetry Yet the text certainly of some artifice which distinguished implies the existence the poetic style, and which had to be learned. the tone of this last text seems decidedly different However, In the others the poetic gift is from that of the others. to be poetry, and the the Qur'an is thought repudiated; is rebutted. But here it would rather seem as though charge the absence of poetic artifice was excused ; it is no longer something which the audience find there when it ought not to be there, but something absence is justified. which they desiderate, and whose The passages cited are to some extent at least in accordance solemn engage with later ideas. Poets at times repudiated on the ground that the Qur'an declared them to be ments that they were liars by profession.1 They not only admitted inspired by Jinn, but could at times name these internal" " monitors.2 they rave in every valley Though the words " are probably metaphorical, and mean they exercise their on all subjects indiscriminately ",3 they can also imagination 1 Aghani, 2 Letters 8 Raghib ed. 2, xiii, of Abu'l-'Ala, Ispahan!. 48, 66, 23. 25.
  4. 4. THE ORIGINS OP ARABIC POETRY be 419 in in every valley", and they philander most poems commence with an erotic this, wherein the poet does what has been described. The himself is represented in some stories as displaying rendered" accordance situation Prophet the very with crassest ignorance of the poetic art,1 and according asserted that a man's inside had better be 2 than with poetry; rather filled with anything yet verses were actually attributed to him,3 occasionally he appears as to one tradition a critic of poetry,4 and a reciter of it,6 and there tradition wherein he bestows his approval on it. In the very considerable mass of pre-Islamic is a familiar inscriptions which we now possess in a variety of dialects there is nothing a fact which is especially noteworthy in in verse; whatever the case of the funereal inscriptions, since most literary nations introduce verse into compositions of this sort. Thus Latin literature commences with the epitaphs of the Scipios which are in Saturnian metre. Of the recently discovered though at present unintelligible Lydian inscriptions a goodly number are in metre. From the old Arabic inscriptions then we should not have guessed that the Arabs had any notion of metre or which they rhyme, though in many respects the civilization When, however, the Qur'an represent was highly advanced. it is reason speaks of poetry as something requiring teaching, able to suppose that it refers to these artifices, which imply with since the Arabic the alphabet, rhyme acquaintance means the repetition of the same group of consonants, and a grammatical system, sinoe the metre depends on the difference between long and short syllables and the association of certain terminations with certain senses. with of the Qur'an entitles us is that before its appearance there were among the " as certain known ; their fortune-tellers, poets" Perhaps to assume Arabs then what the evidence 1 xx, 2. xiii, 64; Agh. of Ibn Hanbal, Musnad 3 on xxxvi, Baidawi 69. 4 xi, 76, 23. Agh. 5 TalbU Iblls, 240. 2 ii, 331.
  5. 5. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 420 language would be likely to be obscure, as is always the case with oracles ; and since the earliest Delphic oracle which we possess commences:? " I know the sea of the the accuracy questionable number " of the and sand the measures of these persons' statements might be sufficiently to justify the description of them given in the Qur'an. Now of the early poetry taken by the poet and at the beginning of the third Tammam In words which are some is very different. the view Abu antiquarian century of Islam obscure, yet not unlike some used by Horace, he asserts that with the primitive Arabs no glories were retained save that they were the such as were securely fettered by odes; of battles and other scenes of importance, and were guardians " even called limited monarchy ", a phrase which perhaps what means that within limits the tribe which had the best the others.1 The poets according to this are certain poet dominated not unintelligible but the recorders oracle-mongers, which their talent enables them to immortalize. of events, And this the contemporary, by Abu Tammam's not quite easy to reconcile It is polygraph Jal.iiz of Basrah.2 and indeed the general this theory with the statements, view is maintained It applies very well to Abu Tammam's attitude, of the Qur'an. own Dlwan, which the exploits of his patrons, immortalizes and fairly such as the storming of Amorium by Mu'tasim; since well to the fragments collected by him in his Hamasah, in character. many of these are historical or autobiographical So far from poets saying what they do not do, they are here or supposed to be recording what they have actually done seen done ; and indeed if any Arab from the time of Ishmael the memory onwards does anything he appears to perpetuate of it in an ode. perpetuated But constitutes 1 2 Dlwan, Bayan, a body of odes wherein is history a literature such as by no means Beyrut, ii, 184. 1889, p. 83.
  6. 6. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 421 the contemptuous language used by the Qur'an, and whose existence, as we shall see, other passages of the Qur'an seem absolutely to exclude. commence The Moslem who however, archaeologists, merits the end of the Umayyad period, not only maintain was a body of classical literature of this sort in that there pagan Arabia, but claim to produce large portions of it. Theie is reason for thinking that those who first produced it had to towards encounter some ; when Khalil (ob. 170) produced his metrical from the Arab learned, he averred, system, wrote a book to prove the tribes, one of his contemporaries a fiction.1 When whole the Arab versification is system scepticism one of our is far from clear; supposed to have commenced 2 another can trace it to Adam; can produce authorities Arabic odes of the time of Ishmael.3 the South Though in their own compose their inscriptions verses in which, according to the and dialects, the languages Moslem they frequently indulged were in the archaeologists, Arabian monarchs Arabic of the Qur'an.4 be that Arabic poetry afterwards stereotyped The general view seems, however, to at any rate in the forms which were at most a few generations commenced before the rise of Islam. Pere Cheikho 6 accepts the view of G that the Aghani brother of Kulaib, whose floruit Muhalhil, was a.d. 531, and who is mentioned as one of the glories of the Bakr b. Wa'il,7 was the first to compose long poems and is meant by a long poem is love into them. What seem to be something over twenty lines, since a poet, al-Barraq, whom Cheikho dates a.d. 470, is credited with an ode of that length.8 We get something more precise in the case of al-Aghlab, who is said to have been the introduce not clear ; it would 1 Irshad, ii, 366, 5. 2 al-Dlialiab, i, 65. Muruj 3 104. xiii, Agh. 4 Tabarl, i, 906; xiii, 118; Agh. 6 Poetes Arabes Chretiens, p. 160. 6 iv, 148, 11. 7 xx, 15, 27. Agh. * 142. PAO. xx, 9.
  7. 7. THE ORIGINS OP ARABIC POETRY 422 first to compose that more than long poems in rejez ; by long it is explained a couple of verses is meant.1 This person in 23 a.h. As is said to have died at the battle of Nihawand he was aged ninety at the time, his birth would synchronize a with the floruit of Muhalhil. Nevertheless high authority asserted that the first composer of more than a couple of verses in rejez was al-'Ajjaj, who lived in Umayyad times.2 is also by no means uncontested ; on the one hand poems with erotic prologues are cited from far earlier on the other there is high authority for the assertion times;3 that the first poet was Imru'ul-Qais, who is somewhat later Muhalhil's claim than Muhalhil.4 Similarly A'sha of Qais, whose death-rate according to Cheikho was a.d. 629, is said to have been the 6 but first poet who devoted his muse to mendicity; 'Abid b. al-Abras, who is far earlier, is quite a master of this form of art,6 and 'Antarah of 'Abs, who is somewhat earlier, is by no averse from or unacquainted with the practice. It is probable that Muhalhil's claim is based on his name, " as which means maker of fine textiles", interpreted " of the name as fabrics ", while the interpretation poetical " " fabricator led to the remarkable view that he was the means first poet who departed from the strict truth.7 If we regard the story which ascribes to him the invention as historical, that he it must be admitted we possess an imposing row For imitators. of volumes the collected works of a very large containing number of poets who belong to the period which separates of the qasidah found numerous his invention ten Mu'allaqdt most of which number The reputed authors of the from the hijrah. " " are all authors of diwdns or collected Odes have been published and run into a considerable of pages. There are, besides, several poets 1 Cf. 164. xviii, Agh. 2 Muzhir, ii, 243. 3 b. Nahd). Agh. xi, 154 (Khuzaimah 4 'Amr b. al-'Ala). ii, 184 (after Abu Jahi?, Bayan, 6 viii, 75. Agh. 6 7 Ed. Lyall, 57, 9. iv, 148. Agh. equally
  8. 8. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY are not 423 among the ten Immortals. from the poets of particular the odes emanating tribes were collected into Corpora, and one such Corpus has prolific, Further been who Since printed. included these odes from their nature imply with the alphabet, and frequently allude to acquaintance the pre-Islamic Arabs who used the dialect of the writing, must have been a highly literary community ; ancient Q.ur'an can scarcely exhibit so many votaries of the Muses. Greece to Our first question must be: this literature Supposing how was it preserved ? It must have been The former seems to either orally or in writing. preserved be genuine, be the view favoured by the indigenous authorities, though, be seen, not universally The second Caliph is held. that though the pagan poetry was quoted for the assertion the early days of Islam and the years which neglected during were crowded with conquests, when more peaceful times came as will no to the study ; they had, however, to which they could refer, and as most of the Arabs?i.e., those who had been converted from paganism?were either killed or had died a natural of the poetry had perished, and only a little death, most the Moslems written returned books or collections survived.1 It is clearly an anachronism to to ascribe this statement the second Caliph ; the quiet time did not come till the reign some thirty years after his death. of the first Umayyad, It is a little survived, also absurd to say that only if what is row of volumes. meant be a whole If, however, numerous of considerable this can length were orally preserved, have been because there were persons whose business it only was to commit them to memory and hand them on to others. We have no reason for thinking that such a profession existed odes or that it could have survived the early decades 1 Muzhir, i, 121. 2 des Rois des Perses, Ilistoire Tha'alibl, Zaid as the rawiyah of the people of Hirah. The Rdwl of tho people by a Persian king. i, 358) is Islamic. 556, He mentions of Kufah recited of Islam.2 Sawwar b. verses Arabic (Mubarrad, Kamil,
  9. 9. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 424 " " all that was before it ; the Qur'an states that those who follow the poets are misguided, and its language There was then a about them is harsh and contemptuous. if any the pre-Islamic poetry, strong reason for forgetting Islam cancelled existed, and yet another that was likely to work powerfully. The deeds which the ballads are supposed ordinarily to have were commemorated inter-tribal Islam, which victories; aimed at uniting and greatly all such recollections the Arabs succeeded in achieving of this kind ; ballads this, discouraged could only stir up bad blood. And indeed such ballads, unless they are committed to writing, have a tendency to be forgotten. were and Further the Bedouins regarded as untrustworthy x whence an indeed reckless in their assertions about verses ; oral tradition credibility. There remains maintained the in writing. preserved shone over the world, asked who could have they would for it would them by could claim little that the odes were other possibility, If, as one of them asserts, such verses and when they were recited people that composed them,2 the probability to writing would be considerable be committed ; have been a profitable business to multiply copies. allusions to writing are very common in this literature,3 and some poets even speak of it in connexion with their own verses. A pre-Islamic in the Hudhail versifier collection " a message wherewith new scrolls gleam, wrherein desires that Now for for him that will read ",4 be conveyed is writing to his own ode. The commentators doubtless ; referring And suppose him to mean Himyari writing on palm-leaves. indeed it is actually recorded that certain Arabic verses were there him in the Himyari script on the back of by one Qaisabah two others were written saddle ;6 while by a courtier written his 1 Agh. xi, 100, 3. xii, 123, 4. Agh. 3 Harith, Mu'allaqah, ? parchments 4 13, 6. Kosogarten, 5 xi, 125, 21. Agh. 2 67, speaks of treaties written on mahuriq *
  10. 10. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 425 in a sealed document, of a Himyari prince, Dhu'l-Ru'ain, the nature of the script is not stated.1 The Himyari though King Dhu Jadan, whose skeleton of enormous dimensions was at San'a, had above his head a tablet where there Avas an inscription in rhymed prose, in classical Arabic, only in the Himyari character.2 Most then his verses likely discovered were The pre-Islamic by him to writing.3 " on a a poem with the title poet Laqit composed Writing in the Jezirah ", to warn scroll from Laqit to the Iyadites also committed a punitive by some Persian king.4 expedition even quotes a maxim which A pre-Islamic is read off poet a one who dictates.6 then there would parchment by Perhaps of these odes if inconsistent with the statements be nothing them against we in writing. imagined them to be regularly circulated of a pre-Islamic Yet the existence in classical literature or indeed in any other the dialect of the Qur'an in the Himyari, at variance with the statements script, seems too flagrantly " and assumptions of the Qur'an to be entertained. Have " a book wherein ye study ? it asks the Meccans ye (lxviii, 37); " " Have and do they write ? it asks of its they the mystery opponents (ibid. 47). Those to whom it is addressed were a fathers had received people whose " to whom no previous admonisher no warning (xxxvi, 5) ; " had come (xxxii, 2 : the Jews and Christians, xxviii, 46); only two communities, had revealed books (vi, 157) ; the pagans had nothing of the kind. This is a matter on which it is difficult to suppose that the Qur'an could be mistaken to the Hindus ; a missionary might could condemn their books not well their as valueless existence. And and pernicious ; he if the pre-Islamic deny poetry was written, the pagans had plenty of books (and, indeed, " " books) which perhaps were unedifying?though, inspired as we shall see, they were by no means so?yet exclusively 1 2 3 Agh. Agh. xx, 8, iv, 37. 13. writes a poem. xii, 112, Shamardal Agh. xx, 24. 5 Diwan ed. Kosegarton, 115, of Hudhail, 4 Agh. 2.
  11. 11. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 426 to give have been the sufficient which affirmative cited, assumes will be answered but answer which the to the questions Qur'an certainly in the negative. is normally, the process of literary development Latin from the irregular to the regular. perhaps invariably, numerus calls horridus Me literature begins with what Horace Further are adopted, but the Greek metres presently is at first very rough ; after a century and a half adaptation set an example of regularity which others Virgil and Horace Saturnius; The Arabic literary styles, rhymed prose and to the style of the Qur'an ; both bear some resemblance verse, are parts of the Qur'an which there only the extremely " orthodox deny to be in prose ", and of many a rhymed The illustration.1 metre offers an occasional the Qur'an have to follow. process from the Qur'anic style to the regular styles would and if the then seem to be in accordance with analogy; Qur'an were the first work in the language which displayed eloquence would be some literary art, its claim to miraculous ; it would not be thing which people could easily understand different from that which is claimed for or by others who very into a language. have for the first time introduced versification to rhymed But if the audience had already been accustomed prose and verse of the finish and elaboration which is displayed in these styles, in the ostensibly performances pre-Islamic to substantiate. the claim would at the least have been harder is a priori, and Still it may be said that this last argument of themselves that where the Moslems impugn the veracity it. Thus the the Qur'an others are not justified in believing author of the Aghani, who is a Moslem, quotes as a genuine one b. Nufail, ode by the precursor of Mohammed, Waraqah them wherein he declares that he is an admonisher, bidding the This flatly contradicts worship none but their Creator.2 as has been seen, asserts that the Meccans had Qur'an, which, b. before Mohammed. had no such admonisher Qudam 1 2 See Wright's iii, 16. Grammar, ii, 359.
  12. 12. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 427 in the poem which bears his name (a.d. 400-80) of the Qur'an in many details, and the warnings anticipates Qadim to his people in the given religious guidance that the sense.1 Hence when the Qur'an declares is not bound had no books, even a Moslem apparently pagans to show is that to believe it; what, however, we propose of such written literature those who maintained the existence to have claims Moslem were of credence than the Prophet, less worthy considerably if we reject the Moslem view of his character. even we Before believe in the stories about Arabic verses be desirable in the Himyari character it would to see some specimens. One would like to see how the cali of Harith, in this script dealt with the Mu'allaqah grapher are divided numerous in which words between the two written It is a principle of the S. Arabian scripts to mark a perpendicular this would not line; by caesura is common; in verse, where further look elegant seems well suited to Arabic verse the ordinary Arabic script or can easily extend on the ground that the caligrapher contract his words so that the whole composition is "justified ", but this process would scarcely be possible in the South Arabian hemistichs. the end of a word if such could be discovered, might Still a specimen, writing. silence this objection. In the history of Islam we come across notices of written of poetry before prose works are mentioned ; accord to Tabari some one in the year 83 found in a castle in the ing a volume of poems by Abu Jildah al-Yash desert of Kirman volumes kuri; a Kufan at quotes the events fellow-citizen length of the year it is scarcely The object. had written the book.2 He also a poem referring to by A'sha of Hamdan which was concealed at the time ; 65, to conceal anything but a material possible a code for the jurist Abu Yusuf, who compiled = use of Harun al-Rashid mentions among 788-809), (180-93 i.e. the theft of which is articles in which there is no property, 1 See GrifTini, 2 ii, 1102, 6. // Poemetto di Qtidam ben Qadim, Rome, 1918.
  13. 13. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 428 not punishable by the ordinary process, the Qur'an and the leaves wrhereon are verses ; x the most natural interpretation of this rule is that the only books the Qur'an were volumes besides given as having been formulated death-date is 150. Tabari records a collection of Arabic in familiar use at the time of verse; by Abu and the rule is whose Hanifah, that a little after this date (probably pre-Islamic) poetry was made by order of the Caliph Mahdi (158-69).2 The Hamasah of Abu which Tammam, from written materials.3 of poetry with Islamic poetry that their writing in great sources were a generation later, was made was this early association Perhaps it which led some who produced pre is about to favour the supposition quantities al documents. written Hammad who was one of these benefactors of (a.h. 95-155), Rawiyah the community, is supposed to have asserted that the Lakhmid 4 ordered that the Nu'man (a.d. 580-602) poems of the Arabs should be copied on boards,5 and buried in his White Palace in Hirah. When the adventurer Mukhtar b. Abi 'Ubaid came to Kufah buried was in a.h. 65 he was informed that there was a treasure in this Palace ; he dug it up and this collection of poetry to light. this story really goes back Supposing to account its purpose was doubtless for the brought to Hammad, fact that he knew quantities of pre-Islamic poems and verses which were known to no one else. In the Aghani he is charged 6 and his with shameless MufaMal forgery; contemporary Al-Dabbi declared that he had corrupted poetry beyond the In one of the anecdotes he and Mufadcjal hope of recovery.7 are summoned by the Caliph Mahdi?the occasion must have his Caliphate, been before since that began 158, wrhereas Hammad died 155?and asked to explain a verse of Zuhair, 1 Kitdb 105. al-Kliaraj, 2 ii, 841, 21. 3 Tabrlzi's Preface. 4 See Die Dynastie Rothstoin, 6 Ibn Jinni, KJiasd'is, Cairo, " by quires ". 6 v, 172, ed. 1 ; 163, ed. 2. 7 Agh. v, 172. der Lakhmiden, 1899. i, 393 ; ho wrongly 1914, rendor3 tunuj
  14. 14. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 429 begins an ode with the words quit this. Mufacjhjal declared explained the difficulty as well as he could ;Hammad that the ode did not begin with that line, but with three under oath he confessed others which preceded it. Presently which that these however, maintained lines had been fabricated by himself. They figure,, our editions.1 The antiquarians of Kufah of verses known to have been the genuineness in for the entertainment of the composed by this Hammad to earlier poets.a and assigned al-Qasri, governor Khalid on the authority of al-Nahhas It is asserted by Yaqut, a.h. 331), that the seven Mu'allaqat were collected by this (ob. Hammad ; one could wish their discovery had been made by some one more respectable. in Kufah The other authority for the early poetry, Jannad,a was one who, like Hammad, recited much, but had little knowledge. the early collectors of poetry were for the Like Hammad, of forgery persons whose scruples in the matter a contemporary of Hammad and One Barzakh, slight. on whose authority he recited certain Jannad, when asked verses ascribed to Imru'ul-Qais, replied on his own, which most part were he regarded Somewhat as sufficient.4 was Khalaf al-Ahmar, whose and who was the instructor of the 180, most eminent antiquarians. He too has a bad reputation, of and in a story which Ibn Khallikan gives on the authority Abu Zaid confesses that he circulated forgeries of his own in as ancient poems ; alarmed by an illness, he acknow Kufah death-date later than Hammad was about the Kufans, ledged his guilt to " bamboozle found it easier to but like many another man " " ' than to de-bamboozle of his, Abu 'Amr b. al-'Ala, ob. 154, who has A contemporary a great name as an antiquary, confessed that he had inserted 1 2 PAG. 540; Ahlwardt, xiii, 4, end.. Agh. 3 ii, 426, 3. Irshftd, 4 ii, 366, 18. Irshad, p. 81, etc.
  15. 15. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 430 a line of his own in a poem of al-A'sha;x one wonders whether inserted more than one. A disciple of Khalaf, one of the best known collections who made of al-Asma'i, he had not and early poetry, asserted that he had stayed in Medinah, failed to see there a single sound poem ; those which were not Yet he does not seem to have been corrupt were spurious.2 It was over-critical. recorded and hear go to the Bedouins take them down on his tablets of one Kaisan their that he used recitations. and transfer them He to would in altered ; he would alter them again before he to memory, and yet again before he com them to others. Clearly not much of the original form to his notebooks them committed municated by this time have as a good authority.3 him The great collector Abu been would left. Yet al-Asma'i regarded 'Amr Shaibani (ob. 205) was found a few to possess a case containing of pounds' weight only at their paucity, he replied books ; when some one wondered that for a genuine collection Yet they were numerous.4 was not free from spurious matter even this small collection ; the author of the Aghani quotes from a work of his a lengthy ode ostensibly by a pre-Islamic clearly an Islamic fabrication.6 It may poet, and declares it to be that the opinion which these eminent had of each other was often by no means high. be added antiquarians Ibn al-A'rabi nor Abu 'Ubaidah thought neither al-Asma'i was any good at all; 6 they probably returned the compliment, and certainly took the same view of each other. The better standard than that century seems to have been no second. We have two stories of of the third of the an antiquary of this period, on whom the warmest Mubarrad, encomia are lavished. He visits a man of eminence, who asks 1 iii, 23. Agh. Irsliad, vi, 110. 3 Irshdd, vi, 215. 4 IrsMd, ii, 236, 5. 6 Agh. xiii, 4. 6 IrsMd, vii, 5, 13. 2
  16. 16. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 431 of a word in the Tradition the meaning ; not knowing it, Mubarrad makes a guess, for which the great man solicits " an authority. Mubarrad without hesitation the produces " verse of the poet as a proof passage. Then another learned visitor arrives, who is asked the same question. He happens him to know the right answer, and gives the word its true meaning ; verse is brought out by the great man, Mubarrad's Mubarrad confesses that he had composed it for the occasion.1 Another time some people who suspected Mubarrad's proof a word and send to ask Mubarrad fabricate the passages when that the word means ; he replies without hesitation meaning once to cite a verse to prove it. The cotton, and proceeds at of the questioners, performance wins the admiration equally whether It the answers be true or not.2 is in accordance with these facts that we occasionally information about quite important disconcerting of verse. It has been seen that we are in possession of the Corpus of the works of the poets of the tribe Hudhail, get highly collections and this tribe was thought to be the most poetical of all the the grammarian Ahmad b. Faris of the fourth Islamic ;3 century visited the tribe in its home, and could not find that any member of the tribe knew the name of one of these poets ; at best those among the tribesmen who possessed any poetical taste could recite some commonplace lines which had no tribes connexion with their tribe.4 the collector of the Sukkari, a century before; one would have thought Corpus, that the compilation would have led to increased study of the lived odes among the tribe whence they emanated, but apparently it had the opposite effect. At an earlier period, though the names of the poets were known, there was great uncertainty as to the attribution of the odes.6 There was a considerable amount of poetry attributed to a poet known as the Majnun 1 Irsted, 2 3 Muzhir, 4 5 JRAS. JULY 1925. Irshad, Irshad, Agh. 28 i, 126. 138. vii, ii, 242. ii, 8, 5. xx, 19, 3 a.f.
  17. 17. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 432 of the Banu every heard An antiquary took the trouble to consult family of this tribe, but found no one who had ever of him.1 For all that, it was possible somehow to find 'Amir. out his name or names tenth and even to trace his ancestry to the a whole of quantity conversations. lengthy to and discover generation, detail, biographical quite including The names of two of the romancers are in this In some other but cases we those are told of the works not only case recorded.2 the names of which Yazid forgers, they forged. b. Mufarrigh was the fabricator of the story of the Himyari to him.3 The verses king Tubba* and of the poems attributed in the Life of the Prophet by Ibn Ishaq, probably incorporated the earliest prose work in classical Arabic, were made to 4 in order ; several cases the editor Ibn Hisham notices their but there is little, if any, reason for supposing spuriousness, of them to be genuine. career by composing poetical The any verses poet Nusaib began which he attributed his to of the tribes Damrah b. Bakr b. 'Abd celebrated members Manat and Khuza'ah. these verses had won the When admiration of leading men in these tribes, Nusaib felt confident a of his poetic gift.6 the experiment Doubtless indicated scientific mind, but if the admiration of the tribal leaders was it is likely that the verses would be cherished as the genuine, work of the ancient bards ; it would scarcely have been in Nusaib's to undeceive the poet Similarly Ja'far b. al-Zubair, brother of the anti-Caliph is 'Abdallah, said to have attributed his own verses to Omar b. Abi Rabi'ah, power them. and these verses were into the diwan It must Caliphs in consequence, of the latter.6 be added and others we are told, introduced was given by that good encouragement to forgers. When Mufaol(Jal and Hammad 1 2 3 4 6 6 Agh. Ibid., i, 161, 10. i, 170. Agh. xvii, 52. 1. Agh. vi, 40, i, 126. Agh. xiii, 16. IrsMd, 102,
  18. 18. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 433 the former in the way described to Mahdi above, who had forged and the higher reward, but Hammad, got offered 10,000 al-Rashid lied, was well paid also. Harun to any one who could recite an ode by al-Aswad dirhems acted b. Ya'f ur ; it ismost surprising to read that though all the Arab were present, chieftains from Syria, Arabia, and Mesopotamia some other occasions no one responded.1 to readiness On recite an ode that a Caliph wanted led to an immediate rise of stipend.2 and even more brother of the Caliph Mu'tamid, Muwaffaq, powerful than lie, desired his vizier to furnish him with poems to whom the vizier applied, declared But a rival scholar, Tha'lab, to whom was then made, was in the fortunate position of having appeal been collecting for the last fifty years. Jewish poetry He produced his Corpus, and his fortune was secured. by Jews ; Mubarrad, that he knew of none. to the Owing to the bad faith of those who gave publicity were very variable quantities. The author of the odes, they in six lines ; presently Aghani produces an ode of Dhu'1-Asba* it is increased to twelve ; next we learn that in the opinion of a most notable antiquary only three of the lines were ; and we wind up with seventeen.3 some of the antiquaries may in spite of temptations been scrupulous, and even critical, can be admitted ; did not themselves into their fabricate, and admitted genuine That have they collections antiquity. sources. what to be genuine monuments of they believed this brings us back to the question of their was a tremendous The mission of Mohammed event But a breach with the past to which history few analogies. From all parts of the peninsula men in regions whereof left their homes to establish themselves few of them had even heard; and within the peninsula the rise of Islam was accompanied and followed by civil wars. in Arabia ; it involved furnishes 1 2 3 Agh. xi, 129 med. Agh. iii, 4. Agh. iii, 2, 4, 10.
  19. 19. THE 434 OF ARABIC POETRY the old paganism was not one but one of the fiercest toleration, of Islam The attitude even ORIGINS towards of contemptuous of any sort with it. If ; it offered no compromise hostility of paganism, the poets were the spokesmen who were the in their memories to and transmitted persons who preserved others those which Islam which belonged to a dispensation compositions We can trace the consciousness of terminated ? in the solution which Hammad this difficulty is said to have offered ; the poems had been buried during the years when Islamic fervour was at its height, and were casually unearthed with explanation which we shall now deal was that the poets were not spokesmen in all but in name. of paganism. They were Moslems If we turn our attention to internal evidence, there are some after it had somewhat cooled. The other these poems which at least occasion surprise. The poets of most nations leave no doubt at all about their religion, and the Arabs of the inscriptions are equally candid on this subject; most of the inscriptions mention one or more features about and matters Marzubani connected with their worship. a work of over 5,000 pages to an account of the x pre-Islamic poets, their religions, and their sects ; one would for these subjects wrere very scanty, fancy that the materials deities devoted as allusions to religion in the odes which we possess are far One poet, indeed, asserts that his religion with some other people's;2 agrees only he does not tell us what it was. The polytheistic of the inscriptions atmosphere from common. is simply absent. This is perhaps what suggested Cheikho his theory that they were all Christians; does not seem that this theory will work. Some in a manner to Pere but it of these which express supposed shows clearly that they belonged to a different community ; of Qais, who thus A'sha is on Cheikho's of list, speaks the circuit of some patron's gates even as petitioners making Christians themselves 1 Fihrist. 2 'Ainr b. Qami'ah, ii, 9.
  20. 20. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY Christians make their circuit round and one of the few cases wherein is in a verse deity Christians ascribed wherever they the house 435 of their idol; x we find an oath by a pagan to him.2 are have are their sacred books, and affected by the and thought language greatly of the Gospels, Epistles and Psalms. Their poetry phraseology most frequently takes the form of hymns. But in the supposed there is a dearth of allusions to the pre-Islamic poetry their and institutions even among those of Christendom are supposed to have flourished at Christian courts. The expert author of the Aghani argues that a certain poet who flourished towards the end of the first Islamic century must have been a Christian because he swears by the Gospel, the Monks, and the Faith, which he rightly says are Christian oaths.3 swear, poets very frequently Though the pre-Islamic Scriptures poets who it is almost this oath indeed pervades invariably by Allah; The pre-Islamic 'Abid b. al-Abras even says " in Qur'anic I swear by Allah, is language, verily Allah to whom He will, and is forgiving and gracious ".4 bountiful And their view of the operations of Allah is such as no mono theist could disapprove the statements of the ; it anticipates " Allah Qur'an in almost every detail. opens and closes the " 5 is invoked to reward benefactors,0 world and to ; He those who are dispersed;7 He it is whose orders gather are carried out; 8 His pity is implored by women in bereave ment is invoked on wells.10 ;9 His blessing Imprecations are made in His name.11 He who asks of Allah is not diwans. their 1 on Hutay'ah, Comm. Sukkari, p. 38. 139, 4 a.f.' Agh. xx, 3 A Moslem swears by tho Torah and the Qur'an, 4 67, 1. Diwan, 6 Dhu'1-Asba', iii, 9. Agh. 6 xiii, 5. Agh. 7 Ibid., 4. 8 44. Ilarith, Mu'allaqah, 8 iv, 151, 6. Agh. 10 'Abld b. Abras, 19, 8. 11 66, 12. Ibid., 2 ibid., xii, 72, 9.
  21. 21. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 436 in of men.1 asks Guilt like one who disappointed is the witness Allah's Allah feared.2 eyes is what they to whom He knows what is hidden from they appeal.3 others.4 He is called the Lord A of mankind.5 pagan poet says: By Allah does the traveller know, when the " 6 earth conceals him, what Allah Some is about to do ? as is the for Allah, times the name Rahman is substituted " case in the Qur'an.7 the only religion with which these pre-Islamic Indeed, is the Mohammedan. poets can be credited They are not as has been seen, strict monotheists?for they very only, save Allah, and such mention any deity rarely mention not respectful8?but is at times they show themselves quite familiar with matters which the Qur'an asserts were to the Arabs prior to its revelation. in unknown Thus nor his xi, 51 it is stated that neither Mohammed had previously and this heard the story of Noah ; people statement is in accordance with what we should infer from Surah no allusion to the Biblical which make inscriptions, of the Arabs, which involve it. However, Nabighah genealogies of Dhubyan, whose floruit is given by Cheikho as a.d. 604, a year which is also as his death-date, is not only familiar given with the story of Noah, but even knows something about the the patriarch for which the Qur'an appears to be the sole authority. He says I found fidelity which thou didst not betray, even thus was Nuh, he did not betray.9 There is here an evident reference to the epithet faithful, which in the Qur'an is applied to Nuh (xxvi, 107). The poet 'Antarah of 'Abs, whose diwan occupies 284 pages, evidently knew the revelations of the Qur'an and 1 Ibid., 8, 23. 2 Ibn 44, 10. Qutaibah, 3 iv, 144, 15. Agh. 4 'Abld b. Abras, 50, 17, 6 Agh. xi, 132, 6 a.f. 6 Agh. xiii, 7. 7 Ibid., near end. 8 'Abid b. Abras, 13, 14. 8 PAO. 730, 4 a.f. Harith, Mu'allaqah, 55.
  22. 22. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 437 of of Islam the before appearance in an address to the Persian king Anushirwan, ; who died about a.d. 580, this poet calls the king the Qiblah a technicality of Islam for the direction of Suppliants,1 using us since not to surprise of prayer, which perhaps ought to the Aghani the pre-Islamic Medinese had a according a are as with masjid qiblah,2 which ordinarily regarded innovations. Islamic This same poet is familiar with the the technicalities Mohammed Islamic of prayer, and prostration,3 inclination, postures and with the Stone of Standing, i.e. that whereon Abraham is quite stood, whose connexion with the Meccan sanctuary an Islamic innovation.4 He also knows the Qur'anic certainly names for Hell, jahim and jahannum,5 and those which that work for the Day of Judgment.6 employs favour Qur'anic Hence there expressions.7 that he was a good Moslem, doubting except passed before Islam had appeared.8 He uses with is no reason for that his life was bard perhaps parades his Mohammedanism This pre-Islamic somewhat but many others give glimpses of excessively; theirs. We should have gathered from the Qur'an that the distinction between the present and the future life had been to the Arabs by Mohammed introduced ; for his opponents are represented as treating the notion of a future life writh Hence we should assume that the usage of the contempt. " " the nearer in the sense of must have been the world phrase introduced but more by the Qur'an, where with the frequently person who thinks of the world a more have in mind distant it is used alone, sometimes " substantive life". The " " as the nearer life must life, the 1 Cairo ed? 254. 2 xiii, 116, 12. 3 Cairo ed., 101, 154. 4 232. Ibid., 6 Ibid., 237, 204. e 127. 83, 247; mahshar, Qiydmah, 7 So jabbdr 'anxd, 191, 206, 231. 8 iv, 128, 4 a.f. Agh. doctrine which
  23. 23. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 438 Mohammed's But ment. with at first regarded with scornful bewilder familiar pre-Islamic poets are thoroughly audience the the 'Abid b. al-Abras, who lived many expression. before the preaching of the Qur'an, speaks in Qur'anic " the goods of the nearer "^ meaning the goods language of of this world, and Dhu'1-Asba', who is also pre-Islamic, quotes decades from the Qur'an the phrase vnshingfor the goods of the nearer.2 a remonstrance in addressing to the father of former, refers to the Resurrection-day,3 and has an Imru'ul-Qais, which the Moham with implies acquaintance expression 4 medan Law of Inheritance; the latter knows the while The between the sunnah and the prescription, i.e. the " " of the Qur'an. The phrase al-dunyd for the world is also found in the Mu'allaqah of 'Amr b. Kulthum, who is supposed to have died in the year a.d. 600, more than twenty When these poets wish to illustrate years before the Flight. distinction text of the divine power, they regularly take the the relentlessness 6 and several of cases of Irani, 'Ad and Thamud; Qur'anic them confuse the two latter,0 for which there can scarcely be in the Qur'an, whence any reason except their juxtaposition indeed the story of the three was in all probability obtained. the supposed founder of the Qasidah, Muhalhil, who, as has been seen, flourished a whole century before the Prophet, is sufficiently in advance of his time to quote the Qur'an. told us Kulaib was dead, and I said : has the earth swayed They with us or have its anchors swayed ?7 This is evidently to be Even from Surah xvi, 15, where we read : And he flung explained Surah upon the earth anchors lest it should sway. Another are meant. makes it clear that mountains (lxxix, 32) Similarly 1 80, 28. Surah iii, 9, 8. viii, 68. Agh. 3 Ibn 37, 15. Qutaibah, " 4 Dhii a relation for suhmah, ", Lyall. * 11 ; 'Amr b. Qami'ah, Agh. xi, 61, 64, 4. 0 32 ; Hudhail, Zuhair, Mu'allaqah, Kosegarten, 7 PAO. 166, 6 a.f. 2 80.
  24. 24. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY Ta'abbata in his dirge on Shanfara quotes the Qur'an.1 to Tha'iilibi, does the Persian king, according Sharran A prehistoric like.2 Sometimes too much 439* the obvious for the Moslem use of the Qur'an in these odes is critics ; thus we are told that doubts the genuineness of a poem ascribed to Labid, of the Elephant is told, and the defeat story as the Qur'an to Allah precisely of the foreigner attributed were held about wherein the tells the story.3 The author of the Aghani argues that Hasin b. al-Humam was Islamic on a similar ground.4 Others were less critical ; Mutahhar b. Tahir, who is of the fourth century of Islam, notices that monotheism Zaid b. 'Amr b. Nufail the pre-Islamic in a set of verses which are a mere preached cento of Qur'anic texts about Musa and Harun in their with Fir'aun and went so far as to declare himself relations aMoslem in the b. Abi'1-Salt, phrase aslamtu wajhi.5 Umayyah who speaks cf the Christians as though he were not one of them, a uses for the Day of Judgment phrase which we should have to have been introduced even if supposed by the Qur'an,6 we could accept the view that the pagan Arabs were thoroughly familiar with the notion of such a Day. The poetess Khansa is familiar with the Zabdniyah, seem to be which would a Qur'anic Hatim who is a Christian, Ta'I, technicality.7 is acquainted with the Islamic exclamation Alldhu akbar.* It " is quite conceivable that Mohammed may " in the sense that some persons forerunners time in Central Arabia worships. obtained Islamic have have had before his revolted against the pagan seems clearly to have moreover, Christianity, a hold over of the Peninsula. If the pre parts poets had 1 Surah xl, 2 Histoire may composed like Christians, 18 ; Agh. xxi, 89. des Rois des Perses, 47, 3 ed. Brockolmann, xxxiv. Labld, 4 xii, 123. 6 Livre de la Creation, i, 75. 0 Ibid., ii, 145, Yaum al-tagMbun, 7 iv, 136, 7. Agh. 8 Ed. Schulthess, 51, 15. assuming 2. Surah lxix, 9. the
  25. 25. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 410 and showing of Christianity with its familiarity we might be confronted with some difficulties institutions, in their odes and the question of their transmission, only their we find them not be one of them. But when religion would as the talk like Mohammedans, being as rigid monotheists doctrines followers of the Prophet afterwards were, and so far as they echo any sacred book, echo the Qur'an, it seems most difficult to believe in their genuineness. Why should the Arabs of the inscriptions have their various local deities in their thoughts, and the poets of the same regions know of no God save the ? Even whose if we Deity unity Mohammed proclaimed from communities suppose the inscriptions to have emanated other than mission those of the poets, what " warned he if those whom becomes of Mohammed's " were believers in One a Day of Judgment ? If we are guided and expecting that the polemic of it must be admitted by the inscriptions, and the Qur'an is rightly directed ; the cults of the Meccans their neighbours may not have been identical with those of the regions to which the inscriptions belong, but they had a But the views of the pre-Islamic family likeness to them. seem to be similar to or even poets on religious subjects identical with those taught in the Qur'an. is that of the language. A second line of internal evidence God these poems are in the dialect of the Qur'an, though here which is said and there a word or form may be employed If we suppose to belong to some particular tribe or region. All to have of Islam on the tribes of Arabia imposition a them with it provided because their language, unified in the Qur'an, correctness classic of indisputable analogies occur ; the Roman conquest did the same for Italy, Gaul and the Spain. But it is difficult to imagine that before Islam provided this unifying element there was a common language, different from those of the inscriptions, spread over the whole peninsula. The have individual had vocabulary. tribes, or at least the groups of tribes, would and of grammar differences easily recognizable collection Pere Cheikho's commences with the
  26. 26. 441 THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY poets they compose in the dialect of the are itself the inscriptions Arabia and some of these come near the of South Arabia; Within South Qur'an. in a variety of dialects, ; they can only be interpreted with difficulty, Prophet's the help which the classical Arabic gives is scanty. because verses by a king Yet when the Moslem produce archaeologists and written by him, they say, in the Himyari of Hadramaut, time character, they are in the dialect his people to understand.1 the of which Qur'an, he for this The authority expected one of the foremost of the antiquaries. is Ibn al-Kalbi, story who belongs to a period before the Abyssinian A Himyarite, invasion, writes and seals a couple of verses, not in the language or somewhat but in later inscriptions, of the contemporary In these cases few wall even doubt that Qur'anic Arabic.2 verses are fabrications and the events wherewith the they are connected Yet we have to remember at best legendary. that the authorities for these pre-Islamic poems are either the same as or not less trustworthy than those for Cheikho's poets and the author of the Aghani, who occasionally of Yemen; them without He criticism, produces suspicion. contro does so in good faith, like those Moslem very likely of the versialists who assert that the Christian doctrine of Christ was occasioned the misreading of two Divinity by practises points on a word in the second Psalm ; it should have been are not read nabiyyun, but was misread bunayya. They aware that this doctrine was held many centuries before the alphabet was invented, an invention at least a century And the ascription earlier than that of the diacritic points. of verses in the classical Arabic to pre-Islamic bards of Arabic appears to be an error of the same sort. There is no that South Arabia had any poets ; if, however, were any, they must have sung in one of the South there Yemen evidence Arabian And of cases, dialects. having we do 1 Agh. this decided not xi, 125, evidence what know 4 a.f. we of bad can 2 accept Agh. xx, faith in a group in other 8, 13. cases.
  27. 27. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 442 Arabia one or two inscriptions have indeed been dis in the Qur'anic dialect, but others exhibit a wealth of dialects similar to that found in the South ; and here again verse is non-existent in the present state of our knowledge. In North covered be the Moslems might in the Hijaz, originated of that part of to know more about the history expected in fact, they know somewhat Arabia than about the South; more about the South, because events of greater importance Since Islam Yet there than elsewhere. for the peninsula had happened their knowledge of South Arabia was so vague that they ascribe verses to South Arabian potentates in a language which we know on epigraphic evidence was not theirs. When the antiquaries the language of the Qur'an had, made their compilations, in South to Islam, become the classical language owing ; but there was the same reason for its predominance we have as yet no ground in other parts of the peninsula; for supposing that it counted as a literary language anywhere Arabia the Qur'an was produced. if we were dealing with Now, until we might documents, that they had been either trans in the hypothesis acquiesce from one stage of the or at least gradually lated, shifted, as changes in orthography to another; somewhat language in accordance into printed works, introduced get gradually But of good faith. with later usage, without any violation in Arabic poetry, of which the artifice is more complicated a proceeding would be than any other known style, such have to be recast. The works would simply impossible. And it may be observed that just as the converts to Islam prose turned their backs on their old religion, so that the Qur'an knows more about it than any of the later Moslems, similarly on their old languages in Arabia they turned their backs of the inscrip and dialects, so that help for the understanding tions can now be obtained from two authors only, whom the And just late Professor Hartmann justly termed eccentric. as the occurrence of Islamic ideas in ostensibly pagan works is a clear proof of spuriousness, so the employment of the
  28. 28. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY which dialect for grave the Qur'an rendered classical 443 furnishes ground suspicion. language of the Hijaz was the court language for this apart is not impossible, but the evidence " " seems wanting vast deserts separate from the ; early poems who produce poems from all these regions. The Moslems That the of Hirah in the same dialect seem to be acting of the peninsula with their practice of making many or most of consistently of Allah, and of no other god ; they these poets worshippers parts project into past times the phenomena familiar. like themselves Something with this which seems they to be are the case with the geography of these poems ; 'Amr b. Kulthiim, of a Mu'allaqah, states that he has drunk wine in that which he solicits is and Qasirin; Baalbek, Damascus, The last two places are said to be in the neigh of Andarin. the author of Aleppo. bourhood Doubtless in the 150 years which this lived he had time for extensive is supposed to have but acquaintance with these places as well as with travels; and tribes of Arabia such as this ode displays the provinces reminds the reader of the time when the Moslem empire person included Syria the Arabs were and Arabia rather than of the time when in the condition depicted in the Chronicle of the Stylite, about a.d. 500. Joshua A third line of evidence is to be found in the content of the If they regularly commence with erotic passages because the Qur'an in every valley; if they says poets philander to describe their wanderings and their mounts proceed because the Qur'an says poets are followed by those who go ; astray, which certainly implies that they go astray themselves and if they proceed to dilate on their achievements, often odes. in character, because the Qur'an says they say what do ; we can at least trace to the source this they which led some critics to declare that all that monotony, in poems was the language, mattered since they all repeat the same ideas.1 But if this stereotyped form is earlier than immoral do not 1 Ibn Rashlq, *Umdah.
  29. 29. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 444 the Qur'an it must go back to certain acknowledged models ; and the search after these leads us, as has been seen, back to It is true that the odes show remarkable acquaintance Adam. the anatomy of the horse and camel, and perhaps with the habits of other animals; but these, as we know, were as well as by poets. studied by grammarians That some with poet may have started an ode with a lament over the ruined dwelling of his beloved, or with an account of her wraith, and may have proceeded to describe his live stock, is no classic quite possible, but we can name with precision Bedouin and whose example If there all aspirants to the poetic art. by a classic or classics, the polemic of the Qur'an had been such must have taken account of such, because they would have whose work formed the basis of education had to be followed been the authoritative source of current ideas. Their guidance might be stigmatized as bad ; but it could not well be denied that the people had books which they studied. In the main odes which are ascribed to the early poets are are called occasional, and are records of experiences what which would have interested themselves only or at best some cannot indeed be denied possibility a wife or raided camels or that an Arab who divorced an enemy might compose an ode on the subject; slaughtered and where several persons were involved in such transactions of their tribesmen. The in this way. But record his experience each of them might he says neque Si chartod Horace is quite accurate when tuleris ; the record must sileant quod bene feceris mercedem or such compositions have no be on paper or its equivalent, the antiquaries what When of being preserved. chance is something that takes the form of a dialogue, communicate i.e. a series wherein poet replies to poet, the probability becomes is romance that whole great; especially rival poets with credit the for we cannot well taking so that the to preserve each other's performances, steps if we whereas of a third party is required; intervention from one mind, we at to have emanated suppose the whole the
  30. 30. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY least have paralleled. The hypothesis wherein us before something romance of the anecdotes associated that further with is simple accounts the verses 445 and for easily cases contradict who introduces ; so the author of the Aghani, experience a number in a poetical of verses improvised competition the poets Nabighah wherein and al-Akhtal Ja'di, al-'Ajjaj, must have been took part,1 calculates that this Nabighah 220 years old at the time, and declares himself satisfied with Others had made him reach the age of 180, this conclusion. his 180th birthday but as he had quite certainly celebrated in the time of the Prophet this was a serious understatement. when we read the poetical competition between Homer does not trouble us, because we know and Hesiod, chronology that the whole story is imaginary. Only if the same person who told it in good faith were also our chief authority for the Now of the poets, we could not be too sceptical. is one example ; but there are many others. We can so far as it is of the Aghani perhaps trust the statements clear that they are based on written materials if ; whence, history This we had the collection of poems made by order of the Caliph we could be confident that those poems were in Mahdi, as early as the year 158 a.h. And if the collector existence seemed a reasonably veracious and critical person, we might trust him if he informed us that he got his material from much earlier documents. But if in lieu of sobriety and veracity we had tall stories about men who lived for a couple of hundred and collections of poems buried under palaces, and years, skeletons with inscribed tablets on their heads, wre gigantic should And be justified in dismissing if in lieu of written materials on oral transmission had been remembered we could feel doubly trusted as a fabrication. everything we found our author relying through a period when anything which would, if possible, have been forgotten, sure that his statements were not to be on any subject. 1 Agh. iv, 129, 131.
  31. 31. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 446 If then the ostensibly pre-Islamic poetry is suspect on both external and internal grounds, we are brought back to the is it of Arabic versification; question of the commancement of high antiquity, are for the most the monuments which we possess Or is it altogether part post-Islamic? of the styles found in the post-Islamic, being a development % This question appears to be of great difficulty. Qur'an On the one hand we seem to have continuity ; the Umayyad and his poets come after those of the time of the Prophet though Some Companions, whereas these follow on the pagan poets. the that of Hassan b. Thabit, of the earlier diwans, e.g. but it would encomiast, inspire little confidence; Prophet's of those of the Umayyad be difficult to shake the genuineness of verse seem to occur in the Old a few of the technicalities Further, poets. lie behind phrases of the same sort which the hypothesis that the Arabs composed odes, only we cannot be sure whether we actually possess lines that are earlier than Islam, is attractive. any of verse in the the absence On the other hand besides Testament, whence inscriptions we notice that the Qur'an has no allusion to music.1 In Dr. Stanton's most useful Index to the Qur'an we look in and Singing. The word rattil in vain for the items Music " to chant", since it is used that book cannot really mean like it must mean something of the Divine Being (xxv, 34); " " from their Syriac Psalms ", which set in order ". The and Greek names clearly mean words accompanied by wind or stringed in the Qur'an have become Zubiir instruments, " " texts ", books ". Indeed the dates for the introduction are given in the Aghani, communities of music into Moslem times. About the year 65, and these take us into Umayyad we are told, one Ibn Misjah and barbitiyyah started his musical introduced from the Greeks, having istuchusiyyah studies by hearing Persian builders humming tunes when the in that year.2 One Kabbah was rebuilt after its destruction 1 Three texts are supposed to refer to music is obscure; The roforenco Talbis Iblis, p. 246. 2 iii, 84. Agh. (xvii, 66, xxxi, 5, liii, 61),
  32. 32. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 447 introduced singing into Medinah about the The first of are, however, other claimants. " " means mentioned ; clearly harp-playing songstress, Ra'iqah, same time.1 There two words the Mr. Farmer, a high authority on these thinks it means the system of Aristoxenus. seem to correspond well statements of the Aghani the second matters, These with is obscure. the phenomenon to music which has been noticed?the absence com though it is an important adjunct of public worship, and munities with a military like that of the Moslems we should community have expected that its importance for the operations of war of allusion would in the Qur'an, with most have been recognized. But ifmusic was an introduction times, can we imagine that metre existed among before in the regularity and copiousness which of Umayyad the Arabs versification their ? The more usual order of origin would seem to be dance, music, verse ; and the emancipation of verse from music is ordinarily a lengthy process. Some of seem to suggest either the dance or music the Arab metres or both. The displays existence of the Qur'an, containing the rudiments of prose and of metre, would account for the development rhymed of both when the theory and practice of music had been and the projection introduced of the art into pre-Islamic ; not be unthinkable. would The dialect of the antiquity and with the establish Qur'an had become a court-language, ment of a court the profession arose. of court-poet The encomia of the second 'Abbasid by Ru'bah are in rejez metre, a halfway house between poetry and prose ; and, as has been asserted that this poet's father was seen, a leading antiquary the first to compose more than a couple of lines in this, the least artistic of the metres. It seems remarkable that long should have been composed in the more difficult poems at an earlier period. rhythms An of the diwans of the period inquiry into the genuineness of the Pious Caliphs and of the Umayyads would exceed the i JRAS. JULY 1925. 29 Ibid., xvi, 13.
  33. 33. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 448 limits of this paper. seems question main Islamic The evidence sufficient that is before to render us on the all ostensibly pre verse. and perhaps all pre-Umayyad kingdoms which are known to us from the verse suspect, The pre-Islamic inscriptions were highly civilized, but do not appear to have can we believe that the uncivilized had poetry; Bedouin like the elaborate the had it, in anything form wherewith credit them ? On the whole the Moslem archaeologists would seem to lie on the side of the supposition probability that both poetry and rhymed prose are in the main derived from the Qur'an, and that such literary efforts as preceded less, not more artistic. tribal bard may perhaps be compared and bear a similar relation to reality. that work were The poet Ecclesiasticus is unnecessarily plain-spoken to the Pastoral The author when he of says (xxxviii, 25):? How can he get tvisdom (the Greek oo<fnoOr]aerai might well be rendered become a poet) that holdeth the plough, And that glorieth in the goad, That driveth oxen and is occupied And whose talk is of bullocks ? in their labours, Yet his opinion seems to be sound. No one thinks of Virgil are or as real shepherds or Theokritus they goatherds; " " men of learning and culture who simulate shepherds clearly And this is evidently the case mutatis mutandis and goatherds. with a the authors learned of the Mu'allaqat. he knows about Tarafah, is clearly and bridges, e.g., man; Byzantine on the Tigris, as well as that in the Persian Gulf, navigation or more probably the Red Sea. Although he died some seventy years before the Hijrah, he takes a phrase from the Qur'an, In Surah xxvii, 44, the Queen of which he misunderstands. Sheba, fancying that she is stepping into a pool, lifts her skirt; out of glass. " a tower to mean suppose naturally " but it seems out of pieces of glass erected (or raised high) ; clear that the true sense is polished smooth, an epithet which but Solomon Some Moslems explains that it is sarh mumarrad this
  34. 34. THE ORIGINS OF ARABIC POETRY 449 apply to Solomon's supposed crystal palace, but not to any ordinary palace. When, therefore, Tarafah compares would of his the thighs camel to the two gates of a 5^*** ^juIa (line 19), it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he is thinking of the verse in the Qur'an, where the word mumarrad belongs to the special palace which Solomon constructed; his educa tion, therefore, includes was revealed however, Tarafah's whose death. death-date the study of the Qur'an. This work, years after the supposed sixty some It is like the dunyd of 'Amr b. Kulthum, is given as a.d. 600, but who by the use with the doctrine of the displays acquaintance some twelve years after his demise. first promulgated Qur'an, If on the question whether Arabic versification goes back or is later than the Qur'an it seems to immemorial antiquity of this word to suspend judgment, the reason lies in the bewilder character of the evidence that is before us. We are on ing safe ground when we are dealing with ; and inscriptions wisest of the Arabs the Qur'an can be trusted for the condition in the Prophet's time. But to whom it was communicated verse we have to go to other of Arabic for the history authorities, who for the most part treat of times and conditions had no experience, and whose of which they themselves that necessarily training had caused them to assume much we can carry In judging their statements them. misled too far, but we also may be too credulous. scepticism April, 1925.