By Margaret Larkin
"Abu'l-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi (915-965) is usually considered as the best of the classical Arab poets, along with his paintings occupying a special place on the middle of Arab tradition. Born the son of a water-carrier in Kufah, Iraq, al-Mutanabbi lived a tumultuous lif.
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Additional info for Al-Mutanabbi : voice of the 'Abbasid poetic ideal
261) The immediacy of this scene is conveyed by the series of imperfect tense verbs it employs until it is abruptly ended by the intrusion of death, via the definitive perfect tense: Her tears stopped flowing and her eyelids dried and her love for me left her heart after having wounded it. qxd 9/14/2007 1:57 PM Page 29 GROWING PAINS 29 This manipulation of verb tense to create a sense of evolving narrative features even in some of al-Mutanabbi’s very early poems. AlMutanabbi never developed this technique so well as his predecessor, Abu Nuwas, though he did sometimes employ it effectively, as in this example, to produce a sense of vitality that the conventional forms seemed to militate against.
Gone were the days when a talented selfstarter could find his way to Baghdad and there, with the support of powerful patrons and influential scholars, find both fame and fortune; the aspiring poet now had to cast his hopeful net more widely to find the necessary support for his art. This tenth-century poet was deeply attached to the image of the Arab hero who represented the perfect combination of tribal values of bravery and generosity, battling in the name of Islam against its non-Muslim enemies.
A child prodigy, he probably expected the world to throw open its arms to him, which is hardly what happened. qxd 9/14/2007 1:57 PM Page 23 GROWING PAINS 23 teenager, though there are a few pieces that are almost refreshingly adolescent. Warned by concerned friends that he should stick to praising great men and leave off the tirades, al-Mutanabbi, like a typical rebellious teenager, responded with increasingly bold expressions of defiance: So leave me my sword, my steed and my supple lance, as if we were one, to confront men [in battle] – then watch what I will do!
Al-Mutanabbi : voice of the 'Abbasid poetic ideal by Margaret Larkin