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     What Are the Characteristics of the Arabic Columnar Poetry?

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    Abdul-Settar Abdul-Latif
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    PostSubject: What Are the Characteristics of the Arabic Columnar Poetry?   Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:21 am



    Characteristics of the Arabic Columnar Poetry

    The Classical Arab Poetry is dubbed with two different terms. Either it is called 'the Ancient Poetry' . This is because it dated back to a period of time as ancient as the Jahilayah Epoch, i.e., nearly 200 years before the birth of Prophet Mohammad (PUH) at 570 A.D. Or it may be called 'the Columnar Poetry' after the 16-metre form of prosody it follows in writing: this form Ancient Nomad Arabs who toured the saharas of Arabia carrying their tents, flocks of camels and woman and children, using a figurative language, was considered as the pillar or the column they employed or put into use when setting up the bases of their tents. They started with the Main pillar or Column; hence came the appellation or the title of Arab poetry as Columnar. The concept of the Column signifies the important role both poetry and its columnar form itself played in their desert habitat in Arabia. Sometimes, the columnar form is named 'Al-Khalili Column' after the name of Ahmed Ibn Al-Khalil Al-Farahidy, the first Arab grammarian, lexicographer and inventor of the Prosody Rules in the way they have been in use up to the initiation of the Free Verse Movement, the mainstream of this Anthology, in 1947.
    Accordingly, each metre gets a number of feet the stem of which is based on two sounds – a sound with a diacritic and a sound without. The two would form a dual sound pattern that could be joined into different relations from two to six; each a new relation is considered a foot. The Arabic prosody has neither been related to stressed syllables nor to unstressed ones as it is the case for instance in English prosody.
    Among other features that complicated the matter a little bit for Arab poets is that a final sound should rhyme the whole poem regardless to how long it might be in terms of the number of its lines. This is called 'Rawy letter'. Moreover, an Arabic verse line contains two sub-lines that are separated by ' caesura ', the first sub-line is 'Shatre'(i.e. division) and the second ' Ajiz' (i.e. Back) . The two subs may or may not form one meaningful unit. The two could be totally independent; hence the impression it leaves that the Arabic Classical poetry is disconnected lacking unity …etc. This is true to a great extent. This is why poets in the various epochs of the history of Arab literature exerted a lot to abide by these rather very strict rules. However, it takes time to jettison them away thanks to the Free Verse Movement in question.



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