Encyclopedia Britannica and the Ottoman Empire

There are many, many articles on famous persons of the Ottoman Empire. Pages 67-68 alone list 4 poets. I list those 4 below and researched examples of their poetry:

Abul-‘Ala Ul-Ma’arri (973-1057), Arabian poet and letter writer. Examples are below from the web site linked to his name above;

7  Falsehood is Perpetual Loss

Reason forbade me many things which,
Instinctively, my nature was attracted to;
And a perpetual loss I feel if, knowing,
I believe a falsehood or deny the truth.

10  The Large Gifts of Death 

Who’ll rescue me from living in a town
Where I am spoken of with praise unfit ?
Rich, pious, learned: such is my renown,
But many a barrier stands between me and it.

I admit to ignorance, yet wise was thought
By some—and is not ours a wondrous case?
For truly we all are good for naught:
I am not noble nor are they not base.

My body in life’s strait grip scarce bears the strain—
How shall I move decay to clasp it round?
O the large gifts of death! Ease after pain
He brings to us, and silence after sound.

Abu-L-Atahiya (728-828) Arabian poet.

Translations of Eastern Poetry and Prose
By Reynold A. Nicholson

Surely shall Fate disjoint the proudest nose,
All wears away by movement and repose
In long experience if wisdom be
Less than my portion is enough for me.
Eager I take the hopes my soul inspires
False are these hopes and vain are these desires
That my hearafter I neglect is clear,
Since I am please and happy with things here.

Oh thou that gloriest in thy worldly state,
Mud piled on mud will never make thee great.
Nay wouldst thou see the noblest man of all,
Look at a monarch in a beggar’s pall!
To him great honour by the folk is given,
‘Tis he knows how to live on earth for heaven.

Abu Nuwas (756-810) Arabian poet.

Wine of jar bright,
sun of black night,
tear of the eyes,
wine of Paradise!

Sun globe of yore,
yellow hellebore,
eye of a Persian
cast into prison!

I saw a savage
come from my village:
the jar he struck
with one blow he cracked.

Forth burst the wine
mellower far
aged in the jar.

Aromas wafted
of wormwood in flower,
for freedrinkers crafted,
under skies a-glower.

An evil brew
This wineboy pours you:
water from rain
with wine entrained…

Abu Tammam (807-846) Arabian poet

Hamasa is one of the great anthologies of Arabic literature and was gathered together in the 9th cent. by Abu Tammam when he was snowbound in Hamadan, where he had access to an excellent library. There are 10 books of poems, classified by subject. Some of them are selections from long poems. This is one of the treasuries of early Arabic poetry, and the poems are of exceptional beauty. A later anthology by the same name was compiled by the poet al-Buhturi (c.820–897). The term has been used in modern times to mean “heroic epic.


About Don Segal

See Commentary, Photos, Drawings and Poetry on my blog at donsegal.wordpress.com.
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