Saturday, August 25, 2007

Abu Nuwas

Abu Nuwas, born around 756, is one of the greatest writers of classical Arabic literature.

Abu Nuwas’s mother was a weaver from Iran, and his father, whom he never knew, a soldier from Syria.

The handsome Abu Nuwas was sold by his mother to a Yemeni shopkeeper who took him to Basrah in Iraq.

Abu Nuwas's looks attracted the poet Waliba ibn al-Hubab and the two males became lovers.

Abu Nuwas wrote erotic love poems (mudhakkarat and mujuniyyat).

His love poems are about beautiful boys, 'often embodied in the figure of the saqi, the Christian wine boy at the tavern.' (Abu Nuwas, the first and foremost Islamic gay poet)

'The theme was picked up time and again over the ensuing centuries by the best poets of Iran and Arabia, such as Omar al-Khayyam, Hafiz, and countless others who shared his tastes.' Abu Nuwas, the first and foremost Islamic gay poet

Abu Nuwas based himself in Baghdad, which was the capital of both Arabia and Iran (Persia) and the biggest city in the world.

The caliph, Muhammad al-Amin, shared Abu Nuwas's love of boys.

Abu Nuwas's best poetry... "celebrates hunting, the love of wine, and the love of boys, diversions widely appreciated by educated Muslims everywhere, despite the ongoing fulminations of fundamentalists." - Abu Nuwas, the first and foremost Islamic gay poet

Abu Nuwas poems:

I die of love for him, perfect in every way,
Lost in the strains of wafting music.
My eyes are fixed upon his delightful body
And I do not wonder at his beauty.
His waist is a sapling, his face a moon,
And loveliness rolls off his rosy cheek
I die of love for you, but keep this secret:
The tie that binds us is an unbreakable rope.
How much time did your creation take, O angel?
So what! All I want is to sing your praises.

(Love in Bloom; after Monteil, p. 95)

A gentle fawn passed around the cup
Delicate of waist and slim of flank,
“Will you be on your way, come morn?” he chirped.
“How can we bear to leave?” came the reply.
He glided among us and made us drunk,
And we slept, but as the cock was about to crow
I made for him, my garments trailing, my ram ready for butting.
When I plunged my spear into him
He awoke as a wounded man awakes from his wounds.
“You were an easy kill,” said I, “so let’s have no reproaches.”
“You win, so take what you will, but give me fair reward.”
So after I had placed my saddle bag upon him he burst into song,
“Are you not the most generous rider ever, of all Allah’s creatures?”

(Tu’atibu-ni ’ala Surbi Stibahi; after Kennedy, p. 262)


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