Ali Ben Abd Algany Of Cordovap 146

This author was by birth an African, but having passed over to Spain, he was much patronised by Motammed, Sultan of Seville. After the fall of his master, Ben Abd returned into Africa, and died at Tangier, a.h. 488 [a.d. 1095].—Ben Abd wrote at a time when Arabic literature was upon the decline in Spain, and his verses are not very unlike the compositions of our own metaphysical poets of the 17th century.

[The Arabian conquerors of Spain introduced the gallant custom of serenading their mistresses, on which occasion, not only p. 431

the words of their songs, but the airs, and even the colour of their habits, were expressive of the triumph of the fortunate, or the despair of the rejected lover. The Kitar—whence our guitar, from the Spanish guitarra—was their favourite instrument.—Richardson.

The idea expressed in the first stanza of this serenade—the comparison of the eye of his sleeping mistress to a sheathed sword—is identical with a verse of Antara's beautiful poem beginning: "When the breezes blow from Mount Sa'dl," &c., where the poet says of his darling Abla (p. 198, l. 4, et seq):

"She draws her sword from the glances of her eyelashes, sharp and penetrating as the blade of her forefathers, and with it her eyes kill, though it be sheathed."

Again, in the verses recited by Antara before King Mundhir (foot of page 217):

"The eyelashes of the songstress from the corner of the veil are more cutting than the edge of cleaving (19 of 23)09/01/2008 16:04:55

Arabian Poetry: Extracts From The Lay of the Himyarites: Notes on Shorter Poems scimitars."

The Persian poet Hafiz employs the same comparison:

"The glance of the cup-bearer is an unsheathed sword for the destruction of the understanding."

And the Afghan poet, Khushhal Khan, Khattak ("Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans," by Major Raverty, page 188):

I am intoxicated with that countenance, which hath sleepy, languid eyes:

By them I become all cut and gashed—thou wouldst say those eyes sharp swords contain.

Other illustrations of this similitude are given in Notes on the Poetry of the Romance of Antar.]

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