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Tue Nov 14, 2017, 08:50 AM

The Arab poet who worshipped wine

One of literature’s undeniable life lessons is that hedonists make fantastic poets. Horace – one of ancient Rome’s most prized lyricists – once dedicated a whole ode to his nearby wine-filled amphora, declaring on what was likely to have been a fun night: “We shall not deign to go to bed,/But we shall paint creation red.” Similarly, the English bon vivant Lord Byron displayed his Epicureanism with the lines “Better to hold the sparkling grape,/Than nurse the earth-worm’s slimy brood.”

But what if I told you that poetry’s biggest hedonist wasn’t from the Bacchanalian ancient world, or even Britain’s heady Romantic movement – but was a half-Arab, half-Persian scholar from the early age of Islam?

For the first time ever, the khamriyyat – ‘wine songs’ – of Abbasid poet Abu Nuwas will be available in English as complete rhymes; animating the works of one of the Islamic world’s most controversial poets. In the words of the poems’ translator, Alex Rowell, Nuwas’s rhapsodies on drinking, partying and fornicating with both sexes are “as edgy and subversive today as they must have been at the time.”

Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in the United Arab Emirates, Alex Rowell is a British journalist and translator who originally started tackling Abu Nuwas’s wine poems as a hobby to practice his Arabic. Unlike other poets from the Middle East – such as Omar Khayyam or Khalil Gibran – Abu Nuwas is almost totally unknown in the West; despite being a household name in the Arabic-speaking world, his poems have suffered in translation, often arriving into English as archaic, stilted tomes reserved for Arabists. But Rowell’s impressive rhyming translations have attracted the notice of publishers and his book Vintage Humour: The Islamic Wine Poetry of Abu Nuwas is out next month.

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20171113-the-arab-poet-who-worshipped-wine

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Reply The Arab poet who worshipped wine (Original post)
Agent_86 Tuesday OP
Shkreli Tuesday #1
Jaime Lannister 6 hrs ago #3
Cold Warrior Tuesday #2
I814U2CY 6 hrs ago #4

Response to Agent_86 (Original post)

Tue Nov 14, 2017, 09:14 AM

1. Who cares about shit more than about 5 years old? What about your life from 10 years ago is relevant

today? Nothing. Everything is different how we interact with the world hell how we get our food and necessities.

Focus on the future, fuck old stuff.

Adapt. Grow. Become relevant.

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Response to Shkreli (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 17, 2017, 05:25 AM

3. "Who cares about shit more than about 5 years old?" certainly not deep thinkers like yourself...

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Response to Agent_86 (Original post)

Tue Nov 14, 2017, 09:40 AM

2. Interesting. Ill check it out

One of the great Chinese poets also spoke a lot about wine...

Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,
and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;
in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon
accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are
friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.
Li Po
https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/alone-and-drinking-under-the-moon/

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Response to Agent_86 (Original post)

Fri Nov 17, 2017, 06:08 AM

4. "a...scholar from the early age of Islam"

It sounds like dhimmis trying to propagandize on behalf of Islam except that he was always running afoul of Muslim fanatics (a redundancy, I'm sure):


"...Abu Nuwas was imprisoned when his drunken, libidinous exploits tested even al-Amin's patience. Amin was finally overthrown by his puritanical brother, Al-Ma'mun, who had no tolerance for Abu Nuwas."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Nuwas

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