Please choose one of the following topics to address in a three-page paper due Tuesday, March 11 at 5pm.  Please send me ( your draft as a pdf file.  Regardless of which topic you choose, you must support all of your arguments with appropriate and accurate citations from the poetry that you have read.


Rain has deep resonances in the poetic imagination of the Arab bedouin.  We have seen it appear at critical junctures in the poems of the pre-Islamic bedouin.  Rain is no less pregnant with meaning in recently composed nabati poetry, although its associations may have shifted in the intervening 1500 years.

Please analyse the representation of rain in Arabian poetry using the texts that you have read in Desert Tracings, Arabia of the Bedouins (poems by al-Dindān), Nabaṭi Poetry (“The Sociocultural Setting”), Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society and the mu’allaqa of Imruʾ al-Qays.  Describe what the different manifestations of rain evoke in each poem as well as the metaphoric associations that surround them.  You may want to analyse how rain is treated in the three movements of the qasída and how its treatment in each is related to the archetypal narratives of rite-of-passage and vengeance.  Finally, you may examine how the representation of rain in 20th century nabati poetry differs from its pre-Islamic predecessor.  You do not need analyse every reference to rain that you have come across, just those that seem to be particularly illustrative of the points you wish to make.

As quoted by Saad Sowayan, Sir Charles Lyall has the following to say to about the pre-Islamic qasida:
“[The pre-Islamic qasida] is not epic, nor even narrative, except in so far as the description of incident serves to heighten the picture of character.  Still less is it dramatic, since the only person and measure known to the speaker are himself and his own ideal…The Arabian ode sets forth before us a series of pictures, drawn with confident skill and first-hand knowledge, of the life its maker lived, of the objects among which he moved, of his horse, his camel, the wild creatures of the wilderness, and of the landscape in the midst of which his life and theirs was set, but all, however, loosely they seem to be bound together, are subordinate to one dominant idea, which is the poet’s unfolding of himself, his admirations and his hates, his prowess and the freedom of his spirit.”
(Sowayan, 1985, 17)
Please analyze Lyall’s statement, both with respect to the pre-Islamic qasida and modern nabati poetry.  What does Lyall get right in his summation of the pre-Islamic qasida and what does he get wrong?  What aspect of his views are better applied to modern nabati poetry and what aspects are best confined to the pre-Islamic qasida?