Mahri Poetry Archive



The absolute majority of poems composed in the Mahri language have two stichs (two isometric “sense units”) per line.  Formally speaking, Mahri poems in hemistichs are virtually identical to most forms of premodern literate and vernacular Arabic poetry (Arabic ʿamūdī [“columnar”] poetry, including the Arabic qaṣīḍa and most forms of colloquial nabaṭī poetry) when written on a page.  There are fewer genre-marked categories under the formal heading of hemistich poetry since poems composed of hemistich lines  are the baseline of Mahri poetics.  Composing hemistich poetry requires less poetic talent or inclination on the part of the composer; this means that the examples of hemistich poetry in this archive run the gamut from the highest calibre of Mahri poetics to middling or even mediocre poems (as judged by my consultants).

Whereas tristich poetry is restricted to occasional topics, hemistich poems cover every potential topic of Mahri poetics.  The fact that hemistich poems are open to a broad spectrum of poetic topics, performances and talents means that they are generally viewed as more quotidian than poems composed of tristich lines.  This disparity is expressed in different terms by Muḥsin Āl Ḥafīẓ who writes:  “Rīwī [ie. hemistich qaṣīda] poetry is considered by the Mahra to be more appropriate for the expression of intimate conversations, burning passions and the grief of cruel days, different from rajaz [ie. tristich reǧzīt] poetry which is dedicated to praise [madḥ] and calumny [qadḥ] and is restricted to men and is not for women” (Āl Ḥafīẓ, 1987, 71-72).  While Āl Ḥafīẓ specifies “rīwī,” an eastern Mahri term for a sung lyric poem, the basic point still applies: tristich poetry (specifically reǧzīt) occupies the highest rung in the hierarchy of social and aesthetic prestige compared to other forms of hemistich poetry, particularly multi-line, lyric qaṣīdas.

As indicated below, there are a few genre-marked categories within the domain of hemistich poetry.  However, one of these (nuṣṣ ḳṣīdet) is a recently circulated conceptual category that is not recognized outside of a circle of Mahri poetic “literati” based in al-Ghaydha.



Exchanged Dāndān: Prophetic Poetry

Homesick in Najrān

Tribal Ode: A Three-Way Conflict

Tribal Ode: The Times We Live In



Advice for Ǧwāher

Fāten and the Moon (Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn #10)

The Girls Have Abandoned Their Honor

Hays and the Saudi Prince

Jamīla and the Sulṭān

Little Jewel Said

She’s a Work of Art


Nuṣṣ ḳṣīdet:

I Want to Write a Line (Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn #8)

Desire (Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn #9)

Her Looks and Stature (Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn #11)


Genre Unmarked:

Asking A Mother’s Permission

The Charm of Old Age

The Desire of the Four Poets

The Dog Days of Summer

The Epic of ʿAnzī, ʿĪsā Kedḥayt’s Pickup Truck

Fed Up With Mahri

Fuṣḥā Mahri: A Short Lyric Poem

Homesick in Hyderabad

I Think They Ate My Cow

Legal Proceeding in Poetry: Divorce and Remarriage

The Occupation of Iraq

Poetic Exchange: Race Relations in al-Mahra

Poetry in Hobyot?

A Prayer for a Favor

The Rescue of Śībī

A Slippery Father

Tea With Milk

The Trials and Rewards of Fieldwork

Yearning for Baḳlīt


Genre Unmarked from the Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn:

For A Long Time (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #1)

Everyday I Come Complaining (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #2)

I Want to Ask the Wedding Party (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #3)

O My Love (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #4)

Passion for the Ladies (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #5)

I Used To Think Man Could Endure (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #6)

Why Are You Working In A Dust Cloud? (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #7)

You Are My Death (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #12)

Enough, My Heart (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #13)

Leave My Darling Be (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #14)

O My Eyes (Dīwān Ḥājj Dākōn #18)

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