Mahri Poetry Archive



Line Structure: Hemistich

Content: Sentimental, Specified Referent

Length: Multi-line Monothematic

Performance: Sung (preferred)


Šemrēt (pl. šemrūt, “a little praise poem”, šemrek: “I sang a song in praise of a young girl”) is a specific genre of lyric poetry in which the poet expresses his or her parental affection for a young girl and advises her to demand the most from her suitors when she comes of marriageable age.  Unless the poem develops a political theme (as is the case for “Hays and the Saudi Prince“), the purpose of a šemrēt poem is to flatter and coddle.  Since the object of the poem, a young girl, is not yet marriageable, there are no social obstacles against describing her by name.  Once composed and performed (or recorded), the poem becomes the property of the young girl and she will remember it with pride.  In general, a parent or a relative will compose a šemrēt for their own daughter or niece although a more skilled poet, such as Ḥājj Dākōn, can be commissioned to do so for a fee.  The affection expressed in a šemrēt poem is strictly familial and a šemrēt poem never includes hurtful sentiments.  The parental love expressed in a šemrēt poem is at odds with the sexual desire expressed in amorous (Ar. ghazal) poetry.  The latter subject is more widely spread in al-Mahra, leaving šemrēt poems to occupy the more marked niche within the domain of Mahri lyric poetry.  The lyric nature of šemrēt poems and their public performance at festivities (often accompanied by the young girls’ tanwīś dance) means that the šemrēt genre may overlap with the dāndān laylī poetic genre.


Advice for Ǧwāher

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

Hays and the Saudi Prince

Jamīla and the Sulṭān

Little Jewel Said

She’s A Work of Art

The Girls Have Abandoned Their Honor

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