By Philip Kennedy
A readable survey of this celebrated ninth century Arab poet.
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Additional info for Abu Nuwas (Makers of the Muslim World)
But it was not any legal opinion that attracted him in the scholar’s work, rather the fact that he was a “lord of beardless youths”. Fathers entrusted the education of their sons to this respectable tutor in order to evade, as irony would have it, the influence of reprobate men. 045 19/02/2005 11:37 AM Page 51 “LOVE, WINE, SODOMY ... AND THE LASH” 51 [And] pierced him with something like a viper – silent predator of a snake, inflicting wounds beyond remedial incantation; He prized open the boy’s ass with the edge of his “sword”, Then pierced him to the hilt with the head of his “lance”.
Abu Nuwas was not irreligious in the sense that he belonged to a heretical group. His license with religious pre- and proscription was affected irreverence,as was in essence his reliance on God’s clemency as a pliant excuse. It is significant in this respect that the two noncanonical prophetic traditions told on his authority deal with the possibility of entering Paradise as a sinner. His transgressions were not only those associated with wine-drinking and affection for young men. He could affect to flout the protocols of Ramadan: of all the months, if he could “kill one off ”, he would dispatch this sacred month of fasting.
How can the old woman’s desire to be screwed be fulfilled When my penis will not even stand for nubile [maidens]? It is now crooked and curled upon its two ends ... The image the poet is painting here is simply that of something that is not straight or erect: the old woman’s brazen flirtation disgusts the poet, so he claims. The opening line is offbeat and memorable, borrowing and warping erotic poetry’s own special kind of antagonism: My penis has started to shun me; The story behind this is that I was in a garden of the Caliph’s “Palace of Eternity” ...
Abu Nuwas (Makers of the Muslim World) by Philip Kennedy