Item description for Desert Tracings : Six Classic Arabian Odes by 'Alqama, Shanfara, Labid, 'Antara, Al-A'sha, and Dhu al-Rumma by Michael Sells...
According to legend, the Bedouin tribes of pre-Islamic Arabia held poetry competitions during annual fairs near Mecca. The wining poems called Mu'allaqat, or Hanging Odes, were embroidered in gold on banners and suspended from the walls of Arabia's most sacred shrine, Ka'ba. Desert Tracings is a translation of six classical sixth to eighth century odes. Arabic codes (qasidas) traditionally begin with the relationship of the lover to the loved. Usually set at opening in the beloved's abandoned desert campsite, where the only evidence that remains is tent marks and torrent beds in the sand - "naked tracings,/ worn thin, like inscriptions/ carved in flat stones" - the qasida moves gracefully through the thematic parts, the lover's grief, the quest, and the final acceptance of a world deprived of the beloved. Like the oryx-doe trapped within the unyielding cycles of the desert world.
As Michael Sells writes in his introduction, the qasidahas been overshadowed in the West by other Arabic literature, such as The Arabian Nights, but the qasidais the primary literary tradition in both pre-Islamic and Islamic Arabia. The remarkable richness of language and range of mood captured in theses translations help explain their enduring fascination.
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Studio: University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.25" Width: 5.5" Height: 9" Weight: 0.3 lbs.
Release Date Jan 31, 1989
ISBN 0819511587 ISBN13 9780819511584
Availability 3 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 21, 2016 04:26.
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More About Michael Sells
Michael A. Sells is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Religion at Haverford College. He is the author of several books on religion, including "Mystical Languages of Unsaying" (1994).
Michael A. Sells has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Desert Tracings : Six Classic Arabian Odes by 'Alqama, Shanfara, Labid, 'Antara, Al-A'sha, and Dhu al-Rumma?
I love the translation of Shanfara in this book Feb 23, 2007
I really enjoyed this book when I first read it in college back in the 90s. I just picked up another copy here on this site. A great introduction to jahiliyya poetry.
Excellent translation and editing of Arabic poetry Sep 14, 2002
A lovely book if you want to have some understanding of the context of Classical Arabic of the Koran. Without Sells' notes, some of the trapping of pre-Islamic culture would be lost on the reader, the poems would be opaque. I highly recommend the book, the poems, and Prof. Sells' notes.
Evocative Mar 16, 1999
Beautiful, the most lyric translation of the odes I have encountered