Abu'l Ala: The Syrian
This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1914 edition. Excerpt: ... the poet's general attitude towards the town. We cannot say with absolute assurance that Abu'l Ala did really hate Ma'arrah. His exercise in objurgation is produced when he remembers Baghdad--dont le seul nom itonne, says Madame de Noailles--and, like scores of later artists, he has fancied that the most effective contrast for the very good must be the very bad, for the very dark must be the very light. And we may think Abu'l Ala to have been an imperfect artist when he painted Ma'arrah as the residence of utter gloom, so that Baghdad should appear the brighter. Some strength, one thinks, was added to his judgment on Ma'arrah by occasional grave lapses into rhetoric. He thought of such a phrase as "there comes a time there when a goat is as precious as Capricorn," and, being an Arab of the eleventh century, he could not keep himself from using it. But, on the whole, we see HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS RULERS 51 that he was out of sympathy with his native place, and from this fact we are prepared to praise him the more that he became its champion. "I forbid you," so he says, "to serve the State or to fill the post of preacher in the mosque." Yet he promulgated this on account of special circumstances: what should have been one State was now split up into a number of small and almost independent ones. The caliph's power was fading, and in the very Baghdad where he lived one saw the worldly power no longer his, but in the hands of the illiterate House of Bujeh. This caliph used to call himself " The Shadow of God "; he was the shadow of the House of Bujeh. Perhaps if the Abbaside caliphs had been less impotent, then the poet would have been less eager to support them. He declares himself as loyal to the Moslem...
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