Abundance from the DesertBy Raymond Farrin
Abundance from the Desert provides a comprehensive introduction to classi-cal Arabic poetry, one of the richest of poetic traditions. Covering the pe-riod roughly from 500 c.e. to 1250 a.d., it features original translations and illuminating discussions of a number of major classical Arabic poems from a variety of genres. The poems are presented chronologically, each situated within a specific historical and literary context. Together, the selected poems suggest the range and depth of classical Arabic poetic expression; read in sequence, they suggest the gradual evolution of a tradition. Moving beyond a mere chronicle, Farrin outlines a new approach to appreciating classical Arabic poetry based on an awareness of concentric symmetry, in which the poem's unity is viewed not as a linear progression but as an elaborate symmetrical plot. In doing so, the author presents these works in a broader, comparative light, revealing connec-tions with other literatures. The reader is invited to examine these classical Arabic works not as isolated phenomena-notwithstanding their unique-ness and their association with a discrete tradition-but rather as part of a great multicultural heritage. This pioneering book marks an important step forward in the study of Arabic poetry. At the same time, it opens the door to this rich poetic tradi-tion for the general reader.