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Oriental Literature The Literature of Arabia   By:

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With Critical and Biographical Sketches by

Epiphanius Wilson, A.M.




Introduction The Early Fortunes of Antar Khaled and Djaida The Absians and Fazareans


Introduction SELECTIONS. An Elegy The Tomb of Mano Tomb of Sayid On the Death of His Mistress On Avarice The Battle of Sabla Verses to My Enemies On His Friends On Temper The Song of Maisuna To My Father On Fatalism To the Caliph Harun al Rashid Lines to Harun and Yahia The Ruin of Barmecides To Taher Ben Hosien The Adieu To My Mistress To a Female Cup bearer Mashdud on the Monks of Khabbet Rakeek to His Female Companions Dialogue by Rais To a Lady Weeping On a Valetudinarian On a Miser To Cassim Obio Allah A Friend's Birthday To a Cat An Epigram upon Ebn Naphta Wah Fire To a Lady Blushing On the Vicissitudes of Life To a Dove On a Thunder Storm To My Favorite Mistress Crucifixion of Ebn Bakiah Caprices of Fortune On Life Extempore Verses On the Death of a Son To Leila On Moderation in our Pleasures The Vale of Bozâa To Adversity On the Incompatibility of Pride and True Glory The Death of Nedham Almolk Lines to a Lover Verses to My Daughters Serenade to My Sleeping Mistress The Inconsistent The Capture of Jerusalem To a Lady An Epigram On a Little Man with a Very Large Beard Lamiat Alajem To Youth On Love A Remonstrance with a Drunkard Verses On Procrastination The Early Death of Abou Alhassan Aly The Interview


THE SEVEN VOYAGES OF SINDBAD First Voyage Second Voyage Third Voyage Fourth Voyage Fifth Voyage Sixth Voyage Seventh and Last Voyage ALADDIN'S WONDERFUL LAMP


[ Translation by Étienne Delécluse and Epiphanius Wilson ]


The romantic figure of Antar, or Antarah, takes the same place in Arabian literature as that of Achilles among the Greeks. The Cid in Spain, Orlando in Italy, and Arthur in England, are similar examples of national ideals put forth by poets and romance writers as embodiments of a certain half mythic age of chivalry, when personal valor, prudence, generosity, and high feeling gave the warrior an admitted preeminence among his fellows. The literature of Arabia is indeed rich in novels and tales. The "Thousand and One Nights" is of world wide reputation, but the "Romance of Antar" is much less artificial, more expressive of high moral principles, and certainly superior in literary style to the fantastic recitals of the coffee house and bazaar, in which Sinbad and Morgiana figure. A true picture of Bedouin society, in the centuries before Mohammed had conquered the Arabian peninsula, is given us in the charming episodes of Antar. We see the encampments of the tribe, the camels yielding milk and flesh for food, the women friends and councillors of their husbands, the boys inured to arms from early days, the careful breeding of horses, the songs of poet and minstrel stirring all hearts, the mail clad lines of warriors with lance and sword, the supreme power of the King often dealing out justice with stern, sudden, and inflexible ferocity. Among these surroundings Antar appears, a dazzling and irresistible warrior and a poet of wonderful power. The Arab classics, in years long before Mohammed had taken the Kaaba and made it the talisman of his creed, were hung in the little shrine where the black volcanic stone was kept. They were known as Maallakat, or Suspended Books, which had the same meaning among Arabian literati as the term classic bore among the Italian scholars of the Renaissance. Numbered with these books of the Kaaba were the poems of Antar, who was thus the Taliessin of Arabian chivalry.

It is indeed necessary to recollect that in reading the episodes of Antar we have been taken back to the heroic age in the Arabian peninsula. War is considered the noblest occupation of a man, and Khaled despises the love of a noble maiden "from pride in his passion for war... Continue reading book >>

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