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What is a Qaṣīda?


In my last post, "There Be Dragons: A review of Khaled Mattawa’s Fugitive Atlas: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2020)", I mentioned a poetic form called a Qaṣīda he included in his fine book of poetry. Often defined as the arabic word for poetry, its etymology runs much deeper and is really quite fascinating.


"Qasida an Arabic word, derived from the root qsd. It means solid and complete, brain or marrow. Another meaning of qsd is to desire. A poem that eulogizes the beloved is termed qasida. The range of the themes of qasida is very wide. It may contain beauty and love, the rise and fall of time, spring and garden, morality and wisdom, blessings etc. Although qasida is mainly a eulogy of the beloved, it also contains satire." — from Banglapedia

The form has three phases — first an amorous preface, then an address to those in the form of a eulogy, and finally either praise or criticism for the individual or tribe associated with the person. There are numerous colloquial versions of the form throughout the Islamic world and far east, reaching into Africa, each with their own favorite "local" poets of repute.


I highly recommend you have a look at the form.








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