Rith%C4%81'
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Rith%C4%81'
Rith? written in ancient Arabic script in 1863

Rith?' (Arabic: ?‎) is a genre of Arabic poetry corresponding to elegy or lament. Along with elegy proper (marthiyah, plural mar?th?), rith?' may also contain ta?r (incitement to vengeance).[1]

The genre was used by both male and female poets, and is one of the main genres in which ancient and medieval Arabic female poets are known to have composed.[2] Indeed, almost all our pre-Islamic women's poetry is in this form.[3] The subjects of the rith?' are (almost) invariably dead male warriors (furs?n) and lords (s?dah), predominantly those who fell in battle.[4]

The genre is prominent in the corpus of the earliest surviving Arabic poetry; it 'provides some of the most moving examples of the poetic voice, as in the poems of al-Khans?' (d. ca. 644) for her brother, ?akhr, killed in tribal combat':[5]

I was sleepless and I passed the night
keeping vigil, as if my eyes had
been anointed with pus,
For I had heard--and it was not news
to rejoice me--one making a report,
who had come repeating intelligence,
Saying, 'Sakhr is dwelling there in a
tomb, struck to the ground beside
the grave, between certain stones'[6]

Alongside al-Khans?', major female exponents of the rith?' poems of whose survive include the pre-Islamic Jan?b Ukht 'Amr dh?-l-Kalb, Layl? al-Akhyaliyya (d. 706 CE), and Layl? bint ?ar?f (d. 815 CE). Their style was characterised by 'uninhibited expression of sorrow coupled with praise for the deceased'. 'Most of the elegy composed by men, however, resembled the eulogistic qadah in general pattern'.[7]

References

  1. ^ Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), p. 161.
  2. ^ Tahera Qutbuddin, 'Women Poets', in Medieval Islamic Civilisation: An Encyclopedia, ed. by Josef W. Meri, 2 vols (New York: Routledge, 2006), II 865, http://nelc.uchicago.edu/sites/nelc.uchicago.edu/files/2006%20Women%20Poets%20(Med.%20Islamic.%20Civ.%20Enc.).pdf.
  3. ^ Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), p. 163.
  4. ^ Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), p. 163.
  5. ^ R. M. A. Allen, 'Arabic Poetry', in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, edited by Stephen Cushman, Clare Cavanagh, Jahan Ramazani, and Paul Rouzer 4th edn (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), pp. 65-72 (p. 66).
  6. ^ Trans. by A. J. Arberry, quoted by R. M. A. Allen, 'Arabic Poetry', in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, edited by Stephen Cushman, Clare Cavanagh, Jahan Ramazani, and Paul Rouzer 4th edn (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), pp. 65-72 (p. 66).
  7. ^ Arabic Literature to the End of the Umayyad Period, ed. by A. F. L. Beeston, T. M. Johnstone, R. B. Serjeant and G. R. Smith, The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983)



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