ABU TAMMAM'S 'SPRING' QAS � DA: RAQQA T HA W � SH � ¸L-DAHRI1 No critic can provide us with a blueprint for interpretation; the most we can expect is that he will suggest ways of looking at things that might not otherwise have occurred to us. cabbasid criticism may have more to yield in this respect than is often conceded. To the fourth-/tenth-century critic al-Amidi, one of Abu Tammam's most annoying mannerisms is his failure to tie up ends. His descriptions and images peter out: they cannot be resolved into fully concrete, finished or consistent pictures.2 To al- Amidi, this indeterminacy makes Abu Tammam's poetry essentially closed and personal, something with no fixed meaning, at best to be semi-apprehended by a clique. As often, al-Amidi's analysis is pertinent even when his conclusion is debatable. In Abu Tammam's 'spring' qasida (raqqat hawdshf 'l-dahri) indeterminacy is well to the fore, and indeed to my mind is the poem's chief organising principle, whether as pictorial or lexical indeterminacy, or as an obliqueness of exposition and linkage. But this very indeterminacy is designed to make the poem-perhaps a Noruz offering?-not just a public tribute to the caliph, but a perfor- mance
Journal of Arabic Literature – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1994
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