AL-KHAY � L � NI-A VARIATION OF THE KHAYAL MOTIF The khayal or tayf is a "vision" of the beloved, appearing by night, a fa- vourite motif of Arabic love poetry from the time of the Jahiliyya. As I have argued in a paper published in 1990,` it was first conceived as an ap- parition or ghost, confronting the poet in the external world, not always wel- come, and sometimes even terrifying him. Later, from the early 7th century onwards, it was referred to as a vision the poet sees in his dream, longed for and fulfilling his secret wishes, granting favours the beloved herself re- fused. This last aspect is dwelled upon with satisfaction especially in the Umayyad period. Thus far, there seems to be no problem. Dreaming about a person one is in love with is a universal experience, by no means limited to Arabic poets. Also, it presents no difficulties for our understanding as to its cause, nor for that of medieval poets. Some of them realized and said so plainly in their verses that the appearance of the khayal was the result of wishful thinking. When analysing later variants of the motif, however, one
Journal of Arabic Literature – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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