SOME OBSERVATIONS ON QUANTITY IN ARABIC METRICS* It is with some satisfaction that one reads in a fairly recent book on Persian metres that the author prefers a direct analysis of the material available in the diwans and anthologies of the poets, rather than accept- ing off-hand the theories of the classical prosodists.' Priority of sources over interpretations seems a very sound principle indeed, and, in fact, it enables the author of the book, Professor L. P. Elwell-Sutton, to put for- ward the idea that, whatever traditional opinion may be, Persian metre must not be thought to have been copied from Arabic. His book, then, deals with Arabic metre as well, but here he does not study the poems themselves but pins his faith to an orientalist's analysis of a theoretical ac- count by an Arab philologist. As it is, Halil's circles are an attempt not so much to describe actual metres in all possible detail, as to reduce the pro- fusion of metrical variants to a minimum of abstract formulae; and Gott- hold Weil, the orientalist in question, was so impressed with the beauty of Halil's theoretical construct, that he not only failed to compare it with
Journal of Arabic Literature – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1982
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