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QasidaQasida (also spelled qasidah) in Arabic , in Persian (or 'chakameh'), is a form of poetry from pre-Islamic Arabia. It typically runs more than 50 lines, and sometimes more than 100. It was later inherited by the Persians, where it became sometimes longer than 100 lines and was used and developed immensely.
Qasida is often panegyric written in praise of a king or a nobleman. This kind of qasidah is known as a madih meaning praise. Qasidas have a single presiding subject, logically developed and concluded.
The qasida is made up of couplets. The two halves of the first couplet rhyme and the second part of each of the other couplets rhymes with the first couplet (AA BA CA DA EA ...).
The classic form of qasida maintains a single elaborate meter throughout the poem, and every line rhymes. These poems are considered some of the most elaborate in the world.
In his 9th century Kitab al-shi'r wa-al-shu'ara' (Book of Poetry and Poets) the Arabic writer ibn Qutaybah says that (Arabic) qasida are formed of three parts: - They start, he says, with a nostalgic opening in which the poets reflects on what has passed, known as nasib. A common concept is the pursuit of the poet of the caravan of his love; by the time he reaches their campsite they have already moved on. - The nasib is usually followed by the takhallus - a release or disengagement. The poet often achieved this disengagement by describing his transition from the nostalgia of the nasib to the next portion of the poem. The second section is rahil (travel section) in which the poet contemplates the harshness of nature and life away from the tribe. - Finally there is the message of the poem, which can take several forms: praise of the tribe, fakhr; satire about other tribes, hija; or some moral maxims, hikam.
While a lot of poets have intentionally or unintentionally deviated from this plan in their qasida it is recognisable in many.
One of the most popular and well known qasidas is the Qasida Burda ("Poem of the Mantle") by Imam al-Busiri, which is based on the quintessential classical qasida by Ka'b ibn Zuhayr. Ibn Zuhayr's classical qasida was composed at the dawn of Islam, and as a token of his conversion. In exchange for his poem, the Prophet Muhammad awarded Ibn Zuhayr his burda, or mantle.
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