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Medieval Persian Court Poetry

Medieval Persian Court Poetry

Julie Scott Meisami
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Medieval Persian Court Poetry
    Book Description:

    Dr. Meisami discloses previously neglected stylistic qualities and ethical purposes in medieval Persian court poetry, and shows that court poets were also moral instructors who examined and celebrated the values they shared with their audiences. The book also takes into account the close relationship between Persian and Arabic court poetry.

    Originally published in 1987.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5878-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-V)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. VI-VI)
  4. Preface
    (pp. VII-2)
  5. I Poet and Court in Persia
    (pp. 3-39)

    The close relationship between court and poet in Persia dates from pre-Islamic times, when the poet-minstrel enjoyed an important and influential position at the court of the Iranian emperors.¹ Ancient Iranian society centered around the person of the ruler, the king of kings, who ruled through an administration headed by his chief minister; traditionally, the ruler remained separate from his household, concealed from even the highest dignitaries by an intervening curtain, and transmitted his commands to the assembled court through a noble who bore the title Khurram-bāsh, “Be joyful.”² The king showed himself in public only on such ritually important...

  6. II The Poetry of Praise: The Qasidah and Its Uses
    (pp. 40-76)

    The panegryicqaṣīdah,the first major genre of Persian court poetry, was at first, necessarily, heavily influenced by Arabic models (poets were, moreover, expected to be able to compose fluently in both Arabic and Persian). These models were soon developed and modified to suit the specific needs of poets at Persian courts, in particular the more courtly image of the ruler they sought to project, an image that contrasted with the more heroic one, which increasingly dominated the Arabicqaṣīdah.¹ On the basis of these modifications, critics often make a distinction, in speaking of Persian poems, between “Arabic” and “Persian”...

  7. III Romance: The Language of Experience
    (pp. 77-130)

    While panegyric was, quite naturally, the first major poetic genre to appear and flourish in courtly circles where composition in Persian was encouraged, other genres did not lag behind. With Fakhr al-Dīn Gurgānī’sVīs u Rāmīn,composed around 1050 (only a decade after the death of Manūchihrī), the courtly verse romance emerged as a full-fledged genre with distinctive conventions of its own. Prior to this work (with the exception of several early efforts to be discussed later), the epic held pride of place in narrative verse, particularly in the unparalleled achievement of Firdawsī’sShāhnāmah,in which the ancient history of...

  8. IV Romance: Character as Moral Emblem
    (pp. 131-179)

    The genre of romance is distinguished by the importance it gives to the inner life of its protagonists. As the devices of monologue, dialogue, and description are used to establish character and to comment on the action, that action itself further reveals the moral qualities of its agents. In contrast to epic andchanson de geste,where the action is characteristically organized with reference to a larger, external design (such as the fate of a people), the romance plot is organized around the protagonist and his biography—a type of organization that allows the romance writer

    to place in special...

  9. V Romance as Mirror: Allegories of Kingship and Justice
    (pp. 180-236)

    More than any other genre of courtly poetry, the verse romance deals with the specific ethical concerns—both immediate and far-reaching—that were shared by the poet and his audience. One of the most pressing of such concerns was without doubt the question of kingship. The proliferation of mirrors for princes during the period in which Persian romance flourished (from the advent of the Saljuqs to the Mongol invasion) testifies to the widespread interest not only in establishing the practical ethics of kingly conduct, but in defining the nature of kingship and the qualifications of the ideal sovereign.¹ It is...

  10. VI Ghazal: The Ideals of Love
    (pp. 237-298)

    In theqaṣīdah,the topic of love serves as a preliminary to panegyric; however essential it may be in establishing the poem’s ethical and/or topical context, as formal subject matter its role is subsidiary to that of the primary topic of encomium. In romance, while love is the central topic around which the plot (typically, the protagonist’s love quest) revolves, it also provides a means of exploring analogous or related issues. At first glance, it appears that in theghazalthe topic of love at last comes into its own. Theghazal,which emerged as an independent poetic genre with...

  11. VII Conclusion: The Art of the Court Poet
    (pp. 299-318)

    In the prologue to theHaft Paykar,following the account of his search for source material and the comparison of his craft in constructing the poem to that of a jeweler working with precious stones, Niẓāmī invokes two other likenesses for poet and poem: that of the architect and the edifice he builds, and that of the painter and his paintings. The two are closely interwoven.

    This poem’s design I have adorned

    with seven brides, like Magian Zand:

    So that, should the sky’s brides decide

    to turn their gaze uponmybrides,

    Through like affairs and ornaments,

    each of them...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 319-340)
  13. Index
    (pp. 341-345)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 346-346)