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Poetic immersion: Mutanabbi's descriptive imagery.

The article addresses descriptive imagery in the poetry of the leading classical Arab poet Al-Mutanabbi using stylistic analysis and interpretive reading. This poetic immersion breaks away the descriptive motifs from their specific occasions and traditional functions, revealing other depths and significance in them. The article selects six images: the Other, in an elegy, where the description of the elegized ponders life and death, character and generosity. The second is the Self where the poet reflects on the nature of poetry. The third revolves around the lion but moves to a reflection on power and hegemony. The fourth image is of a lake where the animate and inanimate are mixed producing a symbolic discourse. The fifth image is that of a garden, but presented as mother nature. The sixth set of images deals with the notion of arts, including such varied ones as poetry, horsemanship and war. The article proposes in this reading of descriptive poetry to go beyond the traditional modes of categorizing to find new criteria revealed only upon poetic immersion in the text and interpretive sensibility.

Mahmoud El-Rabei is Professor of Arabic Literature at the American University in Cairo. He received his B.A. from Cairo University and his Ph.D. from London University. He has taught courses on Arabic Literature, Literary Criticism, Comparative Literature, Literary Theory and Translation, at the Universities of Cairo, `Ain Shams, Algeria and Kuwait. He has published several books, among which are: On Poetic Critisism, Reading the Novel, and Reading Poetry. He has translated several literary and critical works into Arabic. He wrote an autobiography entitled At Fifty I Knew my Way.
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Article Details
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Author:El-Rabei, Mahmoud
Publication:Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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