Video: "Ta'abbut Sharran" from the Mufaddliyyat

For the past few weeks I've been reading poetry with the director of my program in Qatar, Dr. Abdulla Abd Al-Rahman.

We've been reading a text called Diwan al-Mufaddliyyat ديوان المفضليات which is a collection of pre-Islamic poems put together by the Classical linguist and literary scholar Al-Mufaddil Al-Dabbi المفضل الضبي. After some run-ins with the Abbassid Caliph Abu Ja'afar al-Mansur, Al-Mufaddil was 'asked' to educate the Caliph's son Mehdi and did so with this collection of 130 qasida قصيدة, or odes. Dr. Abd Al-Rahman described these poems as "the key to Arabic literature".

Today, I have a video of me reciting the first poem from memory. Dr. Abd Al-Rahman, who also teachers our Modern Arabic Literature class, encourages all of us in the program to memorize poetry. Not only is it part of Arab literary culture - Arabs pride themselves on their poetry, and rightfully so - but its very helpful from a language point of view. Memorizing poetry helps with pronunciation as well as strengthening broader language skills like grammar and syntax. I'm working now on a piece about the power of Arabic poetry, and I hope to have that up soon too.

The first poem is called "Ta'abbut Sharran" تأبط شرا and begins with the line: يا عيدُ ما لَكَ من شوق و إيراقِ.