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The classic form of qasida maintains a single elaborate metre throughout the poem, and every line rhymes. It typically runs more than fifty lines, and sometimes more than a hundred. The genre originates in Arabic poetry and was adopted by Persian poets, where it developed to be sometimes longer than a hundred lines.
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Arabic qaṣīda means "intention" and the genre found use as a petition to a patron. A qasida has a single presiding subject, logically developed and concluded. Often it is a panegyric, written in praise of a king or a nobleman, a genre known as madīḥ, meaning "praise".
In his ninth century "Book of Poetry and Poets" (Kitab al-shi'r wa-al-shu'ara') the Arabian writer Ibn Qutaybah describes the (Arabic) qasida as formed of three parts;
- a nostalgic opening in which the poet reflects on what has passed, known as nasib. A common concept is the pursuit by the poet of the caravan of his beloved: by the time he reaches their camp-site they have already moved on.
- a release or disengagement, the takhallus, often achieved by describing his transition from the nostalgia of the nasib to the second section, the travel section or rahil, in which the poet contemplates the harshness of the land and life away from the tribe.
- the message of the poem, which can take several forms: praise of the tribe (fakhr), satire about other tribes (hija) or some moral maxim (hikam).
While many poets have intentionally or unintentionally deviated from this plan it is recognisable in many.
After the 10th century Iranians developed the qasida immensely and used it for other purposes. For example, Naser Khosro used it extensively for philosophical, theological, and ethical purposes, while Avicenna also used it to express philosophical ideas. It may be a spring poem (Persian بهاریه, baharieh) or autumn poem (Persian خزانیه, khazanieh). The opening is usually description of a natural event; the seasons, a natural landscape or an imaginary sweetheart. In the takhallos poets usually address themselves by their pen-name. Then the last section is the main purpose of the poet in writing the poem. Ismaili and twelver Shias recite qusidas, many of which are written by Rumi, Nasir kusraw and many others. Farsi Qasida, dam Hama dam Ali Ali was written by rumi in Turkey in praise of imam Ali. This is a verse:
- Saki e ba wafa manam
- Dam Hama dam Ali Ali
- Sufi e ba safa manam
- Dam Hama dam Ali Ali
- I am a humble poet. In rapture my soul cries Ali Ali
- I am a Sufi pure of heart. In rapture my soul cries Ali ali
Persian exponents include;
- Farrokhi Sistani, the court poet of Mahmoud Ghaznavi (11th century), especially his 'Hunting Scene' (in Persian: قصیده شکارگاه),
- Masud Sa'd Salman (12th century) who was wrongfully imprisoned on the suspicion of treason
- Anvari Abiverdi, (12th century) especially his petition for help against the invasion of Mongols
- Khaghani Shervani (12th century)
- and in the 20th century, Mohammad Taghi Bahar with his innovations in using the qasida for political purposes.
From the 14th century CE Persian poets became more interested in ghazal and the qasida declined. The ghazal developed from the first part of qasida in which poets praised their sweethearts. Mystic poets and sufis used the ghazal for mystical purposes.
The Urdu Qasida
- Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa: Vol. 1 Classical Traditions and Modern Meanings, eds Stefan Sperl, C. Shackle, BRILL, 1996
- Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa: Vol. 2 Eulogy's Bounty, Meaning's Abundance, eds Stefan Sperl, C. Shackle, BRILL, 1996
- Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (London, 1991) p12-13