Tawil

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For other uses, see Tawil (disambiguation).

Ṭawīl (Arabic: طويل‎‎, literally 'long'), or al-Ṭawīl (الطويل), is a compound meter used in classical Arabic poetry.

It comprises distichs (bayt) of two 'lines' (in Arabic usually written side by side, with a space dividing them, the first being called the sadr (صدر, literally "chest") and the other the ʿajuz (عجز, literally "belly"). Its basic form is as follows (the letter L representing a long syllable, S representing a short syllable, and X representing a syllable that can be short or long):[1]

S L X | S L L L | S L X | S L S L |
S L X | S L L L | S L X | S L S L |

This form can be exemplified through the traditional mnemonic Faʿūlun Mafāʿīlun Faʿūlun Mafāʿilun (فَعولُن مَفاعيلُن فَعولُن مَفاعِلُن).

The final syllable of every distich rhymes throughout the whole poem; a long poem might comprise a hundred distichs. In Classical verse, each distich is a complete syntactic unit.[2]

Ṭawīl was one of the most popular metres in early classical Arabic poetry, comprising over half the surviving corpus of pre-Islamic poetry. One early exponent was Imru' al-Qais, whose Mu‘allaqāt is in the metre.[3] Its famous opening distich runs:[4]

قفا نبك من ذِكرى حبيب ومنزل / بسِقطِ اللِّوى بينَ الدَّخول فحَوْملِ

qifā nabki min dhikrā ḥabībin wa-manzilī / bi-siqṭi l-liwā bayna d-dakhūli fa-ḥawmalī[5]

Stay—Let us weep at the remembrance of our beloved, at the sight of the station where her tent was raised, by the edge of yon bending sands between Dahul and Haumel.[6]

Ṭawīl is often used alongside another meter called basit (بسيط).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Classical Arabic Literature: A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology, trans. by Geert Jan van Gelder (New York: New York University Press, 2013), p. xxiii.
  2. ^ Charles Greville Tuetey (trans.), Classical Arabic Poetry: 162 Poems from Imrulkais to Maʿarri (London: KPI, 1985), pp. 8-9.
  3. ^ Muhammad al-Sharkawi, The Ecology of Arabic: A Study of Arabicization, Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics, 60 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 82, 83 n. 17.
  4. ^ Arabic Poems: A Bilingual Edition, ed. by Marlé Hammond, Everyman's Library (New York: Knopf, 2014), p. 12.
  5. ^ Classical Arabic Literature: A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology, trans. by Geert Jan van Gelder (New York: New York University Press, 2013), p. xxiii.
  6. ^ William Jones, The Moallakát: Or Seven Arabian Poems, Which Were Suspended on the Temple at Mecca (London: Elmsly, 1783), unpaginated, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qbBCAAAAcAAJ.