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AWANI, ISḤAḲ IBN AL-:

Head of the Academy of Bagdad until displaced by a rival; lived in the thirteenth century. He was a contemporary of Al-Ḥarizi, who seems to have made much fun of him. Referring to his displacement from his academical position, Al-Ḥarizi accuses him of having paid for the chair then occupied by another. Awani's poetry finds no mercy at the hands of this rigorous critic, who exhausts his supply of stings upon him. But Al-Ḥarizi's judgment upon Awani has proved to be a most unjust one, being simply the expression of discontent and revenge for insufficient payment of his own poetic efforts, or possibly of merely wounded vanity. Of all Awani's poems only one has been preserved, which has recently been published. It shows, however, sufficiently that the poet deserves a place among the foremost masters of "muwashshaḥ" (popular poetry). With regard to form, Awani faithfully observes all the rules of the art. His so-called "girdle-poem," which is a poem on friendship, is strictly metrical and fully rimed, and it shows the author's name in acrostic. In contents the poem is likewise of considerable merit. Babylonian though he was, he knew and had a skilful mastery of all the figurative expressions derived by the old Spanish classical writers from the Arabs and adopted into Hebrew poetry. The language is pure and free from all harshness; the connection is well preserved; and the whole is permeated by a genuine poetical spirit. Hazardous as it may be to pronounce a final judgmentconcerning a poet based on a single poem, it is nevertheless true that the perusal of this one production is sufficient to show that he was no bungler in the art.

Bibliography:
  • H. Brody, in Zeit. f. Hebr. Bibl. ii. 157;
  • D. Kaufmann, ibid. p. 188.
G. H. B.
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