Kristof D'hulster deposited Licit Magic – GlobalLit Working Papers 5. Enderūnlu Ḥasan-i Yāver’s Poetry’s Artistry, or How to “Turn Words into Licit Magic” in the group Digital Middle East & Islamic Studies on Humanities Commons 1 year, 5 months ago
Purportedly in response to a request by his unnamed beloved one, the late 18th-century Ottoman poet Ḥasan-i Yāver wrote Poetry’s Artistry, a 441-verse mathnawī that offers some hands-on advice for trying one’s hand at poetry. As tashbīh, jinās, kināya, taḍādd, taḍmīn, ilmām, iltifāt, tardīd, ishtibāh, tawriya, īhām, takhmīs, tarkīb-band, and much more follow in quick succession, Ḥasan instructs the novice on how to compare and suggest, pun and puzzle, doubt and reject, paraphrase and translate.
As a DIY, however, the work falls short. Clearly preaching to the choir, Ḥasan deals merely with a selection of figures and genres and presents these in their barest outlines only. However, it should be noted that Ḥasan has included some less ubiquitous items as well, such as the rhetorical figures of makhlaṣ-parvarī and taʿlīq al-muḥāl. In particular Ḥasan’s discussion of how to successfully combine two hemistiches into a distich — in such a way that “these constitute a single pith, as a pistachio or almond” — appears to be of rare occurrence.
Nonetheless, rather than thinking of Poetry’s Artistry as a DIY or vade-mecum, a more fruitful way to engage with it is to think of it as a metapoem, that is, a poem that combines some of the technicalities of what poetics are with a more reflexive turn on what poetry and poets ought to be. As such, the succinct yet succulent Poetry’s Artistry is well worth a read, as it allows the modern reader not only to familiarize him- or herself with the stock motifs, figures and formats of Ottoman high poetry, but also to contemplate the radically different societal role that poetry once played.