“An indescribable charm surrounds the early poetry of the Arabs. Dwelling in the wonderful creations of their genius with the ancient poets, you live, as it were, a new life. Cities, gardens, villages, the trace of even fields, left far out of sight, you get always into the free atmosphere of the desert.”
So wrote Sir William Muir, encapsulating the essence of the poetry contained in this scarce volume, privately published in 1887. The first part of the work contains The Mu’allaqat, or “Suspended” poems, seven prize poems which, in the sixth century, were chosen to be displayed at Mecca, “written on silk and adorned with gold.”
The middle part of the work is an anthology of shorter poems displaying the typical freshness and charm of Arabian verse, here translated by J.D. Carlyle.
There follows the eighth century epic “Romance of Antar”, the complete work of which is said to be “bound up in forty-five volumes”, representing the best of all early romantic poetry, and from which European chivalric verse is thought to originate.