An unpublished Hebrew strophic poem from the Geniza with an Arabic kharja

by Ulf Haxen


SUMMARY: The point of departure of the paper is an unpublished anonymous strophic poem from the Geniza in Hebrew, with an Arabic kharja.


The poem, a wedding song, exhibits marked archaic features in the literary context as well as in its metrical structure, very similar to other pre-muwashshah patterns, e.g. no 140 in Haim Schirmann’s New Hebrew Poems from the Geniza (1965).


The question to be considered is whether this poem and other  ‘zajal-like’ muwashshahat offer a clue as to an explanation of the enigmatic sections in Ibn Sana’ al-Mulk’s poetic treatise Dar at-Tiraz, in which the influence of musical rhythm is emphasized.


Ibn Sana’ al-Mulk alludes to a shift in rhythmic emphasis when speaking about the metrical transition from qufl to ghusn, and vice versa, and when pointing to the final strophe, the kharja, as a ‘metrical jump’, to be observed by the poet-composer.


Ulf Haxen

Hebrew Department,

Royal Library,