Bashar Ibn Burd

Bashar Ibn Burd was born in the year 714 C.E. in the Umayyad Caliphate, in the city of Basra. During his lifetime, the Abbasids rose to power, overthrowing the Ummayads except in the Andalus.

His Grandfather had been a slave from Persia and his father a convert to Islam or Mawla, a second class citizen. Growing up the city of Basra, Bashar showed his poetic talents early but was born with a disability. He was born blind.

Clouddust of battle over their heads was like the night
And glitter flashes from the motion of our swords
Lighted the darkness like falling stars.

This poem extract talks about a battle his tribe the Uqayl tribe fought and won. However, he is best known for his court poetry, known as hijāʾ, which is also satirical. He served in the court of Caliph Al-Mahdi after the Abbasids built Baghdad to be their capital. He was told to stop writing love poetry, as it was thought to be morally lax, even licentious, as he wrote about drinking, sex and slave girls. He quickly broke the ban but it was a critical hijāʾ of Al-Mahdi which got him arrested. He was charged with heresy and zindiqism, was beaten to death and his body dumped in the Tigris river in the year 784 C.E.
Arabic Poetry on Language is a
Looking Back-On Abbasid Poetry by Tam Hussein on
Lawful Magic and a Blind Arab Poet by Rachel Hajar on her blog My Life in Doha.
Arabic poetry: a primer for students by Arthur John Arberry. Via Google Books.
Appunti su Baśśār b. Burd by F. Gabrieli. JStor article in Italian.
La evolución de la poesía árabe by Adel Ghadbán. JStor article in Spanish.

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