The forgotten poets of Andalusia.. discovering the absent “pulse of meaning”.


I have a lover, take him like a rose, well in white

He is irritable between people and satisfied in solitude

When does the oppressed get justice and the oppressor is a judge?

The Moroccan researcher and poet Mithal al-Ziyadi appears affected as she recites these verses of the Andalusian poet “Al-Balashiya”, during the signing of her book “News and Poetry of the People of Andalusia… From the Conquest to the Fall of Granada” at a book fair in Marrakech.

And she expresses apparent regret because “we have not reached us from the heritage of these poets except for a little bit of it, or only the title of a poet, or an orphan’s house or half of a house, and some of them lost her name, and what we got from her poetry remained, although it was few, associated with the title of the maidservant or the performance.”

Al-Ziyadi tells Al-Jazeera Net that the newly published book – a thesis for obtaining a doctorate degree under the supervision of Dr. Muhammad Al-Zarif – collected in it what differed in the sources, and sought to stop the bleeding of the loss that befell the heritage of Andalusian poets.

meaning pulse

Whoever follows what was written about the poetry of Andalusia in the feminine form finds it arbitrary. The studies focused on a specific period of time, or were confined to some poets. Rather, they reported their poetry isolated from the news surrounding it.

Moroccan academic Dr. Muhammad Aynak told Al-Jazeera Net that Al-Ziyadi’s dissertation “succeeded in combining poetry and news, because the poetry of Andalusia cannot be separated from its general context, and it cannot be understood apart from the reasons for its occurrence.”

He adds that this collection is a discovery of the “pulse of meaning” absent in the poetry of Andalusian poets.

Abdelghani Ballout/ Morocco/ Dr. Mohamed Anak giving a lecture
Dr. Muhammad Anaq: Al-Ziyadi’s thesis succeeded in combining poetry and news (Al-Jazeera)

Al-Ziyadi asserts that the Andalusian society was open to multiple and diverse cultures, in which women enjoyed great freedom; Men participated in the councils of literature and debated them with poetry, and the effect of this was evident in her boldness in dealing with some topics such as spinning or extreme satire.

Al-Ziyadi explains that “Al-Balashiya” – for example – confesses her love, and describes the beauty of her lover from the whiteness of the cheek, so she likens him to roses, then describes his estrangement and anger at her, and that he is the oppressor and the judge at the same time.

She expressed her suffering in short verses, with deep meanings, in which she relied on creative improvements such as counterpoint and alliteration.


Al-Ziyadi transported the recipient to a bright era of literature, before “the injustice that befell the poets of Andalusia” became entrenched in his mind. The reasons for this are due to “the man singles out his codification at every historical stage by setting special criteria by which he selects what deserves documentation from the texts, so his position on literature written by women was often unfair.”

It evokes what Ibn Bassam (the writer, scholar, and poet) said in his book “Al-Dhakhira fi Merits of the People of the Island,” which he documented for the flags of Andalusia.

And she indicates that he jumped on a number of Andalusian poets, and even declared this publicly, as in his position on the poetess Walada Bint Al-Mustakfi, where he mentioned in his talk about her that she had poetry, but he did not find anything worthy of codification along with the poems of the rest of the figures whose names he mentioned.

And he says, “She was – they claimed – reading verses of poetry, and I read things from it in some of the comments that I did not mention, and I folded it in its entirety, because most of it is satirical, and I have no repetition or expression, nor from my book on earth or heaven.”


After mentioning 36 Andalusian poets, the researcher highlights the presence of 4 foreign poets who arrived in Andalusia. 3 from the east (Sarah al-Halabiyya, Qamar al-Baghdadiyya, and the slave girl al-Ajfaa) and a fourth from the country of the Romans (Qalam al-Jayya), all of whom were influenced by the Andalusian environment.

Al-Ziyadi explains that they are imprinted with the nature of Andalusian women, so that it became difficult to distinguish between them, because they came as young children to Andalusia, so they received education and upbringing in Andalusian palaces and houses, and memorized poetry and texts, so when the poetess emerged among them, she was comparable to other Andalusian women.

Among the funny stories that were told about Al-Aghfa, what Al-Arqami mentioned about his coming with his friend Abi Al-Saeb to the house of Muslim bin Yahya, the mawla of Bani Zahra, and when he saw her “A’fa’a as a calf” he belittled her, and when she took a lute she sang:

In the hand of the one whose heart yearns for you, is the relief of what it throws out of worry.

So be aware that I have been assigned to you, then do whatever you want with knowledge.

Al-Arqami said, “It improved in my eyes, and it seemed that I had removed the chaff from her, and she crawled with my father, Al-Saeb, on the ground. Then the maid moved to another verse, so she sang, which made the two men lose their minds.”


Whoever searches for the links presented by female poets of Andalusia is affected, but rather becomes a lover, and this is reflected in his field of interest as well as in his poetic creativity.

This is what happened to the poet “Mithal”, according to the words of the academic Muhammad Aynak, who referred to the participation of the women of the two banks – especially between “Mithal” and the poets of Andalusia – in two things: daring to choose, and expressing the passion that surrounds the heart.

You write “example”:

My destination was wrong

When I loved you without a compass

And you made my heart a fire that warms you

I was left in the dark without shelter

And “Mithal” employs the names of places and human flags in its creative texts, to create its own poetic significance,” adds the same speaker.

And you write:

O kings of sects

Congrats on Magic of Thrones

Your shrouds are embroidered

The groans of the tune

It glides between the eyelids

I am present with the nudity of my alienation

Medium drizzle.


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The forgotten poets of Andalusia.. discovering the absent “pulse of meaning”.

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