The Downpour, or Commentary on the “Lamiyah” of the Persian


Al-ghayth al-musjam fī sharḥ Lāmīyat al-ʻAjam (The downpour, or commentary, on the Lamiyah of the Persian) is a commentary by the famous man of letters Khalil ibn Aybak al-Safadi (circa 1297‒1363) on the poem al-Lamiyah by Persian scientist and poet al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali al-Tughra’i (1061 or 1062‒circa 1121). Both writers are widely known and studied by scholars in a variety of fields: chemistry, alchemy, history, and literature. Al-Safadi comments extensively on al-Tughra’i’s poem al-Lamiyah, digressing at length on many topics, serious and humorous. Indeed, writing this book provided occasion for al-Safadi to show off his comprehensive knowledge of literature and virtuoso wordplay. The volumes are well-indexed, so the reader can dip in to read about such diverse topics as chemistry, wine drinking and other luxuries, flirtation, and love-making. The author mixes the serious with the profane in his review of topics supposedly touched upon by al-Tughra’i, many of whose verses would be lost but for this collection. Al-Safadi is known as an historian and for his biographical dictionary Wafi bi-al-wafayat (Trustworthy obituaries). Al-Tughra’i was a chancery clerk at the court of the Seljuks in Persia (present-day Iran) and is best known for his works on alchemy. This two-volume edition was published in Cairo in 1888. The first volume begins with an introduction and ends with injunctions about wine and luxury. The second volume begins with introductory remarks and ends with a note on the delights of wordplay. On the margin of the volumes is a commentary by al-Safadi’s contemporary, Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Nabatah (1287‒1366), on Sarh al-ʻuyun (Meadow for the eyes), a work on pre-Islamic and early Islamic poets by Ahmad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Zaydun (1003 or 1004‒71).

Last updated: July 28, 2017