Abu al-ʿAtahiya

(748 - c. 825)

Born into a poor family in a small town in 748, Abu al-ʿAtahiya worked as a pottery merchant and learned how to compose poetry in Kufa before he moved to Baghdad, where his poem in praise of the ruling caliph earned him a place at the Abbasid court. He soon fell in love with a slave girl belonging to the caliph, and she became the object of his literal and literary desire while vehemently resisting his entreaties. Abu al-ʿAtahiya eventually gave up writing love lyrics in favor of the ascetic poetry for which he is best known.

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