Abu Nuwas

(c. 755 - c. 814)

Born sometime in the mid-eighth century, the Arabian poet Abu Nuwas—“He of the Dangling Locks”—is most famous for his poems in praise of wine, although he also extolled the pleasures of love, hunting, and general debauchery. There is a story in The Thousand and One Nights in which a caliph sends his eunuch to bring Nuwas to him. Found drunk at a tavern and unable to settle his debt to a young boy, the poet is still capable of versifying extemporaneously about the boy’s beauty. The amused caliph heard of it and promptly settled Abu Nuwas’ debt. The Devil reportedly appeared to one of Nuwas’ lover to warn him, “I will lead astray the community of Muhammad with this youth of yours; I will not be satisfied until I sow love for him in the hearts of all hypocrites and lovers on account of his sweet and pleasant verse.”

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