Abu l-’ Atahiya
(748 - 828)
Born into a poor family in a small town in 748, Abu l-’Atahiya 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 l-’Atahiya eventually gave up writing love lyrics in favor of the ascetic poetry for which he is best known.