Images from the pages of al-Funun

al-Khansa’ known as “the gazelle” or “the snub-nosed one” was the sobriquet of Tumadir bint ‘Amir of the Arab tribe Sulaym and the clan Sharid. She lived during the years immediately preceding the advent of Islam and arrived in Madinah ca. 629 with a deputation from her tribe to embrace it.

She was famous as a poet of which her elegies for her two brothers killed in skirmishes with rival tribes obtained the highest esteem. Her poetry developed and perfected the previously rough poetic form of the eulogy before her time. She enriched it with new expressions that promoted not so much the linguistic aspect of Arabic poetry—though her technique was superb, but the imagery one. She felt that her poetry was most striking for its intensity in projecting a sense of feeling, both violent and tender, to her audience.

Though she converted to Islam and encouraged her children to fight for their new faith, her poetry exhibits an undeniable pagan feeling to it.

al-Khansa', al-Funun 2, no. 10 (March 1917)

al-Khansa’ (b. ca. 575 d. ca. 645)

Al-Khansa’ and her poetry offered Nasib the ability to highlight a well-respected Arab poetess who used poetry not to display her technical aptitude as much as to express herself.  Her picture above appeared in al-Funun alongside an anonymous essay titled “Dhikra al-Khansa’,” which is believed to have been written by either Nasib or Gibran.

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