Sample Undergraduate Education Literature Review

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Arabic Poems

Arabs often consider poetry to be the diwan al-Arab (the essence of Arabic) (Wright, 1996). In fact, they often call their language the language of poets. This attitude towards literary, poetic genre can be explained by looking at the literary heritage bestowed on Arabs. Arabs often tend to be strongly connected to classical poets.

In the Arab world, poetry is considered the most popular literary medium that reflects their history, cultural values, and sense of self-identity. In Arab poetry, structured classical poems represent the height of Arabic classical literature except for the Quran.

Arab poems are characterized by lineation, enjambment, rhyme, meter, and foot. Lineation refers to the organization or arrangement of a poem into lines, including dividing a poem into verses or stanzas.

The foot is the group of syllables that form the prosodic unit without considering word boundaries. Enjambment refers to carrying the grammatical structure and sense over a length of line with no punctuated pause.

Classical Arabic poetry did not have enjambment. Each line created a syntactic unit and closed by a full stop (Wright, 1996).


Rhyme refers to the words at the end of a line or sounds in syllables. The patterns of the repeated rhymes are referred to as rhyme schemes.

Arabic poetry’s nature is two-fold, adherence to a fixed rhyme scheme and characterized by strictly sticking to metrical rules. The identification of rhymes in Arabic poems is based on Wrights’s classification of rhyming words.

These words are found in a poem in a line. They are often considered stylistic devices along with sonorous effects such as alliteration and assonance. As defined by wringing, the rhyme only ends in a consonant.

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In Arabic verse, rhythm is quantitative. It consists of changing short and long syllables instead of English poetry based on changing unstressed and stressed syllables (qualitative). The syllable, either short (u) or long (-), forms the Arabic metrical system’s basic unit. Also, in Arabic poetry, a combination of syllables constitutes afoot that further combines forming meters.

Arabic poetry has a trimester where a foot is repeated three times and a dimeter, in which a foot is repeated two times. A line involving afoot that is repeated four times is referred to as a tetrameter. In Arabic poetry, the short syllable is a Consonant (C) which is followed by another vowel (short vowel (V).

The long syllable in Arabic poetry can be C+ diphthong + C, C + diphthong, CV, and C + diphthong + C. In classical Arabic poetry, the metric system consists of 16 different meters, namely: al-basīṭ, almunsariḥ, al-sarī´, al-rajas, alkāmil, al-Hijaz, al-mutaqārib, al-wāfir, al-ṭawīl, al-mutadārik, al al-mudāri,´ -Muqtada,al-Ramal, al-xafīfand al-madīd, and lastly al-mujtaṯ.

These structures are obtained from the Greek metric system. The first four are of iamb (different combinations), while the last 12 meters are further grouped and described based on their inherent structures. The iamb is the commonly used element in Arabic meters. It is, in fact, reflected in all Arabic morphology.


Wright, W. (1996). A Grammar of the Arabic Language, third edition, Libraire du Liban, Wiesbaden