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too far; besides we have many motives for believing that every question ineluded in this branch has been fully brought before the public in a manner to justify the conclusion that it will be properly and fairly treated. We feel assured, in the mean time, that the public will agree with us in awarding the praise due to industry and ingenuity to Mr. Bulwer, for the display of both which he has made in this work : we wish it every success, being satisfied that the important questions of which it treats could not by possibility be examined with a happier combination of talent, judgment, and authentic information, than Mr. Bulwer has brought to the task.
ART. X.-Flowers of the East. With an Introductory Sketch of Oriental Poetry and Music. By EBENEZER Pocock. 1 vol.
London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co. 1833. The minstrelsy of Persia is an object of very interesting and very instructive speculation, a fact which we shall readily be inclined to acknowledge when we remember that she continues to be at this very hour the fairy land which we used to read about in our child. hood, when we mingled in spirit with her heavenly peris, and listened to the sounds of the Ghuzul as they floated on the breeze which carried the richest aromatic odours to please one sense, whilst it bore the notes of a delicious melody for the gratification of another. We find from the work before us, that the kindred arts of poetry and music are still cultivated in the romantic regions of the East, with the same fervour as Firdousee and Nizami, with all their divine endowments, were once inspired. Lately, indeed, we have been so much taken up with our own poetry, that we have not had time almost to give our attention to any other ; but if it were only for the purpose of interrupting the self-adulation to which we appear to have been of late so severely condemned, we shall not hesitate to invite the public to the consideration of the peculiarities which belong to the wonderful muse of Persia.
We find that so far as long poems, such as those of the epic dimensions, are concerned, the Persians are desirous of just remaining as they are, being to all appearance perfectly satisfied with the standard productions of this class already to be found in their literature. It is only in the smaller compositions, in the lyrical and elegiac stanzas, that they are accustomed to admit of any innovations, and here they well make up, by the multiplicity of parieties, for the restrictions by which they are bound in the former department. So abundant are these varieties, and so important is it held that they should be carefully distinguished from each other, that the nomenclature of the songs and airs of Persia is become a distinct study in itself.
The true lyric, as it is understood by us, is called the Ghuzul,
and it is usually accompanied by the lyre. This sort of poem is composed of several distichs, which have one standard measure : the first couplet is a pair of rhyming hemistichs, called Moothu. Formerly it was allowed to be very long, but now it is by general consent limited to twelve distichs. Under this head may be ranked, compositions expressive of the grief of unhappy love; encomiums on love and friendship; the beauty of a beloved object; the anacreontic; and, not unfrequently, the mystic tenets of the Soofee; and as the subject may demand, is addressed either to a friend, or to some fair lady; in the last couplet, the poet generally introduces his own name.
The Soofee here mentioned is a religious Mahometan, who is devoted to prayer and solitude. The compositions under the head just mentioned, are accompanied most commonly by the sounds of an instrument called chung, which is a sort of harp. The Quseeduh is that sort of song which we technically denominate idyllium, a word that usually denotes a short poem on a pastoral subject; it is generally made use of when the composer has to express either encomium or satire, or to speak in a moral strain. Thus it will be seen, that it very much resembles the Ghuzul, except in this respect, that it must consist of more than twelve couplets, and the first two or three of these couplets must be rhyming distichs. The terminating verses of the Quseeduh, when it is written as an en. comium, is called the “ dua ta beed,”_" as long as it endures may you exist." All those poems which are written under the influence of love, are privileged with a particular designation, the word “ Tushbeeb" being used, as it signifies a description of youth and beauty.
Other short forms of poetry are the Roobae, consisting of two distichs, with alternate rhymes, like our elegies—the Byt, a couplet which may be in rhyme or not, like our heroics—and the Musnuvee, or short rhyming lines, which are said by the Persians to be wedded. The Persian poets copiously employ images in their descriptions; the vegetable world, the firmament with its unnumbered luminaries, supply rich and shining models whereby these bards attempt to convey some notion of the attractions of the mistress of their affection. In the code of the minstrel lovers of Persia, love and life are merely convertible terms, and the word “jan” means both life and the object of one's affection. One remarkable feature in the poet's address is never missing, namely, an apostrophe to himself and to his birth place. In many of the lyrics, too, we find the poet professedly addressing his mistress in language the most enthusiastic ; and it is not until we come to the close of the stanzas that we find that its object is quite distinct from the sub. lunary one which we had supposed, being directed to the Supreme Being himself. The fair damsel who forms the ostensible principal of the lyric is often treated by the poet as a ray of the divinity,
who, by her resplendent beauty, reminds him of the glory of the original.
Mr. Pocock gives some curious explanations of the laws of metre and prosody adopted by the Persians; but these are insignificant in comparison with the account which he presents to us of the improvisatori of the east. We can trace something like these characters in the Old Testament. The effusions of Moses, of Miriam, Baruch and Deborah, can only be regarded in the light of those bursts of eloquence or poetry, which possess the order and the exactness of premeditated compositions. Even at this day, we are told by the author, it is not unusual in Spain, at an evening's entertainment, (in the country especially,) for one of the most gifted of the intellectual coterie there assembled, to rise up, and extemporaneously give a poetic challenge to some individual in the company, in what measure he may please ; from this the challenged does not shrink; and (on the contrary) generally comes off with honor. This is styled the “bola ;" because the challenger, at the close of his short poem, exclaims, “bola ;" and this term is, in all probability, an Indian vocable, since it signifies“ speak,” or “reply.” But we must return from this digression, to confine our attention more closely to the east, the great source of the improvisator.
During the conquests of the Mohamedan power, the sultans of Bagdad always numbered amongst their retinue a number of improvisatori, and during successive Caliphates, the names of several persons are recorded as having distinguished themselves in this art. Professor Carlysle, an admirable oriental scholar, thus accounts for the origin of the curious practice of improvising, at least in the eastern world :
“ Carawash, sooltan of Mousel, being one wintry evening at a party of pleasure along with Barkaeedi, Ebn Fahdi, Aboo Jaber, and the poet Ébn Alramacran, resolved to divert himself at the expense of his companions. He therefore ordered the poet to give a specimen of his talents, which at the same time should convey a satire upon the three courtiers, and a compliment to himself. Ebn Alramacran took his subject from the stormy appearance of the night, and immediately produced these verses:
“ Lowring as Barkaeedi's face
The wintry night came in;
And lengthened as his chin!
And kept as far apart,
Bagdad"the conques great source to contine our reply."
“At length the rising king of day
Burst on the gloomy wood,
Traces of the existence of improvisatori in ancient Greece are found, and we know that Italy in modern times is crowded with professors of this art. Whether or not Greece and Italy are indebted for it to Persia, remains a doubtful question ; certain it is, however, that the productions of the Italian improvisatori stand unrivalled, and are distinguished from all others by their superior merit.
In no department have the eastern countries shown more ingenuity than in the invention of musical instruments, and it is generally believed that some of those in use in modern Europe were originally derived from the east. A brief view of the instruments now most popular in Persia may not prove uninteresting. The shuh-shuh is an instrument with four strings, not unlike a violoncello; the ubur is a common lute. The seelee has a large hollow, with a deep tone. The yunum is a large instrument, strung with brass wires, and struck with a short plectrum. The burboot is a favourite species of lute in Persia, said to have been invented by a famous musician of that name, who was tutor to Khasrou · Parveez, king of Persia. This instrument, indeed, under the name
of barbiton, was known to the Greeks, being introduced to them from Persia. The ujuk resembles the guitar. The ood is, strictly speaking, a lute, and is a favourite amongst the Arabians. It has four strings; viz. the zeer, or most acute; the mutslimothlik, tuned a fourth below the zeer ; the mutsulluts, a third below the mutsni; and the bem, or bass, tuned a fourth below the mutsulluts. The shusta (from shush, six,) has six strings, and is of the guitar species; the roobab has three strings, and has a body shaped somewhat like a tortoise. The gitar is a six stringed instrument, the cithara of the Greeks and Latins, as also the catrous of the Chaldeans; and is the parent of the guitar of Spain, being introduced into that country by the Arabians, together with the gallant custom of serenading the ladies; on which occasion, as Mr. Richardson observes, not only the words of the song, but the melody, and even the colour of their habits, were expressive of the triumph of the fortunate, or the despair of the rejected lover. The other names of the lute and harp species are, the kiran, the mizhur, the kunarut, the kumanchuh, and the zuntoor. The koonjbad seems to be the Eolian harp; the miskul, a species of Pan's reed-pipe, of unequal lengths; and the tooloombuh, a water-organ.
Another instrument is the Kumanchuh, made of mulberry-wood, which has three strings, and is played with a bow. In Sir Wm. Ouseley's collection of Persian manuscripts, is a paper on its manufacture, from which we find that silken strings are recomVOL. II. (1833) no. IV.
Kurruna sound which it
more sera pipe, to the
mended as best adapted to it. The reason given will no doubt make the reader smile, inasmuch as it is founded on a supposed sympathy between the strings and the wood, the strings being the production of silkworms, which constantly feed on the mulberrytree. A similar superstition has given rise to another regulation in the manufactory of these articles ; namely, that no attempt should ever be made to furnish the same burboot with strings from a wolf's and sheep's intestines, for if brought together, these strings will either give out no sound at all, or if they yield one, it is sure to be of the most discordant and disagreeable nature.
The drums, the invention of which belongs to the Arabians, are numerous, and vary indefinitely in size, shape, and in the power of emitting sound. Formerly the Persian field-officers had them attached to their saddles, and beat the word of command upon them. The military drum, which is formed on an immense scale, and is the only one played in the palace or at head-quarters to announce the emperor's approach, is called Koos. Not less abundant are the wind instruments, one of which, the trumpet, called Kurrunai, was employed by Tamerlane in consequence of the terrible sound which it sent forth, and which resounded to a distance of several miles. A more graceful and milder music proceeds from the Nychuh, a sort of pastoral pipe, to the sounds of which the Dervishes usually perform their holy dances. But the most curious feature in the history of their music is, that which relates to their manner of noting music, which is by forming an oblong rectangle, divided by seven straight lines, perpendicular to its sides, and representing, together with the two lines of its superior and inferior extremities, eight intervals. Each of the lines is of a different colour, which it is important to remember. The “ yuk” is green; the “ doo” red; the - see" blue; the “ char” violet; the “ punj” camomile-yellow; the “ shush” amber-black; and the “ huft" a bright blue. But not unfrequently, the name of the letter marks the interval; as, alif, instead of yuk, &c.
Sir William Jones, in speaking of the music of Persia, shows, by an elaborate analysis of their method, that the modes which they have fixed for varying the sounds amount to no less than eighty-four, and these they distribute, according to an idea of locality, into twelve rooms, twenty-four recesses, and forty-eight angles or corners.
For the materials of the foregoing statement we are indebted to the researches of Mr. Pocock, who has laid before the public the results of his inquiries into the state of Persian music, and has placed them very suitably, in the form of prefatory matter to the great poem which forms the principal portion of the Flowers of the Cast. The Pund Namuh is a production which has been long celebrated in the eastern world, not merely as a splendid monument of poetical genius, but as a text-book containing the elements of a moral code, which is generally employed for the purposes of