Qasida

I went to Regensburg the other day to participate in a conference and give a lecture there. For fun I had added an extra day to my visit, so I would be able to see something of the town as well. Regensburg is a medieval town that wasn’t bombed during the Second World War, so it’s worth a visit.

While the conference was underway we had plenty of opportunities to see the town. The organisers had even planned a guided city tour for all participants. My extra fun day off was superfluous, I had nothing to do except visit some bookstores to search for a copy of a German book I’ve been wanting to have ever since I read it in school. I found it rather quickly.

So, early in the morning of my fun day, I wanted to leave. There was nothing further to do. But as my trip back wasn’t planned until the day after, I killed some time in an excellent internet café and walked about a bit being very bored.

That very same evening my attitude changed completely. When I saw the towers of the Regensburg Dom lit up in the night I suddenly realised I was going to miss all this and I did not want to leave. The places I had been going to with the other participants became meaningful to me, even though they were now deserted: the lecture hall, the restaurants, the Dom.

Apparently it’s a common feeling for humans as it also found its way into classical Arabic poetry. The qasida more precisely, a form that always starts with some description of a deserted campsite, usually where a loved one had dwelt, and where the poet reminisces about what happened there.

Maybe deep down, I’m an Arab…

4 Responses to “Qasida”

  1. In Arabic it is called “البكاء أو الوقوف على الأطلال” literally, “crying or standing over the ruins.” It’s a special characteristic of pre-Islamic poetry, the “period of ignorance” in which Islam had not yet arrived, “شعر العصر الجاهلي.”

  2. […] During my recent visit to Regensburg in Germany I bought a copy of Schachnovelle by German author Stefan Zweig. In the […]

  3. […] week of 2010 I spent in Cork where I visited three friends that I had met a few months earlier in Regensburg. On my last night there we went out and had dinner at a Japanese-style restaurant. I ordered […]

  4. […] of direction About a year ago I was in Regensburg for a conference. This was just after my girlfriend and me broke up, and the long-awaited […]

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