Al-Sarī al-Raffā’

Al-Sarī al-Raffā’ (Arabic: السري الرفاء) or Abul-Hasan Al-Sari ibn Ahmed ibn Al-Sari Al-Kindi Al-Raffa Al-Mausili (Arabic: أبو الحسن السري بن أحمد بن السري الكندي الرفاء الموصلي) (d. 362 H/973 CE) was a poet in the court of Sayf al-Dawla.

Sample poem

One of al-Sarī's riddles runs as follows:[1]

A‘dadtu li-’l-layli idha ’l-laylu ghasaq, / wa-qayyada ’l-alḥāẓa min dūni ’l-ṭuruq,
Quḍbāna tibrin ‘ariyat ‘ani ’l-waraq / shifā’uhā in maruḍat ḍarbu ’l-‘unuq.

I prepared for the night (when it darkened and fettered the eyes, obscuring the roads)
Leaveless twigs of gold which, should they wilt, may be reanimated by cutting their necks.

The answer is 'candles'.


  1. Pieter Smoor, 'The Weeping Wax Candle and Ma‘arrī's Wisdom-tooth: Night Thoughts and Riddles from the Gāmi‘ al-awzān', Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 138 (1988), 283-312 (p. 299),

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