Abu al-Waleed Ahmad Ibn Zaydún al-Makhzumi (1003-1071) or simply known as Ibn Zaydún (Arabic full name,أبو الوليد أحمد بن زيدون المخزومي) or Abenzaidún according to Christian sources was a famous Arab poet of Cordoba and Seville. He was considered the greatest neoclassical poet of al-Andalus.
He reinvigorated the impassioned lyrics in Arabic by infusing it with more personal and sensual tones of experience. This supposed him to be considered the best of the loving poets of the Muslim Hispania and to become a model for all subsequent Western Arab poetry. His love affair with the princess and poet Wallada and his exile inspired many of his poems.
Life and Work
Ibn Zaydun was born in Cordoba to an aristocratic Arab family of the tribe of Makhzum. He grew up during the decline of the Umayyad caliphate and was involved in the political life of his age. He joined the court of the Jahwarid Abu al-Hazm of Cordoba and was imprisoned by him after he was accused of conspiring against him and his patrons.
His relationship with the Umayyad princess Wallada was quickly terminated by Wallada herself. Some attributed this change of heart to Ibn Zaydun's early anti-Umayyad activities, while others mention his rivalry with the rich minister Ibn Abdus, a former friend of Ibn Zaydun, who supposedly gains Wallada's favor and supported her. It is suggested that Ibn Abdus himself was the one who instigated Abu al-Hazm ibn Jahwar against Ibn Zaydun.
He sought refuge with Abbad II of Seville and his son al-Mu'tamid. He was able to return home for a period after the ruler of Seville conquered Cordoba. Much of his life was spent in exile and the themes of lost youth and nostalgia for his city are present in many of his poems. In a poem about Cordoba he remembers his city and his youth:
God has sent showers upon abandoned dwelling places of those we loved. He has woven upon them a striped many-coloured garment of flowers, and raised among them a flower like a star. How many girls like images trailed their garmets among such flowers, when life was fresh and time was at our service...How happy were, those days that have passed, days of pleasure, when we lived with those who had back flowing hair and white shoulders
His romantic and literary life was dominated by his relations with the poet Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, the daughter of the Umayyad Caliph Muhammad III of Cordoba. According to Jayyusi in her book The Legacy of Muslim Spain, "Ibn Zaydun brought into Andalusi poetry something of balance, the rhetorical command, the passionate power and grandeur of style that marked contemporary poetry in the east...he rescued Andalusi poetry from the self-indulgence of the poets of externalized description."
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- S. Jayyusi. (1992). The Legacy of Muslim Spain. pp. 343–351.