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Friday, January 01, 2016

Takhmees (Five-Folding) of the Burdah

Takhmees (five-folding) is a post-classical derivative literary device whereby a poem is extended by taking the first hemistich of some of its verses and preceding them with five hemistiches that have matching rhyme, metre, mood, and meaning. With the frequent exception of opening verses, the rhyme of Classical Arabic poetry matches the second hemistich only, not the first. Since the first hemistich of each verse typically has a unique rhyme, every group of five hemistiches added will have its own rhyme.

So, whereas a classical poem will have a rhyming structure a-a/b-a/c-a/d-a/e-a..., a poem that has undergone takhmees will be more like: 

a/a/a/a/a/a-x
b/b/b/b/b/b-x
c/c/c/c/c/c-x

Where a-x, b-x, and c-x are the original verses of the poem consisting of two hemistiches each. The individual letters are individual hemistiches matching the rhyme of the first hemistich of the original.

Here is short clip of Atwani (from Upper Egypt) reciting part of a takhmees of the Burdah:

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