Asked • 03/19/19

How does scansion work in Arabic poetry?

I was reading about Arabic poetry on [Wikipedia](, and specifically the description of scansion: > The rhymed poetry falls within fifteen different meters collected and explained by al-Farahidi in *The Science of ‘Arud*. Al-Akhfash, a student of al-Farahidi, later added one more meter to make them sixteen. The meters of the rhythmical poetry are known in Arabic as "seas" (*buḥūr*). The measuring unit of seas is known as "*taf‘īlah*", and every sea contains a certain number of taf'ilas which the poet has to observe in every verse (*bayt*) of the poem. The measuring procedure of a poem is very rigorous. Sometimes adding or removing a consonant or a vowel can shift the *bayt* from one meter to another. Also, in rhymed poetry, every *bayt* has to end with the same rhyme (*qāfiyah*) throughout the poem. This confused me for a number of reasons. - What does it mean to have fifteen different meters? Meter in poetry is the overall rhythmic structure; are the fifteen different things actually [feet]( - Is "seas" really just another word for meter, or is there some significant difference between the "seas" of Arabic poetry and the meter of western poetry? - Since seas are made up of taf'ilahs, does that mean it's a *taf'ilah* which is basically a foot? I've looked for a better description of this, but searching for "seas arabic poetry" just gave me a list of results which were essentially identical to the above-quoted Wikipedia page. Is there a better resource for learning about the scansion structure of Arabic poetry? **What are the basics of how scansion works in Arabic poetry?** -

1 Expert Answer


Jacob A. answered • 04/16/20

4.8 (10)

MA in Arabic teaching, MA in Linguistics

Still looking for help? Get the right answer, fast.

Ask a question for free

Get a free answer to a quick problem.
Most questions answered within 4 hours.


Find an Online Tutor Now

Choose an expert and meet online. No packages or subscriptions, pay only for the time you need.