The Qasida is an Pre-Islamic poetry genre/form from developed in Arabia oral tradition in the 6th century rooted in the Bedouin cycles of nomadic desert life, and spread throughout it’s historical life into wild varying contexts throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It is often defined as an ode, has a strict and elaborately complex structure of both form and content, and can be either laudatory, elegiac, and/or satirical.


The classical Qasida is as follows:

  • although traditionally a nomad’s poem of longing and desire and pride, it eventually became a court’s praise poem, often in praise of a king or nobleman, and often intended for performance in a ritual, ceremony, or festive context
    • the primary metaphor that constitutes and defines a Qasida is of being in sojourn, lost in the desert and seeking a loved who is perpetually out of reach
    • as Bedouin tribal themes and material became no longer relevant, or were not relevant from the beginning as the form migrated into other cultures, the Qasida was adapted, thematically speaking. In Persia it came to celebrate the beauty of the beloved, nature and the seasons. Popular Qasidas were sacred Qasida’s, notably the Qasida Burda or the “Ode of the Mantle” by Busiri, and mystical Qasida’s by Rumi. The Indian qasida was a courtly panegyric: ornamental, glorifying, impersonal and seen not as flattery but as currency. As a few examples of its transmutations and adaptations throughout culture and history.
  • divided into three parts:
    • the Nasib-meant to draw in the audience’s sympathy, the poet mourning separation from his beloved, who’s own caravan is always out of reach, usually nostalgic in tone.
    • the Rahil-“or travel section” in which, in traditional Bedouin tribal Qasidas, this section would describe his horse or camel, desert animals, the desert life, Bedouin life and warfare, etc. More broadly it seems that the rahil describes the physical journey, the environment and sojourn of the poet.
    • “the message of the poem, which can take several forms: praise of the tribe (fakhr) or a ruler (madīḥ), satire about other tribes (hija) or some moral maxim (hikam).”
  • anywhere from 20-100 lines long
  • each line divides into symmetrical half-lines arranged in two columns
  • any meter goes, but it applies to all the lines and needs to be consistent
  • maintained a single end rhyme that also occurs at the end of the first half-line of the first verse
    • (aa, ba, ca, da…)


Britannica, T. E. (n.d.). Qaṣīdah. Retrieved from
Greene, R., & Cushman, S. (2012). The Princeton encyclopedia of poetry and poetics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hashmi, S. Z. (2017, December 08). Transmutations of the Qasida Form and Ghalib’s Qasida for Queen Victoria. Retrieved from
Koeneke, R. (n.d.). Qasida by Rodney Koeneke. Retrieved from
Meisami, J. S. (2018, October 07). The Uses of the Qasida: Thematic and Structural Patterns in a Poem of Bashshar in: Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 16 Issue 1 (1985). Retrieved from
Qasida. (2019, July 27). Retrieved from


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