Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
THE preface with which these Poems are accompanied in the Mostatraf, at the same time that it explains the cause of their composition, gives no bad picture of Arabian manners during the flourishing period of the Khalifate:—
I was one day going to the mosque [says Abu Akramah, an author who supported himself at Bagdad by the profits of his pen], in order to see if I could pick up any little anecdote which might serve for the groundwork of a tale. As I passed the gate of Abu Isy, son of the Khalif Motawakkel, I saw Mashdud, the celebrated extempore poet, standing near it.
Mashdud saluted me, and asked whither I was going. I answered, to the mosque, and confessed without reserve the business which drew me thither. The poet, upon hearing this, pressed me to accompany him to the palace of Abu Isy. I declined, however, complying with his solicitations, conscious of the impropriety of intruding myself uninvited into the presence of a person of such rank and consequence. But Abu Isy's porter, overhearing our conversation, declared that he would put an end to my difficulties in a moment, by acquainting his master with my arrival. He did so; and in a short time two servants appeared, who took me up in their arms, and carried the into a most magnificent apartment, where their master was sitting.
Upon my introduction, I could not help feeling a little confused, but the Prince soon made me easy, by calling out in a good-natured manner, "Why do you stand blushing there, you simpleton? Take a seat." I obeyed: and in a few minutes a sumptuous collation was brought in, of which I partook. Nor was the juice of the grape forgotten: a cupbearer, brilliant as the morning star, poured out wine for us, more sparkling than the beams of the sun reflected by a mirror.
After the entertainment I arose, and having invoked every blessing to be showered down upon the head of my bounteous host, I was preparing to withdraw. But Abu Isy prevented me, and immediately ordered Mashdud, together with Rakeek and Rais, two musicians, whose fame was almost equal to Mashdud's, to be called in. They appeared accordingly and having taken their places, Mashdud gave us the following satiric song: