Senses and sensuality: Synesthetic imagery in the Siculo-Arabic ghazal poems

  • Ilenia Licitra University for Foreigners “Dante Alighieri”, Reggio Calabria


Numerous examples of ghazal poems include metaphorical images describing the altered body of the lover. The yearning for love, passion, disappointment, languish: each stage of the love affair can change the lover appearance. Even more, the alteration can affect also his perception of the beloved body: due to the intensity of the love experience, his sensory perception could end to intertwine, by blending or intermingling his different sense modalities. The verbal transposition of such a visionary state often requires the poet to employ widely rhetorical devices, and particularly synesthesia, in order to enhance the multiple perception of his audience. This paper will focus on the use of this figure in the love poems from the Siculo-Arabic poetic repertoire (10th-12th centuries). In fact, these authors frequently combine the figurative use of words with synesthetic effects, thus involving the reader in a vivid experience: a multilayered text articulating a multisensory perception.


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Author Biography

Ilenia Licitra, University for Foreigners “Dante Alighieri”, Reggio Calabria

Ilenia Licitra is Assistant Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the University for Foreigners “Dante Alighieri” of Reggio Calabria. Her current researches mainly concern the employment of rhetorical devices and figurative language in the Arabic poetry, with a specific focus on Arabic literature of Sicily and al-Andalus. Among her most recent publications on this topic, the monograph Il Canzoniere di al-Ballanūbī (Rome: IPO: 2021), within the series “Islamic Sicily: texts, literary and linguistic research” under the direction of Mirella Cassarino.

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