Names of the Lion

Names of the Lion

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Author: Al-Husayn Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khālawayh

Translator: David Larsen

Publisher: Wave Books (2017)

An English translation of the late tenth century Arabic lexicographer Ibn Khālawayh’s list of names of lions. This unique collection engages an ancient scholarly practice of documenting with precision and clarity. Larsen's lively introduction, notes, and the 400 epithets are an engrossing work of cultural studies.

"In this remarkable work of translation and discovery David Larsen makes available to us what we can now read as a powerful old/new act of poetic naming. Not composed as poetry in the familiar sense, Ibn Khalawayh’s Names of the Lion comes alive today as a further example of Emerson’s definition of the poet as “namer and language-maker.” Larsen’s careful and groundbreaking translation, presented here in its entirety, is well worth a reading and celebration as an instance of pre-modern assemblage brought into the framework of a new poetics."

–Jerome Rothenberg 

"A mystifying and delightful treatise that conveys, as few other texts do, the voluminousness of the classical Arabic language and its poetic resources. Its author was a literary celebrity during a period crowded with savants, and his idiosyncratic genius is on full display in this astonishingly erudite but wonderfully readable book."

–Elias Muhanna

"As with Gertrude Stein’s insight cited elsewhere, a poetry of names emerges, even & sometimes most powerfully in forms & genres not associated with poetry as such…an indication of how far our own practice has come in the extension of what we identify or read as poetry."