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In Old Arabic poetry from the pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods to the end of the orthodox Caliphate, one theme is the lightning-scene. In this the protagonist asserts that he could not sleep because he saw lightning flashing far away in the sky. The book explores the various functions of this scene, and its relationship with other parts of the poem.
This study achieves two main goals. The first sheds light on two important terms connected with Old Arabic poetry: the function and the narration. We see how a certain element can function differently from text to text, and how these different functions influence the narration of a poem and consequently make it - to some degree - idiosyncratic; i.e., a text that differs from other poems that include the same element. The second purpose is to make a comprehensive study of the components, namely the motifs included in the lightning-scenes. Here, the author reaches conclusions regarding whether these components differ significantly from text to text, or whether they are merely repetitions. In other words, this study examines whether the lightning-scenes in themselves are idiosyncratic or - on the contrary - are fossilized and conventional follow long-established poetic traditions.