Besides the types of Jewish poetry in Yemen - nasid, sirah, zaffeh, haduyo and hallel - there is a further poetic form known as qasid. While the other types have received observation and research, the qasid has not yet been fully investigated. Qasid differs from the other types in content and in language. The poems are folk songs, light, entertaining, and amusing in content. They are written in spoken Arabic so that the simpler people and the women, who did not know Hebrew very well, could understand them. Those who copied the Yemenite diwans did not attach much importance to the qasid and did not assign a separate section to it, so that qasid songs are scattered throughout the manuscript. It seems that what is known of the qasid songs in the diwans is only a remnant of a rich repertoire forgotten with the passage of time. The composers of these songs were mostly gifted folk poets. The subjects are amusing tales from the Jewish lore, such as the Creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the story of Joseph and his brothers, the Exodus, Hannah and her seven sons, etc. There are also contemporary stories, like tales of the social life of the Jews and of the Moslems, animal stories, and anecdotes about dishes and other objects: a tale of a cup and a tallith that were stolen and a rose-water spray that was broken. These songs had a triple function: educational; moral; and entertaining. They told people about Jewish legends in an amusing manner; they taught morals through their tendency to reward the good and punish the wicked; and they provided entertainment through their content and music. The qasid were sung at the end of parties, once the serious part of the affair was over and the Rabbis and honoured guests had left.
The writer of this article is in the process of studying twenty qasid songs which he has collected from Yemenite diwans, making a detailed survey of their contents. The entire text of the qasid 'abda' birabbi di kalaq is published here, with Hebrew translation and apparatus. The musical treatment of the same qasid, performed by Zecharia Ya'acobi, is the subject of U. Sharvit's article in this volume.