bows to what you long for;
My mouth is a source of clear sweet water, and the hair of
my head is a leafy shade.
I hoped you were thirsty and struck by the sun, when the
noon hour would bring me to you;
Give me answer quickly: it is not nice, o Jamil, that you
keep Buthayna waiting!
We know little to nothing of her early life. Her father was a wealthy Berber from Granada, so we may assume she grew up in luxury and received an excellent education. By the time the Almohads wrested the rule of Al-Andalus from the Almoravids, when she was in her late teens or early twenties, she had already started a love affair with the Governor’s secretary and her fellow poet Abu Ja'far Ahmad ibn Sa’id. From the evidence of both her poetry and his, it seems that she instigated the relationship and continued to visit him openly, despite the far stricter morality of the new Almohad rulers.
Sometime around 1160, Abu Ja'far joined a rebellion against his employer, Abd al-Mu’min, governor of Granada. In 1163, he was captured and executed. The story goes that al-Mu’min had other resons for executing Abu Ja;far as well, namely that he was in love with Hafsa, though the truth of this is impossible to tell.
Hafsa, however, was more than a poet and lover. Many knew and respected her as a teacher. Indeed, one of her colleagues described her as the most noteworthy teacher of her time. Her students were numerous and after the death of Abu Ja'far* she traveled widely. In the end she wound up in Marrakesh in Morocco, where the Almohad Caliph Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur engaged her to teach his daughters. She would remain there for the rest of her life, dying in her 50s in the year 1190.
*Possibly before it as well.
"Hafsa bint al-Hajj Arrakuniyya" in Poems for the New Millenium: Volume Four, edited by Pierre Jouris, Habib Tengour. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012. [text is here]
Louis Di Giacomo, Une Poétesse Grenadine du Temps des Almoḥades: Ḥafṣa bint al-Ḥājj, Collection Hespéris, Institut des Hautes-Études Marocaines 10, Paris: Larose, 1949. [text is here]
Schippers, Arie. "The Role of Women in Medieval Andalusian Arabic Storytelling." In Verse and the Fair Sex: Studies in Arabic Poetry and in the Representation of Women in Arabic Literature, edited by Frederick de Jong, 139-152. Utrecht: Publications of the M. Th. Houstma Stichting, 1993. [text is here]
Hafsa bint al-Hajj al-Rukuniyya - Wikipedia