Usama ibn Munqidh was born on 4 July, 1095 in northern Syria. In the last decades of his
life he concentrated on writing, collecting his scattered poems into a much-praised
Diwan, but specialising in topical anthologies of poetry and prose like The Book
of the Staff or Kernels of Refinement. Usama's last patron was the mighty sultan
Saladin, to whom he intended his most famous work, the Book of Contemplation. He died
in Damascus in 1188.