Arabic is a vast and rich language that was practically invented to write poetry. The oldest surviving Arabic literature is in fact written in verse– and Arabic poetry has thrived in spectacular fashion over the years, with poets occupying central roles in history. Below are some of the Arab poets who have kept the art alive:
Masri, who favors poetic prose, reflects deeply on life, love, nostalgia for her homeland of Latakia, Syria, and the war that has broken out in her homeland since.
An excerpt from A Red Cherry on A White-Tiled Floor:
Like grains of salt
This is how they disappeared,
who did not love me.
الذين لم يحبوني
Born Ali Ahmad Said Esber, Esber poet uses free verse and varying meter to reflect on his childhood. Adonis began his poetry education after he recited a poem to the President of Syria, who then gave him funds to enroll in Damascus University.
A Time Between Ashes and Roses
A child stammers, the face of Jaffa is a child / How can withered trees blossom?
A time between ashes and roses is coming
When everything shall be extinguished
When everything shall begin
يتمتم طفل، وجه يافا طفل هل الشجر الذابل يزهو؟
يأتي وقتٌ بين الرّماد والورد
ينطفىءُ فيه كلّ شيء
يَبْدأ فيه كلّ شيء
It checks out that the first Algerian woman ever to publish a book had quite a few things to say. In her critically acclaimed volume “Black Suits You So Well”, she tells a moving story about post-colonialism, women’s rights, and the voice of a generation.
An excerpt from ‘Black Suits You So Well’:
“Nobody gives the flower the option to wither on a branch or in a vase.
Spinsterhood is a relative issue.
A woman can marry and have children but still feel like a spinster deep down…
Like a flower shedding its petals under the roof of married life.”
.لا أحد يخير وردة بين الذبول علي غصنها أو في مزهرية
.العنوسة قضية نسبية
…بإمكان فتاة أن تتزوج وتنجب وتبقي رغم ذلك في أعماقها عانساً
.وردة تتساقط أوراقها في بيت الزوجية
Perhaps best known for his iconic novel The Prophet, the multitalented Lebanese author wrote his fair share of poetry, too. His essay-length musings surrounded the topics of nature, beauty, religion, and spirituality.
An excerpt from ‘On Beauty’:
And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.
And he answered:
Where shall you seek beauty, and how
shall you find her unless she herself be your
way and your guide?
وقال الشاعر، حدثنا عن الجمال
أين تبحثون عن الجمال، وكيف
تجدونه إن لم يكن هو
We’re throwing it all the way back to the 6th century AD for this one. Imru-ul-Quais is widely considered to be the father of Arabic poetry and wrote about his life at the forefront of his battles to regain his father’s kingdom, after a chance at being King was brutally snatched away from him by invaders.
From The Song of Imru-ul-Quais
As I lament thus in the place made desolate, my friends stop their camels;
They cry to me “Do not die of grief; bear this sorrow patiently.”
Nay, the cure of my sorrow must come from gushing tears.
Yet, is there any hope that this desolation can bring me solace?
وُقُـــوْفـاً بِـهَـا صَـحْـبِـي عَـلَّي مَـطِـيَّـهُـمُ
يَــقُـوْلُـوْنَ: لاَ تَــهْـلِـكْ أَسَـىً وَتَـجَــمَّـلِ
وإِنَّ شِــــفــائِــي عَـــبْـــرَةٌ مُـــهْــرَاقَـــةٌ
فَــهَـلْ عِـنْدَ رَسْــمٍ دَارِسٍ مِـنْ مُعَوَّلِ؟