A Critical Introduction to Modern Arabic Poetry by M. M. Badawi

By M. M. Badawi

This publication is the 1st severe survey of the improvement and achievements of ‘modern’ Arabic poetry, right here signifying the interval from the latter 1/2 the 19th century to the current day. It levels over the total Arabic-speaking global and features a dialogue of the paintings of poets who emigrated to the USA and Latin the United States. 4 major levels are tested within the improvement of a particularly sleek Arabic poetry: the ‘neoclassical’, within which poets grew to become to their literary background for his or her beliefs and idea; the pre-romantic’, which was once marked by means of a rigidity among a converted classical type and new romantic sentiments, itself the mirrored image of a much broader cultural circulation in the direction of switch and modernization; the ‘romantic’, during which the tensions among shape and content material have been resolved, and a lyricism and ease of language turn into the norm; and the ‘modern’ or ‘contemporary’ that is typified through a response opposed to romanticism, and ruled through both devoted social realism or symbolism and surrealism. within the absence of any related released paintings in a ecu language, the booklet, in addition to being designed for college kids of Arabic literature and of comparative literature, can also be of curiosity to the final reader. No wisdom of Arabic is presupposed: all of the verse (newly translated via the writer) is given in English translation, and technical terminology has been decreased to a minimal.

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The qasida, the old Arabic ode, with its monorhyme and monometre, or rather the Abbasid version of it, remained the ideal poetic form, an imposing verbal edifice which relied for its effect upon sheer rhetoric, oratory and resounding music. In place of the embroidery of preceding poets Barudi and his followers tried to achieve on the whole the verbal economy, the pithiness, tautness and simplicity of the medieval Arabs and to breathe new life into much of the old vocabulary. They took great trouble to polish their language: like the western neoclassicists they believed in the value of, and need for, what Horace described as labor limae, to the extent that their conscious artistry was always in danger of becoming mere skill and cold craftsmanship, and indeed at times it was no more than that, particularly where a poem is choked with archaisms.

In a poem dealing, among other things, with the problem of food shortage after the First World War (1,66), he begins with an apostrophe to the ruins of encampment, much after the manner of a pre-Islamic poet. He is also capable of opening a political poem dealing with an issue affecting the future independence of the country, entitled 'The Milner Plan' (i,74), with a nasib, an amatory prelude of no less than seventeen lines couched in purely conventional phraseology in which women are referred to as wild cows and gazelles, their slim figures as willow branches, their heavy buttocks as sand hillocks, their eyes as narcissi, and so forth.

10 This is abundantly clear not only from his poetry,' or the vast anthology of Abbasid poetry which he compiled,11 but also from the preface, which, short as it is, reveals his knowledge of the Arabic poetic heritage. Understandably, this acute awareness of the tradition places a heavy responsibility upon the poet which at times he finds somewhaf daunting. The theme of ars longa vita brevis is conspicuous in the preface: he quotes the famous lines by an ancient Arab poet: Poetry is difficult and its uphill path is long.

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