Nizar Qabbani: pioneer of modern Arab poetry
Regional, People, 5/4/1998
The coffin of the deceased great Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani arrived in Damascus on Sunday evening.
Crowded men of letters, artists and the press received the body buried today at the family cometary at Bab- al-Saghir (small door) in Damascus.
Poet Qabbani died Thursday morning in a hospital in London, where he had been receiving treatment after the heart attack he suffered four months ago.
He was mourned all over the Arab world, with radio and television broadcasts leading with news of his death and highlighting his prominent literary career.
In his will, which he wrote before his death in his bed in a London hospital the late poet said: "I want my body to be transported after my death to Damascus to be buried there with my folks." He wished to finally return because Damascus, as he put it, is "the womb that taught me poetry, taught me creativity and granted me the alphabet of Jasmine", adding, "This is the way a bird returns home and a baby to his mother's bosom."
Qabbani, who was born in Damascus on March 21, 1923, began writing poetry in 1944, just one year before he began his diplomatic career which he later abandoned for his greater love, poetry.
He wrote more than two dozen books of poems, many of which were incorporated into lyrics by famous Arab singers, including Fairouz, Abdul Halim Hafez, Najat, Um Koultoum and others.
Though Syrian by birth, Qabbani had a special passion for Beirut, his "Lady of the Universe", which the Arabs collectively, he charged, conspired to destroy out of their envy of its beauty. He earned a law degree from the University of Damascus in 1945 and held diplomatic posts in Cairo, Ankara, London, Madrid, Beijing and Beirut.
In 1966 he resigned from his diplomatic service after he had been the Syrian ambassador to China, Britain and Spain.
After the setback resulting from the 1967 war with Israel, Qabbani turned to poetry. A devoted Arab nationalist, one of his favorite themes was his opposition to normalization of relations with Israel. After Jordan and the Palestinians signed peace accords with Israel, Qabbani provoked a fierce debate with the poem "When will they announce the death of the Arabs?" He often ridiculed Arab dictators, blaming them for the Arab social backwardness and their defeats of war in front of Israel. An example of his love poetry is "short love letter";
My darling, I have much, very much to say, Where my precious shall I begin? Everything in you is a prince. A prince. You who make silk cocoons of my words these are my songs. This is me. And this small book contains us. what would the earth have become. If you had not been, if your eyes had not been what would it have become?
On Jerusalem he wrote:
Jerusalem, Luminous city of prophets, Shortest path between heaven and earth Jerusalem, you of the myriad minarets, become a beautiful little girl with burned fingers. City of the virgin, your eyes are sad. Shady oasis where the prophet passed, the stones of your streets grow sad, the towers of mosques downcast. Who will carry toys to children on Christmas Eve? City of sorrows, a huge tear trembling on your eyelid who will save the Bible? Who will save the Quran?
Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani dies in London at 73
Ancient Arab literature
MAHFOUZ, the Nobel lauriate
Please add a link on your webiste pointing to ArabicNews.com and bookmark ArabicNews.com & subscribe to our daily email news bulletin.
| Advertise on ArabicNews.com. MyFlowers.com sold more than $2700 of flowers in one month advertising on ArabicNews.com! Make your company, and products a success. Special rate for new and small business. Inquire!Advertising Info