Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Poet of the Tunisian Revolution

It is unquestionable that another star of the Tunisian Revolution is the Tunisian poet, Abu Al-Qasim Ash-Shabi (lived early in the 20th century and died very young, leaving one Diwan "Aghani Al-Hayat" (Songs of Life)).  Anthony Shadid said this today:  "Hours after President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia on Friday, a Lebanese broadcaster, in triumphant tones, ended her report on the first instance of an Arab leader to be overthrown in popular protests by quoting a famous Tunisian poet.  “And the people wanted life,” she said, “and the chains were broken.”"  The anchorwoman, I think on New TV, was not quoting the the poet.  She was paraphrasing.  The famous poem "The Will of Life" is known by all Arabs and goes like this:  "If the people will to live, providence is destined to favorably respond; and night is destined to fold, and the chains are certain to be broken; and he who has not embraced by the love of life, will evaporate in its atmosphere and disappear."  But I wish Arabs know more of his poetry: he wrote many nice poems and wrote a lot about melancholy--he clearly suffered from an acute case of it.  He has a poem titled "To a Tyran" which says:  "Woe to you, abode of injustices, from a future, when the oppressed rise and show determination."  I am afraid that I have found one of his poems, "The New Morning" (written in 1933) more than a bit influenced--if not plagiarized from--a poem written by Mikha'il Nu`aymah titled "Contentment" (written in 1922).