ECHEBBI POEMS BEHIND EGYPTIAN FERMENT: “TO THE TYRANTS OF THE WORLD”

February 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Posted in Arabs, Literary, Middle East, Philosophy, Research | Leave a comment

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Abou-Al-kacem El-chebbi

(pronounced Abo Al Qassim Al Shabbi‎, 24. February 1909 – 9 October 1934)

Among the chants and slogans of protesters on the streets of Egypt are the words of an early 20th century Tunisian poet.

The poem has become a rallying cry both in Egypt and in Tunisia.

And among the chants and slogans in those crowds are the words of an early 20th century Tunisian poet named Abdul Qasim al Shabi.

One of his most famous poems has become a rallying cry, both in Egypt and before, in Tunisia. The poem is called “To the Tyrants of the World”

“To the Tyrants of the World”

“Oppressive tyrants, lover of darkness, enemy of life, you have ridiculed the size of the weak people. Your palm is soaked with their blood.

You deformed the magic of existence, and planted the seeds of sorrow in the fields.

Wait, don’t be fooled by the spring, the clearness of the sky or the light of dawn, for on the horizon lies the horror of darkness, rumble of thunder, and blowing of winds.

Beware, for below the ash there is fire, and he who grows thorns reaps wounds. Look there, for I have harvested the heads of mankind and the flowers of hope, and I watered the heart of the earth with blood. I soaked it with tears until it was drunk. The river of blood will sweep you, and the fiery storm will devour you.”

The poem “To the Tyrants of the World,” written by the Tunisian poet Abdul Qasim al Shabi.

In recent weeks, it’s become the unofficial rallying cry for millions of Arabs in Egypt and in Tunisia. Adel Iskandar English translation.

For  weeks now, we have watched the revolution unfold in front of our eyes in Tunisia and now Egypt with the chants by the people, in every footage of the mass protests (be it on Youtube or Aljazeera).

The people were also chanting an Arabic poem. It is titled “The Will of Life” by the famous and the tragic poem Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi, the poem was first used in the early colonial uprising against the French and now, almost more than 80 years later, his same words are the flame of revolution in Tunisia and now in Egypt.

Abou-Al-kacem El-chebbi (pronounced Abo Al Qassim Al Shabbi‎, 24. February 1909 – 9 October 1934) was a Tunisian poet. He is probably best known for writing the final two verses of the current National Anthem of Tunisia, Himat Al Hima (Defenders of the Homeland), that was written originally by the Egyptian poet Mustafa Sadik el-Rafii.

Echebbi was born in Tozeur, Tunisia, on 24 February 1909, the son of a judge. He obtained his attatoui diploma (the equivalent of the baccalauréat) in 1928. In 1930, he obtained a law diploma from the University of Ez-Zitouna. The same year, he married and subsequently had two sons, Mohamed Sadok, who became a colonel in the Tunisian army, and Jelal, who later became an engineer.

He was very interested in modern literature, in particular, translated romantic literature, as well as old Arab literature. His poetic talent manifested itself at an early age and this poetry covered numerous topics, from the description of nature to patriotism. His poems appeared in the most prestigious Tunisian and Middle-Eastern reviews.

His poem To the tyrants of the world became a popular slogan chant during the 2011 Tunisian and subsequently Egyptian demonstrations.[1]

Echebbi died on 9 October 1934 at the Habib-Thameur Hospital in Tunis, Tunisia following a long history of cardiac disorders. His portrait is on the current 30 DT note.

Works

  • Ela Toghat Al Alaam (To the tyrants of the world),
  • Aghani Al-Hayat (canticles of the life),
  • Muzakkarat (Memories),
  • Raséil (A collection of letters),
  • Sadiki (A collection of seminars given to the Alumni Association of the college; caused quite a lot of controversy among conservative literary groups)

References

1. http://www.npr.org/2011/01/30/133354601/Tunisian-Poets-Verses-Inspire-Arab-Protesters

Abou-Al-kacem El-chebbi

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