Greatest Arab Poets

“May we find the language which takes us to the only home there is: one another’s hearts.” – Barakat

Arabic poetry is like no other. When translated into other languages, the Arabic words lose their beauty and magic. Arabic is a language of love, and of life.

Of the many talented and inspiring Arab poets, here are a few I find ground-breaking.

Palestine – Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008) “If you live, live free or die like the trees, standing up.”

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Iraq – Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab (1926-1964) “Your eyes are two palm tree forests in early light.”

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Syria – Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) “If I had told the sea what I felt for you, it would have left its shores, its shells, its fish and followed me.”

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Lebanon – Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

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Egypt – Ahmed Fouad Negm (1929-2013) “You have no guide but the eyes of speech.”

Ahmed Fouad Negm

Algeria – Jean Sénac (1926-1973) “Oh my unknown my madwoman of the streets / honoured in my veins / like a king by his empire / My needle of gold missing in the hay!”

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Bahrain – Qassim Haddad (1948-present) “Poets draw nature before it prefigures itself,
and they invent.”

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Sudan – Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (1969-present) “The feel of her absence, like a sail, within you
as you near the secret of existence.”

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Libya – Khaled Mattawa (1964-present) “This month the moon becomes a princess The stars fan her, Jupiter pours cups of wine, Mars sings melancholy mawals.”

Khaled Mattawa, Translator/Poet, University of Michigan

Yemen- Abdullah Al-Baradouni (1929-1999) “My country grieves/ in its own boundaries/ and in other people’s land/ and even on its own soil/ suffers the alienation/ of exile.”

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Oman – Saif Al-Rahbi (1956-present) “Music of the ancients that carries/ the smell of grass, and guards the gardens of Babylon/ hanging in the depths.”

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Saudi Arabia – Hissa Hilal (present) “The voice of courage ran away and the truth is cornered and silent, when self-interest prevented one from speaking the truth.”

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