Poetry in the Arab and Ottoman world, from neoclassicism to romanticism
Poetry is the register of the Arabs and their supreme art form.
It has been said that historically Arabs congratulated one another for only three occurrences: the birth of a boy, the emergence of a poet and when a noble mare gave birth to a foal; further, it was believed that poets had a supernatural role to play within society. The more revered Arab poets of the 19th century turned to the glorious age of classical Arabic poetry of the 9th to 12th centuries. The most accomplished of these neoclassicists were Sami al-Barudi, Ahmad Shawqi and Hafiz Ibrahim of Egypt, and al-Zahawi (Iraq). Sulayman al-Bustani (Lebanon) translated Homer’s Iliad into Arabic verse in 1913. Evolving from neoclassical was romantic poetry whose main topics were the beauty of nature and human emotions. The most representative among the romantics are Gibran Khalil Gibran (Lebanon) and among women writers Aisha Taymur (Egypt), Warda al-Yaziji (Lebanon), Leylâ Hanım and Fıtnat Hanım, two pioneering Ottoman poets, and Nigâr Hanım who was the first to shift to modern free-style poetry.
Ahmad Shawqi

Source:, Public domain

Ahmad Shawqi, nicknamed the Prince of Poets, played an important role in reviving classical Arabic poetry of the 9th and 10th centuries. Although considered as a court poet, among Shawqi’s themes are nationalism, patriotism and pan-Arabism.

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