Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Poetry of Revolt

If you think poetry is all about wandering through flowers of daffodils reciting verse, think again.

According to an article by Elliott Colla, the Chair of the Department of  Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, there was much poetry in the revolution that overthrew the regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

He says poetry had played a prominent role in these events.

"The slogans the protesters are chanting are couplets — and they are as loud as they are sharp. The diwan of this revolt began to be written as soon as Ben Ali fled Tunis, in pithy lines like “Yâ Mubârak! Yâ Mubârak! Is-Sa‘ûdiyya fi-ntizârak!,” (“Mubarak, O Mubarak, Saudi Arabia awaits!”)," he writes.

"In the streets themselves, there are scores of other verses, ranging from the caustic “Shurtat Masr, yâ shurtat Masr, intû ba’aytû kilâb al-’asr” (“Egypt’s Police, Egypt’s Police, You’ve become nothing but Palace dogs”), to the defiant “Idrab idrab yâ Habîb, mahma tadrab mish hansîb!” (“Hit us, beat us, O Habib [al-Adly, now-former minister of the Interior], hit all you want — we’re not going to leave!”)."

"I wandered lonely as a cloud," it certainly isn't.


  1. Thanks for posting this! So interesting how art is woven into this story.

  2. Interesting post, David. For me, poetry is just another way of communicating, of expressing whatever it is the poet is thinking about or wants to tell a story about. The best poets tell their stories in a succinct way with colorful language and rhythms and well chosen words, in my opinion. Sometimes it is about the daffodils, but, yes, quite often it is about something quite different.

    (And can I just add, completely off topic here, but with regard to the picture accompanying this post, I wish the young men of today would pull up their pants! HA HA HA! Really, nobody wants to see their underwear hanging out over the top of their pants like that. Thank you for allowing me to vent. :D )

  3. thanks Polly, always good tosee art. Cheers Daisy, I found it interesting, true re the pants but then I guess he was busy throwing stuff at the police.

  4. Ah, the power of poetry. Words are amazingly powerful. If only every war could fought this way.