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Arabic Poetry: Naoot and Malaika

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Fatima Naoot.
Fatima Naoot is one of the most eminent poets in Egypt, Middle East and the whole of the Middle East. Although she studied architecture in her undergraduate studies, she has published her won poetry and translated dozens of books from other languages into Arabic while her work has been translated into several languages (Smart).
Her poetry is about social problems in Egypt and the Arabic world. They include aspects of minority rights, woman, the roles of religion in the modern life and objective Egyptian history.
Your Name is Rachel Corrie
The poem is and autobiographical account of an American girl who left her comfortable life to go to Palestine. She got crushed by an Israeli tank at the tender age of 23 after she stands in front of it in a bid to stop its advance. The poem was originally written in Arabic.
The poem uses the first the omniscient narrator to inform the reader on the life of the Subject, Rachel Corrie. One can also say that the poem is a lament. Although most possibly the poet and the subject and they are not related and might not have met, the poet uses language full of melancholy to express her sadness at the death of subject describing in details the dreams of Rachel Corrie and how she will not be able to achieve them now.
This is apparent in the first two lines of stanza 6.
Like every other girl you dreamed
Of your tomorrow, that would never come
One can also say the poem is an ode. Although it is not formal, it addresses and celebrates the life of Rachel Corrie. However, the poem does not use meter since it a translated poem and is impossible to maintain feature like meter across language (Alabbas et al).
The title of the poet uses the time of the poem “Your name is Rachel Corrie” to bring the subject of the poem from the abstract to the forefront of the reader’s mind. She does not only want the reader to identify with the subject, but the narrator also wants the reader to know the subject in a close and personal way.
The narrator identifies with Rachel Corrie so as to fully tell her story. This is apparent in several points of the poem. The reader can see this in the first five lines of the seventh stanza:
Like all of us, girl, you loved you talked to the mirror you felt ashamed of a red spot on your dress.
Like all of us,
The use of the phrase “like all of us” is intended to show the reader that the narrator does not only sympathize with Rachel Corrie and her dream that have now been lost in her death, she feels that Corrie was a part of her and thus feel the loss at a personal level.
However, towards the end of the poem the narrator, although identifying with the Rachel Corrie, now takes a more outside view of her showing that although they could identify, Rachel Corrie was heroic and courageous, willing to sacrifice her life while the rest of the girls were not. The last few lines state that: And like us -if you had stayed behind- | you would have had children | and would curse the absurdity of men. | Like us, girl, | but we did not stop in front of a bulldozer to be crushed | to speak with God! | We did not stop a cannon | that wanted to snatch a child | from his laughter! |

Cock Crest
The poem takes a playful tone unlike the melancholy of the previous one. It about one's innate need to rest and enjoy the surroundings in the privacy of their house under solitude How nice to lie down | And stretch your arms | And touch the ceiling corners | Or to clasp your hands under your chin like a cat | Stretching its back. |
The irrelevant heading of the poem only adds to its playfulness. The Poem has nothing to do with a cock or its crest, but the writer so names it as to draw the reader to the poem
The opening introduces the playful side of the poem. This theme of playfulness is continued throughout the poem at one point with the saying that: How nice | To breath all the air of the room | Alone | Before it is swollen by coughing | Or polluted | By a cock’s crest. |
This shows the narrator’s innate need for solitude as she makes clear, she wasn’t to breathe all the air in the room alone, before it is swollen by coughing, or polluted by a cock’s crest.
Nazik al-Malaika
Al-Malaika was one of the most eminent poets in the Arab world. She was born in Iraq but was had lived in self-imposed exile in Egypt since 1900. She came from a literary family as her mother was a poet and her father a teacher. Ass such she wrote poetry from a young age, completing her first by the time she was ten years old. She died in 2007 aged 85 in Cairo. She had left Iraq after Saddam came into to power and lived in Kuwait. However, the Iraq invasion of Kuwait led to her leaving again, this time for Cairo (Allen and Ostle).
She wrote about the social issue that plagued the society, from religion to the totalitarianism her native Iraq.
Love Song for Words
The title of the poem denotes the romanticism; the poet was known for and her use of strong message to pass her message in a manner that transients the very nature of words (Preminger et al).
The poem explores man’s innate need to keep away from words. Words are neutral and pose no threat at all, but according to Al-Malaika, human beings fear them as while they are supposed to be a comfort. She shows this in the first stanza:
Why do we fear words when they have been rose-palmed hands, fragrant, passing gently over our cheeks, and glasses of heartening wine sipped, one summer, by thirsty lips?
This poem may have been a result of her having lived in countries where free speech was muzzled and thus this is her way of teasing the authorities about their fear of words that can be used to criticize them.
Stanza two explains that we should not free words as they are the bells that ring our troubles out almost the coming of the dawn. The third stanza is a continuation of the second:
We took pleasure in silence.
We became still, fearing the secret might part our lips.
We thought that in words laid an unseen ghoul, crouching, hidden by the letters from the ear of time.
We shackled the thirsty letters, we forbade them to spread the night for us as a cushion, dripping with music, dreams, and warm cups.
It explains why everyone found silence more tolerable to words as everyone was afraid that a secret might part from their lips and send the person to the “ghoul.” Furthermore the she explains that letters were muzzled. This is a reference to the nature of the lack of freedom of speech in the nations she has lived in.
However, in the next stanza she extols people not to afraid of words as words can comfort and make a person remember their hidden longings.
Words, poetry, tenderly turned to caress our cheeks, sounds that, asleep in their echo, lies a rich color, a rustling a secret ardor, a hidden longing.
The fifth stanza explains why she thinks people fear words. Again this has a political connotation. She says that it might be because “their thorns have wounded us” (5:2) but then counters this by explaining that even if that were the case worlds have also “wrapped their arms around our necks/and shed their sweet scent upon our desires.”
In the last stanza, she explains the futility of fearing words by explaining that if one has dedicated his life as a prayer, they should not fear words as “we pray . . . but to words?”
New Year
This poem takes a more dramatic tone in its depiction. In the poem, poem the narrator explains to the New Year why he does want it.
The poem has the echoing of a person in exile, either politically, or in internal exile of the heart. In the first stanza, the narrator explains why he does not need the New Year “New Year, don't come to our homes, for we are wanderers/from a ghost-world, denied by man.” This brings some air of d because the disillusionment narrator feels that she has been alienated from the society that she sees as a ghost-world and is thus the narrator and her colleagues have been left with no “no dreams, no longings, no hopes” (1:7).
The poem thus talks of the narrator lack of enthusiasm for the future of the narrator taking a non-committal view of the future which looks bleak. He tells the New Year to “New Year, move on. There is the path/to lead your footsteps” (1:1-2). It takes a nihilistic tone as the narrator loses the meaning or existence stating that “We wish to be dead, and refused by the graves” (2:5).
The narrator then lets out her longing for home and the hope that her country would stop going the destructive path it has adopted and live and die like the rest of the people.
If only we knew what it is to be bound to a place
If only snow could bring us winter to wrap our faces in darkness
If only memory, or hope, or regret could one day block our country from its path (2:7-11)
Conclusion
Both poets are modern Arabic poets. Their poetry has dealt with social and political issues that are at the forefront of the Arabic consciousness. However, Malakai’s poems were more overtly political as a result of her exile from her native land Iraq.

Works Cited
Alabbas, Maytham, Zainab A. Khalaf, and Khashan M. Khashan. "BASRAH: an automatic system to identify the meter of Arabic poetry." Natural Language Engineering 20.01 (2014): Web.
Allen, Roger, and Robin Ostle, eds. Studying Modern Arabic Literature: Mustafa Badawi, Scholar and Critic. Edinburgh University Press, 2015. Print.
Preminger, Alex, Frank J. Warnke, and Osborne Bennett Hardison Jr, eds. Princeton encyclopedia of poetry and poetics. Princeton University Press, 2015. Print.
Smart, Jack R. Tradition and Modernity in Arabic Language and Literature. Routledge, 2013. Print.…...

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