Middle Eastern Poetry Is Often Peppered Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2274 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Literature

Middle Eastern Poetry is often peppered with honest assessments of the physical and emotional turmoil of conflict. Poetry in the Middle East tends to be a voice of record, in stylistic descriptions of the conflicts of mind, body and spirit that demonstrate a life (or many lives) in the turmoil of conflict and change. Middle Eastern writers tend to write about the conflict they see and feel, much like photo journalists seeking to bring to others the reality that exists outside of the mundane that can be seen in a "peaceful" or warring nation.

We know that in the search for freedom, justice, and peace people are often caught in violence and war. Yet, it is precisely this paradox of war and peace that has generated mythologies and literatures. These peace-war paradoxes, mythologies, and literatures are inextricably intertwined. We conclude with a quotation from Meena Alexander's memoir, Fault Lines: "True poetry must be attentive to violence. It must listen and hear. Our lines must be supple enough to figure out violence, vent it, and pass beyond."

Cooke and Rustomji-Kerns xxi)

No topic is off limits and no language is devoid of the subtle and overt meanings associated with human trials, cultural, economic, political and social. Many Middle Eastern authors feel a fierce obligation to write not only about the joy and struggle of writing poetry but also the trails and conflicts of their nations. In the works of Ozkan Mert (Turkish) Taha Muhammad Ali (Palastinian) Eliaz Cohhen (Israeli) and Aharon Shabtai (Israeli) one can locate the human drama of living in strife as well as the pleasure of poetic expression.

Ozkan Mert, writes of the derisive nature of poetry in Whose on the Side of Poetry. (Mert NP) Aharon Shabati writes of the entanglement of ideals and reality in his prose and poetry, expressing the vivid in the mundane and the extreme.

Karlinsky 25) (Shabati 15)

Taylor 384) Taha Muhammad Ali writes of a single peaceful man facing Western aggression in Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower. (Ali 15) Eliaz Cohen writes of the universal historical struggles of power and control in the Middle East in Snow. (Cohen NP) Each of these writers are expressing the nature of self, the body of self and the nature of political and social upheaval, as it is expressive of the self and the whole. Each may be writing from an opposing side, but clearly their views are not opposing. Their voice is one that asks those who would choose to subvert them to listen to their voice as the voice of the individual seeking individual reconciliation in the face of conflict. The Middle Eastern conflict is a constant point of discussion in every arena, those offering solutions and those offering greater strife, and the words of these poets exemplify that the voice rarely heard is the voice of the people, the individual bodies and souls who live every day facing the results of conflict and the candor of legislative results.

Ozkan Mert probably best exemplifies the passion and power of poetry, as a simple form that can convey a meaning beyond the nature of it length or even its breath. Mert in his poem Whose on the Side of Poetry expresses the fear that some have of poetry, as a tool used by people to express the nature of strife, often when many wish that such strife not become public knowledge. "Governments and armies/dislike poetry/ / Holy books, prophets and laws/dislike poetry/ / Philosophers shrink from poetry/for poetry / will steal philosophy's bread/ / Virgin nuns / secretly fondle poetry//but poetry does not care:/ / it owe nothing to no one//it brews a storm/in the steps of history/and walks its own way/ / Poetry loves all. Ozkan Mert (Translated from the Turkish by Feyyaz Kayacan) (Mert NP) No other poem by Mert best expresses the poets heart, the desire to look outside oneself, take the information within and express that which cannot otherwise reach other human ears. In this work Mert expresses the need to allow poetry to love all, through its expression of that which the armies and the religious scholars find most fearful, the truth as it is seen from the front lines of conflict and everyday life. Mert gives the poet a duty, to express that which many wish never to be expressed, to brew storms as they step through history. Mert, expresses the answer to his poem of question, the poet is on the side of poetry and the poet is strongly sided with the people, there everyday people who are shouldering the conflicts created by larger bodies and fear.

Aharon Shabati has been known for many years as a poet of great candor and a writer with the desire to express the beauty in the mundane and the strife in conflict. One commentator described Shabati's work Le Poeme domestique as one that developed a sense of the joy of expression in poetry. The work, not touching to intently on political or social strife is a collection of short interconnected poems about household objects. Shabati begins the work with a piece announcing the purpose of the collection. "I write / / a poetry / / free / of ambiguity / / my subject / / is / / a soul / striking root."

Taylor 384) Taylor also notes that the work is written in Hebrew, creating an interesting juxtaposition between the joy of writing of everyday beauty and the conflict that Shabati expresses in his more political works, such as his discussion about the commercialization of the Yishuv ideal that has occurred in Israel.

Karlinsky 25) in the poem Our Land Shabati beautifully expresses his and others desires to meet the "other" across the fence. After a beatific description of many characters from his boyhood villages Shabati describes the Arabs and the Jews as being of a single body for we belong//to a single body-//Arabs and Jews./ / Tel Aviv and Tulkarem, Haifa and Ramallah-//what are they / / if not a single pair of shoulders, twin breasts?//We quarreled//like the body parts of the man//...Through the cracks in the earth,//we'll look up at you then;//under your feet//our land is being harrowed//with chains of steel,/ / and above your heads there is no sky/ / like a light-blue shirt-//but only the broad buttocks of the//murderer. (Shabtai 15) Shabatai expresses the hope and joy of reconciliation, through the eyes of a child, and the hopes as they are dashed by human conflict, steel fences and restricted worlds, where the shoulders never meet but instead remain embroiled in conflict and hostility. This one poem describes eloquently the expression of the conflict between the Arab and Jew in Palestine and Israel, sheltering the ideas of the individuals with fantastic ideals and shared communities being turned into separate worlds, by division, hostility and fear. Shabtai in the mundane works mentioned above, as well as in the later poem is the expression of the nature of the everyday person, often with a name and a place in the world, watching as his land is cleaved from that of his neighbor by fear. Shabtai gives an expression of early hope and cooperation that has ended in division and strife, so much so that early in the later poem one can see the future as a bright one of cooperation and collectivism, that is dashed by murder and reactionary political moves.

Taha Muhammad Ali writes of a single peaceful man facing Western aggression in Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower. The work describes the hospitable and peaceful nature of a man, facing the Enterprise aircraft carrier, whose occupants he would likely rather receive with fresh eggs and labneh, in his home in a gesture of love and welcome, than look upon the cold military steel, in the harbor of his home. "In his life//he neither wrote nor read.//in his life he//didn't cut down a single tree//didn't slit the throat//of a single calf.//didn't raise//his voice to a soul//except in saying;//"Come in, please,//by God you can't refuse. / Nevertheless -- //his case is hopeless,//his situation//desperate.//His God given rights are a grain of salt//tossed in the sea.//Ladies and gente3lmen of the jury://about his enemies//my client knows not a thing//"(Ali 15) the work demonstrates the ideals of everyman, the simple folk who are often most destroyed and devastated by war, as war takes place upon their front doors and though they do not know their enemy nor harbor hatred toward them they still must stand, with their rights stripped away and answer for crimes they never wished to commit, and possibly never did. The final Ali poem which I will analyze here discusses death, something felt often by the everyman who is on the other side of a conflict he does not understand entirely, is After We Die... "After we dies,//and the weary heart//has lowered its final eyelid//on all that we've done,//and on all that we've longed for,//on all that we've dreamt of,//all we've desired//or felt,//hate will be//the first thing//to putrefy//within us." In… [END OF PREVIEW]

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