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Badr Shakir al-Sayyab

(1926-1964)

Biography of Badr Shakir al-Sayyab

Badr Shakir al-Sayyab poet

Badr Shakir al Sayyab (Arabic: بدر شاكر السياب‎) (December 24, 1926–1964) is an Iraqi and Arab poet, born in Jekor, a town south of Basra in Iraq. The eldest child of a date grower and shepherd.[1] He graduated from the Higher teachers training college of Baghdad in 1948.[2] Badr Shakir was dismissed from his teaching post for being a member of the Iraqi communist party.[3]
Badr Shakir al-Sayyab was one of the greatest poets in Arabic literature, whose experiments helped to change the course of modern Arabic poetry. At the end of the 1940s he launched, with Nazik al-Mala'ika,and shortly followed by Abdulwahab albayati and Shathel Taqa, the free verse movement and gave it credibility with the many fine poems he published in the fifties.[4][5] These included the famous "Rain Song," which was instrumental in drawing attention to the use of myth in poetry. He revolutionized all the elements of the poem and wrote highly involved political and social poetry, along with many personal poems. The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish was greatly impressed and influenced by the poetry of Badr Shakir al-Sayyab.[6]
The publication of his third volume, Song of Rain, in 1960 was one of the most significant events in contemporary Arabic poetry. He started his career as a Marxist, but reverted to mainstream nationalism without ever becoming fanatical. While still in his thirties, he was struck by a degenerative nervous disorder and died in poverty. He produced seven collections of poetry and several translations, which include the poetry of Louis Aragon, Nazim Hikmet, and Edith Sitwell, who, with T. S. Eliot, had a profound influence on him.[3]
Badr went to England for the first time in Autumn of 1962, at a time when his health was deteriorating. He attended Durham University for translation studies.

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Rain Song

Your eyes are two palm tree forests in early light,
Or two balconies from which the moonlight recedes
When they smile, your eyes, the vines put forth their leaves,
And lights dance . . . like moons in a river
Rippled by the blade of an oar at break of day;
As if stars were throbbing in the depths of them . . .
And they drown in a mist of sorrow translucent
Like the sea stroked by the hand of nightfall;
The warmth of winter is in it, the shudder of autumn,

[Hata Bildir]