Elia Abu Madi

(1890-1957)

Biography of Elia Abu Madi

Elia Abu Madi poet

Elia Abu Madi (also known as Elia D. Madey; Arabic: إيليا أبو ماضي‎ Īlyā Abū Māḍī [note 1]) (1889 or 1890 – 23 November 1957) was a Lebanese-American poet.
Abu Madi was born in the village of Al-Muhaydithah, now part of Bikfaya, Lebanon, in 1889 or 1890. At the age of 11 he moved to Alexandria, Egypt where he worked with his uncle.
In 1911, Elia Abu Madi published his first collection of poems, Tazkar al-Madi. That same year he left Egypt for the United States, where he settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1916 he moved to New York and began a career in journalism. In New York Abu Madi met and worked with a number of Arab-American poets including Khalil Gibran. He married the daughter of Najib Diyab, editor of the Arabic-language magazine Mirat al-Gharb, and became the chief editor of that publication in 1918. His second poetry collection, Diwan Iliya Abu Madi, was published in New York in 1919; his third and most important collection, Al-Jadawil ("The Streams"), appeared in 1927. His other books were Al-Khama'il (1940) and Tibr wa Turab (posthumous, 1960).
In 1929 Abu Madi founded his own periodical, Al-Samir, in Brooklyn. It began as a monthly but after a few years appeared five times a week.
His poems are very well known among Arabs; journalist Gregory Orfalea wrote that "his poetry is as commonplace and memorized in the Arab world as that of Robert Frost is in ours."[note 2]
he died in 1957.

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The Clay

At one time, Mr. Clay forgot that he was no more than mud
So, he walked insolently, bragged and boasted.
Body covered with fine silk,
He glorified himself in a self-admiring manner,
Purse full, he became haughty and rebellious!
Brother, turn not your face away from me;
I am not a charcoal, nor are you a bright star.
You did not make the silk you are wearing,
Nor the jewels with which you adorn yourself.

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