Biography of Said Akl
Said Akl (Arabic: سعيد عقل, also transliterated Saïd Akl, Said Aql and Saeed Akl (born July 4, 1912) is a Lebanese poet, writer, playwright and language reformer. He is considered one of the most important modern Lebanese poets. He is also a staunch advocate of Lebanese identity and nationalism and the Lebanese language, designing a Latin-based "Lebanese alphabet" made up of 37 letters. His writings include poetry and prose both in Lebanese dialect and in classical Arabic language. He has also written theatre pieces and authored many popular songs and pan-Arab anthems.
Akl was born to a Maronite Catholic family in the city of Zahlé, Lebanon. After losing his father at the age of 15, he had to drop out of school and later worked as a teacher and then as a journalist. He then studied theology, literature and Islamic history, becoming a university instructor and subsequently lecturing in a number of Lebanese universities, educational and policy institutes.
During his early years, Akl was an adherent of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (in Arabic الحزب السوري القومي الإجتماعي) led by Antun Saadeh, eventually being expelled by Saadeh due to irreconcilable ideological disputes.
Akl adopted a powerful doctrine of the authentic millennial character of Lebanon resonating with an exalted sense of Lebanese dignity. His admiration to the Lebanese history and culture was marked by strong enmity towards the Arab language and culture. This view is crystallized by Akl once stating “I would cut off my right hand just not to be an Arab”. In 1968 he stated that literary Arabic would vanish from Lebanon.
For Akl Lebanon was the cradle of culture and the inheritor of the Oriental civilization, well before the arrival of the Arabs on the historical stage. He emphasized the Phoenician legacy of the Lebanese people.
He is known for his radical Lebanese nationalistic sentiments; in 1972, he helped found the Lebanese Renewal Party (in Arabic حزب التجدّد اللبناني transliterated as Hizb al Tajaddod al Lubnaani) which was proposed by May Murr, a well known writer and researcher of ancient Lebanese history and a staunch supporter of Akl. This party was a non-sectarian party that adhered to Lebanese Nationalism. During the Lebanese Civil War, Akl served as the spiritual leader of the radical Lebanese Nationalist movement Guardians of the Cedars (in Arabic حرّاس الأرز), which was led by Étienne Saqr.
Akl is an ideologue for promotion of the Lebanese language as independent of Arabic language. Although acknowledging the influence of Arabic, he argued that Lebanese language was equally if not more influenced by Phoenician languages as well as Aramaic language and Syriac languages and promoted the use of the Lebanese dialect written in a modified Latin alphabet, rather than the Arabic one.
His designed alphabet for the Lebanese language used the Latin alphabet in addition to a few newly designed letters and some accented Latin letters to suit the Lebanese phonology. The proposed Lebanese alphabet designed by Akl contained 36 letters.
The Palace Of My Beloved
I will build for you each night
A palace luminous
With whole blocks of emerald
And diamond stones.
Shall it be skyblue as your eyes,
Or green as your wishes:
Be, and the palace too shall be.
Sing softly, and obedient it will take you
And fly aloft like a drunken bird,