The late Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) came to Egypt in 1945 at the age of 22. When he left after 3 years, he didn't know he had bonded with her until the last moment of his life.
On its land he inaugurated his poetry and journey as an intellectual, and next to it also took place his intellectual and poetic battles. In Egypt, after his departure, Nizar's poetry was sung on every tongue, and when he left the Arab world to live in self-imposed exile in Europe, Egypt did not leave him, nor did he leave it either.
100 years have passed since Nizar's birth, and a quarter of a century since his passing, and he is still far away filling the world and occupying people. Born in Damascus, he graduated in 1945 from the Faculty of Law at its university, then joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and moved in the same year to Cairo as a diplomat at his country's embassy. Cairo was at the peak of its cultural, journalistic and radio maturity in the last years of the monarchy.
The Garden of Thought and Art
In the book "My Story with Poetry", Nizar says, "I was twenty-two years old, the day I was appointed attaché to the Syrian embassy in Cairo, and when the plane lifted me, leaving behind the minarets of Damascus, its domes, and its orchards, I felt that I was separated from the gravity of the earth, and the gravity of history."
"Cairo was the first diplomatic mission I went to, and I spent three years (1945-1948) in Cairo, Ali Fadl al-Rabie on the trees, and her fingerprints are visible on my second collection of poetry (The Childhood of Nahd) printed in 1948," he added.
Nizar lived in his first era in Cairo in the Abbasiya neighborhood, then settled in a house near the airport in the Heliopolis neighborhood, and says in his interview with Mufid Fawzy, "I lived in Heliopolis, and the metro was the means of transportation from home in Heliopolis to the embassy and vice versa, and the most important poems Diwan (childhood of Nahd) I wrote in the metro back and forth."
"At this time, Cairo was Ferdowsi, I was a young man when I arrived in Cairo, I felt liberated from the gravity of the earth, in Damascus I was surrounded by tradition, classical poetry," he said in an interview on Egyptian television with the poet Farouk Shousha.
He adds, "Cairo was in the forties the capital of Arab capitals, and it was an orchard for thought and art Almighty, and when I came, the whole earth was creative, and there were giants, Taha Hussein, Akkad, Ali Mahmoud Taha, next to um Kulthum and Abdel Wahab, so what needs a young man carrying a small seed of poetry more than this?".
Nizar continues, "I was pleased to enter the literary, artistic and journalistic medium from the widest doors, and I know the elite of its flags, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Ibrahim Abdel Qader al-Mazni, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Kamel al-Shennawi, Ibrahim Naji, Ahmed Rami, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, and critic Anwar al-Maadawi."
"Praise be to God, who inspired them (meaning officials in his country's foreign ministry) to send me to Cairo instead of Paris, in 1945 I preferred Cairo a thousand times to Paris," he adds.
Nizar and Heliopolis
Cairo's artistic climate amazed Nizar, as the star Mounira Mahdia was in those days the owner of the "Nozhat Al-Nafus Casino" in Azbakeya and her songs such as "Asmar Malak Rohi" and "Asfouri Yumma Asfouri" were famous. Badiaa Masabni's casino and her films and plays also resonated among foreigners and Egyptians, um Kulthum performed in major theaters and cinemas, and singer Mohamed Abdel Wahab was at the height of his fame.
Nizar talks about Heliopolis at this time and says, "The suburb of Heliopolis in the forties was beautiful, clean and civilized as the British suburb of Wimbledon, and the metro at that time was no less sophisticated and civilized than Heliopolis, and because my house was located on the last station near Cairo Airport, I felt that I was the only passenger who runs the metro for him, and I do not know why the Heliopolis metro (established by Baron Empain, founder of Heliopolis in 1910) reminds me of the beautiful London buses, which were also written On its upper floors in 1952 is one of my most important collections of poetry (poems)."
Inauguration of a poet
Since Nizar came to Cairo, he was embraced by critic Anwar El Maadawi, and took him to the concerts of intellectuals and artists, and became his many friendships with Egypt's stars and writers, and welcomed by the magazine "Al-Resalah" and the upper intellectual class in Egypt, which saw him as a poet again in the first steps of the poetic earthquake, which will grow later.
Nizar adds, "In Cairo I was liberated from the desert dust, I was a Bedouin Alak horizon, and Alak sand, and Alak hunger, when I arrived in Cairo I found the Nile, I found tranquility, I found the burning thought, I found geniuses and genius, and during three years until 1948, I had Diwan I consider it a crossroads, in terms of language, images, colors, formulation and vocabulary that El Maadawi said: This talk we have not heard before."
Three years after Nizar came to Cairo, his second book "Nahd's Childhood" was published after his first book "She Told Me the Brown", which was published in Damascus in 3. Nizar admits the credit to 1944 of the stars of thought, journalism and criticism, they are: wise, Shennawy, El Madawy, who was enthusiastic about the young poet.
And wrote El Madawy a critical article about the Diwan in the magazine "message" but after he changed the title of the Diwan from "childhood Nahd" to "childhood river" leaving in the same Nizar a significant impact "to slaughter the title of his office from vein to vein" as he said.
World War II ended in August 1945, but there is still the Vietnam War and the Indo-Chinese War, and at the Arab level Syria and Jordan gained their independence, and with the escalation of the Palestinian war against Jewish immigration, the Supreme Committee for Palestine was formed.
Capital of Arab Culture
In 1946, less than a year after Nizar came to Egypt, he witnessed the holding of the first Arab summit in Egypt, which was held in the city of Anshas under the chairmanship of King Farouk, on May 28 / May for two days, and for the first time the Arabs agreed in a conference and approved a number of decisions, the most important of which was adherence to the independence of Palestine and the affirmation of its Arabism.
As for Egypt, it was rippling with events, and on February 9 of the same year, students went out in a demonstration from Fouad I University (Cairo) heading to Abdeen Palace, and more than 200 individuals were killed and wounded, and some called this incident the "Abbas Bridge massacre" and the student revolution spread to Assiut in the south and Alexandria in the north, and these events resulted in 28 dead and 432 wounded.
After World War II, the number of Egyptian films doubled from 16 films in 1944 to 67 in 1946, and dozens of directors and actors such as Laila Murad, Shadia, Faten Hamama, Magda Al-Sabahi, Maryam Fakhr El-Din, Tahia Carioca, Nadia Lotfy, Hind Rostom, Omar Sharif, Yahya Shaheen, Estevan Rosti, Farid Shawky, Ahmed Ramzy, Salah Zulfiqar, Anwar Wagdy.
A star in the sky of Cairo
As the Egyptian poet Ahmed Shahawi says to Al Jazeera Net, "Nizar used to Egypt and Egypt got used to it, and became considered one of its poets and children. Thanks to the critic Anwar El Madawy and other Egyptian critics in the demarcation of poetry, and inaugurated as a poet, and then distributed in popular editions step genius joint between Hajj Mohamed Madbouly and Nizar Qabbani, where hundreds of thousands of Diwans Nizar Qabbani were printed and sold in popular copies at a price of half a pound, then came the turn on the art was the survival of small and Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafez and Fayza Ahmed singing his poems, was the widest spread of Nizar Qabbani, and became Nizar for Egyptians and Arabs as water and air.
ويضيف الشهاوي "كان نزار قباني عندما يأتي إلى مصر كأشهر نجوم الفن المعروفين، وعندما تعقد له ندوة في معرض الكتاب، كان المعرض يومها يبدو كمظاهرة، والقاعة رغم ضخامتها تضيق بالجمهور فيقف خارجها أكثر مما في داخلها".
هكذا صنعت مصر نزار على عينها، ووضعته في قلبها، وحفظته كأيقونة، وهو الذي جعل الشعر مثل "الخبر اليومي" ومثل قراءة الجريدة، بحسب الشهاوي.
Nizar's term ends at the Syrian embassy in Cairo, but he did not stay away from it, in 1960 he was hosted by the presenter Salwa Hegazy in her famous program "Hello", but the Egyptian radio introduced him into the experience of acting a radio series, as stated in an article in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabea.
Nizar's experience in acting in 1967 is the only one that was not repeated in a radio series entitled "The Sad Harp" starring singer Najat Al-Saghira, who agreed to work, after director Mr. Bdeir tried to convince her with Nizar, especially after the success of their work together "I think" and "What do I say to him?".
The work was written by the Egyptian writer Youssef El Sebaei and the music by Abdel Wahab, and co-starring El Shenawy, Hussein El Sherbiny, Naima Wasfi, Widad Hamdi and Abdel Badi El Arabi.
In the aftermath of the June 1967 defeat, Nizar published the poem "Margins on the Notebook of the Setback" in the magazine Al-Adab as well.
I mourn for you, my friends, the ancient language
And old books
I mourn for you
Our words pierced like old shoes
And the vocabulary of adultery and satire and insults
I mourn for you. I mourn for you
The end of the thought that led to defeat.
As a result, a violent campaign against Nizar began, which began with the poet Saleh Jawdat with an article in al-Kawakeb magazine on September 12, 1967, entitled "Ban Nizar's Songs." Jawdat wrote another article a week later entitled "The Nizar Qabbani Scandal" in which he called on Arab radio stations to boycott his songs and Arab libraries to confiscate his collections.
His poems were banned from circulation that day, and the ban was lifted only by the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who is departing and Nizar mourns him in his most famous epitaph, "We killed you, O last prophet". When al-Hakim wrote his book The Return of Consciousness, he entered into a battle to defend Nasser.
Death in Garden City
Nizar returned again to Egypt in 1970 and bought a house in Garden City, and transferred the papers of his son Tawfiq from the American University of Beirut to the Faculty of Medicine Kasr Al-Aini in Cairo in preparation for settling out, and Tawfiq remains in the care of his friend Youssef Idris in Cairo, and the years pass and Nizar between Beirut and Cairo, and Tawfiq grows up on his eye, and after two years he will become a doctor, but fate surprises him unbearably, Tawfiq is sick with a rare heart disease and no treatment for it, and flies him to London in an attempt to save him, but Tawfik dies.
His son's death was on August 1973, 23, when he was in his fifth year of medical school, and did not exceed the age of <>.
Nizar's daughter Hadba said of her brother's death, "Nizar's relationship with Tawfiq was very special, and his death was one of the biggest blows that affected him, if not the biggest blow."
Nizar laments him with a tearful and sad poem that draws tears from the stone entitled "To the Damascene Emir Tawfiq Qabbani." He witnesses his death and carries him alone in London and says:
To what sky do we stretch out our hands?
And no one on the streets of London cries for us.
I carry you, my son, on my
back like a minaret that broke two pieces.
I'm facing your death alone.
And gather all your clothes alone
and cover your fragrant shirts.
And I drew you above the passport
and I scream like crazy alone and all the faces in front of me are copper
all the eyes in front of me are a stone
so how can I resist the sword of time?
And my sword broke.
The poet says Shahawi for Al Jazeera Net "Nizar Qabbani had a house in Garden City in Cairo resides when he visits the city, and was an Egyptian house manager named Zainab remained in his service for the last day of his life, but after the death of Tawfiq pessimistic Nizar of the house and decided to sell it because it reminds him of the years of residence of his son."
The October 1973 war broke out, and the war took him out of the shell of sadness for the departure of his son to express his Arab joy, and the poet changed, and the date of the war was considered the date of his birth, and he wrote poetry praising Sadat.
Years pass, and a lot of water runs under the bridge, and surprises everyone with Sadat in the Knesset, then makes peace with the enemies of yesterday, and Nizar writes his famous poem: "The secret diary of Baheya Egyptian" and prevents Nizar from visiting Egypt and prevents his songs and books:
So how O Muhammad? Anwar Sadat
For a Hebrew that I adored
Treachery of the living and the dead
She claims that the prophet died
And how. O.. Anwar Tragedy
Israel becomes in Tanta
And in Banha and in Eilat
The sad departure
Things are complicated by the outbreak of the civil war in Lebanon, and his wife Bilqis al-Rawi was killed in the bombing of the Iraqi embassy in Beirut in December 1981, and Nizar heals his sorrows and decides to move to Cairo in 1983, but journalists and writers did not leave him, and some attacked him because of his poem against Sadat, and the campaign lasted for several months in which Moussa Sabry, Anis Mansour and a number of other Egyptian journalists participated.
On the other hand, Nizar did not execute those who defended him, including Heikal, the writer Ahmed Bahaa al-Din, Abdel Wahab, and Youssef Idris. In such a climate, Nizar left Cairo and moved to Switzerland in 1984, then London, but Cairo until his departure did not leave for a moment, nor did he ever forget it.