Title

Modern Arabic Poetry: Sufi Metaphors and European Romanticism

Subject Area

Arabic and Islamic Studies

Abstract

In this paper, I focus on the poetry of Ibrāhīm Nāgī (1892-1953,) a prominent Egyptian poet. In 1932, Nāgī cofounded a poetry school that was called Apollo, after the name of the Greek God of music, art and poetry. Those who belonged to this school created a modern form of Arabic poetry that was severely criticized by traditionalists in early 20th century. In their works, they were heavily influenced with European Romanticism. In addition to being a poet, Nāgī was a medical doctor, a novelist, a literary critic and a translator, who translated literary works from English and Italian. A study of the four collections that Nāgī published during his life, one find, not only strong European influence, but also an equally strong Sufi presence. Earlier scholarship focused on romantic metaphors in Sufi poems. In Nāgī, we find exactly the opposite: Sufi metaphors used to explain romantic feelings. The common interest of both Sufism and Romanticism in the emotional, the mystic and the inner experience created a good site for the poets of Apollo School to resist both rigid traditionalism and rational modernism. I will explain the roots of Sufism and Romanticism in Nāgī’s works, and will explore in details the Sufi concepts and metaphors, which he used excessively to describe romantic experiences.

Brief Bio Note

Mohamed Mohamed is an associate professor of sociology of religion at Northern Arizona University. In his works, Mohamed focuses on the intersection of language, religion and social formations.

Keywords

Sufism, Romance, Arabic, Poetry, Ibrahim Nagy, Metaphor

Location

Afernoon Session 3 (PARB 227)

Presentation Year

April 2019

Start Date

4-12-2019 5:15 PM

Embargo

11-27-2018

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Apr 12th, 5:15 PM

Modern Arabic Poetry: Sufi Metaphors and European Romanticism

Afernoon Session 3 (PARB 227)

In this paper, I focus on the poetry of Ibrāhīm Nāgī (1892-1953,) a prominent Egyptian poet. In 1932, Nāgī cofounded a poetry school that was called Apollo, after the name of the Greek God of music, art and poetry. Those who belonged to this school created a modern form of Arabic poetry that was severely criticized by traditionalists in early 20th century. In their works, they were heavily influenced with European Romanticism. In addition to being a poet, Nāgī was a medical doctor, a novelist, a literary critic and a translator, who translated literary works from English and Italian. A study of the four collections that Nāgī published during his life, one find, not only strong European influence, but also an equally strong Sufi presence. Earlier scholarship focused on romantic metaphors in Sufi poems. In Nāgī, we find exactly the opposite: Sufi metaphors used to explain romantic feelings. The common interest of both Sufism and Romanticism in the emotional, the mystic and the inner experience created a good site for the poets of Apollo School to resist both rigid traditionalism and rational modernism. I will explain the roots of Sufism and Romanticism in Nāgī’s works, and will explore in details the Sufi concepts and metaphors, which he used excessively to describe romantic experiences.