Arabic Language Blog

Ahmed Shawqi: Famous Arab Poet and Playwright Posted by on Jul 20, 2009 in Uncategorized

Ahmed Shawqi (أحمد شوقي) is a famous Arab poet and playwright. He is considered to be one of the most important Arab poets in the 20th Century. He is given the title (أمير الشعراء) “lit. The Prince of Poets” to reflect this status.  Shawqi was born in Egypt in 1870 to a family of mixed-race. His paternal grandfather was Kurdish and his grandmother was Greek. Both his parents were born and brought up in Egypt.

Shawqi grew up in Cairo to a wealthy family. He studied law and graduated in 1887. The ruler (Abbas II) appointed him in his palace as head of the translation department, and then he awarded him a scholarship to study translation and law in France in 1893.

During his stay in France, Shawqi came to appreciate French theatre and poetry. He started a nationalist group to resist the British occupation of Egypt with colleagues in France, called (جمعية التقدم المصري) “the society of progress of Egypt”.

Shawqi returned to Egypt and continued his literary production which became of a more patriotic theme, and maintained a close friendship with leaders of nationalist movements in Egypt such as Mustafa Kamel.
In 1915, the British occupation decided to send him to exile, and he chose to go to Barcelona in Spain where he grew very nostalgic and appreciated the grandeur of Muslim civilization in Andalucía and wrote a large number of poems and plays about this great history and about his love for Egypt. He returned back to Egypt in 1920.  The literary production of Ahmed Shawqi is rich and varied. He wrote religious, patriotic, historic poems, as well as the distinctive plays he wrote in poetry. Some of the works of Ahmed Shawqi are still taught at schools. Here is a couple of lines from a poem I studied at school ages ago, can you understand them?

النِّيلُ العَذْبُ هوالكوْثرْ

والجنة ُ شاطئهالأخضرْ

ريَّانُ الصَّفحة ِوالمنظرْ

ما أبهى الخلدَ وما أنضرْ !


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  1. Salman:

    I really understand when you said his grandmother was Greek – that means from a state named Greek. But I do not understand when you said his paternal grandfather was Kurdish. You should say Iraqi Kurdish, for instance. I mean to say from which state. Shame!!!

    • Elislam:

      @Salman At that time, it was an ottoman empiree. The so called states were created by colonialism after the 1st word war.

  2. Ahmod Ariyibi:

    Assalam!Please I need your book that talks about asahalab wa adheeq before 5th of June.

  3. young poet:

    greaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat great person

  4. young poet:

    i like his poetry >>>>>>>>>>> he is using easy lang

  5. young poet:

    i hope to be like him playing with poetry easily

  6. question:

    Does anyone know when Shawqi first published Majnun Layla? was it 1911 or before? thanks!