Arabic Language Blog

Expatriation and Nostalgia Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Arabic Language, Culture, Grammar, Pronunciation, Vocabulary

       Yes, our blog today is about these sad feelings; expatrriation and nostalgia, experienced by the great and famous Prince of Poets أمــيـــرُ الــشــُــعــــراء in the Modern Arabic Literature. Ahmad Shawqi أحــمـــد شـــوقــــي wrote this patriotic poem قــصــيــدة وطــنــيـــة  in his exile الــمــنــفــى in Andalusia الأنــدلــُــس ; (now Southern Spain) during the First World War. In exile, Shawqi felt as if he has lost his freedom and was deprived from his homeland and people.

      I will present ovly a part from a long poem called the “Seeniyah الــســيــنــيـــــة “. Each line in the poem ends in the sound / letter س /siin/ that is why it is called ‘Seeniyah’. The poem is similar to another poem of an earlier great Arab Poet; Al-Buh’tory الــبــُــحــْـــتـــُـــريّ .

       The part that we will read today deals with three main ideas:

  • Remembering and longing to the beloved home country and the happy times the poet had spent back there when he was young.
  • Complaining and speaking to the ship as it was the usual means of transport that could take him (the poet) home.
  • Stating and confirming his (the poet’s) eternal love to his country wherever he goes; even in heaven.

     Now let’s read the part and hope that my humble translation will help you get the images, ideas and feelings of the poet. Remember that in Classical Arabic (Fus’ha) poetry, the line consists of two halves. At the beginning of the poem, the poet is speaking to some two imaginary friends in the dual number.

 Expatriation and Nostagia  غــــُــــربــــَـــــةٌ و حـــَــــنــيــــــن

 اِخــْــتــِــلافُ الــنــَّــهــَــارِ و الـلـيــْــل يــُــنــْــســِــى            اِذكــُــرَا لــِـىَ الــصــِّــبــَــا و أيــَّــامَ أُنــْــســِــي

Day and night make one forget               So, tell me about my early days

وَ صـــِــفـــَــا لـِــى مــُــلاوَةً مــــِــن شــَــــبــَــاب                 صـــُــــوّرَت مـِــن تــَــصــَــــوّرَاتٍ  و  مـــَـــسِ

And describe that period of my youth           that was shaped by imagination

عــَــصــَــفــَــت كـالــصـَّــبــَــا الـلّــعــُــوب و مــَــرّت             ســِــــنـــَــــة حــُــلــْــوَة و لـــَـــذَّةَ خــِـــلـــْــــس

Blew like the playful Saba (wind) and gone

Like a sweet drowse and a quick pleasure

و ســَــلا مــِــصـْــرَ هــَــلْ ســَــلا الــقــَــلــبُ عـنــهــا          أو أســَـى جــُـــرْحـَـــهُ الــزَّمـــَــانُ الــمــُــؤَســِّـــي

And thou (dual) shalt ask Egypt; Has the heart forgotten Her?

Or has Time cured its (the heart’s) wound?

كــُــلــّــمــَــا مــَــرَّت الـلــيــَــالــِــى عــَـــلـيـْــهِ              رقَّ , و الــعــَــهــْـــدُ فـى الـلـيــَـــالــِــى تــُــقــَــســِّــي

Whenever nights pass, it gets delicate          Though nights make the heart cruel

مــُـــســْــتــطــارٌ إذا الـْـبــَــوَاخــِــرُ رنـــَّـــت             أوّلَ الـلــيــْــلِ أوْ عــَــوَت بـَــعــْــدَ جــَـــــــــرس

Turning mad if the ships honked        At the early night or howled after the bell

رَاهــِــبٌ فـِـى الـضـُّــلــُـوعِ لـِـلــسـُــفــْــنِِ فــَــطــْــنٌ             كــُــلــّــمــَــا ثـــُــرنَ , شــَـــاعــَـهــُــنّ بــِــنــَــقــْــس

Like a priest in the chest, well-aware of the ships

When they (ships) move, it (the heart) saw them off with beating

 يــَــا ابـْــنــَــةَ الــيــَــــمِّ مــَــا أبــُــوكِ بــَــخــِــيـــلٌ          مــَــالــَــهُ مــُــولــِــعــَـــاً بــِــمــَــنــْــعٍ و حــَــبــس

O, daughter of the sea, Your father is not tight

Why then is he fond of prevention and imprisonment?

أحــَــــرَامً عــَــلــى بــَــلابــِــــلــِــــــهِ الــــدَّوحُ              حــَــلالٌ لــِـلــطــَّــيــْـــرِ مــِــن كــُــلّ جــِــنــْــسِ

Is it forbidden for its birds to sing     While it is allowed to all other species ?

كــُـــــــلُّ دَارٍ أحــــَــــــقُّ بـــالأهــــْـــــــــلِِ إلا              فــِــى خــَــبــيــثٍ مــِــن الـْــمــَــذَاهــِــــبِ رجــْـــــس

Every home is a right for its people      Except in bad and mean ideology

نـــَــفــَــســِــي مــِــرجــَــلٌ و قــَــلــْــبــِـــى شــِــراعٌ            بــِـــهـــمــَـــا فــِــى الــدُّمــُــوعِ ســِـــيــرى و أرســِـــي

My breath is fuel, my heart is a sail

With them (both) you sail in tears and come to shore

و اِجــْـعــَـــلــِــى وَجــْــهـَـــكِ الــفــَــنــَــــارَ و مــَـجـــراك        يـــَـــدَ الــثـــَّــغـــْـــر بـَــيــْــنَ رَمــْــــلٍ وَ مــَــكــْــس

 And make the Fanar (Lighthouse of Alexandria) your destination

And the Thaghr (port) between Raml (suburb) and Max (suburb) your stream

وَطـَــنـِــي لــَـوْ شــُـغــِـلــتُ بــِـالــخــُــلــْـــدِ عــَــنــْـــهُ         نــَــازَعــَــتــْــنــِــي إلــيـْـهِ فـِـى الــخــُــلــْــدِ نــَــفـْــســِــي

O, my country, if I were to be kept busy by eternity

My soul would long for it in heaven

شــَـهــِــدَ الـلــَّــهُ لــَــمْ يـَــغـــِـــبْ عـَــن جــُـــفــُــونــِــى          شـَــخـْــصــُــهُ سـَــاعــَــةً و لـَــمْ يــَــخــْــلُ حــِــسـِّــي

Allah is a witness; it (my country) is never away from my eyes

 And it is never out of my heart.

Listen to the Poem in Arabic on our Arabic Transparent Youtube Channel


Check us back soon

Peace  سلام /Salam/

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About the Author: Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL.


  1. Joseph Morris:

    I am so happy that I just found this – I am writing a brief essay in Arabic on Ahmad Shaw

  2. Joseph Morris:

    am so happy that I just found this – I am writing a brief essay in Arabic on Ahmad Shawqi for class this weekend. It is so cool to find this and the accompanying video!! FYI, check out my flickr site – I have a lot of scans of stamps from Arab states. Love your site!!