Nazik Al-Malaikah… Before Yesterday
By; Abbas Baydoun
Translated By: Adib S. Kawar
Translated By: Adib S. Kawar
The passing away of Nazik Al-Malaikah from her absence that started a long time ago, seclusion, sickness and old age kept her away from poetry and life itself. It was painful that there was nothing left over of her except the news of her passing away, that no body asked about her except for this matter, even the Arab poetry conference, which was held and ended in Cairo without even mentioning her name. It could be our chronic undutifulness, it could be the undutifulness of life and time, and the news of her death could put a final point for this long time absence.
It should call us to rescue her out of forced oblivion. We shall not say that she had finished something that was gone long ago, nor that an era that was lost with her absence from the world of poetry, it is clear that this brilliant and exceptional woman is not in her presence in a history that has no clear place. It is sorrowful that nothing remained of Nazik Al-Malaikah except contention about pioneership that was confirmed, other then conflict about trial and modernity, which became part of the archives and besides late objection on renovation that she thought, had got out of control and jumped out side the fence.
It is regretful that there is nothing left of Nazik Al-Malaikah except signs of unrecorded history, even we don’t find other than that is buried and secluded, and certificates of people’s readings and reviews. The anachronism of modernity is that it is no more in the opinion of its founders and those who called for it, thus it remained without a library, without a memory and no heritage, and what is now affecting Nazik Al-Malaikah today is a curse that targeted all. As-Sayyab, Hawi, Abed Al-Sabour and Kabbani, and we never knew that they obtained more than eulogy. The slacken of time did not permit their rereading or interpretation.
Let us return with Nazik Al-Malaikah to Iraq of the fifties, to a parturition that gave birth to outstanding works in history in the arts of music, poetry, and the fine art of painting and sculpture, and it is possible that much pioneering was done there, not actually, it is universally agreed that all of that did not come out extemporarily, on the contrary it was built on bases that are almost a reality. And it is connected and analogous that forms between its boundaries a world. The musical, painting and sculptural works could be driven by a common enthusiasm, which is a sort of reproducing actuality, from composing a second story for Iraqi life, and a second vision to redraw the past in the present and history in the popular seen. The history of Jawad Ali, the ornamentations of Jawad Salim, the music of the two Bashir brothers and the poetry of As-Sayyab and Al-Malaikah are nothing but analogous and similarities for this enthusiasm.
It is not strange that Iraqi enthusiasm sprang from the womb of a suffering that gave birth to many poetesses and to bring to the arena Nazik Al-Malaikah, Lami’a Amarah, Atika Al-Khuzarji who are without exaggeration actual poetic rimes. It was not strange that a poetess as Al-Malaikah could compete with a poet in pioneering, thus in this case she is the starter (pioneer) and the succeeded. Pioneering is not in the first place important if it doesn’t come as a mutation that is superseded by a respected and rich culture, and a special and unique poetic characteristic, which qualified the poetess to make this jump. We don’t find a borderline between her column poetry (traditional Arabic poetry that every line of it is divided into a first hemistich “Alsader” and the second hemistich “Alajez”) and its riming, because the matter here in this classification. The column poetry of Nazik bears all the renovation in its momentum that is found in her scanned verse.
She is here and there putting a break to the fervor of Arab poetry, and its belligerent warlike richness, and its oratory and approach to the masses, confusion with other purposes such as teaching, instigation, historical recording and its merger with the occasion, the poetess, which said about the moon in her column poetry is “a soft and rich glass of milk”, did not need to say much more in her prosody verse. This doesn’t mean if the moon is a glass of milk, it opened in our imagination a basis, this doesn’t mean that Al-Malaikah did not achieve any thing in her prosody poetry (with foot of verse measure), but we don’t build a wall between a poet’s early, middle and late poetry, as it doesn’t mean that it cannot give prosody a special essentialism.
There is something in her prosody poetry that is not distinct in her poem “THE CHOLERA” as much as it is distinct in her poem (THE PRAYER OF THE GHOSTS), for example the ability of the poetess to limit her poem to a linguistic, sensational and spectacular pit without an inclination to ramification and dispersing that usually exhaust the modern poem. In her prosody there is an inclination for a clear singing, seriated, frank, argumentative, mature, sensational, courageous, identical, and an almost analogous demeanor, sentimental intensity that is not trapped by superficial emotions and “chewed” words. What ever is the situation, in spite of the paradox, we are facing a poetess. It would be unfair to Al-Malaikah to limit her to one historical milestone, as in spite of that she succumbed to that, but she was exactly less suitable for this contention. She is further ahead as a poetess and there is in her poetry a real exposure for a mature quiddity, for a rich and able woman, thus with this poetess and with this quiddity and the woman, Nazik Al-Malaikah should be an outstanding figure in history.
But the years of solicitude and absence and possibly unconsciousness are not enough to hide a woman with this brightness, intelligence, confrontationist character, protestation, pioneering (meaning to be the followed and not a follower). Probably the final death of Nazik Al-Malaikah makes us understand that what she achieved was an exceptional special personality and a woman.
“Assafir” June 22nd. 2007
Identity Card: The great Iraqi Arab Poetess Nazik Al-Malaikah (Angels)
The Arab Iraqi poetess, Nazik Al-Malaikah was born in Baghdad on 23 August 1923
She was brought up in a family culture and literature,
Her mother is he poetess, Salma ABDUL Razzah (Umm Nizar)
Her father, man of letters and a researcher, Sadek Al-Malaikah,
She spent her youth at home with her family in an atmosphere of culture literature…
She left Iraq in the late fifties, after a series of coup d’etats at the time.
Nazik Al-Malaikah wrote a number of famous poems, important critiques, stories and auto biography.
The High Council of Culture published lately her full works in Cairo.
After finishing he secondary schooling, she joined the High Teachers Collage,
from which she graduated in 1944 with distinction.
In 1950 she left to the United States where she studied the English language and literature,
in addition to Arabic literature to get her Master’s degree in the latter field.
Returned to Iraq where she became an assistant professor in the college of education.
She masters the English, French, German, Latin in addition to the Arabic languages.
She got he bachelor’s degree in the Arabic language from the High Teachers Collage in Baghdad,
and her master’s degree from Wisconsin University majoring in comparative literature.
She represented Iraq in the Arab Conference of Writers in 1965.
She published seven collections of poems (Diwan in Arabic)
Her last diwan, The Sea Changes its Colors, was printed several times.
Her full works were published in two volumes and were reprinted several times
She also wrote the following books:
The Affairs of Modern Poetry
Separatism in the Arab Society
The Red Hermitage and Balcony
The Psychology of Poetry
Several research works and thesis’s for many Arab and foreign
universities were wrote about her.
She published her first diwan “The Lover of the Night in 1947, The Arab critique Maroun Abboud said: “Deep grieve was the common factor between all its poems, where ever we sail among its poems you see a funeral, and you don’t hear except crying and sometimes wailing and agony”.
She published her second diwan “Shrapnel’s and Ashes” in 1947.
According to her, “A big wave of uproar took place about it”.