Ahmad Shawqi, Poet biography

Ahmad Shawqi was one of the most famous Arab poets of the modern era. He was born in Cairo, Egypt, 1869, of mixed Arab, Kurdish, Turkish, Greek and Circassian descent. He grew up in a privileged, aristocratic household, raised partially by his maternal grandmother who was Greek and who worked in the khedive‘s court. He was a bright student, who memorized parts of the Quran while young, and became an avid reader of poetry from an early age. By the time he completed high school in 1885, he was already fluent in Arabic, Turkish and French. He then enrolled in law school, where he he also furthered his literary interests and knowledge. After graduation, he spent four years pursuing further legal studies France (sponsored by the khedive), during which time he visited Belgium and Britain. Upon returning to Egypt in 1892, he became the official poet to the Khedive’s royal court. Following the Ottoman alliance with the Germans in the early stages of World War I, the British deposed the Khedive, and Shawqi was exiled to Spain, where he lived for five years before being able to return to Egypt in 1920. In time, his renown as a poet spread through the Arab world, and his contemporaries gave him the title, “The Prince of Poets.” He died in 1932, and was elegized by many poets. Although he is most famous for his poetry, he also wrote historical fiction, as well as plays, and is a pioneer of modern Arabic verse drama. Shawqi lived at the cusp of the emergence of the modern movement in Arabic poetry, and his poetry is entirely conventional in terms of conformance to the traditional metrical patterns. He also wrote extensively in conventional genres, such as elegy, love and descriptive poetry. Nevertheless he did not hesitate to use poetry as a vehicle for contemporary social and political commentary. He also wrote fabulistic poems were perhaps partly influenced by French poets such as de la Fontaine.


7 thoughts on “Ahmad Shawqi, Poet biography

  1. Pingback: Shawqi’s Poem on Knowledge and Education | Suheil Laher : Language and Literature Blog

  2. Pingback: Shawqi on Moral Pedagogy | Suheil Laher : Language and Literature Blog

  3. Pingback: Shawqi: Knowledge is Life | Suheil Laher : Language and Literature Blog

  4. Pingback: Shawqi: Moral Burden of Knowledge | Suheil Laher : Language and Literature Blog

  5. Pingback: Shawqi: Moral Responsibility of Scholarship | Suheil Laher : Language and Literature Blog

  6. Pingback: Shawqi on Education and Parliament | Suheil Laher : Language and Literature Blog

  7. Pingback: Shawqi : Education, the Path Ahead | Suheil Laher : Language and Literature Blog

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