Ports of Soul


‫الشاعر حسن النيفي‬‎ ile ilgili görsel sonucu

Hasan al-Nifi’s photo


 “A Flower from my Country” by Hasan al-Nifi


Oh, flower It has lost her dew suddenly

The heart’s tears flowed into its vein

She scavenges from soil pain and sips

Embers of catastrophe from the silt of its depths


Her roots’ pulse has watered the earth’s wounds

Its tenderness has, flooding, filled the skyline

It blooms and he abandons her to wilt whenever

She grows parched, sadness drips from her branches


Earth’s springs have dehydrated, there is no water except

The lifeblood that nearly takes flight from her shrouds

She lives and doesn’t know – has destruction attacked her?

Or has the iniquity of her ear trampled upon her splendor


Even if sadness overflowed to its eyelids

The sweet nectar of her eye will bedew her land



The topics, interests, and study methodology of modern Arabic poetry have varied. Some poems have become a stranger tocivilization, literature and sentiments of the nation, and some authors are still connected with Arabic poetry’s civilized, historic, literary roots. Hasan al-Nifi’s books:  Ports of Soul and Ash of Years are consideredto contain classic Arab poetry patterns are considered as a continuation of the old Arab poetry that captures the artistic pleasure andoriginality, plus modernity of thought and feeling.

The poet, al-Nifi, has made his poetic art a part of his thinking, and his thinking part of his poetry. This poetic mixture with its homogeneous rhythm and his harmonious tune between thought and feeling was another supplement to the modern Arab poetry lyre. Among all his poems he captures values in Arab culture – praising them and stimulating them. It is wrong to assume that poetry is out of thought and to be considered a pure musical feeling like music. It is also wrong to assume that poetry is written out of any moral or social duty because the nature and style of poetry is different from the art of music, and other arts, even if they meet with some elements components of poetry. The poet’s mind plays an important role when mediating the feelings, changing them, assembling their parts and writing them in a homogenous form, a poem, at the end. Thus the poetry becomes one of sources that feeds the mind and heart with knowledge. This knowledge is not cold truism knowledge, ratherit is a poetic knowledge gained by poetic experience where a poet has lived all, and was able to change it to a humane experience.

Hasan al-Nifi has a unique poetic pattern. If the Abbasid poet, Dabal al-Khuzai, has carried his  wood for 50 years, and he couldn’t  find someone to cross him on it as he expressed himself. However, our poet, al-Nifi, as it is very clear in his collection,Ports of Soul, experienced extraordinary sacrifices because of his thought and ideas that ask for social justice and freedom. When reading his poetry in Ports of Soul, the reader will find images of Arab culture which show darkness and light – to best refer to the dark side of modern Arab reality, and to the glory of the past Arab nation. Also, readers will find lots of traditional images that are based on his Arab poetic culture like: night, star, sun, moon, clouds, winds, desert, rocks, grass, sands, horses, swords, flatlands, waves, mud, birds, fire, graves and eagles.

This short review can’t cover all the aspects of al-Nifi’s poems, but it is a brief summary of the most famous attributes of his book Ports of Soul.

  • The poem is translated by Nuri al-Khalaf and edited by Rachel Hagler Schine.


Review by Prof. Abd al-Salam A. al-Raghab. Prof. al-Ragab was a literary professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities – Department of Arabic literature in Aleppo, Syria.


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