Filly of the Year – By H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohamed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum

16th Sep

Author: By Sameh Kawaach (Palestine)

Contemplating every vocabulary within in the text context, or every poetic symbol used in the poems of the first poetry audio book by H. H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, is not an easy task; this is if by our full meaning, "contemplating", we imply the aesthetic and critical concept of "browsing" through the pages of such a volume of multiple-voice poems. The poems tackle sincere states of feeling that epitomize humanness. Moreover, they shed light on deep-rooted sensibilities and their convergence with the human abstract, which is manifested in the relationship between the poet and his ego; and also in his relationship with the other, whether the other is a father; leader; relative; brother or the beloved one in his life.

However, every reader (or a listener) of this collection of poems can    notice the overwhelming presence of the language of emotions ,   in the wider human sense rather than articulating subjective feelings such as love. This presence raises questions about the poem itself; and why it is necessary for poets to express themselves, and make life speak through their poems; manifesting itself through divulgence or by means of existential outcries that reveal joy and celebrate the birth of a new poet or the exceptional intellect of a wise man. What if these two events coincided; with the birth of a poet who combines experience, wisdom and philosophy that enables him to examine things separately? He delivers his wisdom through the medium of poetry, using the rhythms of Arabic music, as if his poem was a song of camels caravan guide.

In the first poetry audio book by H. H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the audience; including critics, poetry lovers and the ordinary reader (listeners), are transported to the realm of emotional absolutes where love and romanticism flow freely and refer us to what can be called "the poem's logic". The logic of the poem is manifested in linguistic phenomena such as  verbal and semantic , and falls somewhere between two kinds of poetry long known to Arabs and recognized by native speakers of Arabic today; namely classical Arabic poetry and the colloquial  Nabati poetry, although some may disagree about the concept and denotation of these two terms.

"Mohrat Al 'Aam" (Filly of the Year) is one of the poems featured in the new poetry audio book. The poem, which displays exquisite form and structure, is an embodiment of poetic genius. It creatively and unconsciously conjures up what is hidden in the poet's innermost being, all the while brimming with sensitivity, delicateness and passion; a passion stemming from a Ruler and his son's concern for their people, their circumstances, future and hopes. We cannot simply confine such passionate concern within the framework of formal titles or social duties, because it entails a closeness that borders on oneness with the daily concerns of life itself, and involves governing; love; elegies; faithfulness; passion and existence. This concern is expressed throughout the poetry collection in poems such as: "Dhayeg Yesolef" (Upset and Getting Things off His Chest), where a distressed poet pours his heart out; "Al Sumow Wal Ma'ali" (Eminence and Nobleness), where a son takes pride in the achievements of his father; or "Tahat amrak" (Your Wish is My Command). Another great poem that exemplifies or rather sums up the elegiac tradition in Arabic poetry is "Gloobna Gabrak" (Our Hearts Are Your Grave), which laments the departure of the great leader; the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. In this extremely touching elegy,   voicing deep feelings of grief, loss and bereavement and speculates about the reality we live in, the poet writes:

“Grief taste is bitter, but parting is bitterer

Our days and circumstances are cruel to us

Your grieved people's tears have fallen like rain

Mourned by our homeland's citizens and guests alike;

Even if we could give you our lives- for you are dearer to us than life itself-

Your favor will still outweigh ours"

In elegies, the departed is the beginning and end of the poem, he is ever-present in each verse. Common themes in elegies include: lamentation, sorrow, grief and bitter loss. In "Gloobna Gabrak", it is as if the verses of the poem reiterate the poet's wish, "Who can convince the grave digger not to dig a grave for you. Our hearts are your grave, if only you could see them". The language of the poem qualifies death as   an inescapable voyage in the circle of existence; which does not differentiate between life and death. The legacy left behind by the departed is capable of transcending distance by being emotionally present in the poetic text in a way that cannot be abolished by the power of departure. The departed hears apologies from earth and existence for the "state" of his departure, and becomes eternally present in the poetic consciousness, in poems and in the minds and hearts of people. The poet expresses this notion in the following image:

"If the earth had feelings and tears

It would have shied away from entombing you

And if the sun ever gets eclipsed in mourning of a human death

The day of your departure will be the day of its eclipse"

The poet starts the elegiac condition on a note of love aside from merely expressing feelings of loss and anticipating death. By regarding legendary death through the eyes of a poet who is steeped in the environment and its realities, the poem expresses what simple ordinary people say during similar occasions like the death of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, or the death of any other Ruler beloved by his people. He lives in the hearts of these people, the ones who had prayed that Allah grants him a long life, and who have also prayed that He grants him Paradise:

"If only you had been travelling

I would have waited for your return

Hope would have quieted the fears of the spirit

However, I have a brief question to ask

About the people of this land and its guests

Whose shoulders have carried you to your grave?

How do their hearts and shoulders feel?

Moreover, H. H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, touches upon the location of the existential pain by voicing the foremost question regarding the life of an Arab. Such a question arises the moment an Arab's eyes meet the desert and its emptiness, when he asks the sand dunes about the meanings they hide and when he reiterates the existential outcry of the poetic super-ego. It is the outcry made by Tarafa Ibn Al Abd in the following verses of his famous Mu'allaqa (one of the Hanging Poems at al Kaaba and written by gold):

"If people ask, 'who is that lad?'

I assume they speak of me

I do not laze or loiter"

It is an outcry that carries the rhetoric of nothingness and abundance, and the philosophy of existence and nonexistence, in Arabic poetic texts. The selfsame outcry is repeated in another poem by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan, entitled "Ana, Ana" (I, I) which reads:

"I am a human controlled by time and a certain something

That Allah has made eternal in the religion delivered by His Messenger

Thus, if human beings lack audacity

Their burdens will grow heavier

Whoever awaits an opportunity from anyone?

Will find it difficult to achieve glory."

Nestled between the pages of the first collection of poetry by H. H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is a medley of poems; including elegiac poetry, poems on pride and wisdom as well as other poetry themes. In this poetry collection, we find a poet who presents us with the most outstanding accomplishment of Arab culture – namely, poetry; a gem decorating the bosom of existence with great meanings. The poems speak on our behalf, expressing what we want to say about a great leader, ruler and man of wisdom who evoked the history of the Rashid Caliphs, other, and responsible rulers. Along with the poet we find ourselves uttering the following verses from his poem "Tahat amrak" (Your Wish Is My Command):

"Your wish is our command

And we will always fulfill our promises

We are brave and will never disobey you

 Bravery deeds are yours that we have learnt perseverance and acquired courage."