The fifth commemoration of Al-Baradouni [Archives:2004/761/Culture]

August 5 2004

Poet Abdullah Al-Baradouni (1929-1999) is considered one of the Arab poets who endeavored to alter the language, without affecting its external form.
Yemenis knew him as a poet by the end of the 1940s, although it was not until the mid 70s that the Arab cultural arena recognized him. That was at the Mirbad Festival, when he recited his very famous poem (Abu Tamam and the Arabism of Today). This poem opened to him the doors of fame with its revolutionary connotations, and caustic criticism reaching tearful ridiculousness.
Poignant ridicule is one of Al-Baradouni's poetic and artistic characteristics, and one of his revolution's pillars that distinguished him as a human being and a poet from the nation surrounding him.
One of the stories about him is that he sent, in 1948, a letter to Imam Yahya Hamid Al-Din, ruler of Yemen at the time, which led him into prison. When the Imam learned that he was blind, he released him and beckoned him to his palace. When he got out of the palace, natives from Dhamar, asked him how was the Imam's hand when he kissed it. “It was flesh on bones,” he ludicrously answered. The laity regarded the Imam as someone holy and supernatural, so were annoyed by Al-Baradouni's answer. They placed him over their shoulders and roamed the streets of Dhamar chanting “Flesh on blood, you Jew.”
Though simple, the situation reveals the revolutionary and confrontational approach of Al-Baradouni, which accompanied him till the end of his life
He took the side of the masses, translating their sighs and pains, and philosophizing their aspirations. The crowds loved him profoundly when they realized his caring for them.
Al-Baradouni rebelled against the social and political reality, giving vent to his rebellion through the classical poetry with its view of reality, its style and construction resurrecting its glorious spring in the Abbasid Caliphate and the Arabic Renaissance.
In the artistic worlds of his poetry, Al-Baradouni appeared as a revolutionary against reality, as well as a soothsayer, implicating in his poetically artistic worlds, signs of hope in the future.
“He is a mysterious poet. Nay, he himself is mysterious,” said Dr. Izzadin Ismail, in the oldest study tackling Yemeni poetry. Al-Baradouni entered his creative world, with his first collection “The City of Tomorrow,” which came after Izzaddin Ismail, who rightfully found a peer in Al-Baradouni for the Renaissance, who stands out matchless in Arabic history of the 20th century.

Al-Baradouni, rebellion and time problems:
Abdullah Al-Baradouni was obsessed with the love of the homeland. He perused the past, and derived his identity from it. His poetic talents came into existence in a time of monotonous rhythms and rituals separated from the present by vast distances. Therefore, his attention was mainly drawn towards a trinity with overlapping dimensions, and inseparable interconnections. That trinity is “time”, “space” and “man”. By perusing his poetic heritage, space connotations are present in the titles of the following collections:
– From the Land of Bilquis, 1961.
– For the Eyes of Bilquis's Mother, 1972
A Sandy Translation of Dust Festivals, 1983.

The man signs are represented by:
The Creatures of the other Yearning, 1986
The Dodge of Lanterns, 1989.
The Return of Wise Ibn Zaid, 1996

The time signs are manifested in two titles:
On the Path of Dawn, 1966
The City of Tomorrow, 1970
The Travel to the Green Days, 1977
Smoky Faces in the Night's Mirrors, 1979.
Time without Quality, 1979
The Answer of the Age, 1991

It is obvious that about 50% of the collections have taken the temporal dimension as one of the factors of the desired revolutionary change.
“Space” occupies along with “man” the other 50%.
People used to believe in stability, and change was seen as infidelity. This was reflected in the stance of the authorities, who unsheathed their swords in the faces of callers for change, brandishing that they would shed the blood of modernists. Change and modernism was originated in the heart of the modernist mindset, of which Al-Baradouni was the architect.
The static is a law inherent in the traditional mindset. Hence, if change is an essential doctrine of the modernist mindset, stability is very vividly present in the traditionalist mindset.
With the eruption of the 1962 September 26th Revolution in Yemen, Al-Baradouni got two conflicting cultures, one of which was dynamic and flexible. Its elements are able to move, propagate and spread beyond their time and space frame. They are able to convince, challenge, confront, and meet individuals' needs as well.
The poetry of Al-Baradouni was characterized by an excellent knowledge of human nature, and an expression of man's love for power and subjugating others. It is an historical fact that does not only relate to the contemporary, but also to the past as an identity. Man is his tribe in miniature, by means of the customs, concepts and conventions, hoarded in the unconsciousness.
Al-Baradouni set off from one historical fact, attempting to resurrect man so that he can reform his reality and create his civilization by himself according to a poetic vision that fights to strike a balance between reality and vision.