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Arabian Love Poems, new edition

Nizar Kabbani, translated by Bassam K. Frangieh and Clementina R.Brown
Arabian Love Poems, new edition
ISBN: 978-0-89410-881-5
ISBN: 978-1-62637-706-6
1999/225 pages/LC: 98-42796

"This superbly presented edition...will well serve to introduce an American readership to one of the finest 20th century poets of the Middle East."—Midwest Book Review

"Bassam Frangieh and Clementina Brown have done us all a great service by collaborating to create this bilingual volume.....  The Arabic is a reproduction of the poet's own handwritten text of the selected poems, indicating the collaboration of the poet in the project as well.... an excellent introductory volume to the work of this icon of modern Arabic poetry for students and aficionados of Arabic and world poetry."—Clarissa Burt, Journal of Arabic Studies

"This translation in English is much needed.... Arabian Love Poems succeeds in rendering into English the beautiful poetical verse of Qabbani."—Amira El-Zein, MESA Bulletin

"This book is good ... and it provides real access to Nizar Qabbani's poetry.... These translations ... provoke fitting testimony to the memory of the poet."—Stephen Watts, Banipal


Nizar Kabbani’s poetry has been described as "more powerful than all the Arab regimes put together" (Lebanese Daily Star). Reflecting on his death in 1998, Sulhi Al-Wadi wrote (in Tishreen), "Qabbani is like water, bread, and the sun in every Arab heart and house. In his poetry the harmony of the heart, and in his blood the melody of love". Arabian Love Poems is the first English-language collection of his work.

Kabbani was a poet of great simplicity—direct, spontaneous, musical, using the language of everyday life. He was a ceaseless campaigner for women’s rights, and his verses praise the beauty of the female body, and of love. He was an Arab nationalist, yet he criticized Arab dictators and the lack of freedom in the Arab world. He was the poet of Damascus: "I am the Damascene. If you dissect my body, grapes and apples will come out of it. If you open my veins with your knife, you will hear in my blood the voices of those who have departed."

Frangieh and Brown’s elegant translations are accompanied by the striking Arabic texts of the poems, penned by Kabbani especially for this collection.


Nizar Kabbani was born in Syria in 1923, to a traditional, well-to-do family. He served in Syria’s diplomatic corp for more than twenty years (1945-1966), but settled for political reasons in London. He died on April 30, 1998; at his request, he was buried in Damascus. Bassam K. Frangieh is professor of Arabic at Yale University. Clementina R. Brown translates and interprets from Arabic, French, and Spanish into English.