The sign and the absolute
In the history of Arab culture, Iraq has always occupied a place of its own. It is the land of Karbala, where Al-Hussein was murdered, and to this day the sense of tragedy of that martyrdom seems to permeate the very air. Not that modern Iraq has not had its fair share of tragedy too. From the furnace of its suffering and pain, Iraq has drawn its unique voice: its songs of molten lament are unmatched in the Arab world. Last week, another Iraqi colossus, Abdel-Wahab Al-Bayyati, succumbed to death in exile, and millions of Iraqis, both outside the country and living under siege in Iraq, asked themselves the same question: Are we condemned to tragedy, to mourning and lamentation? Will the agony never end?
Remembering Al-Bayyati, a compatriot, poet Sa'di Youssef, said: "Memory, for him, was a sign. The future was his point of departure -- it was the absolute. Between the sign and the absolute, he travelled a difficult road, made difficult choices, and lived his life a raw nerve."
Points of reference
Ahmed Abdel-Moeti Hegazi remembers Abdel-Wahab Al-Bayyati, who died last week
Stations of exile
Two poems for my son Ali
By Abdel-Wahab Al-Bayyati