This is a verse extracted from the poetry written by Hafiz Ibrahim entitled (اللغة العربية تنعي حظها بين أهلها) which focuses on the beauty and the richness of the Arabic language.
It is the first poetry which I studied in my Arabic class in balagha lessons and it really got me amazed on the beauty of the Arabic language.
أَنا البَحرُ في أَحشائِهِ الدُرُّ كامِنٌ
I am like the sea which deep inside of me are hidden pearls.
Hafiz Ibrahim was born in 1872 and was known as one of the most popular poets from Egypt with the title “Sya’ier An-Neel” (شاعر النيل) means the Poet of the Nile).
In the 20th century, there were some Arab poets who suggested a new evolution in the education and writing system in the Arab world. They wanted to change the writing format from Arabic fusha to Arabic amiya (colloquial Arabic). Hafiz wrote this poem (القصيدة ) as an objection to this idea.
Listen to the recitation of this beautiful poem :
رَمَوْني بعُقْمٍ في الشَّبَابِ وليتني . . . عَقُمْتُ فلـم أَجْـزَعْ لقَـوْلِ عُدَاتـي
وَلَــدْتُ ولـمّـا لــم أَجِــدْ لعَـرَائـسـي . . . رِجَـــالاً وَأَكْـفَــاءً وَأَدْتُ بَـنَـاتـي
وَسِعْـتُ كِتَـابَ الله لَفْظَـاً وغَايَـةً . . . وَمَـا ضِقْـتُ عَــنْ آيٍ بــهِ وَعِـظِـاتِ
فكيـفَ أَضِيـقُ اليـومَ عَـنْ وَصْـفِ . . . آلَـةٍ وتنسيـقِ أَسْـمَـاءٍ لمُخْتَـرَعَـاتِ
أنا البحرُ في أحشائِهِ الدرُّ كَامِنٌ . . . فَهَلْ سَأَلُـوا الغَـوَّاصَ عَـنْ صَدَفَاتـي
فيا وَيْحَكُمْ أَبْلَـى وَتَبْلَـى مَحَاسِنـي . . . وَمِنْكُـم وَإِنْ عَـزَّ الـدَّوَاءُ أُسَاتـي
فــلا تَكِلُـونـي للـزَّمَـانِ فإنَّـنـي . . . أَخَــافُ عَلَيْـكُـمْ أنْ تَـحِـيـنَ وَفَـاتــي
أَرَى لـرِجَـالِ الـغَـرْبِ عِــزَّاً وَمِنْـعَـةً . . . وَكَــمْ عَـــزَّ أَقْـــوَامٌ بـعِــزِّ لُـغَــاتِ
أَتَــوا أَهْلَـهُـمْ بالمُـعْـجـزَاتِ تَفَـنُّـنَـاً . . . فَـيَــا لَيْـتَـكُـمْ تَـأْتُــونَ بالكَـلِـمَـاتِ
أَيُطْرِبُكُمْ مِنْ جَانِـبِ الغَـرْبِ نَاعِـبٌ . . . يُنَـادِي بـوَأْدِي فـي رَبيـعِ حَيَاتـي
وَلَـوْ تَزْجُـرُونَ الطَّيْـرَ يَوْمَـاً عَلِمْتُـمُ . . . بـمَـا تَحْـتَـهُ مِــنْ عَـثْـرَةٍ وَشَـتَـاتِ
سَقَـى اللهُ فـي بَطْـنِ الجَزِيـرَةِ أَعْظُمَـاً . . . يَعِـزُّ عَلَيْهَـا أَنْ تَلِيـنَ قَنَـاتـي
حَفِظْـنَ وَدَادِي فـي البلَـى وَحَفِظْتُـهُ . . . لَهُـنَّ بقَلْـبٍ دَائِــمِ الحَـسَـرَاتِ
وَفَاخَرْتُ أَهْلَ الغَرْبِ ، وَالشَّرْقُ مُطْرِقٌ . . . حَيَـاءً بتلـكَ الأَعْظُـمِ النَّخِـرَاتِ
أَرَى كُــلَّ يَــوْمٍ بالجَـرَائِـدِ مَزْلَـقَـاً . . . مِــنَ القَـبْـرِ يُدْنـيـنـي بـغَـيْـرِ أَنَـــاةِ
وَأَسْمَـعُ للكُتّـابِ فــي مِـصْـرَ ضَـجَّـةً . . . فَأَعْـلَـمُ أنَّ الصَّائِحِـيـنَ نُعَـاتـي
أَيَهْجُـرُنـي قَـوْمـي عَـفَـا اللهُ عَنْـهُـمُ . . . إِلَــى لُـغَـةٍ لــم تَتَّـصِـلْ بـــرُوَاةِ
سَرَتْ لُوثَةُ الإفْرَنْجِ فِيهَا كَمَا سَرَى . . . لُعَابُ الأَفَاعِي في مَسِيلِ فُـرَاتِ
فَجَـاءَتْ كَـثَـوْبٍ ضَــمَّ سَبْعِـيـنَ رُقْـعَـةً . . . مُشَكَّـلَـةَ الأَلْــوَانِ مُخْتَلِـفَـاتِ
إِلَى مَعْشَرِ الكُتّابِ وَالجَمْعُ حَافِلٌ . . . بَسَطْتُ رَجَائي بَعْدَ بَسْطِ شَكَاتي
فإمَّا حَيَاةٌ تَبْعَثُ المَيْتَ في البلَى . . . وَتُنْبـتُ فـي تِلْـكَ الرُّمُـوسِ رُفَاتـي
وَإِمَّـا مَـمَـاتٌ لا قِيَـامَـةَ بَـعْـدَهُ . . . مَـمَـاتٌ لَعَـمْـرِي لَــمْ يُـقَـسْ بمَـمَـاتِ
This is a youtube video showing some Malaysian students singing Hafiz Ibrahim’s poem in their Arabic language class.
And here is an explanation on the first six verses of Hafiz Ibrahim’s poem:
Author : حافظ إبراهيم
Title : اللغة العربية
Reference Book : نصوص مختارة من الادب الحديث
1st Verse : I recall what had happened to me at the time, when everyone was increasingly neglecting me and they left me. They doubted me and considered me as useless in their life. I urged my community to come back and rejuvenate me. But unfortunately, they ignored me. I pray to Allah to save me.
The author tries to describe how the Arabic Language feels when the Arab Community had been neglecting it by using Arabic colloquial (dialect) in their life. Day after day, the Arabic language became useless, static and undeveloped. So “I” here refers to the “Arabic Language”. The author narrates and characterizes Arabic as a human who could talk and expressed his feelings with words, to make the readers understand deeply and clearly the desired meaning . “My community” ( قـومي )refers to the Arab world.
2nd Verse : My enemies accused me that I was unproductive and “infertile” or “sterile” ( عـقم ) due to my lack of producing new words, aphorisms, proverbs and language styles ( أساليب اللغة ). They hoped I would always be static and backward among others. Nevertheless I wasn’t sad and frustrated or even affected with their accusations because I knew who I was and I knew it wasn’t true.
“The Enemies” here refers to other languages that were developing at that time and the word “sterile” ( عـقم ) is used to illustrate the circumstance where Arabic failed to develop itself. Actually, Arabic already had a ton of words that are powerful and beautiful proverbs. It became unproductive at that time because of the lack of usage, not because of “sterile” as what other linguists claimed. If Arabic hadn’t had words that are powerful and beautiful proverbs, it would have been suitable enough to be labelled as sterile language.
3rd Verse : I’m not a sterile language since I have a lot of words that are powerful and beautiful proverbs. I created them with great partners (synonyms & antonyms), with heart (semantics & pragmatics) , with soul (phonology), but unfortunately they were sinking and buried because there were nobody or even qualified people who stayed behind and to save me.
“Nobody” refers to Arab people who have ignored to use it in their life and “qualified people” refer to everyone who are in the Arabic field especially scholars, teachers, poets and writers who have been writing most of their writing in Colloquial Arabic (dialect).
4th Verse : Al Quran is a proof of my existence. I’m proud that I take part in Al Quran. I express the words widely in Al Quran with the desired meaning. I’m bold enough to elaborate and describe each of the sentences in the Al Quran.
5th Verse : Thus, I asked them back. Am I strong and independent enough to help my community for identifying new things nowadays?
6th Verse : I am such an ocean which has a lot of diamonds that came from the center of the earth. Just like my circumstance, I have a lots of undiscovered words and vocabulary in my body. Do they ask the right people to explore them?
Arabic is a strong and unique language, there are many words that are powerful and linguistics structure that are undiscovered yet. Only those who are knowledgeable will get the treasure of the Arabic language by exploring and asking the right people and from the right resources, that is, the Arab scholars.