The Tammuzzi Poets
The Tammuzi Movement
The influence of Sa´adeh’s literary theory appeared clearly, first, in the Tammuzi Movement, a literary current related to Tammuz, the God of fertility, worshiped by ancient Syrians. This movement, known also as “the Shi’r Group” included distinguished modern poets of widely varying talents such: Khalil Hawi (1925 - 1982), Ali Ahmad Sa’id Esper [known as Adonis] (b. 1929), Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (1926 – 1964), Unsi al-Hajj (b. 1937), Nazeer El-Azama (b. 1930), Fu’ad Rifqa (b. 1930), Isam Mahfuz (b. 1939), Taufiq Sayigh (1923-1971), Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (b. 1919) and Yusuf al-Khal (1917 – 1987). This group of poets related the ancient gods to the modern Arab World and used Shi’r Hurr, or what they called al-shi’r al-hadith. They rejected all the conventions of Arabic poetry and all the accepted values of form and use of language. They contended “it was possible to remain an Arab poet without using the conventional form, style and themes of classical literature.” In other words, they were against the unchanged values and predetermined rules of the Arabic literary heritage and in favour of moulding the language, its grammar and style, to the new demands of the modern era. Moreover, in their poetry they concentrated on the idea of the change of the seasons, giving hope to the winter of Arab discontent after the Palestinian disaster of 1948 and to the possibility of rebirth. This idea meant that winter will give birth to spring, and death will ultimately produce life and resurrection. The adoption of myths in poetry served, according to Salma Khadra Jayyusi, as “interpretation of present Arab history in positive and concrete terms”. Thus, she stated:
Al-Sayyab’s implicit use of the Tammuz myth in his famous poem ‘Unshudat al-Matar (1954) was a supreme example which triggered forth various experiments using either the same myth (under different names such as Ba´al in Khalil Hawi, the Phoenix in Adonis), or Biblical stories such as the story of Christ’s crucification and resurrection which also exploited, or that of La´azar (Lazarus) employed by Hawi. All these poems span time and are dynamically and basically concerned with change, with transcendence, with the eventual arrival at fertility and fruition.