Eco critical and Postcolonial Reading of Jawdat R. Haydar Poetry
قراءة نقدية بيئيّة لا استعمارية لشعر جودت رستم حيدر
()د. دوريس مسعود يونس Dr. Doris Massoud Younes
Although most of the Arabic literary works had rural natural setting and intense relationship between the Arab literary writers and their homeland from which they got the spirit and inspiration to resist the colonizers, ecocriticism is still in its infancy in terms of reading Arabic literature and most of the Arabic literary works had rural natural setting and intense relationship between the Arab literary writers and their homeland from which they got the spirit and inspiration to resist the colonizers. It is actually through poetry that the Arab world resisted. This paper intends to read three of Haydar’s poems on the basis of both Eco critical and postcolonial characteristics. The method of analysis of the selected corpus is content qualitative method and its three approaches: directive, content, and summative. The analysis of the three poems intended to prove that while Haydar is in nature, he used nature and describes natural scenes to express both his ecstasy and reflect his postcolonial voice.
Key words: colonialism – colonizers – ecocriticism – postcolonial era – content qualitative method
على الرغم من أنّ كل الأعمال الأدبيّة العربيّة مرتبطة ارتباطًا وثيقًا بوطن الأدباء والشعراء العرب وبالبيئة الريفيّة الطبيعيّة التي استمدوا منها الروح والإلهام لمقاومة الاستعمار, بقي النقد البيئي في مهده لجهة قراءة النّصوص الأدبّية ودراستها في اللغة العربيّة. من خلال الشعر قاوم العالم العربي الاستعمار الغربي وبدأت السياسة البيئيّة والنقد يزدادان نشاط في مرحلة ما بعد الاستعمار. يهدف هذا البحث إلى قراءة ثلاث من قصائد جودت رستم حيدر وتحليلها على أساس الخصائص الرئيسة للنقد البيئي وبعد الاستعمار. اتبعت في تحليل القصائد الثلاثة الطريقة النوعيّة للمحتوى والتي تعتمد ثلاثة مناهج: التوجيه, المحتوى, التلخيص وذلك لأثبت أنّ جودت رستم حيدر عندما يكون في الطبيعة, يصف المشاهد الطبيعية, ويعبر تارة عن نشوته وطورًا عن رفضه للاستعمار خصائص النقد البيئي وما بعد الاستعمار.
الكلمات المفتاحية: الاستعمار – المستعمرون – النقد البيئي – مرحلة ما بعد الاستعمار الغربي – طريقة التحليل النوعية للمحتوى.
Jawdat R. Haydar is a Lebanese American poet who lived through the many tumultuous years of Ottoman occupation of Lebanon, the bitterness of the exile to Anatolia in Turkey on account of his family’s strong support for the Arab Nationalist cause. Haydar had also experienced the French Mandate and the many false. To challenge colonialism, Jawdat R. Haydar included in his poetry some eco critical and postcolonial features. Moreover, in Jawdat R. Haydar: The Voice from Baalbeck, Munro (2016) asserted that nature in Haydar’s poetry is one of the sources of optimism for he ‘strolled around the hills and around Baalbek, farmed its rich soil, marveled at the beauty and abundance with which God had endowed the earth and witnessed its annual rebirth. Haydar confided to Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper on October 10,2009: “I have now found a solution to every problem. It is not because I am a superb human being that I say this, but merely because I have adopted optimism as my answer” (176).
Postcolonial merged at the same time when many colonies were fighting their way to independence. It really began picking up as a coherent literary movement in the mid-twentieth century. Many classic postcolonial texts were published between the 1950s and 1990s.While drama and poetry are important in postcolonial literature, it’s really the novel that defines this movement. What the postcolonial writers did was as important as what the anti-colonial freedom fighters and activists did. That’s because postcolonial writers challenged some of the basic assumptions (like “white people are better”) that had justified colonialism in the first place. In other words, the writers’ battlefield was the mind, while the freedom fighters’ battlefield was… well, the battlefield (Barbara, 1987).
- Literature Review
Ecocriticism is fairly a recent phenomenon in literature and literary studies. It is originated in the USA, largely from the need to study environmental non-fiction called nature writing which is mostly produced in western states of the USA. Due to its fast development, ecocriticism is now a paradoxical mixture of diversity and common purposes (Garrard, 2004).
In Eco critical perspective: Dual Nature of literary environment, Buell (1995) defined literary environment as a social, cultural, and ideological entities as they are physical ones. The dual nature of literary environment is called pastoral theory which is historically defined as: “Sometimes activated green consciousness, sometimes euphemized land appropriation. It may direct us towards the realm of physical nature, or it may abstract us from it…” (31)
In Pastoral, Gifford (1999) identified five fundamental aspects of the post-pastoral theory. The first post-pastoral feature is that it awes in attention to the natural world. The second feature is the recognition of a creative –destructive universe. Then, the recognition that the inner is also the workings of the outer, that our inner human nature can be understood in relation to external nature. Next, to convey an awareness of both nature as culture and of culture as nature. The last one has to do with consciousness which for centuries appeared to set us apart from nature that could be seen from a bio centrist point of view to be the species’ responsibility for its ecological relationships and its ultimate survival (31).
There are two types of pastoral, postmodern and anti- pastoral. Terry Gifford (1999) defined postmodern pastoral as art and literature that grapple with the relationship between humans and nature in era of ecological crisis. It generally points to a need to move beyond “conventional” pastoral in order to respond to the realities of contemporary life. Turning away from what is perceived as the objectification or exploitation of the non-human world in traditional pastoral literature and nature writing.
Postmodern pastoral texts experiment with ways to give nature a voice by considering urban nature, and the disappearing boundary between urban and rural spaces (30).
As for anti-pastoral, it is the indissolubility of nature and culture, as opposed to satirical or ironic uses of the anti-pastoral that expose the “distance between reality and the pastoral convention (128).
The main postcolonial characteristics are first, the appropriation of colonial languages. Postcolonial writers take the language of their colonizer (English or French mandates) and turn it on its head by writing in dialect, making the language sound spoken instead of written, pepper it with native phrases and terms so that to challenge the authority of the colonial. The second characteristic is metanarrative in postcolonial literature. Postcolonial writers have a big problem with Europeans who were ruling over Eastern people who were considered theoretically inferior. From their perspective, colonization wasn’t about civilization or enlightenment but about brutal economic exploitation. The third characteristic is rewriting history in postcolonial literature.
While European colonizers thought that the people they colonized didn’t have a history, postcolonial writers set about writing history from their own perspective, showing how colonialism was actually a pretty violent, terrible thing. Also these writers show how history is a matter of perspective. There are always many perspectives: There is no one “True history”.
The fourth characteristic is decolonization struggles in postcolonial literature. Postcolonial writers are not just interested in decolonizing the political structures, but also in decolonizing the mind to gain mental and cultural liberation from the structures and philosophies of colonialism. The last characteristic is giving value to cultural identity in postcolonial literature. Postcolonial writers challenge the idea in colonialism that colonized peoples were inferior to those of Europeans. There is also a valuable cultural identity reflected in the narrative style of a literary work (Elam, 2015).
The corpus under study consists of three poems by Jawdat R. Haydar “The Temple in Baalbeck”, “Lebanon” and “Never Scratch Nature to Bleed and React”. These poems were selected based on that they have natural objects as their focus and they first show how Haydar utilized nature as the emotional interconnectedness between the poet and nature and as a reflection of postcolonial characteristics.
The method of analysis in this paper is Shannon & Hsieh (2005) content qualitative method and its three approaches. The directive approach covered the Eco critical postmodern and anti-pastoral characteristics and the postcolonial five characteristics. Content approach is the analysis of the three poems based on the two theories ecocriticism and post colonialism and their characteristics. The summative approach is the conclusion that sums up the main ideas discussed. “The Temple in Baalbeck”, “Lebanon” and “Never Scratch Nature to Bleed and React” would be analyzed on the basis of Eco criticism dual functions: emotional and ecstasy effects of nature on the speaker or poet and the five selected post-colonial characteristics that are dominant in Haydar’s poetry.
- Corpus Analysis
Eco critical and postcolonial Reading of “The Temple in Baalbeck”
In “The Temple in Baalbeck”, Haydar not only expresses the indissolubility of nature and culture but also the consciousness of seeing nature from a bio centric point of view wherein the species’ responsibility is in both its ecological relationships and ultimate survival as in the second quatrain and third quatrains: “ Thunder bolts flashed to crack the adamant stone; the flash was defied and the walls still stark stand / Against the contending years passing thus moan/ Their failure to resolve the walls into sand/The stones were quarried from hills of patience made / To build thus walls as thus by magic untold/ This thisness but the thatness that held and stayed/The aging heirloom against time never old”.
Haydar revealed tension between the ideal and real, the past and present which is one of the characteristics of pastoral genre of poetry as in the first quatrain and the couplet wherein Jawdat mixed between the real (Tourists/ creations) and ideal ‘fugitive gods: Baal, Bacchus and Zeus’, the past ‘ Yesterday’ and present in: “Tourists were all eyes looking on Yesterday/ Tourists, remember that the walls of Yesterday will ever be the home for Age living stay/All creations are subject to birth and age” (Stanza 5, l.1). Finally, nature is animated and given human characteristics as moaning the failure in destroying the walls into sand (2nd quatrain, l.3-4, Appendix A).
Eco critical and postcolonial Reading of “Lebanon”
In “Lebanon”, Haydar celebrated organic nature for he forgot everything in nature. Nature made Haydar feel happy regardless whether it was calm or wild. Despite the death of his wife ‘Maliha’, when in nature, Haydar expressed the same feeling of ecstasy in his heart. Nature to Haydar was a source of inspiration and a recall of dear people who passed away as his wife Maliha as on Sannine mountain: “I would that you were with me hence, sharing this celestial view, seen, unseen before.” In these lines, Haydar peopled his mind with nature. The beauty of nature was what ignites his imagination.
In this poem, Haydar reached sublime that Edmond Bury (2014) defined as “a state wherein all senses were involved and intermingled: fear and all pleasure and pain.”
In fact, excessive noises could fill Haydar with ecstasy as in “O life! there is nothing more than this vision of growing ecstasy” and “I feel dissolved and carried fancy-free.”
Moreover, Haydar was an animist in the sense that he animated nature by providing emotional or human characteristics to inanimate things or objects as Sannine Mountain that was described as a brigade of Cavalry charging the shore.
Finally, in the second, third and fourth quatrains, Haydar used a metanarrative, the second characteristics of post-colonialism predefined in the Literature Review , wherein a new form of colonialism was presented, mainly the brutal economic exploitation as in ‘ A brigade cavalry charging the shore/Falling back on sand in glorious sheen’(Appendix B).
Eco critical and Postcolonial Reading of “Never Scratch Nature to Bleed and React”
In “Never Scratch Nature to Bleed and React”, Haydar animated nature by giving it human characteristics as bleeding, blood and skin. In this sonnet, the second and last principles of the post-pastoral theory were used by Haydar. The second principle was the recognition of a creative –destructive universe as in the first quatrain “We chariot to school to learn to read and write/ Not to skin nature and rise to the sky/Not to work for fame by using dyn’mite / pollute the world and by pollution die”.
The last principle is consciousness which for centuries had set us apart from nature which could be seen from a bio centric point of view to be the species’ responsibility for its ecological relationships and its ultimate survival as at the end of the third quatrain and the couplet “Since we’ve polluted the air and the main/Why not be a hand in glove with nature/to’ve a serene and a happy future” (Appendix C).
Despite the scarcity of studies and writings on ecocriticism and Post colonialism in the Arabic literature, this paper endeavored to first, read and analyze three poems by Jawdat R. Haydar using some characteristics in ecocriticism and Post colonialism that apply to the selected three poems. Second, it proved the dual aspects that nature had in the three selected poems by Haydar.
It is recommended to work on first, analyzing other poems written by Jawdat R. Haydar using same or other characteristics of ecocriticism and post colonialism. Second, encouraging researchers and scholars to analyze other Arabic literary works in the English or Arabic language using both literary theories ecocriticism and post colonialism characteristics.
The Temple in Baalbeck
Tourists were all eyes looking on Yesterday
The ancient enigma of the massive walls,
Where nature gave birth to Age residing stay
The strict guardian against Time in the halls.
Thunder bolts flashed to crack the adamant stone;
The flash was defied and the walls still stark stand
Against the contending years passing thus moan
Their failure to resolve the walls into sand.
The stones were quarried from hills of patience made
To build thus walls as thus by magic untold
This thisness but the thatness that held and stayed,
Baal lived here down in the mouth left in rage;
Bacchus hacked the vine and buried the jars deep;
Zeus gathered sages and asked for a presage;
All said, “Shun the guardian who ne’er goes to sleep.”
All creations are subject to birth and age
Various varieties that make the whole,
Thus the whole but groups of actors on the stage
Of them the fugitive gods who sent this call:
“Tourists, remember that the walls of Yesterday
Will ever be the home for Age living stay”(101 Selected Poems,60).
I would that you were with me hence, sharing
This celestial view seen, unseen, before
Where Sannin eternally up staring
At the evening star glaring at the shore.
The deep is rising, the ships heading east
The green mountains capped with snow behind
Perhaps the eye of an artist possessed
May contain such a paradise in mind.
Come to me, darling, and look at the strand
The edge breaking foam lay miles apart
Amidst a galaxy topping the land
Looming a sky within heaven a heart.
Come, darling, to see what I see, and more
Stars above, stars below, moon in between
A brigade of cavalry charging the shore
Falling back on sand in glorious sheen.
O life! There’s nothing more to enchant me
Than this vision of growing ecstasy
I feel dissolved and carried fancy-free
Where beauty and dreams meet in poesy.
That’s the Lebanon the heart of the world
Where the cedars living for ages unknown
And the flag of liberty always unfurled
In a democracy without a throne (101 Selected Poems, 66)
Never Scratch Nature to Bleed and React (12/2001)
We chariot to school to learn to read and write
Not to skin nature and rise to the sky
Not to work for fame by using dyn’mite
Pollute the world and by pollution die.
Folks awake and be aware of the reek
The death like hills of the chemical lees
Quick shut the flood gates of poison and seek
To stop being charioted to hades
Never scratch nature to bleed and react
For the falling blood is nothing but bane
‘Tis not a vision fancied but a fact
Since we’ve polluted the air and the main
Why not be a hand in glove with nature
To ‘ve a serene and a happy future (101 Selected Poems, 3).
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PhD in English Language and Literature – Lebanese University Doctoral School- Lebanon.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org