Neohelicon

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 101–117

The dark night echoes the dark soul: Shakespeare’s sonnets and the poetry of Antara Ibn Shaddad

Article

Abstract

This essay examines the images of the night in Shakespeare’s sonnets and in the poetry of Antara Ibn Shaddad. It explores how these two poets identify the night with sleeplessness, aloofness, loneliness, night birds, dreams, old age and death. Doing so, it suggests that the two poets, despite of their cultural backgrounds, and of the boundaries of place, language and time, use almost, with some differences, the same nocturnal motifs. This essay is important because it shows how different cultures follow strikingly similar, if not exactly perfect, ways of describing the darkness of nature as an echo of the darkness of the strayed soul. In the light of these strong affinities, this essay suggests two possibilities, one being the universality of these poets (Hereafter, I have, where possible, made references to some Western and Oriental poets who similarly use some image-clusters of the night.), and the other being that Shakespeare, in one way or another, may have been exposed to the poetry of Antara providing that it was translated into Latin or any other European language. No matter which one of these possibilities seems to be credible, this study tries to imply that cultures, regardless of language barriers, share some quintessential ways of expressing cultural innerness, to which researchers should pay more attention instead of being preoccupied with cultural differences as signs of clash of civilizations.

Keywords

Nocturnal meditation Night Sleeplessness Old age Separation Death Sorrow Melancholy Grey hair Sun Moon Stars Nightingale Beauty Love 

References

  1. Abu Al-Nasir, O. (2002). Antara Ibn Shaddad. Beirut: Al-Ma’arif Publisher.Google Scholar
  2. Abu Madi, I. (2008). The brooks. Amman: Ministry of Culture.Google Scholar
  3. Alder, G. J. (1867). The poetry of the Arabs of Spain. New York: Wynkoop & Hallenbeck.Google Scholar
  4. Al-Katib, S., & Al-Katib, A. (Eds.). Explanation of the divan of Antara Ibn Shaddad. Beirut: Dar Al-Hayat.Google Scholar
  5. Al-mutanabbi. The Divan of Al-mutanabbi. Beirut: Al-Jeel Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Baerlein, H. (1910). The singing Caravan: Some echoes of Arabian poetry. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  7. Barnstorf, J. (1862). A key to Shakespeare’s sonnets. Translated by T. J. Graham. London: Trunber and Com. Google Scholar
  8. Blunt, W. S. (1895). The Arabian poetry of the days of ignorance. New Review, 14, 626–635.Google Scholar
  9. Blunt, W. S. (1903). The seven golden odes of pagan Arabia, known also as the moallakat. Translated from the original Arabic by L. A. Blunt. Done into English verse by W. S. Blunt. London: The Chiswick Press.Google Scholar
  10. Byron, G. G. (1851). The poetical works of Lord Byron. Complete and copyright ed. London: J. Murray.Google Scholar
  11. Carew, T. (1893). The poems and masque of Thomas Carew. London: Reeves and Turner.Google Scholar
  12. Cousins, A. D. (1999). Shakespeare’s sonnets and narrative poems. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  13. Drake, N. (1817). Shakespeare and his times (Vol. 1). London: T. Cadell and W. Davies.Google Scholar
  14. Falih, J. R. (1978). Night in Pre-Islamic poetry. Bilad Al-Rafidayn, 9, 528–565.Google Scholar
  15. Frost, R. (1946). The poems of Robert Frost. New York: The Modern Library.Google Scholar
  16. Greenblatt, S., et al. (Eds.). (1997). The Norton Shakespeare. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  17. Habib, I. (2000). Shakespeare and race: Postcolonial praxis in the early modern period. Lanham/New York/Oxford: University Press of America, Onc.Google Scholar
  18. Hamilton, T. (1820). Trans. The Romance of Antar. London: John Murray, p. 819.Google Scholar
  19. Ibn Shaddad, A. (1893). In A. Khouri (Ed.). The Divan of Antara. Beirut: Adaab Publisher.Google Scholar
  20. Ibrahim, N. (2009). Night in Pre-Islamic poetry. Amman: Al-Yazori Publisher.Google Scholar
  21. Longfellow, H. W. (1909). The works of Longfellow Henry Wadsworth. New York: The Davos Press.Google Scholar
  22. Mahaffy, J. (2005). A history of classical literature (Vol. 2). London: Elibron Classics.Google Scholar
  23. Mallette, K. (2010). European modernity and the Arab Mediterranean. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  24. Marenbon, J. (Ed.). (2000). Poetry and philosophy in the middle ages. Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  25. Reams, L. E. (2000). Night thoughts: The waking of the soul: The nocturnal contemplation of love, death and the divine in the eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century French epistolary novel Roman-Memorie. Chapel Hill.Google Scholar
  26. Schoenfeldt, M. (Ed.). (2007). A companion to Shakespeare’s sonnets. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  27. Shelley, P. B. (1929). In: T. Hutchinson (Ed.), The complete poetical works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. London: Oxford University Press, Humphrey Milford.Google Scholar
  28. Sidney, P. (1591). Sir P. S.: His Astrophel and Stella. London: Thomas Newman.Google Scholar
  29. Stedman, E. C., & Woodberry, G. E. (Eds.). (1903). The works of Edgar Allan Poe. New York and Pittsburg: The Colonial Company.Google Scholar
  30. Thomas, D. (1952). The poems of Dylan Thomas. New York: New Directions Publishing.Google Scholar
  31. Whitman, W. (1902). The complete writings of Walt Whitman. New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.Google Scholar
  32. Zaki, A. (1979). Myths. Beirut: Odah Publisher.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MutahJordan

Personalised recommendations