The Poet of Baghdad

Schadrac Junior Ondongo Bongo

Copyright 2020 by 
Schadrac Junior Ondongo Bongo

Abbd Harun Al Rachid

Complex among so many other literary genres, poetry is that which reflects essence (nature). It is the beauty of writing using a certain beauty of speech, by the play of sounds, rhythms and images.

As someone said: We recognize a poet by the quality of his pen (poetic writing) and by his ability to describe a scene with well-coordinated and rhythmic words like the sound of a soft melody pleasing to the ear which leaves us speechless, perplexed and which captivates us with its words.

As through the frenzied steps of a dance which unconsciously moves our hips, poetry is the art of handling words well; reflecting the sanctity of writing. Poetry is the art of God. Because it's said that, it's through a long thought-out, rhythmic and well-coordinated poetry that God accomplished the work of creation. Poetry, oh poetry, conquered our hearts with its bewitching and succulent words.

We are certainly all born with a special gift or talent within us. But we don't all find out about it at the same time. Hence, some manifest it from a young age, and others manifest it as they advance or throughout their journey on earth.

'Abbd Harun Al Rachid was in the category of those who demonstrated their talent or gift from an early age. Having been fortunate enough to have a wonderful mother with a soft and tender voice who read him a story every night before he went to bed, Harun took a liking to books. And quite naturally, this is how he discovered his passion for books and became an amateur at it.

Born September 15, 1935, in Baghdad, Iraq (The republic of Iraq is a country in the Middle East, located north of the Arabian Peninsula and of which Baghdad is the capital and largest city. Iraq holds the fourth largest oil reserves in the world, and is a member of OPEC.), Harun had an innate talent for poetry. He had a style of his own, which distinguished him from his contemporaries.

A great architect of the literary revival of his country, Harun has never ceased to bless the world through his pen. Elegance, beauty, excellence--there are not enough words to describe the work of the artist, who has crossed the ages and continues to bless humanity with an incomparable aesthetic dimension.

He was able to take a mundane topic and make it plausible to people with simple versification. Everyone who knew him saw the greatness of the man he really was behind the pen.

Discreet and quite shy, Harun let his quill speak rather than his mouth. For a mouth that speaks a lot does not lack sin. But a poem transcends the human being by bringing out the best of him in the world.

A staunch defender of human rights, Harun fought tooth and nail for a little more balance in society than normal. Basically, he was fighting for a better world. And poetry was the way Harun found to break down prejudices, to shake things up in the world in general, and in his country in particular.

With a unique style recognizable among many others, Harun left imprints that time will not be able to erase. To coin a phrase: The artist does not die, but he lives through his works. And his works demonstrate his greatness. Harun was an inspiration to anyone who loves art.

During a rare interview that he was able to grant to a local media, the journalist asked him (first question): Mr. Al Rachid, where do you get all your inspiration from?

He responded generally, saying: Inspiration is often driven by motivation, by a thirst, by an insatiable hunger to always want to tell the facts according to ones vision of things. It's also drawn from a burning desire to express what's burning within us, and around us, giving it a poetic connotation. And most importantly, inspiration is something that is cultivated over time.

The journalist's second question, who was your role model?

My model is the one who is, and who was, and who is to come. Just to tell you that it's the Supreme Being who was and is my model. Because from him I draw all my inspirations. He inspires me every day; he is a source which never dries up, from which I continuously drink. Hence, this is the constant in my writings during all these years.

The journalist's third question, what do you want people to take away from you?

I want people to take away from me, not only my poetic side (Which is a good thing; I have no doubt!), but I want people to see me as someone who has made a difference through poetry, by making it accessible to everyone. But also, that they remember my fight for the right to more freedom and my wish to see a better Iraq for the next generation.

And the journalist said to him: What will be your conclusion?

My conclusion is that; I would like to tell everyone that poetry is found in everyone, through our lyrics, and no matter in what style we use it. Poetry is in all of us. And in this, take our pens, bring out the best of ourselves by poeticizing things. And I believe that in this way, we can expect a better world where poetry will be the art of all.

One of his finest works was that which recounted with great virtuosity the fall of Saddam Hussein. Powerful and precise, Harun was able to tell in a few words of the American invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Harun's poem:
Man of glory, you made the whole kingdom tremble,
At the mention of your name, everyone bowed and said: Saddam is great and powerful.
Blessed be the woman who brought him into the world, blessed be the breasts that suckled him. Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar.
Raised higher among the children of the East, you raised up the administration of your fathers,
Contemplation of your contemporaries and fear among young people.
After Allah, it was Saddam. But الله أكبر (God is the greatest.), and there is a time for everything under the sun.
And the King of the West decided to do away with the King of the East.
The whistle of the bullets sounded; the great American army disembarked.
The greatest power in the world decided to end the dictator.
The great King Saddam who shook the whole kingdom left his throne and became a wanderer.
He who was used to living in palaces, accustomed to honors, now lived in dens deprived of all glory.
Unfortunately for him, the Great King in Heaven had sounded the trumpet and announced his end.
And the great Saddam humiliated, fell like a dead leaf: The eagle of the West devoured the eagle of the East.

And concerning his positions for his country, he wrote:
Joy of life, peace and quiet, this is what characterized life in Baghdad. Rich country with abundance of oil, able to feed every Iraqi up to the first generation. But poorly managed by our authorities whose use is corruption. By developing a country not by destroying the heritage of future generations, but by developing it by leaving a heritage on which the future generation can build on. This is how our children will say: Our fathers ate grapes, but we have more than grapes. For the tree of life is there, and from it comes the fruits of all kinds and at all times.

Man is born and dies, but he leaves traces on earth in relation to his works. Those who have done great works, even the work of time will not be able to erase them. Because even in paradise their exploits will be told, and their reward will be great.

But the destroyer does not resist the work of time, for his works are sacrilegious, and he's cursed up to the fourth generation. Because paradise is not his portion but rather the fire of hell.

And someone talking about Harun said: Beauty of nature, gift of God, you knew how to make anyone shine through your pen. Your art will forever be engraved in our hearts.

The cradle of great civilizations among the oldest (Mesopotamia - Iraq covers a large part of Mesopotamia) saw the extinction of one of his glorious sons, son of the East in the person of: 'Abbad Harun Al Rachid.

Tribute to 'Abbd Harun Al Rachid (1935 - 2015).

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