The figure of Job (Ayyūb) in modern Arabic poetry

Jeries N. Khoury*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The employment of historical and mythical symbols is one of the most important characteristics of modern Arabic poetry. Many Arab poets have been inspired by historical and mythical characters and made frequent use of them in their poetry. Among these poets is Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb, who makes extensive use of different kinds of figures in his poetry. Among the few such figures to have survived to the latest stage of his poetry is that of "Job" (Ayyūb). This figure is intimately related to al-Sayyāb's own character because of the similarities in their lives. Al-Sayyāb seems to have been inspired by the biblical narration of this story, but he introduced many changes in the figure itself by merging it into his own persona. Al-Sayyāb's use of Job in poetry is so striking that many poets who were affected by his tragic death wrote elegies for him, in which they show the effects on them of al-Sayyāb's life story, poetry and use of Job. Al-Sayyāb in such poems, becomes an intertext himself, one which has inspired numerous other poets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-195
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Arabic Literature
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2007


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