Distinguished Lebanese poet Said Akl dies at 102

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A file photo of Lebanese poet Said Akl, taken in October 2010. Al-Akhbar / Marwan Bou Haidar

Published Friday, November 28, 2014

Renowned Lebanese poet and writer Said Akl passed away on Friday morning at the age of 102.

Akl was born in 1912 in the eastern town of Zahleh, and quit school at the age of 15 to help his family after financial difficulties. He later pursued studies in literature in the 1930s after moving to Beirut.

Famous for his radical Lebanese nationalism, Akl, also known as the "Little Poet," promoted the use of Lebanese dialect written in modified Roman script rather than the modern standard Arabic and alphabet.

He was defined by his Phoenician-centered nationalism, which made him popular among many Lebanese and controversial among others.

After having left the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Akl became one of the leaders of the Guardians of the Cedars, a radical nationalist political party created during the Lebanese Civil War which welcomed the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, seeing it as a golden opportunity for forcing Palestinians out of Lebanon.

Although mostly known for his poetry, the deceased writer was also a journalist and wrote for several newspapers such as Al-Jarida, Al-Sayyad, and had a column in Assafir in the 1990s.

Considered one of the most notable modern Lebanese poets, Akl wrote in Arabic and French. His poetical works include “The Jasmine Bells,” “Poems from Her Notebook,” “Like Pillars,” and “Carving in Light.”

Legendary Lebanese singer Fairouz sang more than a dozen of his poems such as “Roddani Ila Biladi” (Take Me Back to my Country), “Ghanaytu Mekka” (I sang to Mekka), “Ummi ya Malaki” (My Mother, My Angel), and “Kara’tu Majdaka” (I Read your Glory).

Akl wrote three plays in poetic form, “The Daughter of Jephthah,” “The Magdalena” and “Cadmus,” and also published prose that includes “Loubnan in Haka” (If Lebanon Were to Speak).

His funeral will take place on Tuesday, December 2 at the Saint Georges Cathedral in downtown Beirut at 11:30 am, according to Notre Dame University.

(Al-Akhbar)

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