Ahmed Shawqi (1868–1932) (Arabic: أحمد شوقي, Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ˈʔæħmæd ˈʃæwʔi]), nicknamed Amir al-Sho'araã (which literally means the prince of poets), was one of the greatest Arabic poets laureate, an Egyptian poet and dramatist who pioneered the modern Egyptian literary movement, most notably introducing the genre of poetic epics to the Arabic literary tradition. On the paternal side he was of Circassian, Greek and Kurdish descent, and on the maternal side of Turkish and Greek descent.
Raised in a privileged setting with Turkish, Kurdish, Circassian, Greek, and Arab roots, his family was prominent and well-connected with the court of the Khedive of Egypt. Upon graduating from high school, he attended law school, obtaining a degree in translation. Shawqi was then offered a job in the court of the Khedive Abbas II, which he immediately accepted.
After a year working in the court of the Khedive, Shawqi was sent to continue his studies in Law at the Universities of Montpellier and Paris for three years. While in France, he was heavily influenced by the works of French playwrights, most notably Molière and Racine. He returned to Egypt in 1894, and remained a prominent member of Arab literary culture until the British forced him into exile in southern Spain, Andalusia, in 1914. Shawqi remained there until 1920, when he returned to Egypt. In 1927 he was crowned by his peers Amir al-Sho’araa’ (literally, "the Prince of Poets") in recognition of his considerable contributions to the literary field.
He used to live in ‘Karmet Ibn Hani’ or Ibn Hani’s Vineyard at Al-Matariyyah area near the palace of the Khedive Abbas II at Saray El-Qobba until he was exiled. After returning to Egypt he built a new house at Giza which he named the new Karmet Ibn Hani. He met Mohammed Abdel Wahab, and introduced him for the first time to art, making him his protégé as he gave him a suite in his house. The house later on became Ahmed Shawki Museum and Mohammed Abdel Wahab became one of the most famous Egyptian composers.
Shawqi’s work can be categorized into three main periods during his career. The first coincides with the period during which he occupied a position at the court of the Khedive, consisting of eulogies to the Khedive: praising him or supporting his policy. The second comprised the period of his exile in Spain. During this period, his feeling of nostalgia and sense of alienation directed his poetic talent to patriotic poems on Egypt as well as the Arab world and panarabism. The third stage occurred after his return from exile, during that period he became preoccupied with the glorious history of Ancient Egypt and Islam. This was the period during which he wrote his religious poems, in praise of the Prophet Muhammad. The maturation of his poetic style was also reflected in his plays, the most notable of which were published during this period.
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