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The Martyrs

The Author’s Background and Influence on Writing of the Poem
“The Matyrs” is a poem that was written by Ghazi Al Gosaibi. Apart from being a poet, Al Gosaibi was a Saudi Arabian politician, a novelist and a technocrat. He was born into the great Al Gosaibi family in 1940. The premature death of his mother when he was yet a toddler saw him being raised in Haifa, Al Ahsa province by his grandmother. He graduated from the University of Cairo in 1961 with a Bachelor’s degree in law. He later went to the University of Southern California and obtained a degree in International Relations in 1964. He pursued his studies further at the University College London and in 1970, he graduated with a PhD in Law (Publitec, 2011). Al Gosaibi’s choice of career may have been that of an envoy. He was so brilliant that the media in Saudi Arabia usually referred to him as ‘the sole intelligent man in Saudi Arabia.’ The government, and particularly King Fahd, took an interest in Al Gosaibi, which was attributed to his enthusiasm. This marked the start of his career as an envoy and a politician. He was appointed in different ministries, one of them being the Ministry of Labor and Health. He was also appointed as Ambassador to Bahrain and the United Kingdom. Maybe the most defining factor of Al Gosaibi was his use of poetry to express his views regarding various issues, including the corruption in the government of King Fahd.
The role that Al Gosaibi played in politics influenced him to write the poem. As a politician, he always spoke his mind regarding political issues that affected Saudi Arabia and other countries in the world. Being a talented poet gave him the chance to express his views in an artistic way, and this is what made him stand out. Notably, according to the Arabic culture, poetry is preferred to prose in communicating what one is deeply feeling (Ouyang, 2013). Since he was an Arab, Al Gosaibi deemed it fit to express what he was feeling through this poem, and this is the reason why its impact on the Arab world was unanimous and profound.
Context of the Poem and How the Poem Responds To It
The context of the poem is political: Al Gosaibi talks about a Palestinian bomber who carried out an attack in Israel. This poem is a reflection of the anger that Arabs had for the failure of the American government to intervene and solve the conflict in the Middle East. In this poem, Al Gosaibi praises an 18-year-old female suicide bomber from Palestine, Ayat Akhras, for blowing herself up with explosives wrapped in her body at a supermarket in Jerusalem, killing 2 Israeli individuals and wounding 25 people (Saighal, 2003). He referred to her as the “heaven’s bride” who “challenges criminals” and “embraces death with a smile.” He uses the latter phrase to imply that she was brave, unlike the leaders who were afraid and running from death. Al Gosaibi also encompassed crucial opinions regarding the United States and the political and intellectual elite in UAE, who, according to him, failed to take any responsibility relating to the conflict in Palestine. He even refers to the White House as a “house engulfed in darkness.”
Poetic Elements
The author uses a lot of imagery in the poem. For one, Al Gosaibi uses visual imagery to show the readers how the American country failed the Middle East countries. In the poem, he describes the American leaders as the “dictators of the white house.” According to him, the hearts of these leaders are full of darkness, and by stating this, readers are influenced to perceive the leaders as wicked people. Furthermore, he states that these leaders flee away from death, thus portraying these leaders as running away from situations that could risk their lives. Al Gosaibi describes Ayat, the suicide bomber, as a beautiful woman who is not afraid to oppose the criminals and readily “embraces death with a smile.” This description makes one envision a beautiful Ayat who willingly dies for a course she believes in. The author of the poem also uses imagery to appeal to the feelings of readers. In line one of the poem, Al Gosaibi describes Ayat as a martyr. and in line 5, he attests that Ayat did not commit suicide; instead, it is the people who are alive who have committed suicide. The author means that failing to take action to stop wars, such as those being experienced in the Middle East, is tantamount to being dead. Ayat was brave enough to do something about it, and therefore, her actions are that of a Martyr. Through this imagery, the reader is challenged to strive to do something worthwhile for the society.
The poem also utilizes symbols. In line 13, the phrase “dictators of the white house” is used to refer to American leaders, and in line 14, “hearts overflowing with darkness” is used to refer to the unconcerned nature of the American leaders. In line 14 and 15, Al Gosaibi states, “we kissed Sharon’s shoe until it wept.”  By this phrase, he means that the Palestinians tried to convince the then Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to come to a peace agreement with them to no avail. Metaphors are also used in the poem. For instance, in line 10, the author states that weeping divorced them, and this means that they stopped weeping. In line 12, he affirms that “hope left them,” which means they lost all hope they had. Regarding language, the author uses the first person (i.e. “we”) to convey the message. By “we,” he refers to the Arab nations. The poem is written in past tense since it refers to things that happened in the past. The poem is structured informally:  it does not have stanzas, the lines in the poem are not of equal length, and there are no rhymes.
Opinion on the Poem
I loved this poem because Al Gosaibi took the leaders to task. It is the responsibility of leaders to ensure that the well-being of those they serve is well taken care of. Besides, a powerful country like the U.S. this service owes not only to its citizens but also to people in other nations. Therefore, by commenting on the U.S. failure to tackle the problem that was being experienced in the Middle East, Al Gosaibi strove to make them take action and bring the change that was much desired. I believe people may not appreciate the poem as much as I do because while I view the poem’s message as being positive since it encourages positive change, others may see its message as one that advocates for suicide bombing.
Presentation Script
About the Poem

Ghazi Al Gosaibi authors the poem “The Martyrs.” It is about a Palestinian female who committed suicide at a supermarket in Jerusalem killing two Israelis.
The poem also critiques the U.S. government for failing to take action to end the conflict in the Middle East.

About the Author

Al Gosaibi was a Saudi Arabian poet, politician, novelist, and a technocrat.
He served in several ministries in Saudi Arabia as well as an ambassador in various countries.
He was well educated, having attained 2 bachelor’s degrees and a PhD in different countries across the world.
He was a lover of poetry and usually used it to communicate his views regarding issues that plagued society. For instance, he often used poems to comment on King Fahd’s government for being corrupt.

Poem Context

The context of the poem is political, in which the author speaks about the suicide bomber and the role which leaders are supposed to take in political conflicts such as the war being experienced in the Middle East.

Poetic Elements

The author uses imagery to make the reader envision the suicide bombers actions as well as depict leaders as being cowardly.
He uses symbols to describe leaders as heartless tyrants
He applies metaphors to portray the emotions that the conflict has had on the Middle East countries e.g., “hope has left us.”
The author uses the first person “we” to refer to the Arabs.
The poem’s structure is informal.

My Opinion about the Poem

I love the poem because it challenges leaders to carry out their responsibilities.
However, I feel others may not like it because they may interpret the message negatively by insinuating that the author advocates for suicide bombing.

Ouyang, W. (2013). Politics of nostalgia in the Arabic novel: Nation-state, modernity, and
            tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Publitec, P. (2011). Who’s Who in the Arab World 2007-2008. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Saighal, V. (2003). Dealing with global terrorism: The way forward. New Delhi, India:
Sterling Publishers Private Ltd.

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