Wednesday، 05 January 2000 - 12:00 AM
His real name is Mahmoud Bayram Al-Tunsi. The pioneer of the Egyptian modern colloquial poetry and one of the founders of the Arabic lyrical theater in Egypt. Born on March 3, 1893 in Al-Anfoushi district in Baharya Alexandria one year after the birth of his peer Sayed Darwish, the people’s artist.
Al-Tunsi received the rudiments of Arabic and Islam in the kuttab of the district, a place where children are taught principles of language and Qur’an recitation. He escaped the lessons and his father moved him to the Institute of Mursi Abul Abbas where he closely delved deep into the Arabic language branches such as literature, rhetoric and grammar.
He worked in a grocery store then as a trader to make living after the death of his father and mother respectively. During this period, he embarked on reading the Arabic masterpieces of books and got acquainted with different schools of Arabic poetry. At this very time his poetic genius began to bloom.
The promising poet, Tunsi made his debut on March 25, 1917 with a poem entitled Al Majlis Al Baladi or the Municipal Council. Al Ahali magazine, where his first poem was published, sold as many as 4,000 issues.
After this marvelous start, he quit trade and published his own magazine Al-Messala on May 4, 1919. He then packed to Cairo to join Darwish’s troupe. He wrote the lyrics of Shahrazad operetta. People echoed scenes of this operetta which became a national anthem during the 1919 Revolution.
On August 25, 1920, Tunsi was exiled in Tunisia then in Leon, France but he never ceased sending his poems to the Egyptian newspapers. After two years in exile he managed to secretly sneak into Egypt. Knowing this, the government banished him once again to France, but the French authorities sent him back to Tunisia. During this long and exhausting journey, he wrote many remarkable pieces of work such as Alf Lila Wa Lila or A Thousand Nights and Aqila.
He had troubles with his eye sight and asked permission to go to Syria for treatment. The French authorities gave him permission on condition that he would not go back to Tunisia.
He had spent two years in Syria before the French authorities forced him to return to France. On his way back to France, in disguise, he escaped from the ship as it passed the Suez Canal.
Al-Tunsi participated in all aspects of cultural life through his writings published on papers or broadcast on Radio. President Nasser granted him the Egyptian citizenship in 1954, the Medal of Literature and Arts in 1960. He died of asthma on January 5, 1961.