Poetry As Protest

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by Chris Bodenner

An Al Jazeera reporter is in Tahrir Square with 200 protesters:

They've been chanting throughout the evening. There've been poetry readings. It seems as if they're saying 'It's early in the morning but we're here to stay. We're not going anywhere'.

One particular poem, "To the Tyrants of the World," by early 20th century Tunisian poet Abu al-Qasim al-Shabihas, has become a rallying cry in both Tunisia and Egypt. Listen to it here. Lyrics after the jump:

Hey you, the unfair tyrants...
You the lovers of the darkness...
You the enemies of life...
You've made fun of innocent people's wounds; and your palm covered with their blood
You kept walking while you were deforming the charm of existence and growing seeds of sadness in their land

Wait, don't let the spring, the clearness of the sky and the shine of the morning light fool you...
Because the darkness, the thunder rumble and the blowing of the wind are coming toward you from the horizon
Beware because there is a fire underneath the ash

Who grows thorns will reap wounds
You've taken off heads of people and the flowers of hope; and watered the cure of the sand with blood and tears until it was drunk
The blood's river will sweep you away and you will be burned by the fiery storm.

(Photo: Egyptian demonstrators sit around a fire to keep warm in Tahrir Square, in central Cairo, on January 30, 2011, following a day when people gathered on the streets for a sixth day running calling for their President Hosni Mubarak to resign. By Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

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