Abou-Al-kacem El-chebbi (Arabic: أبو القاسم الشابي, pronounced Abo Al Qassim Al Shabbi) (24. February 1909 - 9 October 1934) was a Tunisian poet. He is probably best known for writing the final two verses of the current National Anthem of Tunisia, Humat al-Hima (Defenders of the Homeland), that was written originally by the Egyptian poet Mustafa Sadik el-Rafii.
Echebbi was born in Tozeur, Tunisia, on 24 February 1909, the son of a judge. He obtained his attatoui diploma (the equivalent of the baccalauréat) in 1928. In 1930, he obtained a law diploma from the University of Ez-Zitouna. The same year, he married and subsequently had two sons, Mohamed Sadok, who became a colonel in the Tunisian army, and Jelal, who later became an engineer.
He was very interested in modern literature, in particular, translated romantic literature, as well as old Arab literature. His poetic talent manifested itself at an early age and this poetry covered numerous topics, from the description of nature to patriotism. His poems appeared in the most prestigious Tunisian and Middle-Eastern reviews. His poem To the tyrants of the world became a popular slogan chant during the 2011 Tunisian and subsequently Egyptian demonstrations.
Echebbi died on 9 October 1934 at the Habib-Thameur Hospital in Tunis, Tunisia following a long history of cardiac disorders. His portrait is on the current 30 DT note.
Humat al-Hima (Defenders of the Homeland)
The Will To Live
If the people one day will to live
then destiny must respond
and the night must disappear
and the chain must break.
Those who never been cuddled by the passion of life
will evaporate in its air and perish.
So beware to those who don’t desire life
from a slap of the victorious nothingness!
Thus told me the living organisms
And what their concealed souls reported to me.
And the winds banged between the crevices
on top of the mountains and underneath the trees.
If I have the ambition to achieve a goal
I will climb up my desire and forget any precaution.
I don’t avoid the dangers of the routes
or the blazing fireball.
Those who don’t like climbing the mountains
will live forever in holes.
So, the youth’s blood has filled my heart,
and other winds have roared in my chest.
I pondered, listening to the rumble of thunder
to the winds’ music and the rain’s cadence.
And the earth told me when I asked:
“O Mother do you hate humans?”
“I bless those who have ambitions
and those who enjoy taking risks
and I damn those who don’t flow with the times
and those who are complacent about life,
life between the stones.
The universe is alive, loves life
And pities the dead no matter how glorious.
The horizon won’t embrace dead birds,
and the bees won’t kiss dead flowers.
Were it not for the motherhood of my adoring heart
those holes wouldn’t have embraced the dead.
Beware those who beware to those who don’t desire life
from a slap of the victorious nothingness!”
On one autumn night
filled with sorrow and ennui
I got drunk from the night’s shining stars
and I sang to sadness until it got drunk .
I asked darkness: Will life come back
to what the spring of life decays?
But the darkness’s lips didn’t talk,
nor did the virgins’ dawn croon.
Then the forest told me in a lovely
softness like the throbbing of strings.
The winter comes, the foggy winter,
the snowy winter, the rainy winter.
Then extinguished will be the magic,
the magic of the tree branches,
the magic of the flowers and fruits,
and the magic of the quiet, peaceful evening
and the magic of the delicious and fragrant meadows.
And the tree branches and leaves will fall
and the flowers of a dear new succulent era.
The sacred chanting of life rang
in the dreamy enchanted temple,
and declared in the universe that ambition
is the flame of life and spirit of glory.
So if the souls will to live,
then destiny must answer.
translated by: Samia Ouederni
To the Tyrants of the World
Hey you, despotic tyrant,
Darkness lover and enemy of life,
You scoffed at powerless people’s groans;
And your hands are tainted with their blood.
You embarked on empoisoning the allure of existence
and sowing prickles of grief in its horizons.
You will see! Don’t be deceived by spring time,
Shining sky and morning light
For in the wide horizon lurk darkness fright,
Thunder Rumble and stormy winds.
Woe betide you for flames are underneath ashes.
Who grows prickles reaps wounds.
Have a look there… where you cut off
The people’s heads and the flowers of hope;
You imbibed the heart of the earth with blood
And made it drunk with tears.
The flood, of blood, will wipe you away,
and the flaring gale will eat you up.
translated by: Chikhaoui Imed
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