Having set the historical context, the BBC article goes on to give three examples of ruins in more recent Arabic culture:
- In a poem by Palestinian writer, Mahmoud Darwish, 'Standing Before the Ruins of Al-Birweh' which describes his return to a village left in ruins after the Israeli occupation in 1948.
- In the novels of Iraqi author Sinan Antoon, e.g. The Corpse Washer, where a character wonders through 'the ruin of the Baghdad National Library, which was destroyed during the 2003 invasion, and the National Film Archive, the repository of a century of Arab film-making destroyed by a US bomb.'
- In the film Son of Babylon by Mohamed al-Daradji, in which a Kurdish boy searches for his imprisoned father through the earliest remains of civilisation - Ur, Nimrud, Bablyon - and the new ruins created by the Iraq war. But 'rather than seeing memories held in the ruins, al-Daradji’s characters find only blankness and emptiness...'
Source: Film Walrus
I have summarised Paul Cooper's article here but I could equally have drawn this from his Twitter thread on the same subject. Personally, I find these threads irritating to read and suspect they are quite fiddly to compose. Perhaps the thread is developing its own form, like a qasida... I still prefer to use this blog to write about landscape, rather than split thoughts up into Twitter threads. But of course nothing beats a good old fashioned book, and Cooper's article prompted me to dig out Desert Tracings, an anthology of six classical odes translated by Michael A. Sells. Particularly moving is 'The Mu’allaqah of Labid', which begins, again, with the poet looking for traces of his beloved's campsite. The images that follow convey the way memory can be effaced and restored. The dung-strewn ground that suggests how long it has been since humans were present, is replenished by the rain:
The rills and the runlets
uncovered marks like the script
of faded scrolls
restored with pens of reed.