Poetry is the quintessence of Arab culture. In this book one of today's foremost Arab poets reinterprets a rich and ancient heritage. He examines the oral tradition of the pre-Islamic poetry of Arabia and the relationship between Arabic poetry and the Qur'an, and between poetry and thought. He also assesses the challenges of modernism and the impact of Western culture on the Arab poetic tradition. Stimulating in their originality, eloquent in their treatment of a wide range of poetry and criticism, these reflections open up fresh perspectives on one of the world's greatest--and least explored--literatures.