The desert-dwelling Bedouin have always been a subject of intense fascination. Their culture and ethics are still largely a mystery, both for the peoples with whom they share the Middle-Eastern and African lands, and for those living in the West. Like other non-literate peoples, the Bedouin have a strong oral tradition and use poetry for many forms of communication and entertainment. Clinton Bailey has spent the last twenty years among the Bedouin of Sinai and the
Negev studying their culture and recording their poems as recited around campfires. This book presents the fruit of his work: 113 poems reflecting Bedouin attitudes to a variety of personal, social,
and political experiences. Each poem is translated into English, appears in Arabic script and transliteration, and is accompanied by an introduction and notes on the cultural, linguistic, and historical background. This thorough and original study makes a vital contribution to our knowledge of the Bedouin, and will be of great interest to Arabists, anthropologists, linguists, sociologists, and all those who visit this part of the Arab world. Dr Bailey has has lectured on
Bedouin culture and history at various universities, and is a founder of the Museum of Bedouin Culture in the Negev.
`Bailey's collection is the fruit of twenty years of fieldwork and is of great richness. There is excellent documentation on bedouin life, customs, the social and political scene, recorded at first hand but with reference to relevant literature ... To read through Bedouin Poetry is to enter into the heart and mind, joys and sorrows of a bedouin society through the greatest of thier arts - that of verse. Clinton Bailey's study of them through this medium
is no mean achievement.'
Journal of Arabic Literature, XXXIV (1993)
`quite wonderful poetry ... so admirably presented and translated by the author in a very handsome book by the Clarendon Press at its best.'
Times Literary Supplement
`a fascinating collection of Bedouin poetry, making available over a hundred poems spoken in the voices of the Bedouin out of the rich resources of their oral tradition. Clinton Bailey is to be commended for undertaking and bringing to fruition this valuable research project.'
Times Literary Supplement
`The poetry would have disappeared for sure, like the tents. Bailey has done work for many generations to come'.
Isabel Kershner, The Jerusalem Report.
'Here we have a major hoard of Bedouin oral poetry.'
Inea Bushnaq, Journal of Palestine Studies
'Viewed from the perspective of Bailey's own extensive involvement with research on Bedouin themes, the book under review is without doubt the author's magnum opus, assembling in one place the fruit of some 20 years of assiduous fieldwork carried out among tent-dwelling Bedouins in Sinai and the Negev ... a distinguished contribution to a field that has been attracting increasing attention among Arabists during the last decade ... deserves to find its place
on the bookshelves of all admirers of Bedouin culture.'
Alexander Borg, Ben-Gurion University, Ariel, Number 96, 1994
`The present work is well presented and very comprehensive, and it is good to have such a solid collection of poems to add to the growing corpus of works on Bedouin and Arabian oral literature.'
Bulletin of the SOAS