EGEH ATTEYE (CIGE CAATEEYE): A PHILOSOPHER POET
Compiled and introduced by Bashir Goth*
Egeh Atteye was a nomad poet who lived in the Guban areas of the Awdal region, particularly in the picturesque mountainous areas of today’s Baki district such as Beysaare, Qardhiile, Dibiraweyn, and Dhuxun up to the coastal region of lughaya. A polite, well respected and low profile person who rarely mingled with people, Egeh was known for his philosophical poetry that reflected on metaphysical issues such as reality, life, death, and the relationship between soul and the cosmos. Although he sees truth to be found in Islam, his verse transcends to universal truths. He was also a social critic who lampooned what he saw as the social ills that ruined the family fabric and the welfare of the community in an entertaining and satire narrative verse.
Just like the Islamic Sufi poets such as Rumi and Hafiz, Egeh uses simple but deeply reflective language in conveying his message. But unlike the medieval Muslim Sufis, Egeh doesn’t cloud his message with esoteric metaphors but uses his metaphors and imagery skilfully with the greatest effect that makes the reader either shudder with fear or become ecstatic with hope. One cannot read any of Egeh’s poems without stopping on it and being reflective. He doesn’t preach you, but he embraces you and takes you with him to show you things and then leaves you there to contemplate and make your own mind.
In the following poems, I divided Egeh’s poems into two categories. The first category includes poems that carry theological/philosophical themes and the second category includes poems that echo his voice as a social critic. See the poems at the link below:
Egeh Atteye's Poetry in Somali