Amal Donkol was born in 1940 in Qalaa, a village in the Upper Egyptian province of Qena. Marking a break with most poetry schools that predominated in the 1950s, which were affected by Western — especially Greek — mythology, Donkol found inspiration for his poems in symbols of Arab heritage.
Donkol experienced the 1952 Revolution’s dreams of Arab unity. But, like many of his fellow Egyptians, was shocked by Egypt's 1967 defeat to Israel, reflecting his grief in his masterpiece Al-Bokaa Bayn Yadai Zarqaa al-Yamama (lit.“Weeping before Zarqa’ al-Yamama”, in which the latter is pre-Islamic legendary figure).
His poem La Tasaluh (lit. “Do not make peace”) called against any peace with Israel, although Egypt and Israel then signed a peace treaty in 1979. His anti-Israeli poems caused him troubles with the authorities as they were sung by protesters with the same stance.
Donkol died of cancer on 21 May 1983 at the age of 43. He recounted his illness in his poem Awrak al-Ghorfa 8 (lit. “Papers of Room No. 8”).