Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vale Mahmoud

Mahmoud Darwish, a poet of great tenderness and lyrical intensity, has died in the US at the age of 67. His work became a rallying cry for the Palestinian struggle, and although the poet scorned the tag "poet laureate", he was closely allied with the Communist party and later the PLO, one of many Arab liberation movements which it spawned. Darwish spent 26 of his 67 years in exile, first in Moscow, then Paris, then Cairo until finally settling back in Ramallah in 1996. This later period in his life proved to be perhaps his most productive, spawning six books including Unfortunately it was Paradise: Selected Poems in 2003.

About Darwish's work, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye has said, "Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging...."

I Come From There

I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.

I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood
So that I could break the rule.
I learnt all the words and broke them up
To make a single word: Homeland.....

- Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008)

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