Mahmoud Darwish, My Hero has left a Hole in the Weave of this World

Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian poet was born in 1941 in the village of Al Birwa near the northern coastal city of Acre. His village was occupied by Israelis. He was exiled. He died at 67 in a hospital in Houston, Texas from complications of heart surgery.

How much can the heart take?

His poetry excavated themes of exile and resistance.

How much can the heart take?

An excerpt of Mahmoud Darwish's poetry, from

This is your name --
a woman said,
and vanished through the winding corridor
There I see heaven within reach.
The wing of a white dove carries me
towards another childhood. And I never dreamt
that I was dreaming. Everything is real.
I knew I was casting myself aside . . .
and flew. I shall become what I will
in the final sphere. And everything
is white . The sea suspended
upon a roof of white clouds. Nothingness is white
in the white heaven of the absolute.
I was and was not. In this eternity's white regions,
I'm alone. I came before I was due;
no angel appeared to tell me:
"What did you do back there, in the world?"
I didn't hear the pious call out,
nor the sinners moan for I'm alone
in the whiteness. I'm alone.
Nothing hurts at the door of doom.
Neither time nor emotion. I don't feel
the lightness of things, or the weight
of apprehensions. I couldn't find
anyone to ask: Where is my where now?
Where is the city of the dead,
and where am I? Here
in this no-here, in this no-time,
there's no being, nor nothingness.
As if I had died once before,
I know this epiphany, and know
I'm on my way towards what I don't know.
Perhaps I'm still alive somewhere else,
and know what I want.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a thought,
taken to the wasteland
neither by the sword or the book
as if it were rain falling on a mountain
split by a burgeoning blade of grass,
where neither might will triumph,
nor justice the fugitive.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a bird,
and wrest my being from my non-being.
The longer my wings will burn,
the closer I am to the truth, risen from the ashes.
I am the dialogue of dreamers; I've shunned my body and self
to finish my first journey towards meaning,
which burnt me, and disappeared.
I'm absence. I'm the heavenly renegade.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a poet,
water obedient to my insight. My language a metaphor
for metaphor, so I will neither declaim nor point to a place;
place is my sin and subterfuge.
I'm from there. My here leaps
from my footsteps to my imagination . . .
I am he who I was or will be,
made and struck down
by the endless, expansive space.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a vine;
let summer distil me even now,
and let the passers-by drink my wine,
illuminated by the chandeliers of this sugary place!
I am the message and the messenger,
I am the little addresses and the mail.
One day I shall become what I want.
This is your name --
a woman said,
and vanished in the corridor of her whiteness.
This is your name; memorise it well!
Do not argue about any of its letters,
ignore the tribal flags,
befriend your horizontal name,
experience it with the living
and the dead, and strive
to have it correctly spelt
in the company of strangers and carve it
into a rock inside a cave:
O my name, you will grow
as I grow, you will carry me
as I will carry you;
a stranger is brother to a stranger;
we shall take the female with a vowel
devoted to flutes.
O my name: where are we now?
Tell me: What is now? What is tomorrow?
What's time, what's place, what's old, what's new?
One day we shall become what we want.

Translated by Sargon Boulus from the author's collection 'Judariya'['Mural'],Riad El-Rayyes Books, Beirut, 2000. Reprinted from Banipal No 15/16

1 comment:

Susan said...


We sat by The Wall.
It was not a barrier,
but a meeting point.
You faced one way,
I the other.
We had other barriers,
Some of these we could
and would overcome,
others not.
The Wall was not a barrier.
We were younger,
although frightened, not entrenched
in our camps.
We sent out feelers,
hoping for receptors.
Barriers grew, not fast enough,
we built them.
There is a new wall, not possible to sit by.
Too high,
too hot,
too hard,
This wall is a barrier.
It keeps as much in as out,
pent up aggression,
repressed feeling,
fear, frustration.
It blocks hope, humanity,
the universay between us.
It pains me,
I cannot overcome it,
and only hope our words can.
In memory of Mahmoud Darwish,
from the other side of the wall.