Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008)
‘This siege will persist until we teach our enemies
models of our finest poetry
the sky is leaden during the day
and a fiery orange at night… but our hearts
are as neutral as the flowery emblems on a shield
This low, high land
this holy harlot…
we do not pay much attention to the magic of these words
a cavity may become a vacuum in space
a contour in geography’
from State of Siege
‘I am dreaming of white lilies
of a song-filled street
a house that’s well-lit.
I want a good heart
not the weight of a gun’s magazine.
I want a day & its sunlight
& no fascist victory exultation in it.
I want a smiling child in this day
not an issue of the war-machine.
I came here because I thought a sun
was approaching its zenith not setting.
I refuse to die
turning my gun my love
on women & children
to guard the orchards & wells
of oil tycoons & tycoons of weapons factories.’
I Have Behind the Sky a Sky
I have behind the sky a sky for my return, but I
am still polishing the metal of this place, and living
an hour that foresees the unknown. I know time
will not be my ally twice, and I know I will exit
my banner as a bird that does not alight on trees in the garden.
I will exit all of my skin, and my language.
And some talk about love will descend in
Lorca poems that will live in my bedroom
and see what I have seen of the bedouin moon. I will exit
the almond trees as cotton on the brine of the sea. The stranger passed
carrying seven hundred years of horses. The stranger passed
right here, for the stranger to pass over there. I will soon exit
the wrinkles of my time as a stranger to Syria and the Andalus.
This earth is not my sky, yet this sky is my evening
and the keys are mine, the minarets are mine, the lanterns are mine, and I
am also mine. I am the Adam of two Edens, I lost them twice.
So expel me slowly,
and kill me quickly,
beneath my olive tree,
with Lorca …