While I was in India last August, the beloved Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died in a Houston hospital after complications from heart surgery. Darwish published over 20 volumes of poetry and prose about his life as a Palestinian exile. His is a singular, extraordinary voice.
Darwish’s poem, “Under Siege,” is a long poem, full of emotion and pain. I’ve selected a few excerpts to post. To read the entire poem, click here.
From “Under Siege”
Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.
A little of this absolute and blue infinity
Would be enough
To lighten the burden of these times
And to cleanse the mire of this place.
It is up to the soul to come down from its mount
And on its silken feet walk
By my side, hand in hand, like two longtime
Friends who share the ancient bread
And the antique glass of wine
May we walk this road together
And then our days will take different directions:
I, beyond nature, which in turn
Will choose to squat on a high-up rock.
On my rubble the shadow grows green,
And the wolf is dozing on the skin of my goat
He dreams as I do, as the angel does
That life is here…not over there.
In the state of siege, time becomes space
Transfixed in its eternity
In the state of siege, space becomes time
That has missed its yesterday and its tomorrow.
Greetings to the one who shares with me an attention to
The drunkenness of light, the light of the butterfly, in the
Blackness of this tunnel!
Greetings to the one who shares my glass with me
In the denseness of a night outflanking the two spaces:
Greetings to my apparition.
Our cups of coffee. Birds green trees
In the blue shade, the sun gambols from one wall
To another like a gazelle
The water in the clouds has the unlimited shape of what is left to us
Of the sky. And other things of suspended memories
Reveal that this morning is powerful and splendid,
And that we are the guests of eternity.
(Translated by Marjolijn De Jager)
Thank you Whiskey River for introducing me to this poem.