Mahmoud Darwish

(13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008) Palestinian poet introduced by Michael March




A guest house at sea — the visit is short”
Only two things are certain—death and coffee

Napoleon said—“War is the simple art of execution—”.
Samih al-Qasim said—“From the window of my small cell
I see your large cell—”.

“The exile looks around—to see which way to go.”                                         

For Mahmoud Darwish—“We travel like other people—
but we return to nowhere.  As if travelling is the way
of the clouds.”

For Darwish:  “All beautiful poetry is an act of resistance—”. 
“Night is a history of longing—and you are my night.”                                        

I was sitting with Samih al-Qasim in Akko—summer—1984.
Those blue waters held many lifetimes—and many lifetimes
have passed—since.                                        

“We have a country of words.   Speak speak—so I can put
my road on the stone of a stone.
We have a country of words.  Speak speak—so we may know
the end of this travel.”

All poets are exiles.  The master determines the definition
of words.  When universals resemble politics—flies cover
our lips.                                      

“Do you know the dead—?
I know the ones unborn.
They will be born beneath the trees,
They will be born under the rain,
They will be born from stone,
They will be born from broken glass,
They will be born in corners,
From defeats, from mirrors,
They will be born from shrapnel,
From bracelets, from blossoms,
From stories.
They will be born and they will grow,
They will be born and killed,
They will be born and born—and born.”                                        

There are many temptations to live—to seek an identity. 
We live upon the dead—“the dead are gentle to us—.”                                

We tried to telephone Darwish in Paris—the line was dead.
“How far—is far—how many ways to get there—?”                                 

For the Greeks it was natural to be—nowhere.  At least for
philosophers and poets—who were “out of order”—. 
For St Augustine—“we are here—to begin again.”

For Darwish—“I am here.  Anything more than that—
is rumor and slander.”                                                                            

“Where am I?  ‘You’re in Ramallah.’  “When did I get here?”
‘Today.’  “Why don’t I remember—?  Do you think I’m ill—?”
‘It’s not the illness you’re thinking of—it’s the longing to

Darwish—elegant—non-violent—conscious of thirst—
pursuer of an unarmed truth—where the private voice
resembles the public voice.  Victim of a map—where the
river dies of thirst.                                     

“My heart turned into an alley—my ribs into stones.
And carnations grew—and carnations grew.”                              

“What use is poetry—what use will it be when the war

“Put this into your record—I’m an Arab—we love life—
whenever we can.”



Prague, 17.10.2009  Michael March


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