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For Mahmoud Darwish--poem
mahmoud darwish.jpg

He says, on the verge of death, he says,

“I have no more earth to lose”

Free am I, close to my ultimate freedom,

I hold my fortune in my own hands

In a few moments, I will begin my life

born free of father and mother

I will chose letters of sky blue for my name

Mahmoud Darwish, State of Siege

Keep the sky close

within reach, keep it blank

the names of the storytellers

will form in the absence of smoke

the vapor of prayer and fortunes

catalogued next to saints, teachers

revolutionaries, bread makers and drummers

Keep the sky close above Birwe

for when your family is exiled

we search the expanse for names

of the aborigines, the indigenous,

the lost. Keep the sky close

to memorize the names of the children

and let the sky echo, repeating and repeating

until the settlers cover their ears.

You have searched the cracked shell

of the Beirut sky, violin strings

archery of war -- the remains of a shattered window

a crusty coffee cup, crisscrossed years of predictions

coating the insides, impossible to read

the long walk across the city, counting

the living and the dead

The sky over Ramallah is refrain

and verse, chorus and song we

come back to, an allegiance,

a lullaby, a good bye. Keep it close

to renew each word in your absence

in your presence, stranger

and citizen. Enchant identity

with fire and purpose. Ramallah


Keep the sky close over Cairo

And Moscow where minarets

jab the sphere and domes

raised fist, ideology and memory

there are lessons to learn

in every universe and we shudder

on the edge of knowing, not knowing

How many times can you break

open your heart? How many ways

is writing a surgery that is life-

giving and deadly. The sky above

Houston is charged electric.

Your open heart floats upward

cumulus nimbus, fine mist, thunder

showers us with the azure

chalking of your name, messenger.

Mahmoud, it was much to hold

and I thank your heart and

I kiss the sky.

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May this Palestinian poet

May this Palestinian poet rest in peace.

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Mahmoud Darwish - World Poet

Ana Elsner

On the sad occasion of this great poet's death, I have been re-visiting his unique poetry. Here is one of his poems that is among my favourites:

And We Have A Land

And we have a land without borders, like our idea
of the unknown, narrow and wide. A land . . .
when we walk in its map it becomes narrow with us,
and takes us to an ashen tunnel, so we shout
in its labyrinth: And we still love you, our love
is a hereditary illness.      A land . . . when
it banishes us to the unknown . . . it grows. And
the willows and adjectives grow. And its grass grows
and its blue mountains. The lake widens 
in the soul's north. Wheat rises in the soul's
south. The lemon fruit gleams like a lantern
in the emigrant's night. Geography glistens
like a holy book. And the chain of hills
becomes an ascension place to higher . . . to higher.
"If I were a bird I would have burned my wings," someone says
to his exiled self. The scent of autumn becomes
the image of what I love . . . The light rain leaks
into the heart's drought, and the imagination opens up
to its sources, and becomes place, the only
real one. And everything from the faraway
returns as a primitive countryside, as if earth
were still creating itself to meet Adam, descending
to the ground floor from his paradise. Then I say:
That's our land over there pregnant with us . . . When was it
that we were born? Did Adam get married twice? Or will we
be born a second time
to forget sin?

Do you have his latest, and now his last, book "The Butterfly's Burden", the bilingual Arabic-English edition, Copper Canyon Press, 2006? I will buy a copy at Amazon soon.

You might enjoy this video clip of one of the many recitals Mahmoud Darwish gave in Jordan.

I think his poetic voice is very soulful and compelling. Darwish is truly a world poet reaching far beyond his Palestinian roots.




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Beautiful tribute

Thanks for honoring my page with it.

And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love, you make (p. mccartney)