09 August, 2008

Death of a Poet

I awoke just now to the terrible news of the death of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish at the age of 67 following open heart surgery two days ago. If you don't know his work, you should. Listen to him read his own works in Arabic here. Listen to Marcel Khalife sing (and NPR translate) one of his best known poems, Umi (My Mother) here. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared three days of official mourning. Remember him the best way; read his work. You can start here:

I Come From There

I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.

I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood
So that I could break the rule.
I learnt all the words and broke them up
To make a single word: Homeland.....


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