TO OUR LAND. A Poem by Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine’s National Poet

Today, 15 May, marks Nakba Day – the Day of Catastrophe. Every year, on May 15, Palestinians remember their 1948 military expulsion from much of their land. This followed the end of the British Mandate over Palestine. In 1988, the Palestinian Parliament-In-Exile accepted the state of Israel. The Israeli government does not accept the state of Palestine. Only a handful of countries in the UN do not recognise the state of Palestine.

TO OUR LAND

To our land and it is the one near the word of god,
a ceiling of clouds
To our land,
and it is the one far from the adjectives of nouns,
the map of absence
To our land,
and it is the one tiny as a sesame seed,
a heavenly horizon … and a hidden chasm
To our land,
and it is the one poor as a grouse’s wings,
holy books … and an identity wound
To our land,
and it is the one surrounded with torn hills,
the ambush of a new past
To our land, and it is a prize of war,
the freedom to die from longing and burning
and our land, in its bloodied night,
is a jewel that glimmers for the far upon the far
and illuminates what’s outside it …
As for us, inside,
we suffocate more!

A Wall of Division between Israel and Palestine. Photo taken in 2015 before I went through the checkpoints into Palestine. Wall art says Peace in Palestinian colours. NO has been added. Freedom has been added.

Mahmoud Darwish (1942 – 2008) is regarded as Palestine’s national poet. He voiced the resilience and humanity of Palestinians while also exploring solitude, love and togetherness. His poems have been translated into more than 20 languages. He was born in the village of al-Birweh in Galilee, Palestine. His family fled to neighbouring Lebanon in 1948 when the Israeli army destroyed their village. From 1970 to 1996, Mahmoud lived in Moscow, Cairo, Beirut, Cyprus and Paris. He returned to live in Ramallah, one of the main cities in Palestine. He wrote the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence and resigned in opposition to the Oslo Accords. He received several international awards. He died in a hospital in Houston, Texas, aged 60, right after an operation for heart disease.  The Palestinian government declared three days of national mourning. Mahmoud Darwish once said: “The Jew will not be ashamed to find an Arab element in himself, and the Arab will not be ashamed to declare that he incorporates Jewish elements.” The nation’s beloved poet lies buried in Ramallah.

THE BUTTERFLY’S BURDEN
Mahmoud Darwish
Translated by Fady Joudah (a Palestinian poet/doctor who lives in the USA)
Bloodaxe Books
Northumberland,
England
ISBN. 978 1 85224.
Published 2007
324 pages



  • Thanks, Christopher for this poem on May 15th, day of the comemoration of the sad event known as the Nakba, which is not an event from the past but didn’t stop to repeat and a repeat, at a higher and higher intensity, not later than those days.

    Darwich also wrote: “We suffer from an incurable disease, named hope”.
    Hope that justice, solidarity, respect and consideration of all life, not only of its own clan or blood – all the values that constitute the basis of Boudha’s teachings – will prevail.


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