Rita And The Rifle – Mahmoud Darwish

Between Rita and my eyes 

There is a rifle 

And whoever knows Rita 

Kneels and prays 

To the divinity in those honey-colored eyes. 

And I kissed Rita 

When she was young 

And I remember how she approached 

And how my arm covered the loveliest of braids. 

And I remember Rita 

The way a sparrow remembers its stream 

Ah, Rita 

Between us there are a million sparrows and images 

And many a rendezvous 

Fired at by a rifle. 

Rita’s name was a feast in my mouth 

Rita’s body was a wedding in my blood 

And I was lost in Rita for two years 

And for two years she slept on my arm 

And we made promises 

Over the most beautiful of cups 

And we burned in the wine of our lips 

And we were born again 

Ah, Rita! 

What before this rifle could have turned my eyes from yours 

Except a nap or two or honey-colored clouds? 

Once upon a time 

Oh, the silence of dusk 

In the morning my moon migrated to a far place 

Towards those honey-colored eyes 

And the city swept away all the singers 

And Rita. 

Between Rita and my eyes— 

A rifle.

The Pigeons Fly – Mahmoud Darwish

The pigeons fly, 

the pigeons come down… 

Prepare a place for me to rest. 

I love you unto weariness, 

your morning is fruit for songs 

and this evening is precious gold 

the shadows are strong as marble. 

When I see myself, 

it is hanging upon a neck that embraces only the clouds, 

you are the air that undresses in front of me like tears of the grape, 

you are the beginning of the family of waves held by the shore. 

I love you, you are the beginning of my soul, and you are the end… 

the pigeons fly 

the pigeons come down… 

I am for my lover I am. And my lover is for his wandering star 

Sleep my love 

on you my hair braids, peace be with you… 

the pigeons fly 

the pigeons come down… 

Oh, my love, where are you taking me away from my parents, 

from my trees, small bed and from my weariness, 

from my visions, from my light, from my memories and pleasant evenings, 

from my dress and my shyness, 

where are you taking me my love, where? 

You take me, set me on fire, and then leave me 

in the vain path of the air 

that is a sin… that is a sin… 

the pigeons fly 

the pigeons come down… 

My love, I fear the silence of your hands. 

Scratch my blood so the horse can sleep. 

My love, female birds fly to you 

take me as a wife and breathe. 

My love I will stay and breasts will grow for you 

The guards take me out of your way 

my love, I will cry upon you, upon you, upon you. 

because you are die surface of my sky. 

My body is the land, 

the place for you… 

the pigeons fly 

the pigeons come down…

The Prison Cell – Mahmoud Darwish

It is possible… 

It is possible at least sometimes… 

It is possible especially now 

To ride a horse 

Inside a prison cell 

And run away… 
It is possible for prison walls 

To disappear, 

For the cell to become a distant land 

Without frontiers: 
What did you do with the walls? 

I gave them back to the rocks. 

And what did you do with the ceiling? 

I turned it into a saddle. 

And your chain? 

I turned it into a pencil. 
The prison guard got angry. 

He put an end to my dialogue. 

He said he didn’t care for poetry, 

And bolted the door of my cell. 
He came back to see me 

In the morning, 

He shouted at me: 
Where did all this water come from? 

I brought it from the Nile. 

And the trees? 

From the orchards of Damascus. 

And the music? 

From my heartbeat. 
The prison guard got mad; 

He put an end to my dialogue. 

He said he didn’t like my poetry, 

And bolted the door of my cell. 
But he returned in the evening: 
Where did this moon come from? 

From the nights of Baghdad. 

And the wine? 

From the vineyards of Algiers. 

And this freedom? 

From the chain you tied me with last night. 
The prison guard grew so sad… 

He begged me to give him back 

His freedom.

The Owl’s Night – Mahmoud Darwish

Here is a present that yesterday doesn’t touch… 

When we reached 

the last of the trees we noticed that we 

were no longer able to notice. When 

we looked at the trucks. We saw absence 

heaping up its selected things and pitching 

its eternal tent around us… 

Here is a present 

that yesterday doesn’t touch 

Silk thread slips between the mulberrry trees 

letters on the nights’s notebook. Only 

butterflies light our boldness 

descending to the hollow of strange words: 

Was this difficult man my father? 

Perhaps I’ll look after myself here. Perhaps 

I’ll give birth, now, to myself, with myself 

and choose for my name vertical letters… 

Here is a present 

sitting in time’s emptiness, staring 

at the trace of those who pas on the river’s reeds 

polishing their flutes with wind…Perhpas speech 

will become transparent, so we’ll see windows in it, open 

Perhaps time will hurry, with us 

carrying our tomorrow in its luggage… 

Here is a present 

without time 

No one here found anyone who remembered 

how we left the door, a gust of wind. Or anyone who remembered 

when we fell off yesterday. Yesterday 

shattered ove rth floor, shrapnel gathered together 

by others, like mirrors for the image, after us… 

Here is a present 

without place 

Perhaps I’ll look after myself and scream at 

the owl’s night: Was that difficult man 

my father, who would have me carry the burden of his history? 

Perhpas I’ll transform within my name and choose 

my mother’s words and habits as it should 

be: She’ll be able to joke with me 

whenever salt touches my blood. She’ll be able 

to comfort me whenever a nightingale bites my mouth! 

Here is a present 


Here strangers hung their guns on 

the branches of an olive tree, prepared dinner 

quickly from tin cans, and left 

quickly for their trucks… 

To My Mother – Mahmoud Darwish

I long for my mother’s bread 

My mother’s coffee 

Her touch 

Childhood memories grow up in me 

Day after day 

I must be worth my life 

At the hour of my death 

Worth the tears of my mother. 

And if I come back one day 

Take me as a veil to your eyelashes 

Cover my bones with the grass 

Blessed by your footsteps 

Bind us together 

With a lock of your hair 

With a thread that trails from the back of your dress 

I might become immortal 

Become a God 

If I touch the depths of your heart. 

If I come back 

Use me as wood to feed your fire 

As the clothesline on the roof of your house 

Without your blessing 

I am too weak to stand. 

I am old 

Give me back the star maps of childhood 

So that I 

Along with the swallows 

Can chart the path 

Back to your waiting nest.

We Journey Towards A Home – Mahmoud Darwish

We journey towards a home not of our flesh. Its chestnut trees are not of our bones. 

Its rocks are not like goats in the mountain hymn. The pebbles’ eyes are not lilies. 

We journey towards a home that does not halo our heads with a special sun. 

Mythical women applaud us. A sea for us, a sea against us. 

When water and wheat are not at hand, eat our love and drink our tears… 

There are mourning scarves for poets. A row of marble statues will lift our voice. 

And an urn to keep the dust of time away from our souls. Roses for us and against us. 

You have your glory, we have ours. Of our home we see only the unseen: our mystery. 

Glory is ours: a throne carried on feet torn by roads that led to every home but our own! 

The soul must recognize itself in its very soul, or die here.

For A Virgin And Child By Hans Memmelinck – Dante Gabriel Rossetti

(In the Academy of Bruges) 

MYSTERY: God, man’s life, born into man 

Of woman. There abideth on her brow 

The ended pang of knowledge, the which now 

Is calm assured. Since first her task began 

She hath known all. What more of anguish than 

Endurance oft hath lived through, the whole space 

Through night till day, passed weak upon her face 

While the heard lapse of darkness slowly ran? 

All hath been told her touching her dear Son, 

And all shall be accomplished. Where He sits 

Even now, a babe, He holds the symbol fruit 

Perfect and chosen. Until God permits, 

His soul’s elect still have the absolute 

Harsh nether darkness, and make painful moan.

First Love Remembered – Dante Gabriel Rossetti

PEACE in her chamber, wheresoe’er 

It be, a holy place: 

The thought still brings my soul such grace 

As morning meadows wear. 

Whether it still be small and light, 

A maid’s who dreams alone, 

As from her orchard-gate the moon 

Its ceiling showed at night: 

Or whether, in a shadow dense 

As nuptial hymns invoke, 

Innocent maidenhood awoke 

To married innocence: 

There still the thanks unheard await 

The unconscious gift bequeathed: 

For there my soul this hour has breathed 

An air inviolate.