And They Don’t Ask – Mahmoud Darwish

And they don’t ask: What comes after death? 

Though more intimate with the book of Paradise 

than with accounts of the earth, they’re preoccupied 

with another question: What shall we do 

before this death? Near to life, we live 

and we don’t – as if life were parceled out 

from a desert where the haggling gods of property 

settle their disputes. 

We live beside an ancient dust. 

Our lives burden the historian’s night: 

‘Though I make them disappear, they come back to me 

from absence.’ 

Our lives burden the artist: 

‘I draw them and become one of them, veiled in mist.’ 

Our lives burden the General: 

‘How can a ghost still bleed?’ 

We shall be what we want to be. And we want 

a bit of life, not for just anything – but to honor 

the resurrection after our death. 

Unintentionally, they speak the philosopher’s words: 

‘Death means nothing to us: if we are then he isn’t. 

Death means nothing to us: if he is then we are not.’ 

And they have rearranged their dreams 

and sleep standing. 

And We Have Countries – Mahmoud Darwish

And we have countries without borders, like our idea

 of the unknown, narrow and wide – countries whose maps 

narrow to a gray tunnel as we walk in them and cry out 

in their labyrinths: ‘And still we love you.’ 

Our love is an inherited disease. Countries that grow 

by tossing us into the unknown. Their willows 

and portrayals grow, their grasses and blue mountains. 

A lake widens north of the soul. Wheat spikes 

spring up south of the soul. The lemon shines like a lamp 

in an emigrant’s night. Geography emits sacred texts. 

And the ascending chain of hills reaches higher 

and higher. The exile tells himself: ‘If I were a bird 

I would burn my wings.’ The smells of autumn 

become the image of one I love, soft rain seeps 

into the dry heart and imagination opens to its source 

and becomes reality’s terrain, the only true place. 

Everything distant becomes rural and primitive, 

as if the earth were still gathering itself to meet Adam 

descending from his paradise. I say: These are the countries 

that bear us…so when were we born? 

Did Adam take two wives? Or will we be born again 

to forget sin? 

Another Day Will Come – Mahmoud Darwish

Another day will come, a womanly day

diaphanous in metaphor, complete in being,

diamond and processional in visitation, sunny,

flexible, with a light shadow. No one will feel

a desire for suicide or for leaving. All 

things, outside the past, natural and real,

will be synonyms of their early traits. As if time

is slumbering on vacation… “Extend your lovely

beauty-time. Sunbathe in the sun of your silken breasts,

and wait until good omen arrives. Later

we will grow older. We have enough time

to grow older after this day…”/

Another day will come, a womanly day

songlike in gesture, lapis in greeting

and in phrase. All things will be feminine outside

the past. Water will flow from rock’s bosom.

No dust, no drought, no defeat.

And a dove will sleep in the afternoon in an abandoned 

combat tank if it doesn’t find a small nest

in the lovers’ bed… 

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. 

Palestine – Mahmoud Darwish 

This land gives us

all that makes life worth living:

April’s blushing advances,

the aroma of bread at dawn,

a woman’s haranguing of men,

the poetry of Aeschylus,

love’s trembling beginning,

moss on a stone

mothers dancing on a flute’s thread

and the invaders’ fear of memories.
This land give us

all that makes life worth living:

September’s rustling end,

a woman leaving forty behind with her apricots,

an hour of sunlight in prison,

clouds reflecting swarms of insects,

a people’s applause for those who laugh at their erasure,

and the tyrant’s fear of songs.
This land give us

all that makes life worth living:

Lady Earth, mother of all beginnings and endings,

She was called Palestine

and she is still called Palestine. 

My Lady, because you are my Lady, I deserve life. 

Pride And Fury -Mahmoud Darwish

O Homeland! O Eagle, 

Plunging, through the bars of my cell, 

Your fiery beak in my eyes! 

All I possess in the presence of death 

Is pride and fury. 

I have willed that my heart be planted as a tree, 

That my forehead become an abode for skylarks. 

O eagle, 

I am unworthy of your lofty wing, 

I prefer a crown of flame. 

O homeland! 

We were born and raised in your wound, 

And ate the fruit of your trees, 

To witness the birth of your daybreak. 

O eagle unjustly languishing in chains, 

O legendary death which once was sought, 

Your fiery beak is still plunged in my eye.

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.