On Mahmoud Darwish’s Birthday, 13 Poems

Shakir Mustafa
If a hunter I were
I’d give the gazelle
a chance, and another,
and a third, and a tenth,
to doze a little. Advertisements

Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading…‹ Egyptian Poet Nour Kamel on Brunel International African Poetry Prize’s 2018 ShortlistCategories: Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine, poetry For poetry is born in Iraq,
So be Iraqi to become a poet, my friend. Ibrahim Muhawi
And where is my will? Does this make you rage? Who knows? To commemorate his entrance into our world on March 13, ArabLit has 13 poems (and poemish texts):
1) “The Moon Did Not Fall Into the Well,” from   Journal of an Ordinary Grief,   tr. It takes you out of yourself into the other’s orbit and then you have to fend for yourself. Fady Joudah
The charming “The Dice Player” with a visual adaptation:

4) “The Horse Fell off the Poem,” from   The Butterfly’s Burden,   tr. Ibrahim Muhawi
Muhawi’s translations have a wonderful sense of the rhythm of the original, and this particular text is narrative, open-hearted, and with deeply etched characters. My share
of the booty would be
peace of mind under
her dozing head. Marilyn Hacker
And with horses, olive trees:
The olive tree does not weep and does not laugh. And nothing but an echo replies
I remember as-Sayyab, in that Sumerian space
A woman triumphed over the sterility of mist
She bequeathed to us earth and exile… Im an Arab
My card number is 50000
My children number eight
And after this summer, a ninth on his way. It requires talent, endurance, and skillful formulation, because of its many stations. 2) “Love, like meaning,” from   In the Presence of Absence,   tr. 12) “Mural,” translated by   John Berger   and, Rema Hammami
My nurse says: you are better now
and injects me with a tranquillizer:
Be calm
and worthy of what you’re about to dream
even a little…
13)   “ID Card,” tr. She bore them, but they were born away from her. Do you know how? If you were told: you’re going to die here this evening What would you do in the remaining time? Tania Tamari Nasir and John Berger. —Doing that is a good exercise for memory and perception. But it is one that, although written in his early days, in 1964, continues to have great political resonance:
Write it down! Perhaps the greatest of Darwish’s works, this version brought Antoon the 2012 National Translation Award:
Love, like meaning, is out on the open road, but like poetry, it is difficult. 8) “Diary,” tr. The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (d. I bend to the ground and pick it up piece by piece just as the women of the fellahin pick up olives in October, one olive at a time. —Do you think you’ll find it here? Nothing but Iraq. Shareah Taleghani
A cry to Badr Shakir al-Sayyab:
I remember as-Sayyab screaming into the Gulf in vain:
Iraq, Iraq. I feel shamed by my fear, and by those defending the scent of the distant homeland–that fragrance they’ve never smelled because they weren’t born on her soil. Shadow
Covers her one leg, and she will not take her leaves off in front of the storm. Fady Joudah

There is no margin in modern language left
to celebrate what we love,
because all that will be … was

5) “The Second Olive Tree,” tr. It opens:
—What are you doing, father? Yet they studied her constantly, without fatigue or boredom; and from overpowering memory and constant pursuit, they learned what it means to belong to her. Maybe these pebbles are petrified pieces of my heart. Sinan Antoon. 2008) was born in al-Birwa on this day in 1941. It stopped over there, on the other side of the collective voice. “You’re aliens here,” they say to them there. The olive tree
Is the hillside’s modest lady. Standing, she is seated, and seated, standing. 6) “Nothing But Iraq,” tr. 11) “If I Were a Hunter,” tr. “You’re aliens here,” they say to them here. Fady Joudah:

10) “A Noun Sentence,” The Butterfly’s Burden,   tr. —Where else am I going to nd it? —I’m searching for my heart, which fell away that night. Now I feel shame. —But you’re picking up pebbles! Fady Joudah
A noun sentence, no verb
to it or in it: to the sea the scent of the bed
after making love … a salty perfume
or a sour one. I am an Arab. 3)   “The Dice Player,” from If I Were Another,   tr. Salman Masalha and Vivian Eden
This would not likely be a poem Darwish would choose among only 13 of his works. It is not enough to love, for that is one of nature’s magical acts, like rainfall and thunder. Look at my watch Drink a glass of juice Munch an apple Watch an ant who has found what to eat Then look at my watch There’s still time to shave have a bath I say to myself: One needs one’s finery when about to write So I’ll wear the blue shirt I sit til noon alive at my desk I do not see the effect of color on words Whiteness whiteness whiteness I prepare my last lunch I pour out wine into two glasses For me and for the one who will come Unannounced Then I take a siesta in between two dreams
9) “The Tragedy of Narcissus,” from If I Were Another,   tr. 7) “And where is my will?” from   Memory for Forgetfulness,   tr. It is not enough to love, you have to know how to love. A noun sentence: my wounded joy
like the sunset at your strange windows. But now, I want nothing more than the aroma of coffee.