Friday, March 11, 2011

The poetry of Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was Palestine's most famous and beloved poet. His poems are deeply political and radical, sensuous and mystical, accessible yet highly demanding. He wrote with a profound humanity. There is no other poet like Darwish. I try to read his poetry every day.
Forgotten As If You Never Were
Mahmoud Darwish

Forgotten, as if you never were.

Like a bird’s violent death
like an abandoned church you’ll be forgotten,
like a passing love
and a rose in the night . . . forgotten

I am for the road . . . There are those whose footsteps preceded mine

those whose vision dictated mine. There are those
who scattered speech on their accord to enter the story
or to illuminate to others who will follow them
a lyrical trace . . . and a speculation

Forgotten, as if you never were

a person, or a text . . . forgotten

I walk guided by insight, I might

give the story a biographical narrative. Vocabulary
governs me and I govern it. I am its shape
and it is the free transfiguration. But what I’d say has already been said.
A passing tomorrow precedes me. I am the king of echo.
My only throne is the margin. And the road
is the way. Perhaps the forefathers forgot to describe
something, I might nudge in it a memory and a sense

Forgotten, as if you never were

news, or a trace . . . forgotten

I am for the road . . . There are those whose footsteps

walk upon mine, those who will follow me to my vision.
Those who will recite eulogies to the gardens of exile,
in front of the house, free of worshipping yesterday,
free of my metonymy and my language, and only then
will I testify that I’m alive
and free
when I’m forgotten!


Anonymous said...

I would love to get the phrase from this poem ('forgotten as if you never were') as a tattoo but I cant seem to find the original Arabic translation of this. It would be great if you could help me out! thanks.

Colin Penter said...

Hello Anonymous,

There is an Arabic (and English version) of this poem in the book of Darwish's poetry The Butterfly's Burden (translated by Fady Joudah). It can be found on page 235.

Anonymous said...

thanks so much! :)

Sara Sepahani said...

The Arabic translation is:
تُنسی کأنّکَ لَم تَکُن.

Anonymous said...

Could anyone please tell me where I could locate this quote of Darwish which goes like this:"Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance". Please let me know for this is for my student who is currently pursuing his research. He has used this quote in his thesis which he had actually picked from some online link but is unable to locate this in any text. He needs the detaisl for documentation. Would be really grateful if any of you could help out. Thank You!

Colin Penter said...

Hello Anonymous, Thanks for your inquiry. That line is in a poem titled "The essence of the poem" which appears on page 130 of Darwish's book of Diaries which is titled A River Dies of Thirst. The edition I have (in Australia) was published in 2009

good luck finding it

Daniela Spada said...

Anonymous said...

do you know who translated this?