A River Dies of Thirst: journals
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“There are two maps of Palestine that the politicians will never manage to forfeit: the one kept in the memories of Palestinian refugees, and that which is drawn by Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry.”—Anton Shammas
This remarkable collection of Mahmoud Darwish’s poems and prose meditations is both lyrical and philosophical, questioning and wise, full of irony and protest and play. “Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance.” As always, Darwish’s musings on unrest and loss dwell on love and humanity; myth and dream are inseparable from truth. “Truth is plain as day.” Throughout the book, Darwish returns frequently to his ongoing and often lighthearted conversation with death.
Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008) was awarded the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom in 2001. He was regarded as the voice of the Palestinian people and one of the greatest poets of our time.
What is life? ‘How can I fill it and it fill me?’ I asked when I saw death was giving me time to ask and I waited for time to pass. I said: ‘Tomorrow I shall look into the question of life.’ But I didn’t find the time because time double-crossed me and took me by surprise, and has flown. Prickly pear The prickly pear that borders the ways in to the villages was a faithful guardian of signs. When we were children, just a few moments ago, these plants showed us where the paths were. So
beast will you escape from? If you find your way to the second line in the labyrinth of the possible, then you will know the easy route to an appointment with the impossible. Higher and further Moist is the sea air sweet the song of a bird at the window This was all that remained of the words of the dream when I woke up at dawn, I said: ‘Perhaps my innocent unconscious favours the rhythm when it says to me: “Moist is the sea air sweet the song of a bird at the window”’ But my
fly above us on a common journey to the limits of meaning. · Exile? The visitor longs for it, because it is like being a bird flying happily around with nobody asking it: ‘What’s your name? What do you want?’ · On the bus, I study the pavement and see myself sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus. · Pretending to be neutral, in a poem or a novel, is the only forgivable crime against morality. · Interrupting the rhythm from time to time is necessary for the rhythm. · I leave the
me and I lie in what remains of the holm oak And there are two olive trees surrounding me on three sides and two birds carry me to the side which is empty of the peak and the abyss so that I don’t say: ‘I won’ so that I don’t say: ‘I lost the bet.’ The mosquito The mosquito, and I don’t know what the masculine form of the word is in Arabic, is more destructive than slander. Not content with sucking your blood, it forces you into a fruitless battle. It only visits in darkness like
becomes a chair it does not forget the sky that was once above it. When it becomes a table it teaches the poet not to be a woodcutter. The tree is forgiveness and vigilance. It neither sleeps nor dreams, but is entrusted with the secrets of dreamers, standing guard night and day, showing respect to passers-by and to the heavens. The tree is a standing prayer, directing its devotions upwards. When it bends a little in the storm, it bends majestically, like a nun, looking upwards all the time. In