Remembering Mahmoud Darwish –

Mahmoud Darwish, poet of the Palestinian experience of exile, passed away on 9 August in Houston, Texas, far from his beloved homeland, at the age of 67. A leading resistance symbol who crafted the 1988 Declaration of Independence that was adopted by the Palestine Liberation Organization, in his later years he was deeply disturbed by the factional fighting among Palestinians, especially between Hamas and Fatah.

While he had said that “most of my poetry is about love for my country”, he also resisted the idea that “Palestinians are supposed to be dedicated to one subject -- liberating Palestine,” saying that in the prison that was Palestine, it was an act of resistance to write of the entire range of human subjects: “If I write love poems, I resist the conditions that don’t allow me to write love poems.”

His 1964 poem ‘Identity Card,’ in the words of Electronic Intifada, “express the spirit of resistance of Palestinians in the face exile and dispossession.” In tribute to the indomitable Darwish, Liberation reproduces those verses which celebrate the hunger and anger of liberation struggles the world over.

Identity card

Write down!

I am an Arab

And my identity card number is fifty thousand

I have eight children

And the ninth will come after a summer

Will you be angry?

Write down!

I am an Arab

Employed with fellow workers at a quarry

I have eight children

I get them bread

Garments and books

from the rocks ...

I do not supplicate charity at your doors

Nor do I belittle myself at the footsteps of your chamber

So will you be angry?

Write down!

I am an Arab

I have a name without a title

Patient in a country

Where people are enraged

My roots

Were entrenched before the birth of time

And before the opening of the eras

Before the pines, and the olive trees

And before the grass grew

My father ... descends from the family of the plow

Not from a privileged class

And my grandfather ... was a farmer

Neither well-bred, nor well-born!

Teaches me the pride of the sun

Before teaching me how to read

And my house is like a watchman’s hut

Made of branches and cane

Are you satisfied with my status?

I have a name without a title!

Write down!

I am an Arab

You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors

And the land which I cultivated

Along with my children

And you left nothing for us

Except for these rocks ...

So will the State take them

As it has been said?!


Write down on the top of the first page:

I do not hate people

Nor do I encroach

But if I become hungry

The usurper’s flesh will be my food

Beware ...

Beware ...

Of my hunger

And my anger!

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