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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