‘I don’t decide to represent anything except myself. But that self is full of collective memory’ – Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish is the greatest poets of the modern era and the national poet of Palestine. Born in 1941 in the village of al-Birwa in Western Galilee and fled to Lebanon in 1948 when Israeli forces attacked his village. His works reflect the endless conflict between Palestine and the Apartheid and touch profoundly the loss of his homeland, exile, dispossession and the fallen humanity.

‘Exile is more than a geographical concept. You can be in exile in your homeland, in your own house, in a room’ – Darwish

‘What’s the worth of a man
Without a homeland,
Without a flag,
Without an address?
What is the worth of such a man?’

For Darwish, the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 was a fall of humanity. He wrote:

‘I am Adam of the two Edens,
I who lost paradise twice.
So expel me slowly,
and kill me slowly,
under my olive tree’

The remembrance of paradise is dissolved in a bitterness in which death is preferable to exile.

سجل أنا عربي
سلبت كروم أجدادي
و أرضا كنت أفلحها
أنا و جميع أولادي
و لم تترك لنا و لكل أحفادي
سوى هذي الصخور
فهل ستأخذها حكومتكم
كما قيلا
إذن سجل برأس الصفحة الأولى
أنا لا أكره الناس
و لا أسطو على أحد
و لكني إذا ما جعت
آكل لحم مغتصبي
حذار حذار من جوعي
و من غضبي