Mahmoud Darwish: Mural

Mural-

Mahmoud Darwish was one of the greatest poets of the last half-century. His work evokes the loss of his homeland and is suffused with the pain of dispossession, exile and loss. His poems also display a brilliant acuity, a passion for and openness to the world and, above all, a deep and abiding humanity

To commemorate Nakba Day on May 15, we present an excerpt from his book Mural.


Here is your name
said the woman
and vanished in the corridor

A hand’s reach away I see heaven
a dove’s white wing transporting me to another childhood
and I don’t dream that I’m dreaming
Everything is real
I meet myself at my side
And fly

I will become what will be in the final circuit
Everything is white
The sea hanging above a roof of white clouds
in the sky of the absolute white nothingness
I was and was not
Here alone at the white frontier of eternity.

I came before my hour so no angel approaches to ask:
what did you do over there in the world?

I don’t hear the chorus of the righteous or wailing of
sinners
I’m alone in whiteness
alone... 

At the gate of resurrection nothing hurts
neither time past nor any feeling
I don’t sense the lightness of things nor the weight of
apprehension
There’s no one to ask:
where now is my where?
Where is the city of death
Where am I?
In this no-here...
no-time and nothingness

As if I had died already
I know this story
I know that I go towards what I don’t know
Perhaps I’m still alive somewhere
Aware of what I want...

One day I’ll become what I want
One day I will become a thought
that no sword or book can dispatch to the wasteland
A thought equal to rain on the mountain split open by a
blade of grass
where power will not triumph
and justice is not fugitive

One day I’ll become what I want
One day I’ll become a bird
that plucks my being from nothingness.
As my wings burn I approach the truth
and rise from the ashes
I am the dialogue of dreamers
I shunned body and self to complete the fi rst journey
towards meaning
but it consumed me then vanished
I am that absence
The fugitive from heaven

One day I’ll become what I want
One day I’ll become a poet
Water obedient to my vision
My language a metaphor for metaphors
I don’t speak or indicate a place
Place is my sin and subterfuge
I am from there
My here leaps from my footstep to my imagination...
I am from what was or will beI was created and destroyed in the expanse of the endless
Void

One day I’ll become what I want
One day I’ll become a vine
Let summer distill from me now
so passers-by beneath the chandeliers of this most sugared
place
may drink my wine!

I am the message and the messenger
The small addresses and the post

One day I’ll become what I want

Here is your name
said the woman
and vanished in the corridor of her whiteness
Here is your name, memorize it well!

Don’t quibble over a letter of the alphabet
Ignore the tribal banners
Be friendly to your name which doesn’t stand but lies
across the page
Test it out with the living and the dead
Train it in its proper pronunciation with strangers
Write it on a rock in the empty cave
O my name: you will grow as I do
You will carry me as I carry you
for strangers are brothers to strangers
We’ll entice the feminine with a vowel devoted to flutes
Oh my name: where are we now?
Speak out: what is now what is tomorrow?
What is time and place?
What’s old what’s new?

One day we’ll become what we want
The journey hasn’t begun and the path hasn’t ended
The wise haven’t reached their exile
nor the exiles their wisdom
The only flower we know is the red anemone

Come let’s go towards the highest mural:
The land of my poem is green and high
God’s words at dawn are the land of my poem
and I’m the faraway
far away

In every breeze a woman mocks her poet:
Collect the woman you saw in me
who was shattered
and give me back my femininity
for I have nothing left to do but contemplate the lake’s
wrinkles
Get rid of my tomorrow
Return my yesterday
and leave us alone together
After you
nothing leaves and nothing returns

Take back the poem if you want
for me there’s only you in it
Take back your “I”
The exile will be complete with what’s left of handwriting
written for the carrier pigeons
At the end which me am I in us?
Of the two of us
let me be the last
A star will fall between the written and the said
A memory will lay out its thoughts: we were born in the
time of the sword and the trumpet
between the fig and the cactus

Death was slower then more clear there was a truce across
the mouth of the river
Now the electronic button works alone
the killer doesn’t hear his victims
and the martyrs don’t read out a testament

What breeze brought you here?
Tell me the name of your wound and I’ll tell you the road
where we’ll lose ourselves twice!
Your heartbeats hurt me for they lead to the time of legends
My blood hurts me
Salt hurts me...
and my jugular vein

In the broken jug the women of the Syrian plains lament
the length of the journey
and are scorched by the August sun
I saw them on the road to the well before my birth
and I heard the water in the clay weeping for them:
Return to the clouds and bring the carefree days