Featured Poem

A State of Siege (extract)


In a land preparing for its dawn,
in a while
the planets will sleep in the language of poetry.

In a while
we will bid this hard road farewell,
and ask: Where shall we begin?

In a while
we will warn the young mountain daffodils
their beauty will be eclipsed when our young women pass by.

*

I raise a glass
to those who share my vision
of a butterfly’s joyful iridescence
in this interminable tunnel of night.

*

I raise a glass
to the one who shares a glass with me
in the pitch black of this night,
a night so thick we’re both in the dark.
I raise a glass to my ghost.

*

Peace for the traveller on the other side
is to hear a traveller talking to himself.

Peace is the sound of a dove in flight
heard by two strangers standing together.

*

Peace is the longing of two enemies
to be left to themselves till they die of boredom.

Peace is two lovers
swimming in moonlight.

*

Peace is the apology of the strong
to the weak,
agreeing strength lies in vision.


Peace is the disarming of arms
before beauty —
iron turns to rust when left out in the dew.

*

Peace means a full and honest confession
of what was done to the ghost of the murdered.

Peace means returning to dig up the garden
to plan all the crops we will plant.

*

Peace is the anguish
in the music of Andalusia
weeping from the heart of a guitar.

*

Peace is an elegy said over a young man
whose heart’s been torn open
by neither bullet nor bomb,
but the beauty-spot of his beloved.

*

Peace sings of life —here, in the midst of life,
wind running free through fields ripe with wheat.

Ramallah, 2002.


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About the translation:
Poet:
Mahmoud Darwish
Translator:
Sabry Hafez, Sarah Maguire
Original language:
Arabic
Issue:
Series 3 No. 1 - Introductions

About the author

Mahmoud Darwish

Original poet

Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish, the great Palestinian poet, passed away on Saturday 9 August 2008, following complications after major heart...

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Translator

Sabry Hafez

Sabry Hafez is Professor of Modern Arabic and Comparative Literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Born and e...

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Sarah Maguire

Translator

Sarah Maguire

Sarah Maguire has published four highly-acclaimed collections of poetry, Spilt Milk (Secker; 1991; reprinted PBS; 2007), The I...

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Comment

mohammad hussein

12th May 2012

Thank you Sarah and Sabri. I am a translator too, translating Jewish Thought from English and Hebrew into Arabic. The question is, can translation defeat weapon of hatred and denying others? Salam

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