The following poem is from The Butterfly’s Burden, a new book of Mahmoud Darwish’s poems which collects all three of his most recent manuscripts. It includes the Arabic text. I highly recommend it. This poem seems appropriate today…as always, I love how Darwish writes about love and nationhood, men and women, Jews and Arabs, in one breath (or is it two?).

the stranger stumbles upon himself in the stranger
We are one in two
There’s no name for us, strange woman, when the stranger stumbles upon himself in the stranger. Of our
garden behind us we have the force of shadow. So show
what you want of your night’s land, and conceal
what you want. We came in a hurry from the twilight
of two places at one time, and searched together
for our addresses. Go behind your shadow,
east of the Song of Songs, a shepherd of the sand grouse,
you’ll find a star dwelling in its death, then climb a neglected
mountain and you’ll find my yesterday completing its cycle in my tomorrow
You’ll find where we were and where we’ll be together.
we are one in two/
Go to the sea then, man, west of your book,
and dive lightly, lightly as if you were carrying
yourself at birth in two waves,
you’ll find a wetland forest and a green sky
of water, then dive lightly
lightly as if you were nothing in anything,
and you’ll find us together…
we are on in two/
We need to see how we were here,
stranger, as two shadows opening and closing on what
has been shaped of our shape: a body disappearing then reappearing
in a body disappearing in the mystery of the eternal
duality. We need to return to being two
to embrace each other more. There’s no name for us,
when the stranger stumbles upon himself in the stranger!

Translated by Fady Joudah

4 thoughts on “Darwish

  1. tell me, please tell me that you think he deserves the nobel prize for lit…?

  2. i’ve been waiting for ages. there’s always adonis murmurs, but, while i think adonis is a beautiful poet, i believe darwish is more nobel-worthy because of poems like these and what they manage to accomplish. Plus, when I imagine his poems being assigned to Israeli kids, kids who’ve been surrounded by dehumanizing images/words about Palestinians, I smile.

  3. Hello guys, this is fady Joudah, thank you for this grass roots effor, i am working on it form my end as well, so keep the word alive. Thank you again.

  4. Hi Fady! I love the work you’ve done on the translation. Thank you for all your efforts.

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