Mahmoud Darwish: a candle in the dark

Mahmoud Darwish (Arabic: محمود درويش‎) (13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008) was a Palestinian poet and author who is considered as one of the main poets of the century and the most important contemporary Arab poet. He was and still is regarded as the national poet of  the Palestinian people and one of their most cherished symbols.

He wrote in a language crafted for poetry and having one of the most ancient poetic traditions in the world; arabic. He developed a modern and personal style by straying from the precept of classical poetry and its rigidity, and thus made poetry accessible to people from all walks of life.

As with any deep human work, from within the contexts of his life and days, Mahmoud Darwish extracted the Universal and the Beautiful; Palestine and Exile became metaphors that find an echo in each and every one of us.

Mahmoud passed away on this day, 4 years ago. Humanists, and justice and poetry lovers, miss him greatly.

Think of Others, one of my favorite poems of his, declaimed by himself:

Think of Others … فكِّر بغيركَ
Mahmoud Darwish

As you prepare your breakfast, think of others.
Don’t forget to feed the pigeons.
As you conduct your wars, think of others.
Don’t forget those who want peace.
As you pay your water bill, think of others.
Think of those who only have clouds to drink from.
As you go home, your own home, think of others
don’t forget those who live in tents.
As you sleep and count the planets, think of others
there are people who have no place to sleep.
As you liberate yourself with metaphors think of others
those who have lost their right to speak.
And as you think of distant others
think of yourself and say
“I wish I were a candle in the darkness.”
وأنتَ تُعِدُّ فطورك، فكِّر بغيركَ
لا تَنْسَ قوتَ الحمام
وأنتَ تخوضُ حروبكَ، فكِّر بغيركَ
لا تنس مَنْ يطلبون السلام
وأنتَ تسدد فاتورةَ الماء، فكِّر بغيركَ
مَنْ يرضَعُون الغمامٍ
وأنتَ تعودُ إلى البيت، بيتكَ، فكِّر بغيركَ
لا تنس شعب الخيامْ
وأنت تنام وتُحصي الكواكبَ، فكِّر بغيركَ
ثمّةَ مَنْ لم يجد حيّزاً للمنام
وأنت تحرّر نفسك بالاستعارات، فكِّر بغيركَ
مَنْ فقدوا حقَّهم في الكلام
وأنت تفكر بالآخرين البعيدين، فكِّر بنفسك
قُلْ: ليتني شمعةُ في الظلام


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9 thoughts on “Mahmoud Darwish: a candle in the dark

    1. Hi dear Letizia,
      I’m glad you liked the post. Darwish was such an amazing man…
      Due to his enormous popularity in the (arab) world, there are many videos on youtube about him. I read in your bio that you’re a french speaker… so here’s a very interesting short documentary filmed before and after his death :
      PS. I replaced the translation of the poem, this one is much better..

  1. Mr Darwish loves to use “cloud” in his poems, I don’t find (yet) many other poets write about clouds that often, or use clouds metaphorically. That’s very romantic of him, particularly when clouds are perpetually changing their faces, colours, shapes, those ever diverging nature resembles life, in my opinion.

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