a poem a day – mahmoud darwish

still keeps the doctor away. like a kiss, they say. here’s to and from mahmoud darwish, who recently died at the age of 67. he was never intending, as far as i know, to become what the very time made of him – spokesman for a single cause. here‘s a short piece on him that quotes another beautiful one telling an episode on the single death supposed to mark the end of collective dying – ‘ Time has passed us by / Our fate is an exception to the rule / Here lie a killer and the killed, asleep in one hole / And it remains for another poet to write the end of the script.’ there’s always a horizon for new birds. listen to mr mahmoud speak –


Here the birds’ journey ends, our journey, the journey of words,

and after us there will be a horizon for the new birds.

We are the ones who forge the sky’s copper, the sky that will carve roads

after us and make amends with our names above the distant cloud slopes.

Soon we will descend the widow’s descent in the memory fields

and raise our tent to the final winds: blow, for the poem to live, and blow

on the poem’s road. After us, the plants will grow and grow

over roads only we have walked and our obstinate steps inaugurated.

And we will etch on the final rocks, “Long live life, long live life,”

and fall into ourselves. And after us there’ll be a horizon for the new birds.

(Translated, from the Arabic, by Fady Joudah.)


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