‘Ala Hadihil Ard (On This Land)’ – Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008)

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This land, this blessed earth
This land that holds life’s meaning within its girth

April’s delay
The aroma of bread at break of day

The talismans women tie on their men
The words from Aeschylus’ pen

Love’s seed sown
Moss growing on a stone

Mothers hanging on a flute’s thread
And memories that invaders dread

This land holds it all within its girth

September’s tail
A lady leaving forty and her apricots in her graceful trail

Sunbeams peering into the prison cell
Swarms mirrored within a cloud’s swell

Approbation for those facing the end with cheer
And songs of which tyrants despair

This land contains it all within its girth

This mistress of lands upon this Earth
From which descend
Each beginning and end

Ere known as Palestine
And forevermore…Palestine…

And my lady, Because of you
I am entitled to life too

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Darwish is probably Palestine’s foremost poet. His poetry describes the anguish of dispossession and loss, while his words serve as testimony to the yearnings of Palestinians everywhere. I helped my partner (who speaks Arabic fluently) translate this – Darwish’s most famous poem – for a performance she was enacting. My knowledge of Arabic being rudimentary (although not non-existent), made me rely on her heavily whilst translating it.

I intend this to be a close interpretation rather than a translation. 

I hope I did it justice.

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