Monday, February 23, 2009

Mahmoud Darwish

Like most non-Arabs, I have not known the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish who was well known and loved in the Arab world. I only heard some mention of him in the press when he died last year. I have recently encountered his name and a part of a poem of his in the blogsphere. I don't know much about his politics so I won't care to write about it here. But what I do know that he is tremendously skilled as a poet and thinker.

Here is a video I found where he appears in a French movie called Notre Musique:

And here is the transcript (might not be the same as the video but the video has subtitles) I got from here:
[translated] Truth has two faces. We’ve listened to the Greek mythology, and at times we’ve heard the Trojan victim speak through the mouth of the Greek Euripedes. As for me, I’m looking for the poet of Troy, because Troy didn’t tell its story. And I wonder, does a land that has great poets have the right to control a people that has no poets? And is the lack of poetry amongst a people enough reason to justify its defeat? Is poetry a sign, or is it an instrument of power? Can a people be strong without having its own poetry?

I was a child of a people that had not been recognized until then. And I wanted to speak in the name of the absentee, in the name of the Trojan poet. There’s more inspiration and humanity in defeat than there is in victory. If I belonged to the victor’s camp, I’d demonstrate my support for the victims.

Do you know why we Palestinians are famous? Because you are our enemy. The interest in us stems from the interest in the Jewish issue. The interest is in you, not in me. So we have the misfortune of having Israel as an enemy, because it enjoys unlimited support. And we have the good fortune of having Israel as our enemy, because the Jews are the center of attention. You’ve brought us defeat and renown.

If the Palestinians were fighting the Russians, Chinese, or the Sudanese nobody would have cared. I'll let you ponder all that he said - it's all very deep with meaning.

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