Stranger Fruit

A Poem by Mahmoud Darwish

I haven’t posted poetry in nearly three months, so spurred on by the news that the noted Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish has died today following heart surgery, I think I need to start doing so again (at least semi-regularly). The AFP story notes that Darwish had survived two previous heart surgeries, with the last one in 1998 prompting him to write:

"I have defeated you, death/ All the beautiful arts have defeated you/ The songs of Mesopotamia, the obelisks of Egypt, the carved tombs of the pharaohs on the altar have defeated you, and you are vanquished.”

On the value of poetry, he wrote poignantly:

"I thought poetry could change everything, could change history and could humanize, and I think that the illusion is very necessary to push poets to be involved and to believe, but now I think that poetry changes only the poet."

Most of his work has not been translated into English, but a selection is available here.

Psalm 9

O rose beyond the reach of time and of the senses
O kiss enveloped in the scarves of all the winds
surprise me with one dream
that my madness will recoil from you.

Recoiling from you
In order to approach you
I discovered time.

Approaching you
in order to recoil from you
I discovered my senses.

Between approach and recoil
there is a stone the size of a dream
It does not approach
It does not recoil.

You are my country
A stone is not what I am
therefore I do not like to face the sky
nor do I die level with the ground
but I am a stranger, always a stranger.


  1. #1 Stephanie DH
    August 10, 2008

    A huge loss for all of us–what a beautiful soul.

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