Opening Excerpt from Mural

Arabic

جداريَّة
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محمود درويش ©

THE EDITORS WOULD LIKE TO THANK DR. MARIAM ABOU DIWAN
FOR HER ASSISTANCE IN LOCATING THE ARABIC TEXT

English Translation

This is your name /
a woman said
and disappeared in the spiraling corridor

I could see the sky over there within my grasp.
A dove’s white wing carried me toward
another childhood. I wasn’t dreaming
that I was dreaming. Everything was realistic. I knew
I was tossing myself to the side
before I flew. I would become what I want
in the final orbit. Everything was white:
the sea hanging above the roof of a white
cloud was nothingness in the white
sky of the absolute. I was
and I wasn’t. I was alone in the corners of this
eternal whiteness. I came before my time and not
one angel appeared to ask me:
“What did you do, there, in life?”
And I didn’t hear the chants of the virtuous
or the sinners’ moans, I was alone in whiteness,
alone…

Nothing hurts me at resurrection’s door.
Not time or emotion. I don’t feel
the lightness of things or the heaviness
of obsession. I found no one to ask:
Where is my “where” now? Where is the city
of the dead, and where am I? There is no void
in non-place, in non-time,
or in non-being

It’s as if I had died before now…
I know this vision and know that I
am heading to an unknown. Maybe
I’m still alive in some place, where
I still know what I want…

One day I will become what I want

One day I will become an idea. No sword will carry it
to the wasteland and no book…
like a rain on a mountain that has cracked
from a single sprout
so neither force
nor fugitive justice can win

One day I will become what I want

One day I will become a bird and unsheathe my existence
out of my void. When the two wings burn
I’ll near the truth and reincarnate
from ash. I am the dialogue of dreamers. I turned
away from my body and my self to complete
my first journey toward meaning, but meaning
burned me and disappeared. I am absence.
The heavenly and the expelled

One day I will become what I want

One day I will become a poet,
water will be my vision’s subject, and my language
a metaphor for metaphor. I’d neither say nor point
to a place. Place is my sin and pretext.
I come from there. My here leaps
from my steps to my imagination…
I am who I was and who I will be,
the endless vast space makes me
and destroys me

One day I will become what I want

One day I will become a vineyard,
so let summer press me from now,
let those passing by the sugary chandeliers
of the place drink my wine.
I am the message and the messenger.
The mail and the tiny address

One day I will become what I want

This is your name /
a woman said
and disappeared in her corridor’s whiteness:
This is your name, remember it well!
And don’t disagree with it over a letter
or concern yourself with tribal banners,
be a friend to your horizontal name,
try it out on the dead and the living, teach it
accurate pronunciation in the company of strangers,
and write it on one of the cave’s rocks
and say: My name, you will grow when I grow,
you will carry me when I carry you,
a stranger is another stranger’s brother.
We will seize the feminine with a vowel promised to the flutes.
My name, where are we now?
Answer me. What is now, what is tomorrow?
What is time or place,
the old or the new?

One day we will become what we want

The journey did not begin, nor the road end.
The sages have not attained their estrangement
just as the strangers have not attained their wisdom.
And of flowers we only know the anemones.
So let’s go to the highest mural:
My poem’s land is green, high,
the speech of god at dawn,
and I am the distant,
the far

THIS TRANSLATION ALSO APPEARS IN If I Were Another: Poems
BY MAHMOUD DARWISH, TRANSLATED BY FADY JOUDAH
(Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2009)

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