In Memorium, Mahmoud Darwish: 1941-2008

~~Today–a rainy day in Boston– is the fifth anniversary of Mahmoud Darwish’s death.On this occasion, I am re-posting an excerpt from his Under Siege, which I co-translated.  This will be followed by a translation from Darwish by Fady Joudah, which appeared in this week’s Los Angeles Review of Books, of the poem “Canvas on the Wall.”~~

Photo:ccun.org

Photo:ccun.org

If you were not the rain, my love, then be the tree
Saturated and bountiful, be the tree.
And if you were not the tree, my love, then be the stone
Saturated and moist,  be the stone.
And if you were not the stone, my love, then be the moon
In the dream of the loved one, be the moon.

This is what a woman said to her son at his funeral.

[Translated from the Arabic by Taline Voskeritchian and Christopher Millis]

~~

 Canvas on the Wall

…and we keep saying things
about the sunset on the little land, while on the wall
Hiroshima weeps, another night
passes, as all we take from our world
is the form of death
at high noon

Your eyes belong to another age
my body owns another story
and in dream we desire jasmine

Years ago, when the world
dispensed with us and the walls
were difficult to comprehend, aspirin
could return olives, dreams
and windows to their owners
and longing was a game
to distract us from the years

But now we say many things
about wilting wheat in the little land
and on the wall Hiroshima weeps,
a glistening truth-dagger, what we take
from our world, the color of death
at high noon

In the burning of a first kiss
sorrow melts, death sings, I lose
my sadness and croon:
Is there a body that can’t become a voice?

What sorrow
doesn’t embrace the globe
to the singer’s chest?

We keep saying things
about the agony of grass in the little land
while on the wall Hiroshima weeps
a forgotten kiss, what we take
from our world is just the taste of death
at high noon

A thousand rivers jog while the strong
throw dice in a café and the flesh
of martyrs disappears, sometimes in clay
and other times it amuses the poets

And at night, my love, I sip
vanity’s milk from your silence

We say many things
about the loss of color in the little land
and on the wall Hiroshima weeps
a girl that has died

As all we take from our world
is the sound of death
at high noon

[Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah]

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About Taline Voskeritchian

Writing teacher at Boston University; translator (from Arabic and Armenian); prose writer; occasional editor; incurable wanderer.
This entry was posted in Languages and readings, Palestinians, Those we Love and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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