On Mahmoud Darwish’s Birthday, a New Translation of ‘If I Were a Hunter’

On the anniversary of the birth of the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), scholar-translator Shakir Mustafa shares a new translation:

If I Were a Hunter

By Mahmoud Darwish

Translated by Shakir Mustafa

From Shakir Mustafa.
From Shakir Mustafa.

If a hunter I were
I’d give the gazelle
a chance, and another,
and a third, and a tenth,
to doze a little. My share
of the booty would be
peace of mind under
her dozing head.

I have the power to vanquish
but that I relinquish,
and I become as pure
as the water where
she comes for a drink.

If a hunter I were
a fraternity I’d declare
with the gazelle:
“Don’t be scared of the rifle,
wretched sister, it’s a trifle.”
And we would listen, safe from harm,
to the wolf’s howls in a distant farm.

As a printable page:




















Shakir Mustafa is a teaching professor of Arabic at Northeastern University. He was also the inspiration for ArabLit.

Accompanying art also by Mustafa.