On March 13, Poems for and after Mahmoud Darwish

The great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was born on this day in al-Birwa. Here, we gather a few poems inspired by Darwish or dedicated to his memory.

Samar Abdel Jaber’s “Four Years Without You,” translated by Zeina Hashem Beck

Imagines Darwish four years after his death. It opens:

Perhaps you’re there now

You watch what’s happening from afar,

and with the silence of a god,

decide to do nothing.


Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Endure

This poem, in Darwish’s memory, sketches a portrait of the poet and his readers.

“His brilliance spilled in every / language, though Arabic owned him, / he became a perfect country / moving through the world, wherever he was,”


Fady Joudah’s “In Memory of Mahmoud Darwish

It opens:

I was five years old when I first memorized your poems in exchange for coins my father would give me. I would memorize and forget you, tuck you in deep hiding places of my soul, as if I were slowly saturating my being with your seas . . . sea, that word that also stands for prosody in Arabic. Or perhaps I stored you like vintage wine, red and white, which you knew well and drank with pleasure.


Hafiz Ahmed’s “Write Down I Am a Miyah,” translated from Assamese by Shalim M Hussain

The Miyah poetry movement that was sparked in April 2016 when poet Hafiz Ahmed composed “Write Down I Am a Miyah,” inspired in part by Mahmoud Darwish’s “ID Card,” and shared it on social media. Hussain followed with his own poem, “Nana I Have Written,” and around thirty other poets have since joined the movement.


If you would like to recommend other poems written for, to, or after Darwish, please add them to the comments or share them on twitter, tagging @arablit.