Mahmoud Darwish at university of Bethlehem by: Amer Shomali. Courtesy: Creative Commons via Wikimedia.
CAIRO- 10 August 2017: Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008) is considered Palestine's National poet, whose work is taught in schools all across the Arab world. Darwish's words were influential enough to become an important part of the Arabian cultural texture.
Not just a poet, Darwish was an author, politician and, most importantly, a faithful lover of Palestine. He was a "Poet, author and politician who helped to forge a Palestinian consciousness after the six-day war in 1967’’, as the Guardian writes.
Darwish was born on March 13, 1941 in Al-Birwa village in the Western Galilee in Palestine. In June, 1948 Israeli forces invaded Al-Birwa village. Darwish’s family were expelled from their village and joined a refugee camp in Southern Lebanon.
Darwish said that although he was only a small child, 6 years old, he remembered this period quite well. His family was waiting for the war to end to return back to Al-Birwa.
Later they discovered that Al-Birwa no longer existed as the Israeli army destroyed it completely. It was a truly cruel truth for such a small child to realize. Later they lived as refugees in Deir al-Asad village, before Darwish moved to Haifa with his family. He would stay there for 10 years as he was under forced residency.
"Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance" - Darwish
Darwish first published poetry book was in 1961, named ‘’ Asafir bila ajniha (Wingless birds), he was 19 years at that time. Later he left Haifa in Israel at the end of the 10 years in 1970 and Joined Lomonosovo Moscow State University for one year to study.
Darwish issued more than 30 collections of poems and about 8 books of prose. One of his most famous and influential poems was ‘’ Bitaqat Huwiyya’’ (Identity card).
When he recited this poem on May 1, 1965 to a group of people in Nazareth Movie house, they strongly reacted with the poem. Within few days the poem deployed throughout Palestine and the Arab world.
In 1964 he issued his second volume named ‘’ Awraq al-Zaytoon’’ (Leaves of Olive), where the six verses of the poem reiterate the same famous scream ‘’ Write down: I am an Arab’’. In 1966 he issued 'Ashiq men Falastin' (Lover from Palestine) and in 1967 he issued 'Akhir al-layl' ( The End of the Night), these two volumes in addition to (leaves of olive) were published in Israel.
The Nakba in 1967 wwas deeply reflected in Darwish's poems released in the mid-1970s. In 1982 he was greatly influenced by with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, followed by the occurrence of the first Intifada (uprising) on Gaza strip in December 1987. Darwish expressed all these issues in Ward Aqall (fewer roses) volume in 1986, especially in the poem named ‘’ Sa-ya’ti barabira akharun " (Other barbarians will come). Darwish's early poetry volumes style were classical, and later became more populist.
Many of Darwish poems were transferred to songs, chanted by great Arab singers like Marcel Khalife, Reem Kelani, Majida El Roumi and Ahmed Qa’abour. The most famous are "Rita and the Rifle," "I lost a beautiful dream," "Birds of Galilee," and "I Yearn for my Mother's Bread". They were considered the anthems for many Arab generations.
In 1973 Darwish joined the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and was banned from entering Israel. Darwish is considered a Palestinian icon, he Rakah, the Israeli Communist Party before he joined PLO. In 1998 he wrote a communique prepared for Palestinian people’s declaration of independence. After the Oslo accords in 1993 he quitted PLO.
The iconic Palestinian poet believed always that Palestinian negotiations with Israel should be tough and fair. From his point of view peace is obtainable, despite his criticisms of Israeli and Palestinian leaders.