Monday, March 8, 2010

Mahmoud Darwish -- March 4, 2010

3 aches from my heart's drought, finding rain.

"The Butterfly's Burden" translated by Fady Joudah, Darwish warns himself that the quarrel with others produces rhetoric, the quarrel with oneself produces poetry.
How can we understand the bass line of a poet's identity when the poet describes what it is to be in exile, understanding that the "other" is sometimes personal, sometimes geographical, sometimes political?

There is this uncanny feeling of sharing the sense of a stranger stumbling upon himself in a stranger, like a cloud, that unknown painter,
Playing, drawing "on the walls of the universe... And the poets build homes with clouds/then move on."

We discussed "the butterfly's burden" -- how such a boneless, winged creature carried pollen from one place to another -- perhaps the analogy being his homelessness in exile. He admired the poetry of Israeli, Amichai, but says "his poetry is a challenge to me, because we write about the same place. He wants to use the landscape and history for his own benefit, based on my destroyed identity. So we have a competition: who is the owner of the language of this land? Who loves it more? Who writes it better?"

How to understand the Arabic that would form the poems in "Unfortunately, It Was Paradise",
and all the blood involved in the dismantling of one's sense of place?

If you go to wikipedia, you find out that Darwich, considered Palestine’s National Poet, uses Palestine as metaphor for the loss of Eden, birth and resurrection, and the anguish of dispossession and exile.
Central theme : watan or homeland. The poet Naomi Shihab Nye wrote that Darwish "is the essential breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging...

Style: his earlier work follows classical Arabic form, metrics, (shi’r= poetry) but influenced by Rimbaud and Ginsburg, he developed a free verse style (shi’r hurr) which used uneven lines, emjambment, irregular rhymes so as to match the rhythm of the poem with its meaning and atmosphere.

The French translation :
Je vide l’âme de ses derniers mots. (I empty my soul of his last words.)
Dans le depart, les papillons guident nos âmes. (In departure, butterflies guide our souls.)

fi el rahil takovdov el faraschaf

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