Author : PNN | Readings : 181 | Date : 2012-08-09
Thursday 9th August marks the anniversary of poet Mahmoud Darwish's death, who is considered one of the most important Palestinian and Arab poets, and is known as "the poet of the resistance".
The poetry of Mahmoud Darwish emphasised displacement, exile and homelessness and encouraged resistance against Israel. Several Palestinians and Arabs singers sang his poets such as Marcel Khalifeh, Ahmad Qa'bour, Bashar Zarqan, Majida al-Roumi, and George Kermez, and other artists played his poetry, such as trio Jubran band that escorted Darwish in the last 10 years of his life .
He first gained prominence in the 1960s with a collection that included the poem 'Identity Card' that spoke in the first person of a Palestinian defiantly giving his identity card number, as often demanded by Israeli authorities, and vowing to return to his land.
Darwish died in 2008 from complications after heart surgery in Houston, Texas, aged 67. President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning in the Palestinian territories and, at the time, said that the death of the poet, who wrote the Palestinian declaration of independence in 1988 "leaves a great gap in our political, cultural and national lives."
Thousands of Palestinians attended his funeral and he was buried near the Cultural Palace in Ramallah.
Israelis reacted strongly to Darwish's work. In 1988 hard-line Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir read to the Knesset a Darwish poem written to encourage the intifada uprising as an example of Palestinians unwillingness to live alongside Jews.
The poem 'Passing in Passing Words' says: "So leave our land. Our shore, our sea. Our wheat, our salt, our wound. Take your portion of our blood and go away." Mr. Darwish later said he wanted an end only to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
But there are also Israelis who admire his work. Yossi Sarid, a dovish former education minister was very briefly able to introduce works by Darwish into the Israeli school curriculum in 2000. "I can assure you that those who criticised me for this had no idea about Darwish's poetry," Mr. Sarid said yesterday, "Sometimes Darwish is very angry at us and that's natural."
Darwish's most important books are considered to be A Lover from Palestine, A Eulogy for the Tall Shadow, Eleven Stars, State of Siege, Same as Almond Flowers or Farther, and The Butterfly's Burden.