Mahmud Darwish is considered by many Palestinians to be their national poet. Born in a village destroyed during the 1948 war, Darwish spent most of his life in exile. The experience of exile provides a touchstone for many of his poems — as it does for the poems of other Palestinian poets. The poem that follows is titled “Eleven Planets in the Last Andalusian Sky.” According to the Qur´an, the patriarch Joseph saw “eleven planets” in a prophetic vision. “The last Andalusian sky” is an allusion to the expulsion of the Moors from Spain.
On the last evening
we tear our days down from the trelisses
tally the ribs we carry away with us
and the ribs we leave behind.
On the last evening
we bid farewell to nothing,
we've no time to finish,
everything's left as it is,
places change dreams the way they
change casts of characters.
Suddenly we can no longer be lighthearted,
this place is about to play host to nothing.
On the last evening
we contemplate mountains surrounding the clouds,
invasion and counter-invasion,
the ancient era handing our door keys over to a new age.
Enter, O invaders, come, enter our houses,
drink the sweet wine of our Andalusian songs!
We are night at midnight,
no horseman galloping toward us
from the safety of that last call to prayer
to deliver the dawn.
Our tea is hot and green—so drink!
Our pistachios are ripe and fresh — so eat!
The beds are green with new cedarwood
—give in to your drowsiness!
After such a long siege, sleep on the
soft down of our dreams!
Fresh sheets, scents at the door, and many mirrors.
Enter our mirrors so we can vacate the premises completely!
Later we'll look up what was recorded in our history about yours in faraway lands.
Then we'll ask ourselves,
here or there? On earth
or only in poems?"
Mahmud Darwish, Adam of the Two Edens: Selected Poems, ed. Munir Akash and Daniel Moore (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2001), pp. 147-70.
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