Bloggers around the Arab world mourned the death of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish today. Scores of posts appeared online in Arabic and English even before news of his death was officially confirmed.
The award-winning poet, whose work has been translated to more than 22 languages, is best known for his poems which depict the suffering of Palestinian people, their longing for their homeland and infighting between various Palestinian factions. Born in historical Palestine, in what is now Israel, Darwish leaves behind over 30 volumes of poetry and eight books of prose, and millions of fans.
From Jerusalem, the UN-Truth‘s Marian Houk says news of Darwish's death is:
.. the top news story here. Never mind the Olympics, or John Edward’s affair….
She also describes what makes Darwish's poetry special:
It’s probably true that you need to understand the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in order to really appreciate the poignant and intense economy with which Mahmoud Darwish described how Palestinians see the situation.
The blogger, who has also met Darwish several times, says the world will never be the same without the poet:
I saw Mahmoud Darwish over more than two decades in Beirut, in Damascus, in Washington, in New York, in London, in Paris, in Geneva — and last month in Ramallah. He was part of my life, and part of the lives of every Palestinian in Jerusalem and Ramallah and everywhere. And now, he is gone, and the world is not the same.
She shares her favourite poem with us – a biblical story of Yousef:
Oh my father, I am Yusuf
Oh father, my brothers neither love me nor want me in their midst
They assault me and cast stones and words at me
They want me to die so they can eulogize me
They closed the door of your house and left me outside
They expelled me from the field
Oh my father, they poisoned my grapes
They destroyed my toys
When the gentle wind played with my hair, they were jealous
They flamed up with rage against me and you
What did I deprive them of, Oh my father?
The butterflies stopped on my shoulder
The bird hovered over my hand
What have I done, Oh my father?
You named me Yusuf and they threw me into the well
They accused the wolf
The wolf is more merciful than my brothers
Oh, my father
Did I wrong anyone when I said that
I saw eleven stars and the sun and the moon
Saw them kneeling before me?
Jordanian Samer Marzouq, writing at Jazarah, says Darwish's death is a big loss for the Arab world.
Bad news, the greatest Arab poet, the Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish has died today in a hospital in Huston in the USA, this is a big loss for the Arab cultural scene, rest in peace Mahmoud Darwish, rest in peace.
Tunisian blog Khil We Lil [Ar] marks Darwish's death saying:
عملاق آخر يمضي
Another giant passes away.
Radwa Osama, from Egypt, is shocked at the news and awaits a message from Darwish – via another poet:
يخبرنى عمرو منذ قليل بلهجة حزينة – محمود درويش مات -أكدت عليه أكثر من مرة أن لا يخبرنى بأخبار الموت مرة واحدة – بعدها بقليل يدير صوت محمود درويش على الكمبيوتر – أسمعه بحزن صافى – لا أجد كلاما كثيرا يمكننى أن أضيفه مرة آخرى – لكنى عن جد حزينة – حزينة جدا – كنت أفكر فى المرة القادمة لزيارة محمود درويش الى القاهرة ، تخيلتها فى الجامعة المريكية ، كنت أحضر نفسى لتلك النشوة – ياااااه منذ وقت طويل لم اسمع درويش – كلما ضاقت روحى ، استمعت الى صوته ، فهو قادر على تهدئتى دوما-يسألنى عمرو “تفتكرى محمود درويش بيعمل ايه دلوقتى”-أفكر بمنطقية شديدة فيما يفعله محمود درويش الأن -ربما يتأمل التجربة بعمق ، ليكتب قصائد عديدة ليرسلها إلينا نحن المشتاقين دوما إلى كلمة حقيقية – بعد قليل سأفقد مذاق الشعر -محمود درويش أمازلت ترى أن الموت يخطئنا؟! -أنتظر منك ان ترسل بقصيدة مع أول عابر عندك – فالشعراء لا يموتون
In a sad tone, Amr told me that Mahmoud Darwish passed away. I have repeatedly asked him not to break such stories to me in one go. A little while later, we listened to Mahmood Darwish's voice on the computer. I can hear his clear sadness. I don't find a lot of words to add but I am extremely sad. I was thinking that next time his visited Cairo, it would be at the American University. I was preparing myself for that event. It has really been a long time since I last heard Darwish. I used to listen to him every time I felt annoyed. He was able to calm me down. Amr asks me: “What do you think Mahmoud Darwish is doing now?” I think logically and say: “Mahmoud Darwish is now contemplating on the experience (of death), in order to write a poem, and send it to us, the people who are eager for the truth. Very soon, I will stop enjoying poetry. Mahmoud Darwish, do you still think that death mistakes us?! I am looking forward for a poem from you, with the first person who contacts you. Poets never die.
Photo of Mahmoud Darwish from Wikimedia Commons