Archive, Poems

Here They Are the Words

Here they are the words fluttering in the mind
There’s a land in the mind with a heavenly name the words carry.
And the dead don’t dream much, yet if they do
no one believes their dreams . . .
Here they are the words fluttering in my body
bee by bee . . . and if I write the blue upon the blue
the songs would turn green, and life would return to me.
With words I found the road to the name
shorter . . . poets are not often unhappy, and when
they are, no one believes them . . .
I said: I am still alive because I see the words
fluttering in the mind.
There’s a song in the mind swinging between presence
and absence, it opens the door only
to shut the door . . . a song about
the life of fog, it obeys only what
I forgot of the words!

translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah

Mahmoud Darwish was a Palestinian poet and author born in 1941, who lived for many years in exile in Beirut and Paris. He is the author of over 30 books of poetry and eight books of prose, and earned the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize from the Lannan Foundation, the Lenin Peace Prize, and the Knight of Arts and Belles Lettres Medal from France. He died in Houston, Texas in 2008.

This poem first appeared in the Spring / Summer 2008 issue of Poetry Northwest.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash