In Jerusalem

Mahmoud Darwish

In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk, from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing
the history of the holy ... ascending to heaven
and returning less discouraged and melancholy, because love
and peace are holy and are coming to town.
I was walking down a slope and thinking to myself: How
do the narrators disagree over what light said about a stone?
Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up?
I walk in my sleep. I stare in my sleep. I see
no one behind me. I see no one ahead of me.
All this light is for me. I walk. I become lighter. I fly
then I become another. Transfigured. Words
sprout like grass from Isaiah's messenger
mouth: "If you don't believe you won't be safe."
I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white
biblical rose. And my hands like two doves
on the cross hovering and carrying the earth.
I don't walk, I fly, I become another,
transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I?
I am no I in ascension's presence. But I
think to myself: Alone, the prophet Muhammad
spoke classical Arabic. "And then what?"
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn't I kill you?
I said: You killed me ... and I forgot, like you, to die.

Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah

1 comment:

J.H. Stotts said...

The New Yorker also published a memorial translation last week:

'Here the Birds’ Journey Ends'
by Mahmoud Darwish

Here the birds’ journey ends, our journey, the journey of words,

and after us there will be a horizon for the new birds.

We are the ones who forge the sky’s copper, the sky that will carve roads

after us and make amends with our names above the distant cloud slopes.

Soon we will descend the widow’s descent in the memory fields

and raise our tent to the final winds: blow, for the poem to live, and blow

on the poem’s road. After us, the plants will grow and grow

over roads only we have walked and our obstinate steps inaugurated.

And we will etch on the final rocks, “Long live life, long live life,”

and fall into ourselves. And after us there’ll be a horizon for the new birds.

(Translated, from the Arabic, by Fady Joudah.)