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Ballads of Defiance: Powerful Poetry by Palestinian Poets

November 18, 2023
More photos: http://www.montecruzfoto.org/15-05-2015-Palestine-Nakba-demo-Berlin

For centuries, poetry has been a boundless form of human expression. Various Palestinian poets have inspired generations with their powerful words narrating the Palestinian experience, conveying the pain of exile, and highlighting the resilience of their people.

These poets have invited readers to understand their struggles and victories — a world otherwise unknown unless experienced. Here are five poems by Palestinian poets that are timeless and powerful.

The Exile by Salem Jubran (1970)

The sun walks through the border
Guns keep silent
A skylark starts its morning song
In Tulkarem
And flies away to sup
With the birds of a Kibbutz
A lonely donkey strolls
Across the firing line
Unheeded by the watching squad
But for me, your ousted son, my native land,
Between your skies and my eyes,
A stretch of border walls
Blackens the view

Enough for Me by Fadwa Tuqan (1960)

Enough for Me
Enough for me to die on her earth
be buried in her
to melt and vanish into her soil
then sprout forth as a flower
played with by a child from my country.
Enough for me to remain
in my country’s embrace
to be in her close as a handful of dust
a sprig of grass
a flower.

Psalm 9 by Mahmoud Darwish (2003)/strong>

O rose beyond the reach of time and of the senses
O kiss enveloped in the scarves of all the winds
surprise me with one dream
that my madness will recoil from you
Recoiling from you
In order to approach you
I discovered time
Approaching you
in order to recoil form you
I discovered my senses
Between approach and recoil
there is a stone the size of a dream
It does not approach
It does not recoil
You are my country
A stone is not what I am
therefore I do not like to face the sky
not do I die level with the ground
but I am a stranger, always a stranger

Ibrahim Tuqan – My Homeland (1934)

My homeland
My homeland
Glory and beauty
Sublimity and prettiness
Are in your hills
Life and deliverance
Pleasure and hope
Are in your atmosphere
Will I see you?
Safe and comfortable
Sound and honored
Will I see you?
In your eminence
Reaching the stars
My homeland
My homeland

The youth will not get tired
Their goal is your independence
Or they die
We will drink from death
But we will not be slaves to our enemies
We do not want
An eternal humiliation
Nor a miserable life
We do not want
But we will return
Our great glory
My homeland
My homeland

The sword and the pen
Are our symbols
Not talking nor quarreling
Our glory and covenant
And a duty to fulfill it
Shake us
Our honor
Is an honorable cause
A raised flag
O, your beauty
In your eminence
Victorious over your enemies
My homeland
My homeland

The Shelling Ended by Najwan Darwish (2000)

No one will know you tomorrow.
The shelling ended
only to start again within you.
The buildings fell, the horizon burned,
only for flames to rage inside you,
flames that will devour even stone.
The murdered are sunk in sleep,
but sleep will never find you –
awake forever,
awake until they crumble, these massive rocks
said to be the tears of retired gods.
Forgiveness has ended,
and mercy is bleeding outside of time.
No one knows you now,
and no one will know you tomorrow.
You, like the trees,
were planted in place while the shells were falling.


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