Mahmoud Darwish’s “Identity Card” on the Anniversary of his Death

Mahmoud Darwish: photo by Dar Al Hayat, n.d.; image edit by AnomalousNYC, 11 August 2008

 
Put it on record.
……..I am an Arab
And the number of my card is fifty thousand
I have eight children
And the ninth is due after summer.
What’s there to be angry about?Put it on record.

I am an Arab

Working with comrades of toil in a quarry.
I have eight children
For them I wrest the loaf of bread,
The clothes and exercise books
From the rocks
And beg for no alms at your door,

Lower not myself at your doorstep.
What’s there to be angry about?

Put it on record.

I am an Arab.

I am a name without a title,
Patient in a country where everything
Lives in a whirlpool of anger.

My roots
Took hold before the birth of time
Before the burgeoning of the ages,
Before cypress and olive trees,
Before the proliferation of weeds.

My father is from the family of the plough

Not from highborn nobles.

And my grandfather was a peasant

Without line or genealogy.

My house is a watchman’s hut

Made of sticks and reeds.

Does my status satisfy you?

I am a name without a surname.

Put it on record.

I am an Arab.

Color of hair: jet black.
Color of eyes: brown.
My distinguishing features:

On my head the ‘iqal cords over a keffiyeh
Scratching him who touches it.

My address:

I’m from a village, remote, forgotten,
Its streets without name
And all its men in the fields and quarry.

What’s there to be angry about?

Put it on record.

I am an Arab.

You stole my forefathers’ vineyards

And land I used to till,
I and all my children,
And you left us and all my grandchildren
Nothing but these rocks.
Will your government be taking them too
As is being said?

So!

Put it on record at the top of page one:
I don’t hate people,
I trespass on no one’s property.

And yet, if I were to become hungry

I shall eat the flesh of my usurper.
Beware, beware of my hunger
And of my anger!

Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941-9 August 2008): Identity Card, from Leaves of Olives, 1964; English translation by Denys Johnson-Davies
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