Today we want to talk about a hideout of this city: the Mahmoud Darwish Museum, which is also the mausoleum of the poet with the same name. It is a kind of oasis. Ramallah has become a big city, and its slogan tells us much of what it is, what it wants to be and what it represents: Smile, you’re in Ramallah! And at the grave of the poet, you can smile, among native plants and his own voice that resonates throughout.
The exhibition hall itself is not important, it contains many ordinary elements that hardly call our attention and that can look too fetish and even morbid if the Arab society is not properly known by the visitor. A razor, a pen, a coffee machine, a clock … basically everything that a typical poet of the twentieth century used to need. But what interests us is the concept and how his figure represents a population oppressed by one of the most powerful armies in the world.
Mahmoud Darwish was a poet, but also an activist. He was forced to emigrate several times. Those experiences enriched himself and filled his ideas with legitimacy to defend his political arguments and poetry. He lived in Cairo, Beirut and Amman, but also in Paris and Tunis, as new wars and occupations occurred, Mahmoud Darwish kept seeking his place. However, he already had his home where he could not return to (Galilee), and eventually he settled in Ramallah, a city that has grown as refugees have been increasing in the area.
The city has return him in form of a monument what Mahmoud tried to build through his verses: the union of a plural, modern, secular, fair nation united for the peace and the word. He was an activist of the word, the dialogue, the Arabic language, and of how the language should be used to convey precisely peace . To be Arabic, to speak Arabic, to write Arabic, and not only to write texts with Palestinian political claim, but to do so with appreciation of the language and the literature.
Think about others (Mahmoud Darwish)
وأنتَ تُعِدُّ فطورك، فكِّر بغيركَ
You, that prepare your breakfast, think about others
لا تَنْسَ قوتَ الحمام
do not forget to feed the pigeons
وأنتَ تخوضُ حروبكَ، فكِّر بغيرك
You, that get into fight in your wars, think about others
تنس مَنْ يطلبون السلام لا
and do not forget those that beg for peace
وأنتَ تسدد فاتورةَ الماء، فكِّر بغيرك
You, that pay your water bills, think about others
مَنْ يرضَعُون الغمامٍ
those that nurse themselves from the clouds
وأنتَ تعودُ إلى البيت، بيتكَ، فكِّر بغيركَ
You, that go back home, to your home, think about others
لا تنس شعب الخيامْ
do not forget people in tents
وأنت تنام وتُحصي الكواكبَ، فكِّر بغيركَ
You, that sleep and count stars, think about others
ثمّةَ مَنْ لم يجد حيّزاً للمنام
there are those who do not find a place to sleep
وأنت تحرّر نفسك بالاستعارات، فكِّر بغيركَ
You, that liberate yourself with metaphores, think about others
مَنْ فقدوا حقَّهم في الكلام
about those than have lost their right to speak
وأنت تفكر بالآخرين البعيدين، فكِّر بنفسك
You, that think about others….far away from you, think of you
قُلْ: ليتني شمعةُ في الظلام
Say: I wish I was a candel among darkness
Ramallah writes its history and cultural claims also with the Museum of Mahmoud Darwish. The space tries to be a shout to the outside (the texts in the museum are translated into many languages, covers of his books in Catalan or Castilian can be easily found), but it is also designed as an element of cohesion for the Palestinian society, which lives divided by the violence imposed.
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