The voices of Mahmoud Darwish

Castellano Català
Ramallah aims to be a capital. Capital of an occupied state. Capital of what legally is under the Palestinian Authority of Cisjordania and Gaza. Capital of the state of Palestine. The capital that East Jerusalem can not be.

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.

Museography detail

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.

Mural in Bethlehem

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.

External view of the museum

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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