"The Adam of Two Edens" by Mahmoud Darwish -Farrar Strauss & Giroux edited by Munir Akash and Daniel Moore -review by Fuad A. Attal
I know Mahmoud Darwish's poetry well. I am a Palestinian and he is a Palestinian. I am a refugee and he is a refugee, I am in exile and he is an exile. I've lived in that area called Palestine. What is now know as Israel. I've lived under Israeli occupation. I've seen Israelis invading the land. Destroying homes; building new Jewish settlements on lands owned by Palestinian's for thousands of years. I've seen them killing men, women, old and young, children and babies. Palestinians have been put in prisons and tortured by orders from military courts and through illegal procedures. I've seen them breaking into homes, mosques and churches, killing those who are praying and stepping on holy scriptures. Occupation is the worst form of terror. Why enslave other people when they are born free. I love Darwish's poetry and I am influenced by it. I've read most of his work in Arabic. Darwish's poetry is well known in the Arab world, especially those poems that have been made into songs. Those poems are sung and memorized. In this book, The Adam of Two Eden's, a collection of poems of Mahmoud Darwish translated by talented translators, most of them are poets in both Arabic and English. I am introduced to the poets life. He was born in 1942 in the village of Birue, district of Akka in the upper Galilee of Palestine. Like many Palestinians, his childhood was tragic and miserable. The memories of his childhood stayed with him and inspired most of his work.
"you are so green my land! So green my soul land, wasn't I that child playing near the lip of the well, still playing? All space in my courtyard all the stones are my winds"
I asked myself, what would Darwish and his poetry be without the Palestinian case? Perhaps it would have not existed or at least it would have taken a different approach and a different direction. There has been a big dispute into the Arab world between the traditional school and the modern one regarding the art of poetry. Darwish is considered the horseman of the free trends in the Arabic poetry. His style is comparable to that of the American poet Walt Whitman, a revolutionary style in content, meaning and structure. Darwish feels uncomfortable with the idea of placing him in a specific category. Audiences call him the poet of the resistance and exile, but he feels he has a lot to offer. He has the potential and talent to dive into his heart and soul bringing about new ideas, thoughts and expressions. The idea behind selecting these poems is to show the private persona of Darwish's vision. Coming from Arabic decent, he is proud of his identity, history, heritage and culture. Nonetheless his devotion and sincerity carried his poetry to audiences abroad, who sympathize with his struggle for freedom and fight for independence.
"Take the rose of our dreams and see what we have seen of joy sleep in the shade of our willows and start to fly like a dove. This, after all, is what our ancestors did when they flew in peace and returned in peace"
Darwish believed in the power of words and their ability to master change and challenge. He succeeded in presenting the Palestinian case to the world. He drew a vivid picture of people who suffer from the loss of their land. People who are deprived of basic required human rights. They are people who suffer horror, terror, alienation, humiliation, suffocation and extermination.
"Our places of exile have not been in vain. We have not endured our exile in vain our men will die without regret and the living shall inherit the calm breezes. To se what the past has done to the present and weep quietly, quietly. Let our enemy hear broken shards clattering within us."
I enjoyed reading Darwish in a language other than Arabic. I like the English language and find it poetic. It is also very suitable for the modern Arabic poetry. Each language has its image, quality and character. Both languages have their basic rules, but they allow a space for manageability and movement. The translation is fairly good and matches the meaning, rhythm and music of the Arabic words.