Mahmoud Darwish was a renowned Palestinian poet, writer, and activist who is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern Arabic poets. He was born on March 13, 1941, in the village of Al-Birwa, located in the Galilee region of Palestine. At the time of his birth, Palestine was still under British mandate, and Darwish’s family, like many others, had to endure the struggles of displacement, exile, and occupation.
Darwish began writing poetry at a young age, and his work soon gained recognition for its powerful and evocative expression of the Palestinian struggle for liberation and justice. He published his first collection of poetry, “Asafir bila ajniha” (Winged Birds), at the age of nineteen, and went on to write many more collections over the course of his career.
Throughout his life, Darwish was a vocal advocate for Palestinian rights and a fierce critic of Israeli policies towards Palestinians. His work often drew on his personal experiences of displacement and loss, as well as on the broader history and culture of the Palestinian people.
Darwish passed away on August 9, 2008, following complications from heart surgery. His death was mourned by many across the Arab world and beyond, and his legacy continues to inspire generations of writers, activists, and artists.
We are born to love, we live to love, and we will die to love still more.
On this land, there is what deserves living, and what deserves dying for.
I am from there. I am from here. I am not there and I am not here. I have two names, which meet and part.
Our personal fears are more dangerous than our social ones.
A person is not where he is born, but where he chooses to die.
Writing is a journey of discovery because until you start, you never know what will happen, and you can be surprised by what you do – hopefully, I will be surprised.
Love, like the truth, is simple. It’s the complexity that lies beneath that is the hard part.
Our love of beauty is the reason why we have hope that our people will someday be free.
Every morning, I wake up with new ideas and inspirations. And I enjoy the challenge of bringing those ideas to life.
To live, we must keep daring, keep inventing the future.
The Palestinian tragedy is a human tragedy, and we must do all we can to end it.
Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.
We are all born free, but freedom is something that must be fought for and defended every day.
There is no life without love, and there is no love without forgiveness.
To be a poet is to be a human being, to love life and the world around us.
My mother is not just a memory to me; she is a living presence, a part of my being.
The beauty of poetry is that it allows us to express the deepest feelings and emotions that we often cannot put into words.
We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
The truest form of patriotism is to love your country and also love your neighbor as yourself.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
I am here and I am there, two worlds and one heart.
We cannot achieve peace without justice.
Our homeland is not a suitcase we can simply pack up and leave behind.
The beauty of life is not in the possession of material things, but in the memories we make and the love we give.
Every poem is a journey that takes us to places we have never been before.
The language of poetry is the language of the heart, and it speaks to us all.
To be a poet is to be a witness to history, to tell the stories of our people.
My poetry is the voice of my people, the voice of the oppressed and the dispossessed.
Poetry is the language of the soul, the music of the heart.
We are all refugees from something, whether it’s a country, a relationship, or a dream.
The beauty of life is that it is constantly changing, and we must learn to adapt to those changes.
We must teach our children to love, to dream, to hope, and to believe in themselves.
Poetry is the language of the unspeakable, the voice of the silenced.
We must learn to love the beauty of our differences, rather than fear them.
Sarcasm helps me overcome the harshness of the reality we live, eases the pain of scars and makes people smile.
Without hope we are lost.
A person can only be born in one place. However, he may die several times elsewhere: in the exiles and prisons, and in a homeland transformed by the occupation and oppression into a nightmare.
I don’t decide to represent anything except myself. But that self is full of collective memory.
Poetry and beauty are always making peace. When you read something beautiful you find coexistence; it breaks walls down.
I see poetry as spiritual medicine.
History laughs at both the victim and the aggressor.
The metaphor for Palestine is stronger than the Palestine of reality.
Nothing, nothing justifies terrorism.
I believe in the power of poetry, which gives me reasons to look ahead and identify a glint of light.
I never wanted children; maybe I’m afraid of responsibility.
I’ve built my homeland, I’ve even founded my state – in my language.
Exile is more than a geographical concept. You can be an exile in your homeland, in your own house, in a room.
Some people ask, ‘How do you attract the young and so many different people when your poetry is complicated and different?’ I say, ‘My accomplishment is that my readers trust me and accept my suggestions for change.’
The Palestinians are the only nation in the world that feels with certainty that today is better than what the days ahead will hold. Tomorrow always heralds a worse situation.
Sometimes I feel as if I am read before I write. When I write a poem about my mother, Palestinians think my mother is a symbol for Palestine. But I write as a poet, and my mother is my mother. She’s not a symbol.
I am not a lover of Israel, of course. I have no reason to be. But I don’t hate Jews.
The importance of poetry is not measured, finally, by what the poet says but by how he says it.
When I passed the age of 50, I learned how to control my emotions.
The Arabs are ready to accept a strong Israel with nuclear arms – all it has to do is open the gates of its fortress and make peace.
For the Arabs in Israel there is always a tension between nationality and identity.
Palestinian people are in love with life.
Against barbarity, poetry can resist only by confirming its attachment to human fragility like a blade of grass growing on a wall while armies march by.
When a writer declares that his first book is his best, that is bad. I progress successively from book to book.
To be under occupation, to be under siege, is not a good inspiration for poetry.