Mahmoud Darwish: Passport (From Arabic)


By Mahmoud Darwish
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the Arabic

They did not recognize me in the shadows
That suck my color out of the passport.
To them, the wound in me was an exhibit
For tourists collecting photographs for sport.
They did not recognize me. No . . . don't leave
My hand's palm with no sun, for trees in bloom

Do recognize me. Every song
Of the rain recognizes me.
Don't leave me pale like the moon!

All the birds that followed my palm
To the doors of the distant airport
All the wheatfields
All the prisons
All the white tombs
All the borders
All the waved handkerchiefs
All the eyes
Were with me,
But taken from my passport.

Stripped of my name and what I am?
On soil I worked with my own hands?
Today Job's cry

Filled all the sky:
Don't make another example of me!
Good prophets, my good sirs

Ask not the name of any tree.
Ask not the valley about its mother
From my brow bursts the sword of light
And from my hand springs the river's water...
The people's hearts are my identity.
Go, take my passport away from me.

The Original:

جواز سفر
محمود درويش

لم يعرفوني في الظلال التي
تمتصُّ لوني في جواز السفرْ
وكان جرحي عندهم معرضاً
لسائح يعشق جمع الصور

لم يعرفوني، آه... لا تتركي
كفي بلا شمسٍ، لأن الشجر
يعرفني...تعرفني كل أغاني المطر
لا تتركيني شاحباً كالقمر!

كلُّ العصافير التي لاحقتْ
كفى على باب المطار البعيد
كل حقول القمح،
كل السجونِ،
كل القبور البيض
كل الحدودِ،
كل المناديل التي لوَحتْ،
كل العيونِ
كانت معي، لكنهم
قد أسقطوها من جواز السفر!

عارٍ من الاسم، من الانتماء ْ؟
في تربة ربَّيتها باليدينْ؟
أيوب صاح اليوم ملء السماء:
لا تجعلوني عبرة مرتين!
يا سادتي! يا سادتي الأنبياء
لا تسألوا الأشجار عن اسمها
لا تسألوا الوديان عن أُمها
من جبهتي ينشق سيف الضياء
ومن يدي ينبع ماء النهر
كل قلوب الناس... جنسيتي
فلتسقطوا عني جواز السفر


  1. any kind of language and passport can translate here in this site

  2. Do not leave me pale like the moon!. Great. Thnx

  3. YankeeTranslatorJune 19, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    There is an interesting shift in the second stanza which you didn't indicate in your poem: the use of the feminine singular imperative لا تتركيني. This stands in stark contrast to the use of the masculine plural سألوني، فلتسقطوا. As to whom he is addressing, or how to incorporate this into the translation, I myself cannot say.

  4. Yeah, I had no idea what to do with that either. My best (though not very good) guess was that it gives the line a more interesting prosodic music. I asked a Palestinian friend of mine who knows his work quite well, and she was likewise at a loss.

    It's one of those *shrug* moments methinks.


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