Mahmoud Darwish: It is our right to love autumn (From Arabic)

It is our right to love autumn
By Mahmoud Darwish
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me reciting the original Arabic

And it is our right, too, to love this autumn's end, our right to ask:
Is there space in the field for one more autumn, to rest our bodies like coals?
An autumn downing its leaves like gold. If only we were fig-leaves.
             And oh to be an abandoned blade of grass
To witness the difference of seasons. If only we hadn't said goodbye
              to the storming south of the eyes to ask what
Our fathers had asked themselves when they flew by speartip and sword.
             Poetry and the naming of the Lord
                        have mercy on us at last.
It is our right to dry the nights of beautiful women, to talk about what
Cuts short the night of two strangers waiting for north's return to the compass.
Autumn. It is our right to take in, to bask
             in this autumn scent and ask the night in dream:
Can dreams fall ill the way the dreamer will?
             Autumnal autumn. Can a people be born on the guillotine?
It is our right to die the death we desire. Let the earth disappear,

            With the fertile crescent moon of yesteryear.1

1- Normally English translators, operating within the limits set out for him/her by prevailing taste, would be forced to render the final words as "let the earth hide away in an ear of grain" - an image of contraction and constriction by extremes. Here I have allowed myself unusual latitude in recasting the line.

The Original:

يحقّ لنا أن نحبّ الخريف
محمود درويش

ونحن، يحِقُّ لَنَا ان نُحِبَّ نهاياتِ هذا الخَريفِ، وَأَنْ نسألهْ
أَفِي الحَقْلِ متَّسِعٌ لِخَريفٍ جَديدٍ، ونحن نمَدِّدُ أجسادَنا فيه فَحْما؟
خريفٌ ينكِّسُ أَوْرَاقَهُ ذَهَباً. ليتنا وَرَقُ التِّين، يَا ليتنا عُشبةٌ مُهمَله
لنَشهَدَ ما الفرقُ بين الفصول. ويا ليتنا لَمْ نوَدِّع جَنُوبَ العيونِ لنَسْأَلَ عَمَّا
تساءل آباؤنا حين طاروا على قِمَّةِ الرُّمْحِ. يَرْحَمُنَا الشِعرُ والبَسْملَهْ
ونحن يحقّ لنا أن نجَفِّفَ ليلَ النِّساءِ الجميلات، أنْ نتَحدَّثَ عمّا
يُقَصِّرُ ليلَ غَريَبيْن ينتظرانِ وصولَ الشَّمال إلى البَوْصَلهْ
خريفٌ. ونحن يحقّ لنا أن نَشُمُّ رَوَائحَ هذا الخريف، وأن نَسْأَلَ الليلَ حُلْما
أَيَمْرَضُ حُلْمٌ كما يَمْرَضُ الحَالِمُون ؟ خريفٌ خريفٌ. أيولَدُ شَعْبٌ على مِقصَلَه
يحقّ لنا أن نموتَ كما نشتهي ان نموت، لتَختبئَ الأرضُ في سُنبُلَه


  1. Thanks very much for your fantastic page : it is a real discovery for me -- I live in Korea, where access to these poems is limited -- certainly, no libraries anywhere near me stock these kinds of books, besides a few very inaccessible scholarly places, and, ordering from Amazon is very expensive. I am very grateful for your pages and your wonderful choices. I found your page due  to your wonderful rendering of "Remember the 6Th June" A poem by Samih Al-Qasim: The End of a Discussion with a Prison Guard. What an incredible poem.
    Thanks ! I look forward to more of your esoteric selections.

  2. Are you reading from the same version you posted? In the recitation (which then carries over to your translation), you read لنشهد ما الفرق when the text written above says لنشهد ما الفرش.

  3. Oh that's just my typo. But now that I think about it, I'm not sure it doesn't make the line more interesting.