Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Palestinian Culture · Palestinian Literature · Passage · Poetry

Mahmoud Darwish

If I were another I would have belonged to the road,
neither you nor I would return. Awaken the guitar
and we might sense the unknown and the route that tempts
the traveler to test gravity. I am only
my steps, and you are both my compass and my chasm.
If I were another on the road, I would have
hidden my emotions in the suitcase, so my poem
would be of water, diaphanous, white,
abstract, and lightweight … stronger than memory,
and weaker than dewdrops, and I would have said:
My identity is this expanse!

— Mahmoud Darwish, from “If I Were Another” (tr. by Fady Joudah), The Butterfly’s Burden. (Copper Canyon Press 2006)

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