Mahmoud Darwish’s “I Come From There”

Mahmoud Darwish was an award-winning Palestinian poet and prolific author who died in 2008. A member of the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1973 until the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, Darwish was also a strong political voice in the Palestine movement and a member of the PLO Executive Committee. When he was a child, Darwish’s village was destroyed by the Israeli army and his family was forced to relocate to nearby Lebanon. Like Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, a poet he admired and was challenged by, Darwish also wrote moving poems that professed his love for the land of his people.

I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.

In “I Come From There,” we clearly see two of Darwish’s recurring themes: exile and dispossession. Using vivid imagery and metaphor, Darwish writes beautiful poems about a country he feels a deep connection to. Notice how Darwish also uses language itself to make various claims of ownership to his ancestral land, even inventing the final word, so to speak.

I Come From There

I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.
I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood
So that I could break the rule.
I learnt all the words and broke them up
To make a single word: Homeland…..

5 Replies to “Mahmoud Darwish’s “I Come From There””

  1. This poem makes me feel really happy about one”s connection to homeland. And despite everything still creates the own amazing view of where one belongs!!!!

  2. Martin Muro
    Period 5
    The poems talk about from where you come and the family that you have at the place from where you from and your friends and your home.
    This poem make me feel something like sad, but at the same time a happiness and make me think about the family that I let in the place that I came from the memories about that place.

  3. I agree with you on the construction of “homeland”; Darwish is mimicking the destructive tendencies of his oppressors through language to bring us this facsimile of his former home. What he once knew is broken and unfamiliar, viewed through many windows, or from prison cells, to indicate his removal. In so doing, we get a poetic homeland that is just as broken as his reality: the “many windows” of his childhood are replaced by a “prison cell with a cold window,” indicating his removal from all that he once enjoyed about Palestine.
    I am also struck by Darwish’s search for a mother. His childhood “with many windows” has a clear mother figure, but when that disappears under Israeli occupation, Darwish turns to the skies, and finds anguish there.

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