Sunday, November 8, 2009



He waited for no one. He felt no lack in existence.
Before him a river, ashen as his overcoat,
and sunlight filling his heart with awakening brightness
and the tall trees.

He felt no defect in the place. The wooden seat, his coffee,
the glass of water, the strangers;
everything in the cafe the same.

Nothing had changed. Even the newspapers
yesterday's news, and an old world floating as usual on the dead.
He felt no need for hope to amuse him
like the unknown growing green in the desert
or some wolf longing for a guitar.

He expected nothing, not even a surprise,
he could not cope with repetition.
I knew the end of the journey from the first step,
he says to himself,
I have not withdrawn from the world,
nor have I gotten closer to the world.

He waited for no one, and he felt no defect
in his senses. Autumn was still his royal host,
luring him with music that returned him
to a golden age of awakening,
to poetry rhyming with stars and space.

He waited for no one in front of the river

In the no-waiting, I become an in-law to the sparrow.
In the no-waiting, I become a river—he said—
I am not hard on myself.
I am not hard on anyone.

And I escape the serious question:
What do you want
What do you want?

translated by Mohammad Shaheen

Known as the Palestinian national poet, Mahmoud Salem Darwish was born in 1941 in al-Birwah, a village in the city district of Western Galilee, in Palestine, to a farming family, and passed away during the summer of 2008 in Houston, Texas.