Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems

By Mahmoud Darwish; Carolyn Forché et al. | Go to book overview

They Would Love to See Me Dead

They would love to see me dead, to say: He belongs to us, he is ours.

For twenty years I have heard their footsteps on the walls of the night.

They open no door, yet here they are now. I see three of them:

a poet, a killer, and a reader of books.

Will you have some wine? I asked.

Yes, they answered.

When do you plan to shoot me? I asked.

Take it easy they answered.

They lined up their glasses all in a row and started singing for the people.

I asked: When will you begin my assassination?

Already done, they said … Why did you send your shoes on ahead to your soul?

So it can wander the face of the earth, I said.

The earth is wickedly dark, so why is your poem so white?

Because my heart is teeming with thirty seas, I answered.

They asked: Why do you love French wine?

Because I ought to love the most beautiful women, I answered.

They asked: How would you like your death?

Blue, like stars pouring from a window—would you like more wine?

Yes, we’ll drink, they said.

Please take your time. I want you to kill me slowly so I can write my last

poem to my heart’s wife. They laughed, and took from me

only the words dedicated to my heart’s wife.

-21-

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Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Foreword xxi
  • From Fewer Roses 1986 1
  • I Will Slog over This Road 3
  • Another Road in the Road 4
  • Were It Up to Me to Begin Again 5
  • On This Earth 6
  • I Belong There 7
  • Addresses for the Soul, outside This Place 8
  • Earth Presses against Us 9
  • We Journey towards a Home 10
  • We Travel like All People 11
  • Athens Airport 12
  • I Talk Too Much 13
  • We Hove the Right to Love Autumn 14
  • The Last Train Has Stopped 15
  • On the Slope, Higher Than the Sea, They Slept 16
  • He Embraces His Murderer 17
  • Winds Shift against Us 18
  • Neighing on the Slope 19
  • Other Barbarians Will Come 20
  • They Would Love to See Me Dead 21
  • When the Martyrs Go to Sleep 22
  • The Night There 23
  • We Went to Aden 24
  • Another Damascus in Damascus 25
  • The Flute Cried 26
  • In This Hymn 27
  • From I See What I Want to See 1993 29
  • The Hoopoe 31
  • From Why Have You Left the Horse Alone? 1995 53
  • I See My Ghost Coming from Afar 55
  • A Cloud in My Hands 58
  • The Kindhearted Villagers 61
  • The Owl’s Night 63
  • The Everlasting Indian Fig 65
  • The Lute of Ismael 67
  • The Strangers’ Picnic 71
  • The Raven’s Ink 74
  • Like the Letter "N" in the Qur’An 77
  • Ivory Combs 79
  • The Death of the Phoenix 82
  • Poetic Regulations 85
  • Excerpts from the Byzantine Odes of Abu Firas 87
  • The Dreamers Pass from One Sky to Another 89
  • A Rhyme for the Odes (Mu’Allaqat) 91
  • Night That Overflows My Body 94
  • The Gypsy Woman Has a Tame Sky 96
  • From a Bed for the Stranger 1999 99
  • We Were without a Present 101
  • Sonnet II 105
  • The Stranger Finds Himself in the Stranger 106
  • The Land of the Stranger, the Serene Land 108
  • Inanna’s Milk 110
  • Who Am I, without Exile? 113
  • Lesson from the Kama Sutra 115
  • Mural 2000 117
  • Mural 119
  • Three Poems before 1986 163
  • A Soldier Dreams of White Tulips 165
  • Four Personal Addresses 179
  • Glossary 183
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