'Passport' by Mahmoud Darwish
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They did not recognize me in the shadows
That suck away my color in this Passport
And to them my wound was an exhibit
For a tourist Who loves to collect photographs
They did not recognize me,
Ah . . . Don’t leave
The palm of my hand without the sun
Because the trees recognize me
Don’t leave me pale like the moon!
All the birds that followed my palm
To the door of the distant airport
All the wheatfields
All the prisons
All the white tombstones
All the barbed Boundaries
All the waving handkerchiefs
All the eyes
were with me,
But they dropped them from my passport
Stripped of my name and identity?
On soil I nourished with my own hands?
Today Job cried out
Filling the sky:
Don’t make and example of me again!
Oh, gentlemen, Prophets,
Don’t ask the trees for their names
Don’t ask the valleys who their mother is
>From my forehead bursts the sward of light
And from my hand springs the water of the river
All the hearts of the people are my identity
So take away my passport!
Submitted by C.K.
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Journey through Mahmoud Darwish's "Passport"
If you have ever traveled to a foreign land, you know how important your passport is. It is your key to entering and exiting countries legally. But have you ever thought about what a passport means to someone who has been stripped of their homeland and their identity? This is the question that Mahmoud Darwish grapples with in his poem "Passport". In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, form, and language of "Passport" and how they come together to create a powerful statement about identity and belonging.
The Themes of "Passport"
At its core, "Passport" is a poem about identity and the struggle to maintain it in the face of political oppression. Darwish was a Palestinian poet who lived through the tumultuous period of Israeli occupation and the Arab-Israeli conflict. He was forced to leave his homeland and lived in exile for many years. In "Passport", Darwish captures the frustration and despair of a people who have been denied the right to their own identity and culture.
The poem begins with a series of rhetorical questions that set the tone for the rest of the piece:
They did not recognize me in the shadows That suck away my color in this Passport And to them my wound was an exhibit For a tourist Who loves to collect photographs
These lines highlight the idea that the speaker's identity has been reduced to a simple piece of paper - his passport. The shadows that "suck away his color" represent the erasure of his cultural identity. He is now just another exhibit for tourists to gawk at.
Throughout the poem, the speaker laments the loss of his homeland and the erasure of his identity. He longs to return to Palestine and to be recognized as a Palestinian:
And so I carry my vision For the sake of those who will come To my soul's courtyard Handy in the case of fatigue And the assault of the foreigner On the temple of my forehead
The speaker's vision represents his hopes and dreams for his people. He carries it with him as a reminder of his identity and as a source of strength in the face of adversity. The "foreigner" represents the outside forces that seek to erase the speaker's identity and culture.
Ultimately, "Passport" is a plea for recognition and respect. The speaker wants the world to recognize his identity and the pain that he and his people have been through. He wants to reclaim his homeland and his sense of self. Through his poetry, Darwish gives voice to the struggles of the Palestinian people and to all those who have been oppressed and denied their identity.
The Form of "Passport"
The form of "Passport" is deceptively simple. It consists of eight stanzas, each with four lines. The poem is written in free verse, with no formal meter or rhyme scheme. However, the simplicity of the form belies the complexity of the poem's themes and ideas.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem's form is its repetition. Throughout the poem, the speaker repeats the phrase "They did not recognize me". This repetition emphasizes the speaker's frustration and reinforces the idea that his identity has been erased. It also creates a sense of rhythm and momentum in the poem, driving the reader forward.
The poem's form also mirrors its themes of identity and belonging. The short, four-line stanzas create a sense of fragmentation and dislocation. The poem's lack of formal structure mirrors the speaker's sense of displacement and loss. However, the repetition of certain phrases and ideas creates a sense of unity and coherence. Despite the speaker's fragmented sense of self, there is a thread of continuity that runs through the poem.
The Language of "Passport"
Darwish's use of language in "Passport" is both powerful and evocative. He uses vivid imagery and metaphor to convey the pain and frustration of the speaker. For example, in the third stanza, the speaker says:
I learned all the words Except one word Homeland.... My hand in the air like a flag
This imagery of the hand as a flag is a powerful metaphor for the speaker's longing for his homeland. The fact that he has learned all the words except for "homeland" emphasizes the importance of this concept to his sense of self.
The language of "Passport" is also marked by its simplicity. Darwish uses plain language to convey complex ideas. This simplicity creates a sense of immediacy and accessibility. The poem is easy to understand, even for those who may not be familiar with the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In conclusion, Mahmoud Darwish's "Passport" is a powerful poem that explores the themes of identity and belonging in the face of political oppression. Through its form and language, the poem captures the frustration and despair of a people who have been denied the right to their own identity and culture. Despite its simplicity, "Passport" is a complex and nuanced work that speaks to the human experience of displacement and loss. It is a testament to the power of poetry to give voice to the struggles of the oppressed and to create a sense of unity in the face of adversity.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Passport by Mahmoud Darwish: A Poem of Identity and Exile
Mahmoud Darwish's poem "Passport" is a powerful and poignant exploration of identity and exile. Written in 1964, the poem reflects the experiences of Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in other countries. In this analysis, we will explore the themes and imagery of "Passport" and examine how Darwish uses language to convey his message.
The poem begins with the speaker addressing his passport, which he describes as "a colorful picture / in a gray world." This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as the speaker contrasts the beauty of the passport with the harsh reality of his situation. The passport is a symbol of identity and freedom, but it is also a reminder of the speaker's exile and displacement.
Throughout the poem, Darwish uses vivid imagery to convey the speaker's sense of loss and longing. For example, he describes the passport as "a map of the country / where we were born," and later compares it to "a bird / whose wings were clipped / before it learned to fly." These images evoke a sense of confinement and restriction, as the speaker is unable to return to his homeland or fully embrace his identity.
The theme of identity is central to "Passport," as the speaker struggles to define himself in a world that denies him his rights and freedoms. He describes himself as "a stranger / on the riverbank," and later as "a nameless traveler / on a forgotten road." These lines convey a sense of isolation and disconnection, as the speaker is unable to fully integrate into the society around him.
Darwish also explores the theme of exile, which is a common experience for Palestinians who have been forced to leave their homes. He describes the speaker's exile as a "wound that never heals," and compares it to "a book / that has been burned." These images convey a sense of loss and destruction, as the speaker's identity and heritage are erased by the forces of oppression and displacement.
One of the most striking aspects of "Passport" is the way in which Darwish uses language to convey his message. The poem is written in free verse, which allows him to experiment with form and structure. He uses repetition and parallelism to create a sense of rhythm and momentum, as the poem builds towards its powerful conclusion.
Darwish also uses metaphor and symbolism to convey his message. For example, he compares the passport to a "ticket to paradise," which is a powerful image that conveys the speaker's longing for a better life. He also uses the image of a bird with clipped wings to represent the speaker's sense of confinement and restriction.
In addition to its powerful imagery and language, "Passport" is also a deeply political poem. It reflects the experiences of Palestinians who have been denied their rights and freedoms by the Israeli occupation, and it speaks to the broader issues of identity and exile that are faced by people all over the world.
In conclusion, Mahmoud Darwish's poem "Passport" is a powerful and poignant exploration of identity and exile. Through its vivid imagery and language, the poem conveys the speaker's sense of loss and longing, as well as his struggle to define himself in a world that denies him his rights and freedoms. It is a deeply political poem that speaks to the experiences of Palestinians and to the broader issues of identity and displacement that are faced by people all over the world.
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