'I Come From There' by Mahmoud Darwish
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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.....
Submitted by C.K.
Editor 1 Interpretation
"I Come From There" by Mahmoud Darwish
"I Come From There" is a poem written by Mahmoud Darwish, arguably one of the most prominent Palestinian poets of the 20th century. Darwish's poetry is known for its deep emotional resonance and political commentary, often exploring themes of identity, exile, and the struggle for independence.
In "I Come From There," Darwish reflects on his personal history and experiences growing up in Palestine, while also commenting on the broader political situation and the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
The poem is structured as a series of vignettes or memories, each beginning with the phrase "I come from there." The first line sets the tone for the poem, establishing the speaker's connection to a specific place and time: "I come from there and I have memories."
Throughout the poem, Darwish contrasts the beauty and richness of Palestinian culture with the destruction and violence that has been inflicted upon it. The speaker recalls the "thousands of olive trees" that once flourished in Palestine, and the "scent of thyme" that permeated the air. But he also remembers the "burning streets" and "bombed-out villages" that have become all too familiar.
One of the most powerful elements of the poem is the way in which Darwish uses language to evoke a sense of longing and nostalgia. He describes the "music of words" and the "melodiousness of the wind" that once filled the land. But he also acknowledges the pain and sorrow that have become synonymous with the Palestinian experience.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of "I Come From There" is the way in which Darwish blends personal memory with political commentary. The poem is not just a reflection on the speaker's own experiences, but a broader critique of the Israeli occupation and the ongoing struggle for Palestinian independence. Darwish's use of language and imagery is both poetic and political, making the poem a powerful statement on the human cost of conflict and occupation.
At its core, "I Come From There" is a poem about the power of memory and the importance of cultural identity. Darwish is not just reflecting on his own experiences, but speaking to a larger sense of loss and displacement that has defined the Palestinian experience for generations.
Through his use of language and imagery, Darwish suggests that the destruction of Palestinian culture is not just a physical act, but a psychological one as well. The loss of olive trees and thyme is not just a loss of resources, but a loss of identity and history. By connecting his personal memories to larger themes of cultural identity and resistance, Darwish is able to create a deeply emotional and politically resonant work of art.
Ultimately, "I Come From There" is a poem that speaks to the power of poetry itself. Through his use of language and imagery, Darwish is able to capture the complexity and nuance of the Palestinian experience, while also creating a work of art that transcends political boundaries. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of poetry as a means of both personal expression and political commentary.
"I Come From There" is a powerful and moving work of poetry that speaks to the enduring struggle for Palestinian independence and the importance of cultural identity. Through his use of language and imagery, Darwish is able to capture the beauty and richness of Palestinian culture, while also acknowledging the pain and trauma that have been inflicted upon it. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry as a means of both personal expression and political commentary, and a deeply emotional and politically resonant work of art.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
I Come From There: A Poem of Identity and Belonging
Mahmoud Darwish's poem "I Come From There" is a powerful exploration of identity and belonging. Through vivid imagery and evocative language, Darwish paints a picture of a place that is both deeply personal and universal. In this analysis, we will examine the themes and techniques used in the poem, as well as its historical and cultural context.
The poem begins with the line "I come from there and I have memories." This simple statement sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a reflection on the speaker's past and the place that shaped them. The use of the word "there" is deliberately vague, allowing the reader to imagine their own "there" - the place that they come from and the memories that they hold dear.
The first stanza of the poem describes the landscape of the speaker's childhood. They describe "the olive trees / in the earth of the rocks / and the hidden laughter / of the river." This imagery is both beautiful and melancholy, suggesting a deep connection to the land and a sense of loss or longing. The use of the word "hidden" to describe the laughter of the river is particularly poignant, suggesting that the speaker's memories are tinged with sadness or regret.
The second stanza of the poem shifts to a more political tone, as the speaker describes "the siege and the ruins / the barking of dogs / and the sound of the metal doors." This imagery is stark and unsettling, suggesting a place that is marked by conflict and oppression. The use of the word "siege" is particularly powerful, evoking images of a city under siege and the suffering that comes with it.
Despite this darkness, the poem ends on a note of hope and resilience. The final stanza reads:
"I come from there and I return there every day and stand on the roofs and look out to the mountains and the birds that fly in the sky and the people who live there who do not know my name."
This stanza is a powerful statement of identity and belonging. The speaker asserts their connection to the place they come from, and their determination to return there every day. The image of standing on the roofs and looking out to the mountains suggests a sense of freedom and possibility, even in the face of oppression. The final line, "who do not know my name," is a reminder that identity is not just about individual recognition, but about a deeper sense of connection to a place and a people.
One of the most striking things about "I Come From There" is the way that it blends personal and political themes. The poem is deeply rooted in the speaker's own experiences and memories, but it also speaks to larger issues of identity, belonging, and oppression. This is a common theme in Darwish's work, which often explores the Palestinian experience and the struggle for independence and self-determination.
The poem was written in 1964, at a time when the Palestinian people were still living under Israeli occupation. This context is important for understanding the political themes of the poem, as well as the sense of loss and longing that permeates the imagery. The use of the word "siege" in the second stanza is particularly significant, as it suggests a people under siege and struggling to survive.
At the same time, the poem is also a celebration of Palestinian culture and identity. The imagery of the olive trees and the river, as well as the reference to "the people who live there," suggests a deep connection to the land and the community. This is a common theme in Palestinian literature and art, which often emphasizes the importance of cultural heritage and resistance in the face of oppression.
In terms of poetic technique, "I Come From There" is notable for its use of repetition and imagery. The repeated phrase "I come from there" creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, while also emphasizing the speaker's connection to their past. The use of vivid imagery, such as the olive trees and the river, creates a rich and evocative picture of the speaker's childhood home.
Overall, "I Come From There" is a powerful and moving poem that explores themes of identity, belonging, and oppression. Through its vivid imagery and evocative language, it creates a sense of connection between the reader and the speaker's experiences. At the same time, it speaks to larger issues of Palestinian history and culture, making it a powerful statement of resistance and resilience.
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