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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
13 August 2008

Mahmoud Darwish: A Man Who Comes from There
and has Memories

Statement by the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen AbuZayd, on the death of Mahmoud Darwish

East Jerusalem, 13 August 2008
With the passing of Mahmoud Darwish, the world has lost a uniquely compelling voice and a passionate advocate against dispossession and the pain it engenders. He was the poet of exile, the refugees' poet whose universal language of dislocation and alienation will be heard in the discourse - political and poetic - for many years to come.

We at UNRWA mourn this loss together with all Palestinian people. Indeed, we chose to name our exhibition to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba with the words of one of his most celebrated poems. We recognized, as must all people advocating for refugee populations, the profound truths that lie buried in its subtext: the need to recognize the narrative of the other, the transforming power of simple acknowledgement and the lasting good that flows when two historical currents come together, however painful that confluence might be.

We called that exhibition, “I Come From There … and Remember”. It is with the words of that poem that we at UNRWA would like to pay tribute and give thanks for a life that transformed ours.

Karen AbuZayd.

* * *

I Come From There,
Mahmoud Darwish

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...


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