‘We shall plant it again’: Ode to life caught in throes of hostility

[Photo Credit: Anadolu.]

In this piece, the writer tries to establish a connection between the poetic reflections on discord dating back decades in Palestine and the current unfolding events. All the poems and poets mentioned in this write-up were in author’s PG syllabus. 

In the poignant verses of Mahmoud Darwish, a poet hailed as the voice of Palestine, the subjugation unfolds like a melancholic tale etched on the land. 

In his work, Darwish captures the essence of a people caught in the throes of displacement and longing for a homeland. The bard’s words echo the sentiments of countless Palestinians who have endured the weight of subjugation. In one of his poems, he writes:

“And I, who am without a passport, wander the archives of Damascus With no burden of a name.”

These lines encapsulate the struggles of those whose identity is entwined with the land, yet who find themselves displaced and dispossessed. Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry, rich with symbolism and emotion, serves as a powerful testament to the Palestinian experience under subjugation.

Mahmoud Darwish.

Naomi Shihab Nye, a poet of Palestinian descent, weaves a tapestry of words that explores the complexities of identity and heritage. 

In her collection “19 Varieties of Gazelle,” she reflects on the resilience of the Palestinian people. Nye’s verses offer a glimpse into the lived realities, where the subjugation is a constant backdrop to daily life:

“To live in the occupied territories is one thing — Every person deserves to live free without hovering ships of occupation overhead, without the plague of the occupation bulldozing olive trees and homes.”

Naomi Shihab Nye.

Samih Al-Qasim, another prominent Palestinian poet, brings a distinctive voice to the discourse on subjugation. 

His verses delve into themes of resistance and the enduring spirit of a people facing adversity. Al-Qasim’s poetry serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle:

“Let the oppressor kill whoever he wants. If my time has come, there’s no escape. For he who resists oppression will live.”

Samih Al-Qasim.

Taha Muhammad Ali, through his works, explores the impact of conflict on everyday life. 

In the face of subjugation, his poetry resonates with a universal theme of resilience. Ali’s words capture the essence of survival amidst the harsh realities:

So what if, in the end, my verses lose meaning like air. I see for myself a continuing life for them, trembling between my hands, like wild, frightened birds.”

Taha Muhammad Ali.

The spoken word artistry of Rafeef Ziadah and Suheir Hammad adds a dynamic dimension to the Palestinian narrative. Their performances are a visceral expression of the pain and passion woven into the fabric of subjugation. 

Ziadah, in her powerful words, confronts the consequences:

“We teach life, sir!

Hammad, in her exploration of identity, delves into the profound impact of subjugation:

“Occupied people will live and live.

Fadwa Tuqan, considered a literary luminary in Palestinian poetry, contributes to the discourse with verses that depict the enduring human spirit. 

Her poetry becomes a testament to the resilience of a people navigating the challenges of subjugation:

“The occupier’s army burnt it. We shall plant it again.”

Fadwa Tuqan.

Amidst the words of these poets, the harsh reality of subjugation in Palestine persists. The staggering toll of the conflict, marked by Israeli bombardment, cannot be ignored. Since October 7, when Hamas retaliated to decades-long subjugation against Palestinians, over 18,000 lives have been lost.

This grim statistic underscores the urgent need for a resolution to the longstanding conflict, a resolution that respects the dignity and rights of all those entangled in the web of discord.

The poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, Naomi Shihab Nye, Samih Al-Qasim, Taha Muhammad Ali, Rafeef Ziadah, Suheir Hammad, and Fadwa Tuqan serves as both a reflection and a call to action, urging the world to bear witness to the human cost of subjugation and to strive for a future where freedom and peace prevail.

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