• Nakba Survivor and his grand-children
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In memory of Fotoh al-Banna


Quietly, efficiently, passionately Palestinian Our Colleague,
help and friend in Amman

In memory of Sabah Abu-Hudeib

(d. 8 February 2017, Amman)

First Palestinian woman from a refugee camp in Jordan to have earned a University degree, archaeologist at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, founder of the Women’s Cooperative of al-Baqa’a Camp (Amman), to whose help as go-between we owe all our interviews in Baqa’a Camp and without whom the ‘Paths of Exile Project’ would have been much poorer. Sabah - a model of deepest friendship and memory of the Palestinian drama.

Mahmoud Darwish

The Canary

Close to what will be
We listened to the canary’s words
To me and you:
‘Singing in a cage is possible and so is happiness’
The canary when it sings
Brings closer to what will be
Tomorrow you will look at today-yesterday
You will say: ‘It was beautiful
And did not last long’
And you will be neither happy nor sad
Tomorrow, we will remember that we left the canary
In a cage, alone
Not singing to us
But to passing snipers.

A River Dies of Thirst (Diaries), Transl. from the Arabic by Catherine Cobham, SAQI, London 2009

Abdul Wahab al-Bayati

The Arab Refugee

Ants gnaw his flesh
Crows peck his flesh
The Arab refugee nailed to the cross.

The Arab refugee
Begs and spends his nights in railway stations
Crying his eyes out.
And Jaffa is just a small label
On a box of oranges.

Stop knocking on my door
There’s no life left in me.
And Jaffa is just an orange label
It leaves the dead undisturbed.

They’ve sold the memory of Saladin
They’ve sold his horse and shield
They’ve sold the graves of refugees.

Wo would buy an Arab refugee for a loaf of bread?
My blood is running dry
But you go on laughing.
I am Sinbad
I store my treasures in your children’s hearts.

Ants gnaw his flesh
Crows peck his flesh
The Arab refugee begging at your door.

inModern Poetry of the Arab World, – transl. and ed. by Abdullah al-Udhari, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1986, 36-37)

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Mahmoud Darwish

We Travel Like Other People

We travel like other people, but we return to nowhere.
As if travelling Is the way of the clouds
We have buried our loved ones in the darkness of the clouds, between the roots of the trees.

And we said to our wives:
go on giving birth to people like us for hundreds of years so we can complete this journey
To the hour of a country, to a metre of the impossible.
We travel in the carriages of the psalms,

sleep in the tents of the prophets
And come out of the speech of the gypsies.
We measure space with hoopoe’s beak or sing to while away the distance and cleanse the light of the moon.
Your path is long so dream of seven women to bear this long path.

On your shoulders.
Shake for them palm trees so as to know their names and who’ll be the mother of the boy of Galilee.
We have a country of words.
Speak speak so I can put my road on the stone of a stone.
We have a country of words.
Speak speak so we may know the end of This travel.

in Modern Poetry of the Arab World, – transl. and ed. by Abdullah al-Udhari, Penguin Books,Harmondsworth, 1986, 142)

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