Mahmoud Darwish

13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008 / Palestinian

In Egypt, One Hour Isn'T Like Any Other

In Egypt, one hour isn't like any other…
each moment is a memory renewed by a bird
of the Nile. I was there. The human creature
there invented the Sun-God. No one calls himself
by name: 'I'm a son of the Nile, that's name enough
for me.' From your first moment, you call yourself
'son of the Nile' to avoid the heaviness of the abyss.
There, the living and the dead pick clouds of cotton
from the land of Upper Egypt and plant wheat
in the Delta. Standing between the living
and the dead, two guards take turns watching over
the palms. Everything romantic is within you,
you walk on the edge of your soul in time's labyrinth,
as if before you were born Mother Egypt
had given birth to you first, as a lotus flower.
Do you know yourself now? Egypt sits with itself
in stealth: 'Nothing is like me.' And mends
the battered coat of eternity with a wind blowing
from any direction. I was there. The human creature
was writing the wisdom of Death-Life. Everything is
romantic, moonlit…except for the poem
as it turns around to look for tomorrow, thinking
of immortality but speaking only of its frailty
before of the Nile…
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