I've already posted a version of Mahmoud Darwish's "Under Seige," and a link to a different translation, but reading Nye inspired me again. It's such a long poem that I decided not to post its entirety, so this is just a small portion. Go here for the rest.
State of Seige
Here, where the hills slope before the sunset and the chasm of time
near gardens whose shades have been cast aside
we do what prisoners do
we do what the jobless do
we sow hope
In a land where the dawn sears
we have become more doltish
and we stare at the moments of victory
there is no starry night in our nights of explosions
our enemies stay up late, they switch on the lights
in the intense darkness of this tunnel
Here after the poems of Job, we wait no more
This siege will persist until we teach our enemies
models of our finest poetry
* * *
here, not “I”
Here, Adam remembers the clay of which he was born
He says, on the verge of death, he says,
“I have no more earth to lose”
Free am I, close to my ultimate freedom, I hold my fortune in my own hands
In a few moments, I will begin my life
born free of father and mother
I will chose letters of sky blue for my name
Under siege, life is the moment between remembrance
of the first moment, and forgetfulness of the last
here, under the mountains of smoke, on the threshold of my home,
time has no measure
* * *
There is no Homeric echo here
Myths come knocking on our door when we need them
There is no Homeric echo here… only a general
looking through the rubble for the awakening state
concealed within the galloping horse from Troy
The soldiers measure the space between being and nothingness
with field-glasses behind a tank’s armoury
We measure the space between our bodies and the coming rockets
with our sixth sense alone
You there, by the threshold of our door
Come in, and sip with us our Arabic coffee
[you may even feel that you are human, just as we are]
you there, by the threshold of our door
take your rockets away from our mornings
we may then feel secure
[and almost human]
* * *
I wrack my head, but uselessly.
What can someone like me think of, there,
on the tip of the hillside, for the past 3 thousand years,
and in this passing moment?
My thoughts slay me
my memory awakens me
When the helicopters disappear the doves fly back
white, very white, marking the cheeks of the horizon
with liberated wings. They revive their radiance and their ownership
of the sky, and of playfulness. Higher and higher they fly,
the doves, very white. ‘O that the sky
was real’ [a man passing between two bombs cried]
A sparkling sky, a vision, lightning!
all very similar….
soon I will know if this is indeed
or my close friends will know that the poem
has gone, and yoked its poet
* * *
The evergreen Cypresses behind the soldiers are minarets protecting
the sky from falling. Behind the barbed wire
are soldiers urinating- protected by a tank.
The Autumn day completes its golden stroll on the pavements of
a street as empty as a church after Sunday prayers
Tomorrow we will love life.
When tomorrow comes, life will be something to adore
just as it is, ordinary, or tricky
gray, or colourful…stripped of judgement day and purgatory…
and if joy is a necessity
let it be
light on the heart and the back
Once embittered by joy, twice shy
* * *
[To a killer:] If you reflected upon the face
of the victim you slew, you would have remembered your mother in the room
full of gas. You would have freed yourself
of the bullet’s wisdom,
and changed your mind: ‘I will never find myself thus.’
* * *
We are alone. We are alone to the point
of drunkenness with our own aloneness,
with the occasional rainbow visiting.
We have brothers and sisters overseas..
kind sisters, who love us..
who look our way and weep.
And secretly they say
“I wish that siege was here, so that I could…”
But they cannot finish the sentence.
Do not leave us alone. No.
Do not leave us alone.
Our losses are between two and eight a day.
And ten are wounded.
Twenty homes are gone.
Forty olive groves destroyed,
in addition to the structural damage
afflicting the veins of the poem, the play,
and the unfinished painting.
* * *
Standing here. Sitting here. Always here. Eternally here,
we have one aim and one aim only: to continue to be.
Beyond that aim we differ in all.
We differ on the form of the national flag (we would have done well if we had chosen
o living heart of mine, the symbol of a simple mule).
We differ on the words of the new anthem
(we would have done well to choose a song on the marriage of doves).
We differ on the duties of women
(we would have done well to choose a woman to run the security services).
We differ on proportions, public and private.
We differ on everything. We have one aim: to continue to be.
After fulfilling this aim, we will have time for other choices.
* * *
“I don’t love you. I don’t hate you,”
The prisoner said to the interrogator. “My heart is full
of that which is of no concern to you. My heart is full of the aroma of sage.
My heart is innocent, radiant, brimming.
There is no time in the heart for tests. No.
I do not love you. Who are you that I may give my love to you?
Are you part of my being? Are you a coffee rendezvous?
Are you the wind of the flute, and a song, that I may love you?
I hate imprisonment. But I do not hate you.”
Thus a prisoner said to the investigator. “My feelings are not your concern.
My emotions are my own private night…
my night which moves from bed to bed free of rhyme
and of double meanings!
* * *
[to a semi-orientalist] Let’s say things are the way you think they are -
that I am stupid, stupid, stupid
and that I cannot play golf
or understand high technology
nor can fly a plane!
Is that why you have ransomed my life to create yours?
If you were another - if I were another
we would have been a couple of friends who confessed our need for folly
But the fool, like Shylock the merchant,
consists of heart, and bread, and two frightened eyes
Under siege, time becomes a location
Under siege, place becomes a time
abandoned by past and future
This low, high land
this holy harlot…
we do not pay much attention to the magic of these words
a cavity may become a vacuum in space
a contour in geography
* * *
Truce, truce. A time to test the teachings: can helicopters be turned into ploughshares?
We said to them: truce, truce, to examine intentions.
The flavour of peace may be absorbed by the soul.
Then we may compete for the love of life using poetic images.
They replied, “Don’t you know that peace begins with oneself,
if you wish to open the door to our citadel of truth?
So we said, “And then?”
* * *