English-language web sites devoted to the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish are maintained by various individual admirers. A biographical and bibliographical sketch is available at the Books and Writers website. Some sense of the controversy surrounding Darwish's work is evident may be seen from the fact that in March 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's government faced a political crisis following a proposal by the education minister to include Darwish's works in the school curriculum.
In an interview published online in the Progressive, Nathalie Handal wrote as follows:
Darwish insists that terror is not a means to justice. "Nothing, nothing justifies terrorism," he wrote, condemning the September 11 attack on the United States in the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam. Concerning the current situation, he tells me: "We should not justify suicide bombers. We are against the suicide bombers, but we must understand what drives these young people to such actions. They want to liberate themselves from such a dark life. It is not ideological, it is despair."
The poem has, like many of Darwish's poems, has been set to music by one of the most famous contemporary Arab singers, Marcel Khalifeh. For information about this singer, you may wish to visit this web site.
To listen to Khalifeh's rendition of Darwish's song in RealAudio format, click on the speaker icon next to the title of the poem.
The image at left is a detail of the exterior tile mosaics of the 16th-century Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.