Monday, May 26, 2014

Your Night Is of Lilac - Mahmoud Darwish

The Night-Blowing Cereus, Dr. Robert John Thornton's Temple of Flora, 1799

Your Night Is of Lilac


BY MAHMOUD DARWISH

TRANSLATED BY FADY JOUDAH
The night sits wherever you are. Your night
is of lilac. Every now and then a gesture escapes
from the beam of your dimples, breaks the wineglass
and lights up the starlight. And your night is your shadow—
a fairy-tale piece of land to make our dreams
equal. I am not a traveler or a dweller
in your lilac night, I am he who was one day
me. Whenever night grew in you I guessed
the heart’s rank between two grades: neither
the self accepts, nor the soul accepts. But in our bodies
a heaven and an earth embrace. And all of you
is your night ... radiant night like planet ink. Night
is the covenant of night, crawling in my body
anesthetized like a fox’s sleepiness. Night diffusing a mystery
that illuminates my language, whenever it is clearer
I become more fearful of a tomorrow in the fist. Night
staring at itself safe and assured in its
endlessness, nothing celebrates it except its mirror
and the ancient shepherd songs in a summer of emperors
who get sick on love. Night that flourished in its Jahili poetry
on the whims of Imru’ el-Qyss and others,
and widened for the dreamers the milk path to a hungry
moon in the remoteness of speech ...


Note: According to Mahmoud Darwish, Exile's Poet: Critical Essays, there is a play on words in the original between the word, night (layl) and lilac (laylak), which also means "your night."

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