borrowed words & the unchanging sea

Some photos from a return to a place where transition became home and the sea is always as it was – along with some words borrowed from Darwish & Eliot.

على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياة
تردد إبريل
رائحة الخبز في الفجر
تعويذة امرأة للرجال
أول الحب
عشب على حجر
أمهات يقفن على خيط ناي
وخوف الغزاة من الذكريات
على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياة
نهايات أيلول
سيدة تترك الأربعين بكامل مشمشها
ساعة الشمس في السجن
غيم يقلد سربا من الكائنات
هتافات شعب لمن يصعدون الى حتفهم باسمين
وخوف الطغاة من الأغنيات
على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياة
على هذه الأرض سيدة الأرض
أم البدايات, أم النهايات
كانت تسمى فلسطين
صارت تسمى فلسطين
سيدتي…أستحق لأنك سيدتي
أستحق الحياة

محمود درويش


We have on this earth what makes life worth living:
April’s hesitations,
the aroma of bread at dawn
a woman’s point of view about men
the works of Aeschylus,
the beginning of love
grass growing on a stone,
mothers living on a flute’s sigh
and the invader’s fear of memories
We have on this earth what makes life worth living;
the final days of September
a woman leaving forty in full blossom
the hour of sunlight in prison
a cloud reflecting a swarm of creatures
the people’s applause for those who face death with a smile
the tyrants’ fear of songs.
We have on this earth what makes life worth living:
On this earth, the lady of earth,
mother of all beginnings
mother of all ends.
She was called Palestine.
Her name later became…Palestine.
My lady, because you are my lady, I deserve life.

Mahmoud Darwish
trans. Munir Akash & Carolyn Forche

There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow:
Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference
Which resembles the others as death resembles life,
Being between two lives – unflowering, between
The live and the dead nettle. This is the use of memory:
For liberation – not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country
Begins as an attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern.
Sin is Behovely, but
All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well.
If I think, again, of this place,
And of people, not wholly commendable,
Of not immediate kin or kindness,
But of some peculiar genius,
All touched by a common genius,
United in the strife which divided them;
If I think of a king at nightfall,
Of three men, and more, on the scaffold
And a few who died forgotten
In other places, here and abroad,
And of one who died blind and quiet,
Why should we celebrate
These dead men more than the dying?
It is not to ring the bell backward
Nor is it an incantation
To summon the spectre of a Rose.
We cannot revive old factions
We cannot restore old policies
Or follow an antique drum.
These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party.
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us – a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.

T.S. Eliot, from “Little Gidding,” the last of the Four Quartets

…With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always–
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

T.S. Eliot, from “Little Gidding,” the last of the Four Quartets

More images here.

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