They did not recognize me in the shadows
That suck away my color in this Passport
And to them my wound was an exhibit
For a tourist Who loves to collect photographs
They did not recognize me,
Ah... Don't leave
The palm of my hand without the sun
Because the trees recognize me
Don't leave me pale like the moon!
All the birds that followed my palm
To the door of the distant airport
All the wheat fields
All the prisons
All the white tombstones
All the barbed Boundaries
All the waving handkerchiefs
All the eyes
were with me,
But they dropped them from my passport
Stripped of my name and identity?
On soil I nourished with my own hands?
Today Job cried out
Filling the sky:
Don't make and example of me again!
Oh, gentlemen, Prophets,
Don't ask the trees for their names
Don't ask the valleys who their mother is
From my forehead bursts the sward of light
And from my hand springs the water of the river
All the hearts of the people are my identity
So take away my passport!
Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was an award-winning Palestinian author and poet. His literature, particularly his poetry, created a sense of Palestinian identity and was used to resist the occupation of his homeland.
This poem, entitled ‘Passport’, highlights the Israeli government’s attempts to define Darwish’s identity and separate him from his homeland by taking away his passport. In response, Darwish draws on nature to demonstrate that his Palestinian identity does not depend on a document.
Darwish suggests that the trees and the valleys know who they belong to: "Do not ask the trees about their names, Do not ask the valleys about their mother," and believes that he is one with the land, and the land is one with him: "The sword of light cleaves from my forehead, From my hand gushes the river’s water."
In the last stanza, "Go, take my passport away from me," Darwish concludes that his Palestinian identity cannot be defined by a piece of paper.
Analysis by Lydia Marouf