And we love life if we find a way to it.
We dance in between martyrs and raise a minaret for violet or palm trees.

We love life if we find a way to it.
And we steal from the silkworm a thread to build a sky and fence in this departure.
We open the garden gate for the jasmine to step out on the streets as a beautiful day.

We love life if we find a way to it.

And we plant, where we settle, some fast growing plants, and harvest the dead.
We play the flute like the color of the faraway, sketch over the dirt corridor a neigh.
We write our names one stone at a time, O lightning brighten the night.

We love life if we find a way to it…

(translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah)

This article is part of The Nation’s 150th Anniversary Special Issue. Download a free PDF of the issue, with articles by James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn and many more, here.

Born in a Galilee village later destroyed by the Israeli army, Mahmoud Darwish lived for years in exile in Beirut and Paris before returning to Palestine in 1996. The most widely translated modern Arab poet, Darwish died in 2008.