The Butterfly's BurdenBy Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish is the poetic voice of the Palestinian people. One of the most acclaimed contemporary poets in the Arab world, he is also a prominent spokesman for human rights who has spent most of his life in exile. Returning to Palestine in 1996, he settled in Ramallah, where he surprised his huge following in the Arab world by writing a book of love, "The Stranger's Bed" (1998), singing of love as a private exile, not about exile as a public love. "A State of Siege" (2002) was his response to the second Intifada, his testament not only to human suffering but to art under duress, art in transmutation. The 47 short lyrics of "Don't Apologise for What You've Done" (2003) form a transfiguring incarnation or incantation of the poet after the carnage. "The Butterfly's Burden" is a translation of these three recent books.