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Mahmoud Darwish - Palestine

The Dice Player


Mahmoud Darwish - Palestine

Translated by Sayed Gouda - Egypt / Hong Kong


Who am I to say to you

What I say to you?

Iím not a stone

Polished by water

To become a face

Nor am I a stick of cane

With holes made by the wind

To become a flute Ö.

Iím a dice player

I win sometimes

I lose sometimes

Iím like you

Or a little bit less than you

I was born beside the well

Beside the three lonely trees

As lonely as nuns

I was born with no celebration or midwife

I was given my name just by chance

I belonged to a family

By chance

I inherited their features,  habits,

And sickness.


I could have not existed

My father could have not married my mother

By chance

I could have been like my sister

Who screamed and died

Not knowing

That she had lived only one hour

Not knowing who gave her birth.


Who am I to say to you

What I say to you

At the door of the church?

Iím nothing but a dice throw

Between predator and prey

I gained more awareness

Not to be happy with my moonlit night

But to witness the massacre

I survived by chance:

I was smaller than a military target

And bigger than a bee

Flying among the flowers over the fence

I worried a lot about my brothers and my father

I worried about a time made of glass

I worried about my cat and my rabbit

About a charming moon over the high minaret of the mosque.


I could have not been a swallow

If the wind had wished it so

The wind is the travellerís luck

I went north, east, west

But the south was too hard for me

Too far from me

Because the south is my country

I became a metaphor of a swallow

Floating over my debris

In the spring, in the autumn

Baptizing my feathers with the clouds of the lake

Prolonging my greeting

Unto the Nassiri who never dies

Because in him is the spirit of God

And God is the prophetsí luck

It is my fortune that I am the neighbor of Godhead


It is my misfortune that the cross

Is the eternal ladder to our tomorrow!

Who am I to say to you

What I say to you

Who am I?

I could have not been inspired

Inspiration is the luck of the lonely souls

ďThe poem is a dice throwĒ

On a board of darkness

That may or may not glow

Words fall

Like feathers on the sand

I did not plan the poem

I only obeyed its rhythm


To life I say: slow down, wait for me

Till in my cup drunkenness has dried

There are flowers in the garden, flowers to all

The air cannot escape the flower

Wait for me

So that the nightingales donít escape me

And I donít break the rhythm

The singers stretch the cords of their lutes in the square

Ready for the song of farewell

Slow down

Long live life!


It is the travellerís luck that hope

Is the twin of despair

Or its spontaneous poetry

When the sky looks grey

And I see a flower appear all of a sudden

From the cracks of a wall

I donít say: the sky is grey

I contemplate the flower

And say: What a day!

To two of my friends I say

At the gate of night:

If we have to dream

Let it be like us, simple

Like: we have a dinner together after two days

The three of us

Celebrating the truth of the prophecy in our dream

That none of the three of us is lost

For the last two days

Let us celebrate the sonata of the moon

And the kindness of death saw us together, happy

And so it lowered its gaze!

I donít say: life farther away is real

With places of fantasy

But I say: life here is possible

And by chance, the land became a holy land

Not because its lakes,  its heights,  its trees

Are similar to the gardens in Heaven

But because there was a prophet who walked there

And prayed on a rock and it cried

And the mountain fell in fear of God,


And by chance the hill slopes of a country

Became a museum of nonsense

Because thousands of soldiers died there

From both sides in defence of the two killers

Who said: Go!

And they waited for the spoils in two silky tents on both sides Ė

How often soldiers die without knowing until now

Who was the victorious one!

And by chance some storytellers lived and said:

If the others beat the others

Our human history would have different headlines

O green land,  O apple  - ĎI love you when you are greení

Moving in a wave of light and water, green

Your night is green

Your dawn is green

Plant me tenderly Ö

Like the tenderness of a motherís hand

In a handful of air

Iím one of your seeds,  green

This poem is not written by one poet

It could have not been lyrical

Who am I to say to you

What I say to you?

I could have not been me

I could have not been here

My plane could have crashed

In the morning

It is my fortune that I sleep till mid-day

So I went to the airport late

I could have not seen Lebanon and Cairo

The Louvre and the enchanting cities

If I was one to walk slowly, my shadow could have been cut from the wakeful cedar by a bullet

If I was one to walk fast, I could have been torn into pieces

To become a fleeting thought

If I was one to dream too much,  I could have lost my memory.

It is my fortune that I sleep alone

So that I listen to the voice of my body

And believe my talent in discovering pain

And call the physician

Ten minutes before I die

Ten minutes,  enough to live, by chance

And disappoint the void

Who am I to disappoint the void?

Who am I?

Who am I?




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