Mahmoud Darwish was a Palestinian who lived between 1942 and 2008. His birth place was al- Birwa, a village in Galilee, which was occupied and eventually razed by the army from Israel. Considering that Darwish and the family had not participated in the authorized Israeli tally, they were regarded as internal refugees. For several years, Darwish resided in Paris and Beirut as an expatriate.
Darwish wrote numerous poetry and prose books. As a result, he was an award winner to the Lenin Peace Prize, Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize (Lannan Foundation), Belles Lettres Medal (France), and Knight of Arts. This paper aims at discussing the narratives of exile and diaspora in Darwish’s poetry.
There are a wide array of attitudes linked to the exile and diaspora in Darwish’s poetry. The Palestinian literature is punctuated through the themes of diaspora and exile. In the poem “Earth Scrapes Us”, Darwish depicts the level of nostalgia he had for his motherland. He wished that they were motherland’s wheat, its mother, and that their mother would have mercy on them.
Similar to the Jews, the Palestinians had a destiny of residing in diaspora. This is because they had the habit of migrating from one exile to the other. Therefore, Darwish finds himself marveling about where their consequent refugee camp would be. On the same note, he made the revelations that the bleeding wounds bore by the refugees from Palestine would develop and become masses of olive trees.
In several series of poems, Darwish created a vivid picture of the wretched conditions that his people in Beirut’s exile were residing in. In addition, he scrutinized the Palestinian refugees’ massacres since they were entrapped in the Lebanese civil war. Darwish’s poetry is a narration of the entire story concerning the Palestinian misfortunes while in the Lebanese Diaspora.
The Lebanese allies and Israeli army heartlessly attacked the Palestinians’ refugee camps, which were based in Lebanon. After the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s multitudes were expatriated from Lebanon in 1982, the Israeli attacked the country. During this period, defenseless refugee camps were invaded and many children and women who were disarmed were killed.
This was accomplished by the Israeli in coordination with the Lebanese Christian militias. In addition to this, these militias were accountable for the Palestinian refugees’ mass killings. This happened during the Tel-Al- Z a’tar massacre while the Lebanese Civil War was ongoing.
Furthermore, the Palestinian refugee camps were under siege for a period of more than 6 months. The Shi’ite Muslim militias and Syrian army had besieged the refugee camps. A majority of the exiled refugees starved to death.
Darwish used a wide array of images in his poems. For instance, he utilized the sea image in “Brief Reflections on an Ancient and Beautiful City on the Coast of the Mediterranean Sea” to symbolize the Palestinian exile.
Having been banished from their country, the refugees from Palestine had resided in the Lebanese exile from 1948. In 1982, when Lebanon was invaded by the Israeli, the Palestinian refugees were enforced to abandon their Lebanon camps and migrate to a new exile. Darwish gave a narration of how the sea evacuated the Palestinian refugees. In this case, the sea symbolized the Palestinian exile.
Darwish also gave a highlight of the period that the Palestinian suffering lasted. The Palestinians’ exile took place in 1967 and 1948. This was after all the Palestinian terrains had been occupied. During the 3rd exodus in 1982, the Palestinian evacuees who were residing in Lebanon underwent through grave suffering. This was depicted in the statement that the sea could not hold an additional immigration since it had no more room.
The survivors of the camps’ genocide were referred to by Darwish as the Massacre generation. These were doomed since they had to migrate from exile to exile. However, death was their only fate. Hence, Darwish showed the sympathy he had for the Palestinian refugees and offered apologies for the atrocities imposed upon the victim and land.
In the ‘Victim Number48’, there is a description of the experiences of a Palestinian expatriate in Lebanon. Such experience is used to symbolize all the Palestinian refugees who were living in the Arabian land. It is worth noting that the expatriates were exposed to alienation, exile sufferings, and vulnerability to genocide and war. The Palestinian refugees were termed to as the victims who were denied national passports.
Ironically, the host country only gave them a travel document. There is a symbol of a poor woman in one of the poems. The poor woman symbolizes all Palestinian mothers who have no option but witness the suffering and death subjected to their children.
The sufferings are particularly carried out by the Israeli soldiers as well as in the Arabian nations where the Palestinian refugees were regarded as aliens. In essence, Darwish made a lot of efforts in exploring the experiences in exile and diaspora.