303855

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303855

  1. 1. [I Discovered That the Earth Was Fragile and the Sea Light] Author(s): Mahmoud Darwish, Elias Sanbar, Simone Bitton, Pierre Joris Reviewed work(s): Source: boundary 2, Vol. 26, No. 1, 99 Poets/1999: An International Poetics Symposium (Spring, 1999), pp. 81-83 Published by: Duke University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/303855 . Accessed: 01/04/2012 23:15 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Duke University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to boundary 2. http://www.jstor.org
  2. 2. MahmoudDarwish81 words;anditdoesn'tseem necessaryto findsomethingintheworldthat wouldexplainthem. (TranslatedfromGermanbytheauthorandC.B.) MahmoudDarwish ... Idiscovered that the earth was fragile and the sea light;Idiscovered that languageand metaphorare notenoughto providea place forthe place.Thegeographicalpartof Historyis strongerthanthe historicalpart ofgeography.Unabletofindmyplaceon earth,ItriedtofinditinHistory. AndHistorycannotbe reducedto a compensationfora lostgeography.It is also a pointfromwhichtoobservetheshadowsofselfandother,grasp- ableina morecomplexhumanjourneying.Historyawokea sense of irony inme.Thislightenstheweightofthe nationalistworrysomewhat.Andso one sets outon an absurdjourney.Isthatjustartisticcunning,a simple borrowing?Oris it,tothecontrary,despairincarnatingitself?Theanswer has no importancewhatsoever.Whatmattersis thatIwas ableto finda greaterlyricalcapacity,anda passage fromtherelativetotheabsolute.An openingallowingme to inscribethe nationalon the universal,so that Palestinenot limititselfto Palestine,butthatit mayfoundits aesthetic legitimacyina vasterhumanspace. Ibelievethatitis notonlyPalestinethatis a poeticalibi.Everysubjectis an alibi.Whichbringsus backto the fundamentalquestion:wheredoes poetrylive?Inthe subjectitaddressesorinitsaestheticindependencein relationto itssubject?Ibelievethatthethemeof Palestine,whichis simul- taneouslya callforanda promiseoffreedom,riskstransformingitselfinto a poeticcemeteryifitremainslockedinsideitstextuality,insidethe limits thatarethe "self"andthe "Other,"insidedelimitedspace andthe historical moment.Inotherwords,ifthepoeticprojectdoes notcontainitsownaspi- rations,itsownproperobject,which,whenallis saidanddone, is butthe accomplishmentof poetryitself.Thus my postulatethatevery subject, even thatofa sanctifiedPalestine,isfinallyanalibi. Itis uptothe poetto producea personalaesthetic.Ifthisaesthetic is openenough,itwillset a horizonforthehomeland;ifitistoonarrow,the homelandwillfeelconstrainedinit.Ahomelandcannotbe reducedtowhat
  3. 3. 82 boundary2/ Spring1999 itis objectively.Because poetryopens the homelandontothe humaninfi- nite,on conditionthatthe poetbe abletotakeitthere.Inorderto achieve this,the poet has to createhisownmyths.Bythis Idon'tmeanthe myth proceedingfromanother,alreadyknownone, butthe one bornof the poem'sconstruction,partakingof itsownformanduniverse.Theone that transformsconcretelanguageintothe languageofpoetry. Withthedisappearanceofourcountrywe suddenlyfoundourselvesrele- gatedto a pre-Genesis.Andso ourpoetshavehadtowriteourownGene- sis startingfromthe mythicone ofthe Other.Forone hasto be awarethat Palestinehas alreadybeen written.TheOtherhas done itinhis manner, throughthenarrativeofa birthwhichnoonedreamsofdenying.ACreation narrativethathas becomeone ofthesourcesofknowledgeforhumankind: the Bible.Giventhis,howcouldwe havewrittena less mythicnarrative? Theproblemof Palestinianpoetryis thatitset outwithoutextraresources, withouthistorians,withoutanthropologists;itthereforehadto equipitself withallthenecessarybaggageneededtodefenditsrighttoexist. Thisforcesthe Palestiniantotraversethe mythinorderto arriveat thefamiliar.Iama poetandIambeforeallthe poetofthefamiliarhuman details.ButIhaveneverstoppedarguingwiththeconsecratedversionof Creation.Anargumentthathasforcedme intoa mythicwritingofthequo- tidianreal,of the Palestinianpresent.Itis a cycle thatmoves fromordi- narydailinessto the mythical,andwhichcan be accomplishedonlybya returnto itsorigins.Evenwhen Ireferdirectlyto the myth,myobsession is towritethatwhichis simple,familiar,banal.Iamtryingto humanizethe Palestiniantext.Mythis notalwaystheenemyofman.Notalways.Hereit is butone aspect of the culturalstruggleto writethe same place. We Palestinianpoets writeinclose proximitytothe BookofGenesis. Inhail- ingdistanceofa finished,definitive,andconsecratedmyth.Maybewe will findourway inan aestheticof the quotidian,inthe mostsimplehuman questionings.Thisdoes notseem likea contradictionto me. Ourlyricism can moveinthespace ofmyth,even inthatoftheepic.Todaywe findour- selves ina hybridplace,at a medianpointbetweenthe historicalandthe mythic.Oursituation,ourveryexistencepartakesof both.
  4. 4. HaroldodeCampos83 Mylastfourbooksof poems are partof an ambitiousprojectIhope I'm abletocomplete.It'sthe projectofa lyricalepic,ofthe liberationofpoetic languagetowardepic horizons.Historywouldserve as a scene through whichpeoples,civilizations,andculturescouldcirculatefreely.Iamon a questformyidentityaccordingto the lawsofcrossbreeding,oftheshock andcohabitationofallidentities.Iwantthishymntotakerootintheopen space ofhistory.Idon'tknowwherethisquestwillleadme,butIknowthat its originis the multiplicityof culturalorigins.Insuch a project,poetry comes upagainstculturalracismandrejectsanyculturebasedonpurityof blood.Aren'twe the childrenof a regionthatfromtimeimmemorialhas beenthetheatreofinteractions,bothpositiveandnegative? I have found a terrafirmasaturatedwith history.I draw my strengthfromitbecause Ilookthroughtheprismsofpastandfuture.Thus the presentappearsless fragile,morelikea passage towarda morecer- tainhistory.Standingonsaidearth,whenIobservesomethingtragicIalso see itstemporaryaspect, forhumanbeingsarefinallythe productofthis tragedycrisscrossedwithabsurdities. Rome,depiteallits brutalattributes,willnotdominatethe earth again.Iamone ofthe inhabitantsofthe suburbsof Rome;itis withirony thatIwatchtheemperorpass by-and continuemystory. (OriginaltranslationfromArabicandHebrewbyEliasSanbarandSimone Bitton;adaptedandtranslatedfromFrenchbyPierreJoris) Haroldode Campos The BrazilianJaguar ThecouchedBrazilianJaguar -T. S. Eliot Brazilianpoetry,likesome mythologicalheroes, neverhada trueinfancy (infant,one thatcannotspeak). Itwas bornalreadyadult,operating(flu- entlyspeaking)a universalcode: the Baroque,a verysophisticatedand elaboratelanguage.Ourfirstgreatpoets wereBaroqueandmultilingual: Gregoriodo MattosGuerra(1636-1696), a virulentsatiristnicknamed "TheMouthof Hell,"butalso a giftedlyricist,wrotein Portugueseand Spanish,includinginsome ofhispoemsAfricanandIndianwords.Botelho

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