While his readers were celebrating his birthday on the 13th of March, the authorities at the Riyad Book Fair confiscated Mahmoud Darwish’s books after members of the Committee for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue complained about “blasphemous passages.” One poem from his 1986 collection Fewer Roses was particularly infuriating as shown in this video. Here is a translation of the poem; a salute to the ever present Darwish and to the freedom of reading.
My god why have you forsaken me?
My god, my god, why have you forsaken me? Why did you wed Mary?
Why did you promise the soldiers my only orchard, why? I am the widow.
I am the daughter of this quiet, I am the daughter of your neglected utterance
Why have you forsaken me my god. My god. . . Why did you wed Mary?
You were revealed in me as words. You brought down two people from a spike of grain, and you wed
me to an idea, so I obeyed. I fully obeyed your coming wisdom
Have you divorced me? Or have you gone to heal an other/my enemy from the guillotine?
Does one like me have the right to marry God and to ask him:
My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?
Why did you wed me, O my god, why? Why did you wed Mary?
[From Wardun Aqall (Fewer Roses) (1986). Translated from the Arabic by Sinan Antoon. You can read the Arabic here.]