Palestinian poet and literary historian Salma Khadra Jayyusi hails from Safad. She spent her early years in Acre and Jerusalem before living in the Diaspora in various Arab countries, Europe and the USA. She is the author and editor of many books including Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature (Columbia University Press, New York,
1992) and The Legacy of Muslim Spain (Brill's Scholars' List, Leiden, 1992 & 1993).
Jayyusi does not shy away from collective self-criticism, and in this poem she addresses the 'renegades' within the Palestinian and Arab self, namely those whom she sees as responsible for the destruction of so much in the Arab world.
I kept the Arabic word for poem 'Qasidah' in the English title of this song, in the tradition of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936). Although the cultural influence of Arabs and Muslims in Spain tended to be
overlooked in his day, Lorca acknowledged and admired this legacy. As a tribute to the Arab poets of Granada, Lorca used the Spanish transliteration 'Casida' in naming some of his poems. The English title of this poem is in turn a tribute to him.
Oh! Our faraway land is beyond your vision
In her lies our buried secret,
our young maidens' dreams
In her lie the graves of my mother and father,
the graves of our love and our smiles
And our love-scorched hearts sing her tender psalms.
We fashioned our songs for her out of prayer
We love her burning sands and merciless wind
And her woes… and her woes…
We love our orphaned existence within her; we accept her even in death.
And we'll head towards her
The more we are exiled, the more we'll head towards her
Whenever the pride of life is humiliated before our eyes.
So, go away, you killer of our longing
Yesterday was our wedding and our funeral
Don't you realise that we'd embraced you in our longing?
And that our longing for you is now dead
Our longing is dead…
Though our promise is yet to come…
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