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Jaffa-born poet, mythologist and translator Mahmoud Salim al-Hout (1917-1998) represents the generation that lived through the Nakbah (the 'Catastrophe') of the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.

The poet wrote this after losing all his manuscripts when fleeing Jaffa. As the lyrics suggest, it left him with painful memories.

This rendition is in the time-honoured Arabic singing tradition of qasidah, an ornamented vocal improvisational form based on a poetic text in classical Arabic. It is sung in free-rhythm, and in this case employs a continuous
state of question-and-answer with Zoe Rahman's taqasim (instrumental improvisations) on the piano.


Yafa! My tears have dried up;
I weep for you with stricken eyes

Will I ever see you?
Will I live long enough?

How are your sister towns?
How are they?

I long for them
As if each were a paradise.

And those we left behind?
Those we left for dead …

I'm weary! I'm weary!
But in my weariness
I only complain to God
And to no one else.




from Sprinting Gazelle - Palestinian songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora, released February 6, 2006
Poetry: Mahmoud Salim al-Hout
Music: Reem Kelani.

Vocals: Reem Kelani
Piano: Zoe Rahman



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Reem Kelani London, UK

Reem Kelani is a Palestinian musician born in Britain & brought up in Kuwait. Her debut album “Sprinting Gazelle: Palestinian songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora” was released in 2006 to critical acclaim. Her next album "Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle" will be released in March 2016. Reem wrote & presented “Songs for Tahrir” for BBC Radio 4 on the music of the Egyptian Revolution. ... more

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