Sameeh Al Qassem: I may lose my daily bread – Poem from Palestine

Sameeh Al Qassem: I may lose my daily bread

I may lose my daily bread, if you wish

I may hawk my clothes and bed

I may become a stonecutter, or a porter

Or a street sweeper

I may search in animal dung for food

I may collapse, naked and starved

Enemy of light

I will not compromise

And to the end

I shall fight.

You may rob me of the last span of my land

You may ditch my youth in prison holes

Steel what my grandfather left me behind:

Some furniture or clothes and jars,

You may burn my poems and books

You may feed your dog on my flesh

You may impose a nightmare of your terror

On my village

Enemy of light

I shall not compromise

And to the end

I shall fight.

Enemy of light

The signs of joy and the tidings

Shouts of happiness and anthems

Are there at the port

And at the horizon

A sail is defying the wind and the deep sees

Overcoming all the challenges

It is the return of Ulysses

From the lost sees

It is the return of the sun

And the return of the ousted

And for their sake

I swear

I shall not compromise

And to the end

I shall fight!

Samih al-Qasim is a Palestinian Druze poet and citizen of Israel. He joins the Communist Hadash political party in 1967.

In his book About Principles and Art, he explains,

“While I was still at primary school the Palestinian tragedy occurred. I regard that date as the date of my birth, because the first images I can remember are of the 1948 events. My thoughts and images spring from the number 48’…”

Most of his poetry relates to the change of life before and after the Nakba, the Palestinian and the Arab struggle to free their lands.

Al-Qasim works as a journalist in Haifa where he runs the Arabesque Press and the Folk Arts Centre and is the editor-of-chief of the newspaper Kul al-Arab.

Al-Qasim has refused to leave Israel. In an interview with Index he is quoted as saying “I have chosen to remain in my own country not because I love myself less, but because I love my country more”.

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