Mahmoud Darwish at Swarthmore College

About this Event

Mahmoud Darwish read his poetry at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, on Sunday 28 April 2002, following a concert by the Lebanese musician Marcel Kahlife, who performed musical arrangements based on Mr. Darwish’s poetry.

Mr. Darwish’s visit stems from Swarthmore’s interest in expanding its program and resources in Islamic Studies. Professors from Swarthmore’s English and religion departments proposed he be invited to campus, and with the help of alumni and Lannan Foundation, the College arranged the visit.

Read more about the Prize for Cultural Freedom awarded to Mahmoud Darwish in 2001 here on

Edward Said, recipient of a Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement, introduced both Mr. Darwish and Mr. Khalife. Mr. Darwish read in Arabic from his recent work, while poets Carolyn Forché and Naomi Shihab Nye read selections of his poetry in English. They did not read the same works as Mr. Darwish.

Photo of Amalle Dublon & Selma Hassan reading at Swarthmore CollegeFollowing the reading, Swarthmore students Amalle Dublon, ‘04 (a citizen of Israel) and Selma Hassan, ‘02 (from Sudan) presented Mr. Darwish with a tree to be planted on the Swarthmore campus in his honor.

Dear Ustaz Mahmoud Darwish,
A number of us among the students and faculty here at Swarthmore wish to express our deep appreciation for your presence and your words, especially in these painful times.
It is our great honor to present you with this Lebanese cedar in recognition of your work in providing a voice for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian struggle.
This sapling will be planted on our campus in your honor, along with a plaque inscribed with a stanza from your poem, Rubayat.
Thank you, Ustaz Mahmoud Darwish, for the seeds you have planted in our community.
I’ve seen all I want to see of peace:
A deer, a pasture, and a stream.
I close my eyes:
The deer is asleep in my arms -
His hunter is asleep in a faraway place
Near his children.
I’ve seen all I want to see of war
A spring of water
Our forefathers squeezed
From a green stone.
Our fathers inherited the water
But they do not give it to us.
I close my eyes:
What is left of the land
I make with my own hands.

Selma Hassan ‘02
Amalle Dublon ‘04
Dann Naseemallah ‘02

Related Links:
Swarthmore College

Audio from this Event

Mahmoud Darwish reading in Arabic | Duration: 10:26 Carolyn Forche reading in English | Duration: 10:26 Naomi Shihab Nye reading in English | Duration: 9:03 Swarthmore students Amalle Dublon & Selma Hassan reading | Duration: 3:25

photo of Mahmoud Darwish at Swarthmore College
Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was one of the most acclaimed poets in the Arab world. Widely regarded as the Palestinian national poet, he published more than 30 books of poetry and eight books of...

Mahmoud Darwish full bio

photo of Mahmoud Darwish at Swarthmore College
Edward Said

Edward Said (1935-2003) was a renowned cultural and literary critic, public intellectual, and professor of English at Columbia University for 40 years. He was born in Jerusalem, Palestine, and was...

Edward Said full bio

photo of Mahmoud Darwish at Swarthmore College
Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché is the author of five books of poetry, most recently In the Lateness of the World (Penguin Press, 2020). Other works include Blue Hour (2004), a finalist for the National Book Critics...

Carolyn Forché full bio

photo of Mahmoud Darwish at Swarthmore College
Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye, a self-described “wandering poet,” is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes and is also an essayist and children’s author. She was born to a Palestinian father and an...

Naomi Shihab Nye full bio

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