90 Best Mahmoud Darwish Quotes from the Palestinian National Poet

Born in al-Birwa in Galilee, Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish is a profound poet, authoring over 30 poetry books and eight prose books.

His life was marked by exile, beginning as an “internal refugee” due to the Israeli occupation of his village, leading to years in Beirut and Paris.

He garnered numerous accolades, including the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize, Lenin Peace Prize and the Knight of Arts and Belles Lettres Medal from France.

Recognized as a “resistance poet”, Darwish was imprisoned in the 1960s for reciting poetry and moving without a permit.

His poem “Identity Card” evolved into a protest song, causing further political tensions.


His literary contributions include editing ‘Palestinian Affairs’, founding ‘Al-Karmel’ and working at ‘Al-Ahram’ newspaper.

Related: Octavio Paz Quotes and Hermann Hesse Quotes

Darwish’s works vividly reflect his discontentment with his homeland’s occupation and the fragmented soul of the Palestinian Diaspora. Naomi Shihab Nye described his work as lyrical, imagistic, passionate and free.

Darwish passed away in 2008 in Houston, Texas.

Top 10 Mahmoud Darwish Quotes


No night is long enough for us to dream twice. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


And I tell myself, a moon will rise from my darkness. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Graveyards have the dignity of air, the authority of dust. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


What doesn’t resemble me is more beautiful. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


We suffer from an incurable malady: Hope. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


We are captives of what we love, what we desire, and what we are. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


I melt at your glances and become music. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


I’ve built my homeland, I’ve even founded my state – in my language. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


My love, I fear the silence of your hands. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Remember yourself before all turns to dust. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


I love talking to you, even if I have nothing to say. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Mahmoud Darwish Quotes on War

To be under occupation, to be under siege, is not a good inspiration for poetry. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Letters lie before you, so release them from their neutrality and play with them like a conqueror in a delirious universe. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


I wish I were a candle in the darkness. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

The importance of poetry is not measured, finally, by what the poet says but by how he says it. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Best Mahmoud Darwish Quotes

should not be drunk in a hurry. It is the sister of time, and should be sipped slowly, slowly. Coffee is the sound of taste, a sound for the aroma. It is a meditation and a plunge into memories and the soul. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Life defined only as the opposite of death is not life. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

We have on this earth what makes life worth living: April’s hesitation, the aroma of bread at dawn, a woman’s point of view about men, the works of Aeschylus, the beginning of love, grass on a stone, mothers living on a flute’s sigh and the invaders’ fear of memories. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

The poem is in my hands, and can run stories through her hands. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I believe in the power of poetry, which gives me reasons to look ahead and identify a glint of light. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

My homeland is not a suitcase, and I am no traveller. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

They want time to move fast so they can paint their nails a provocative red and wear high heels that crack walnuts and make people jump. He wants time to slow down so he can prolong the enjoyment of walking among them, of being next to this self-contained beauty. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


In her absence I created her image: out of the earthly the hidden heavenly commences. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I want to find a language that transforms language itself into steel for the spirit – a language to use against these sparkling insects, these jets. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I used to invent love when necessary. When I walked alone on the riverbank. Or whenever the level of salt would rise in my body, I would invent the river. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I am not a lover of Israel, of course. I have no reason to be. But I don’t hate Jews. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Grasp your own reality and grasp your name and learn how to write your own proof. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

When the image is identical to reality, the imagination is compelled to be neutral. Therefore let the image of the object lie to the object so we can see what lies beyond the object, and in the light of that vision see what saves us from nothingness. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

The war will end.
The leaders will shake hands.
The old woman will keep waiting for her martyred son.
That girl will wait for her beloved husband.
And those children will wait for their hero father.
I don’t know who sold our homeland
But I saw who paid the price. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

The only paradise we know through our senses and intuition is that of the beloved, and the only hell, disappointment in love. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I thought poetry could change everything, could change history and could humanize, and I think that the illusion is very necessary to push poets to be involved and to believe, but now I think that poetry changes only the poet. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Love is neither happiness nor misery, but rather the senses finding the harmony and discord of resemblance through ever-renewing desire. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

If the Olive Trees knew the hands that planted them, Their Oil would become Tears. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Famous Mahmoud Darwish Quotes

The Palestinians are the only nation in the world that feels with certainty that today is better than what the days ahead will hold. Tomorrow always heralds a worse situation. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I am from there. I am from here. I am not there and I am not here. I have two names, which meet and part, and I have two languages. I forget which of them I dream in. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Sarcasm helps me overcome the harshness of the reality we live, eases the pain of scars and makes people smile. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I am patient and am waiting for a profound revolution in the consciousness of the Israelis. The Arabs are ready to accept a strong Israel with nuclear arms – all it has to do is open the gates of its fortress and make peace. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Time is a smooth river for the one who does not notice it, and fierce and brutal for the one who gazes at it and is snatched by the abyss. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


I see poetry as spiritual medicine. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Sometimes I feel as if I am read before I write. When I write a poem about my mother, Palestinians think my mother is a symbol for Palestine. But I write as a poet, and my mother is my mother. She’s not a symbol. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Mahmoud Darwish Quotes on Love

The days have taught you not to trust happiness because it hurts when it deceives. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I love women whose hidden desires make horses put an end to their lives at the threshold. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I haven’t spoken about you to them but they read you in my ink and papers. For love has an essence. And it cannot be smelt in the farms that grow peaches. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


I testify that I am free and alive when I am forgotten. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Fame is the enemy of instinct and spontaneity, the difference between what is said and what ought to be said, and the transformation of one person into two. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

On this earth there is that which deserves life. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Against barbarity, poetry can resist only by confirming its attachment to human fragility like a blade of grass growing on a wall while armies march by. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I don’t decide to represent anything except myself. But that self is full of collective memory. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Pain does not see and cannot be seen: it is the nothing growing full. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

The stars had only one task: they taught me how to read. They taught me I had a language in heaven and another language on earth. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Exile is more than a geographical concept. You can be an exile in your homeland, in your own house, in a room. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Are we what we do with time, or are we what time does with us? ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Great Mahmoud Darwish Quotes

Had I known you, I would have possessed you, and had you known me, you would have possessed me. But then you and I would not be. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

A bit of mist and light suffice for life to overpower nothingness. A bit of hope and time suffice for you to cross the mountain trails of myth; you were spared the fate of your ancestors. So borrow the wisdom of the anemones and say: Nothingness does not concern me, even if death besieges me. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Palestinian people are in love with life. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

We see them oiling their weapons to kill the gryphon they think is hiding in our hen coop. And we cannot help laughing. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

You are not to be mine. But I love you. I still love you. My yearning for you is killing me. My pride is inhibiting me. And everything is standing between me and you! ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I never wanted children; maybe I’m afraid of responsibility. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

And what I don’t understand I grasp it only when it’s too late. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

For the Arabs in Israel there is always a tension between nationality and identity. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


History laughs at both the victim and the aggressor. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Maybe the moon is beautiful only because it is far. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Profound Mahmoud Darwish Quotes

A person can only be born in one place. However, he may die several times elsewhere: in the exiles and prisons, and in a homeland transformed by the occupation and oppression into a nightmare. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Dreams will find their dreamers and all a dreamer has to do is remember. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

The metaphor for Palestine is stronger than the Palestine of reality. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them a single word: Home. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


One day, I will be a poet. Water will depend on my visions. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Nothing is harder on the soul, than the smell of dreams, while they’re evaporating. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

A poet need not trouble himself if he lies. He lies only in the matter of love, as the regions of the heart are open to tempting conquest. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

May poetry and God’s name have mercy on us! ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Lovely Mahmoud Darwish Quotes

Without hope we are lost. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Longing is the absent chatting with the absent. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Mahmoud Darwish Quote: Far away, our dreams have nothing to do with what we do. The wind carries the night, and passes on, aimless. ~ Mahmoud Darwish. 1 0


Have I had two roads, I would have chosen their third. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Nothing, nothing justifies terrorism. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Poetry and beauty are always making peace. When you read something beautiful you find coexistence; it breaks walls down. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

She doesn’t love you. Your metaphors thrill her; you are her poet. But that’s all there’s to it. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

The long road has drained me of all feelings and expectations. I don’t feel a thing or expect anything now. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


Where can I free myself of the homeland in my body? ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Standing here, staying here, permanent here, eternal here, and we have one goal, one, one: to be. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Far away, our dreams have nothing to do with what we do. The wind carries the night, and passes on, aimless. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Thought-Provoking Mahmoud Darwish Quotes

When I passed the age of 50, I learned how to control my emotions. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

So which of your Lord’s favors do you two deny? You and I are absent, you and I are present and absent. So which of your Lord’s favors do you two deny? ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

She says: When are we gonna meet? I say: After a year and a war. She says: When will the war end? I say: The time we meet. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

The image of love reveals itself there; in a profoundly present absence. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.


I am here. Anything more than that is rumor and slander. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

We have to understand – not justify – what gives rise to this tragedy. It’s not because they’re looking for beautiful virgins in heaven, as Orientalists portray it. Palestinian people are in love with life. If we give them hope – a political solution – they’ll stop killing themselves. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

When a writer declares that his first book is his best, that is bad. I progress successively from book to book. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

Perhaps death is a metaphor to remind us of a secret of life we failed to notice. ~ Mahmoud Darwish.

So these were the 90 top Mahmoud Darwish quotes and sayings on life, love and war.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Maria Montessori quotes and Shawn Achor quotes.

Short Biography of Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish was a Palestinian poet and author, celebrated as Palestine’s national poet.


Born in 1941 in al-Birwa, he experienced displacement during the Nakba and later settled in Israel.

Darwish’s early poetry, beginning with his first book at 19, voiced the struggles of Palestinian refugees.

He lived abroad after joining the PLO in 1973, returning to Palestine in the mid-90s.

Full name Mahmoud Darwish
Native name مَحمُود دَرْوِيْش
Born 13 March 1941, Al-Birwa, Palestine
Died 9 August 2008 (age 67 years), Houston, Texas, United States
Resting place Ramallah, West Bank
Spouse Rana Kabbani (m. 1976–1982)
Parents Salim Darwish, Houreyyah Darwish
Occupation Poet and writer
Genre Poetry
Period 1964–2008

Darwish’s works, over 30 volumes of poetry and prose, explore themes of homeland, exile, and identity, earning him global recognition.

He served on the PLO Executive Committee and contributed to the Palestinian Declaration of Independence.

Darwish’s personal life included marriages to Rana Kabbani and Hayat Heeni, and a notable relationship with a Jewish woman, Tamar Ben-Ami.

He passed away in 2008, leaving a legacy as a voice for Palestinian identity and resistance.

Quick Facts about Mahmoud Darwish

  • Mahmoud Darwish was a Palestinian poet and author.
  • He was considered Palestine’s national poet.
  • Darwish penned the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence.
  • His work won numerous awards.
  • Palestine was a recurring metaphor in his poetry.
  • He edited several literary magazines in Palestine.
  • Born in 1941 in al-Birwa, Western Galilee.
  • His family fled to Lebanon during the Nakba.
  • They returned to the Acre area in Israel after a year.
  • Darwish published his first poetry book at 19.
  • He studied in the Soviet Union in 1970.
  • Banned from reentering Palestine after joining the PLO in 1973.
  • Returned to Palestine in 1995 for a short visit.
  • Married twice, no children.
  • Suffered from heart disease, underwent two surgeries.
  • Last visit to Israel was in 2007 for a poetry recital.
  • Published over 30 volumes of poetry and eight books of prose.
  • His early poetry was in classical Arabic style.
  • Later adopted a “free-verse” technique.
  • Influenced by Iraqi poets and Western writers.
  • Regarded as a symbol of Palestinian identity.
  • Criticized for his political views but denied being antisemitic.
  • Some of his works were translated into Hebrew.
  • Involved in Palestinian politics, joined the PLO.
  • Advocated for a firm stance in peace negotiations.
  • Critical of both Israel and Palestinian leadership.
  • Controversial for his 1988 poem “Passers Between the Passing Words”.
  • Criticized Hamas for banning music and dance in Qalqiliya.
  • His poems have been set to music and inspired films.
  • Died in 2008 after heart surgery, buried in Ramallah.

Top Questions about Mahmoud Darwish

Q: Who was Mahmoud Darwish in love with?

A: Mahmoud Darwish was in love with Tamar Ben-Ami, an Israeli woman also known as “Rita” in his poems.

Q: Why is Mahmoud Darwish famous?

A: Darwish is known as the national poet of Palestine and published his first poetry collection at 19. His work has been translated into over 20 languages.

Q: Why was Mahmoud Darwish exiled?

A: Darwish and his family were considered “internal refugees” in Israel because they missed the official census. He lived in exile in Beirut and Paris for many years.

Q: What is a famous quote by Mahmoud Darwish?

A: “I don’t decide to represent anything except myself. But that self is full of collective memory.”

Q: What is the story of Mahmoud Darwish and his lover?

A: Darwish fell in love with Tamar Benami, referred to as “Rita” in his poems, during his time in Haifa, Israel.

Q: What is Mahmoud Darwish’s story?

A: Darwish faced house arrest and imprisonment for his activism and poetry. He studied in Russia and lived in Cairo after leaving Israel.

Q: What is the writing style of Mahmoud Darwish?

A: Darwish’s early work was traditional, but he later developed a free-verse style exploring themes of exile and identity.

Q: What was the impact of Mahmoud Darwish?

A: Darwish’s poetry addressed the Palestinian struggle for freedom, making him the voice of Palestinian identity.

Q: Why did Mahmoud Darwish write Identity Card?

A: “Identity Card” expresses Darwish’s frustration with the Israeli occupation that made his family refugees.

Q: Was Mahmoud Darwish an activist?

A: Yes, Darwish was a journalist, activist, and drafter of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence.

Q: Why did Mahmoud have to leave his home?

A: This part seems to mix details from a fictional narrative unrelated to Darwish’s life.

Q: Why did Mahmoud Darwish write To My Mother?

A: Darwish wrote “To My Mother” while in an Israeli prison as a reconciliation letter to his mother.

Q: Why does Mahmoud try to be invisible?

A: This question appears to refer to a fictional character’s journey, not Darwish’s life or works.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar