Literature review on compartive analysis on political satire in both egypt and palestine





Published by the Ministry of Culture Baghdad- Iraq 1968

This is a revised and edited version- 2009





Palestinian Literature Ghassan Kanafani

The Impossible Tawfiq Zayyad

Lover from Palestine Mahmoud Darwish

The Exile Salem Jubran

Safad Salem Jubran

A Letter from a Bankrupt Sameeh Al Qassem

The Reaction Mahmoud Darwish

The Olive Tree Tawfiq Zayyad

To Christ Fadwa Tuqan

Antigone Sameeh Al Qassem

Ever Alive Fadwa Tuqan

Identity Card Mahmoud Darwish

Letter From prison Sameeh Al-Qassem





Translated from: Resistance literature In Occupied Palestine

By Ghassan Kanafani

The fall of Palestine to the Zionists in 1948 led to a disastrous change both in the number and

the social structure of the Arab population in occupied Palestine. Nearly three quarters of the 200,000

Arabs who continued to live in their homeland were peasants. The cities were mostly evacuated either

during the war or soon afterwards. This led to a shocking deterioration in Arab social conditions due

to the fact that the cities had been the centers of both political and cultural effusion.

As the Zionist occupants closed their military ring, they started to impose their oppressive

measures; the atmosphere was convenient for them. Their chief purpose was to eradicate every trace

of the Arab personality and to implant the seeds of new trends which might grow and integrate within

the Zionist political and literary life.

Palestinian Literature, up to this tragic fall had been part of the mainstream of the Arab literary

movement which flourished during the first half of the century. It had got its sources from and had

been influenced by Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese writers who led the literary movement then. Even

renowned Palestinian writers had been indebted for their fame mostly to the Arab capitals which used

to receive them and patronize their productions. Several factors had in fact contributed to diminishing

the value of Palestinian literature at a time when Palestine was enjoying a prominent position in the

political arena and the struggle for Arab nationalism.

After 1948, Palestinian literature succeeded in laying the foundations of a new literary movement

which may be better described as the literature of Exile rather than Palestinian or Refugee literature.

Poetry, the chief element of this movement, has been able during recent years to witness a remarkable

progress in quality and technique. ‘The short period of silence after the 1948 war was followed by a




great awakening, and national poetry poured out reflecting the people’s national fervor. It interacted

with Arab and foreign literary trends and gradually broke the traditional rules of technique, rejected

the old sentimental outbursts and ’emerged with a unique feeling of profound sadness more

commensurate with the realities of the situation.

On the other hand, resistance literature inside occupied Palestine was confronted, with radical

differences in tenets. The backbone of Arab literature in Occupied Palestine had disappeared with the

emigration of a whole generation of writers and men of culture. The non–emigrants constituted a

society which was mostly rural and was subjected to Political, social and cultural persecution

unmatched anywhere else in the world.

The following points may shed some light on the real situation of the Arabs inside occupied


1. The majority of the Palestinians who remained were not, owing to their social condition, up

to the cultural standard which allows for the creation of a new generation of writers and artists.

2. The Arab cities which used to receive and encourage the talented young men coming from

the rural sector were transformed into prohibited cities of the enemy.

3. The Arab population was completely isolated and had no contact with the Arab countries.

4. The Zionist military rule imposed on the Arab population tyrannical restrictions, and

censored their literary productions.

5. Publishing and distribution means have been either limited or under tight restrictions.

6. Opportunity for Arabs to learn foreign languages is nonexistent. Very few are allowed to

enter high schools and almost none are allowed to enter university.

It should be borne in mind when reading the literature which has been able to emerge, that the

Arab population has been struggling ·through the dim night of persecution and torture to consolidate

its existence and to express itself. It has now succeeded in forming its own expression crystallizing it

into a palpitating literature of resistance.

Under this hard siege, it is quite easy to realize why poetry was the first harbinger of the

resistance call, for poetry spreads from mouth to mouth and lives without publication. This also




explains why this poetry was at the beginning restricted to the traditional form which is easier to learn

by heart and quicker to appeal to the sentiments. The first outburst was mainly characterized with love

lyrics, but side by side with the traditional poetry, popular vernacular lyrics began to appear to form

the first kernel of resistance manifestation •. In fact, popular poetry played a big -role in the history of

Palestine since the twenties and was famous all over the Arab world. Nearly every Palestinian knows

and recites the following popular lyric which was extemporized by a Palestinian struggler just before

he was executed by the British Mandate in 1936:

Night, stay a little longer, until the captive

Finishes his song.

By dawn, his wing will flutter

And the hanged man will swing

In the wind.

Night, lessen your pace,

Let me pour my heart to you,

Perhaps you forgot who I am and what my

troubles are.

Pity, how my hours have slipped

Down your hands.

Do not think I weep from fear,

My tears are for, my country

And for a bunch of fledglings

Hungry at home

Without a father.

Who will feed them after me?

And my two brothers,

Before me swung on the scaffold.




And how will my wife spend her days,

Lonely and in tears?

I did not even leave her bracelet

In her wrist

When my country cried for arms.

Popular lyrics dominated the scene for almost ten years after 1948 before any standard well

developed literature appeared. It was the medium by which the defeated people expressed them

selves. It dominated every manifestation of their life. Wedding mornings, evening sittings and all

other gatherings were transformed by the effect of those lyrics into fierce demonstrations heedless of

the firing squads. Many popular poets were put in prison or confined under severe restrictions. And

as the trend of popular poetry grew and expanded, the occupying forces extended their tyrannical,

measures, killed some poets and prohibited all Arab gatherings. Such measures could not anyhow

uproot this trend of resistance but rather kept it dormant for almost five years to burst anew with

intense force and vitality. With the beginning of the sixties, surprisingly enough, a remarkab1e new

wave of literature appeared to light. The tenets of this new wave were courageous, full of vitality and

optimism and highly charged with the spirit of defiance, unlike the literature of the exile poets of the

same period, which was mostly sad and vehement.

The decade which preceded this new outburst can better be described as the period of

integration of the personality and the identification of the Arab personality with the cause of struggle.

The defeated and the helpless that had resorted to love poetry during the few years which followed

1948 began at the advent :. • I •

Of the sixties to develop into a real force of resistance, dauntless,

brave and hopeful.

Love poetry was the outcome of the bitter feelings of loneliness and deprivation which

overwhelmed the Arab population after 1948. The feeling that they were a defeated minority began

with the passage of time to change into a feeling of defiance, and they succeeded in confronting their

hard circumstances face to face.

Resistance was not an easy choice; it was rather a daily battle with a ferocious enemy who

considered it a question of life and death. And as the ·measures of persecution became fiercer,




resistance consolidated. Contrary to the poetry of exile, the poetry of resistance emerged with an

astonishing revolutionary spirit completely free from the sad and tearful trend. Strangely enough, it

qui1ckly reverberated with all the political upheavals of the Arab countries.

Resistance poetry did not only witness a change in purport and poetic effect but also in form

and technique. It rejected the traditional poetic forms ‘and adopted modern techniques without losing

force. As to purport, resistance poetry resorted to various mediums of expression:

1. Love: The love for woman is completely integrated with the love of the homeland.

Woman and Earth are completely assimilated in one great love and transformed into the great

cause of liberation.




2. Satire: The enemy and the henchmen are ridiculed and the acts of suppression are expressed with

bitter irony. This trend expresses a ,lively and an unconquerable spirit which considers all happenings

as an ephemeral and transitional condition which sooner or later must and will be changed and put back

to normality.

3. Defiance and -challenge. The enemy is exposed and put face to face with the staunch and fearless

spirit of the fighters. It is noteworthy that resistance literature is chiefly characterized as leftist. This is

the outcome of the circumstances which dominated Palestinian life, which can be summed up as follows:

1. The majority of the Arab population is rural and deeply involved in the

revolutions and uprisings which took place in Palestine before 1948

against the British Mandate. It is they as well who received the hardest

blow in 1948.

2. The very bad living conditions in which they live and the harsh tyranny which they meet in their

struggle for daily bread.

3. The fact that the existence of the enemy is the outcome of the imperialistic, capitalistic schemes and

that its continuation is mainly sustained by capitalism. Moreover, resistance poetry is a challenge to all

Zionist beliefs. It deals with them all and discards them one after the other. It is a closely welded

literature based on reasoning and not on sheer emotion. Above all, it remains an important link in the

chain of the permanent Arab revolution and goes hand in hand with the Arab progressive movement. It

has been able, despite all hindrances and obstacles, to grow into a real literature and to present the

personality of the fighting poet.






Tawfiq Zayyad

It is much easier for you To push an elephant through a needle’s eye, Catch fried fish in galaxy, Blow out the sun, Imprison the wind, Or make a crocodile speak, Than to destroy by persecution The shimmering glow of a belief Or check our march Towards our cause One single step………….




Mahmoud Darwish

Like a thorn in the heart are your eyes Lacerating, yet adorable, I shield them from the storm And pierce them deep through night and pain, The wound illuminates thousands of stars My present makes their future Dearer than my being And I forget as our eyes meet That once we were twins behind the gate.




Your words were my song I tried to sing again But winter settled on the rosy lip.

Your words, like a swallow, flew away, My door and the wintry threshold Flew away behind you, longing for you And our mirrors broke Sorrow grew So we gathered the splinters of sound But only learnt to lament the homeland We shall plant it together On the strings of a guitar And on the roof of our catastrophe,

we shall play it For distorted moons and stones But I forgot, O you whose voice I do not know Whether it was your departure Or my silence That rusted the guitar.

I saw you last at the harbor A lonely voyager without relatives Without a bag I ran to you like an orphan, Asking the wisdom of the ancestors: How could an orchard be banished To a prison, to an exile or a harbor And yet remain, despite the journey And the smell of salts or yearnings, Ever green?

And I write in my diary; I love oranges and hate ports. Then I write again: I stood at the port Winter was pouring We only have the peel of oranges, And behind me There is the desert.




I saw you at the thorny mountains A sheepless shepherd being chased And among the ruins And you had been my garden And I was a stranger Knocking at the door, my heart Knocking my heart…. The door, the window, the cement and the stones Stood up. ……………………………… ……………………………… I swear From eye lashes I shall weave A kerchief for you And weave on it a poem for your eyes ……………………………… …………………………………… I shall write on it a sentence that is Dearer than martyrs and kisses;

“She was a Palestinian and she is still so”!

I flung the doors open to the storm ……………………………….. ………………………………………. Virgin mate, faithful wheat, Palestinian are your eyes and tattoo, Palestinian is your name Palestinian are your dreams and concerns Palestinian is your scarf, your feet, your form, Palestinian are your words and your silence Palestinian is your voice Palestinian in life and in death, I hold you in my old books

A fire for my songs…………….

……………………………. ………………………….

______________________________________ _____________—





Salem Jubran

The sun walks through the border Guns keep silent A skylark starts its morning song In Tulkarem

And flies away to sup With the birds of a Kibbutz A lonely donkey strolls Across the firing line Unheeded by the watching squad But for me, your ousted son, my native land, Between your skies and my eyes, A stretch of border walls

Blackens the view!


Salem Jubran

I am a stranger Safad And you too, The Houses greet me But their dwellers Order me to go away Why are you roaming through the streets, Arab, Why? If you say hello Nobody would answer you Your relatives had been here Then went away And nobody stayed A funeral of a morning Sits on my lips




And in my eyes There sits a lion’s humiliation Farwell Farwell Safad!



Sameeh Al Qassem

I may lose my daily bread, if you wish I may hawk my clothes and bed I may become a stone cutter, 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!




Dear Homeland

My chains teach me

The vigor of the eagle

And the tenderness of the optimist

I hadn’t known that under our skins




There is a birth of a storm

And a wedding of rivulets.

They shut me in a dark cell

My heart glowed with suns of torches

They wrote my card’s number on the walls

There grew a pasture of corn ears on the wall

They drew the face of my killer on the walls

The face was soon erased by the shades of braids

I carved the picture of your blooded face

With my teeth

And wrote the song of the departing pains

I plunged my defeat in the flesh of darkness

And put my fingers in the sunny hair




The conquerors, on the top of my roof,

Could only open the valves

Of my earthquakes.

They will not see except the glow of my forehead

They will not hear except the rattle of my chains

And if I were burned on the cross of my cause

I would become a saint in the garb of a struggler.



Tawfiq Zayyad

Because I do not knit wool* Because I am always hunted And my house is always raided. Because I cannot own a piece of paper, I shall carve my memoirs On the home yard olive tree. I shall carve bitter reflections, Scenes of love and yearnings,




For my stolen orange grove And the lost tombs of my dead. I shall carve all my strivings For the sake of remembrance For the time when I’ll drown them In the avalanche of triumph

I shall carve the serial number Of every stolen piece of land The place of my village on the map And the blown up houses, And the uprooted trees

And every bloom that was crushed And all the names of the experts in torture The names of the prisons…..

I shall carve dedications To memories threading down to eternity To the blooded soil of Deir Yasin And Kufur Qassem. I shall carve the sun’s beckoning And the moon’s whisperings And what a skylark recalls At a love deserted well.

For the sake of remembrance, I shall continue to carve All the chapters of my tragedy And all the stages of Al- Nakbah On the home yard olive tree!

* Reference to Madame Lafarge, who used to knit the names of the traitors and send them to the French revolutionaries during the French Revolution.







Fadwa Tuqan

Lord, glory of the universes

On your Birthday this year

All the joys of Jerusalem are crucified

All the bells, O Lord

Are silent!

For two thousand years,

They haven’t been silent on your birthdays,

Except this year

The domes are now in mourning

Black is wrapped in black

On the Via Dolorosa,

Jerusalem is whipped

Under the cross


On the hands of the executioner.

The world is adamant to the tragedy

The light has departed from that lost ruthless master

Who did not light one candle

Who did not shed one tear

To wash the sorrows of Jerusalem




The vinedressers have killed the heir, O Lord,

And usurped the vine

The vinedressers killed the heir, my Lord

The bird of sin has feathered

Within the sinners of the world

And flew to desecrate Jerusalem’s chastity

What a cursed devil he is,

Even hated by the Devil.

O Lord, glory of Jerusalem

Out of the well of agony

Out of the abyss

Out of the recesses of night

Out of the horror

Jerusalem’s groaning ascends to you

Mercy, lord

Spare her this chalice!



Sameeh Alqassem









Victim of blind Gods

Immolation ram

At the alter of the lusts

Of this Dark Age




Hand in hand

Let us cross this lunatic path!

O Father

There are still two eyes

In your face

And you still have

Two feet on your land

So strike, across the night,

The worst catastrophe in the history of man

Let us create

Across the night

A dawn for life.

O Father,

If the devil of sorrows

Plucked your eyes

I am for you your night lamp




Drinking from the oil of faith

And tomorrow, father, I swear

I will bring you back

What the pirate’s sins

Have stolen from you

I swear, father, in the name of God

And the name of Man!








Fadwa Tuqan

My beloved home land No matter how long the millstone Of pain and agony churns you

In the wilderness of tyranny, They will never be able To pluck your eyes Or kill your hopes and dreams Or crucify your will to rise Or steel the smiles of our children Or destroy and burn, Because out from our deep sorrows, Out from the freshness of our spilled blood Out from the quiverings of life and death Life will be reborn in you again………





Mahmoud Darwish

Write down I am an Arab My card number is 50,000 I have eight children The ninth will come next summer Are you angry?

Write down I am an Arab I cut stone with comrade laborers My children are eight I squeeze the rock To get a loaf, A dress and a book For them. But I do not plead for charity at your door And do not feel small In front of your mansion Are you angry?

Write down I am an Arab I am a name without a title Patient, in a country Where every body else is very angry My roots sink deep before the birth of time And before the beginning of the ages,

Before the time of Cypress and olives Before the beginnings of grass, My father belonged to the family of the plough Was not of grand stock My grand father was a farmer, without a pedigree He taught me the grandeur of the sun Before reading books My house is a hut Made of reed and stalk Are you satisfied with my rank? I am a name without a title! ……………………………… ……………………………………. Write down I have been robbed of my ancestral vines And the piece of land I used to farm with all my children Nothing remained for us and for my grand children Except these rocks Will your government take them? So it is




Write down At the top of the first page I hate nobody I do not steel any thing But when I become hungry I eat the flesh of my marauders So beware….beware My hunger and fury! ————————————————–



Sameeh Al Qassem

…………………………. …………………………. It pains me, Mother That you burst in tears When my friends come Asking about me But I believe, mother That the splendor of life Is born in my prison

And I believe that my last visitor Will not be an eyeless bat Coming at midnight. My last visitor must be daylight…… ………………………………….

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