Mahmoud Darwish was born in the village of Birwa. When he was 6 years old, his village was assaulted by Zionist forces and he fled to Lebanon with his family. The assault was part of the Nakba (or Catastrophe) which saw the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. Today, more than 5 million Palestinian refugees are coping with poverty and continued oppression.

Darwish was heavily impacted by the Nakba and the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory. As a young child at school, he would express his resilience to the treatment of Palestinians through poetry. In later years, Darwish’s poetry caused waves throughout the Arab world. He eventually established himself as a world renowned poet, with extensive critical acclaim. He is often referred to as the national poet of Palestine.

Darwish’s resilience in the midst of destruction was powerfully reflected in his poetry, like this:

Streets encircle us
As we walk among the bombs.
Are you used to death?
I’m used to life and to endless desire.
Do you know the dead?
I know the ones in love.

Source: The Guardian