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Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems Paperback – January 6, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0520237544 ISBN-10: 0520237544 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (January 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520237544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520237544
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Darwish's selected The Adam of Two Edens was published by Syracuse in late 2000, the second Palestinian intifada was not yet bound up in "the war on terror," and the book did not get much play, perhaps partially due to its disparate translations (and an uninviting cover). That should not be the case with this second selection of work by the poet often spoken of as the national poet of Palestine. Darwish, who lived more than 25 years in exile from his native Haifa, is currently living in Ramallah, and these selections, covering five books and 20 or so years, are uncompromising and powerful. Akash is the editor of Jusoor: The Arab American Journal of Cultural Exchange and co-editor of Post Gibran: An Anthology of New Arab American Writing (2000), but the key here is Forch‚ (The Angel of History, etc.), who brings out the thorny immediacy and consistency in Darwish's complex linguistic negotiations of deeply contested places-places on the earth and in the mind. It is difficult to summarize those spaces here, but suffice to say that Darwish, as rendered in this English-only edition, demands, and sustains, serious reading and discussion, as in the magisterial long poem "Mural" from 2000: "I will dream, not to correct any meaning beyond me,/ but to heal the inner desolation of its terrible drought."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

". . . [S]uffice it to say that Darwish, as rendered in this English-only edition, demands, and sustains, serious reading and discussion. . . "Publishers Weekly starred review -- Review

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on December 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Darwish is the first contemporary poet I have read whom I can plausibly envision being read a millenia from now. While he writes from the perspective of an exiled Palestinian, he does so in a manner that speaks of universal exile (or alienation). He writes with images and language that speaks well across cultures; the few pages of glossary provide what little may not be immediately known to a western reader. His images are arresting but simple: "A silver thread is drawn out of mulberry trees / forming letters on the page of night" or "We gnawed on stones to open a space for jasmine". He makes effective use of repetition, with and without variation. He uses the common base of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as a cultural base for recognizing common humanity: "Beneath us is Noah's flood, Babylon, broken corpses, / skeletons, temples, and the breath of peoples' cries / for help upon the face of the waters."
Poem after poem requires a second, a third reading not because of failure to understand in the first reading but because of the beauty and depth of thought held in the poem.
Yes, it would be nice to be able to read the original, but lacking that capability, the translation provides immediate enjoyment.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By matt horton on March 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
"If "a nation is as great as its ode," as Mahmoud Darwish writes in "Mural," one of many poems included in Unfortunately It Was Paradise-a masterfully translated collection from Palestine's most famous poet that also includes selections from "Fewer Roses", "I See What I Want To See", "Why Have You Left the Horse Alone?" and "A Bed for the Stranger"-then Palestine is a great nation indeed. Darwish expresses the pain of millions of refugees who live "a present not embraced by the past...who travel like everyone else, but we return to nothing." He embodies the spirit of the intifada, where "we flash victory signs in the darkness so that the darkness may glitter," embraces the prisoner who is "accused of what is within us," knows "what the dove means when it lays eggs on the rifle's muzzle," dares to speak of love in the face of tragedy, and exclaims "you are my reality, I am your question."" -- From the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 2006 issue.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mesfera Alqahtani on April 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm so glad my mother tongue language is Arabic! I've read Darwish's books in Arabic, and they were 'uplifting', and truely goes into your heart. Poetry books are supposed to be the hardest to read, you just can't pass one page without fully getting the idea, or at least have a personal thought about it.
this book is a translation of Darwish's poems, and unfortunately, it did not catch that 'paradise' of their original language.
you can pick up the book, read it, and understand it, but you will not get the idea he is a top poet. but he is, very much he is.
still, i think alot of people should read it, if nothing more than to have a feel of the desperation of the Palestinians away from their homeland.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Virginia La Brie on June 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first introduction to Darwish was in Saudiaramco World in a short biography after the death of Darwish. His poetry is a national tresure in Palestine and needs to be read by a larger audiance. It is a pleasure to see the style of poetry which sets new ways of presenting thoughts to another audiance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Angela G. Bevins on March 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely exquisite! I only hope that someday I can read it in its original Arabic.
Every piece included is absolute magic, but the two longer pieces, "The Hoopoe" and "Mural" are my favorites. "Mural" reads like a mixture of Eliot's "Four Quartets" and random passages by Fernando Pessoa in THE BOOK OF DISQUIET. And "The Hoopoe" is very reminiscent of Yeats's "The Second Coming."
Please read this book if you love Darwish, or choose this one as a starting point if you're not yet acquainted. It's magnificent.
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