"Time is shattered/ language shattered/ and this air which we used to carry on our shoulders/ like bunches of grapes from Mosul/ is now a cross". As Christians in the Arab region and throughout the world celebrated Easter this week, these lines from renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish's 1991 poem "A horse for the stranger" capture the poignancy of the image of the crucifixion of Jesus in the Arab imagination, Muslim and Christian alike. The symbolism of the crucifixion as quintessential oppression permeates Darwish's poetry, and is manifest in the drawing (above) by Egyptian artist Gamil Shafik. ("A horse for the stranger" was translated from the Arabic by Iraqi poet Sinan Antoun. Its full text was published in Al-Ahram Weekly, 23 April 2003).
parent page (15 - 21 April 2004, issue #686)