Oh My Father, I Am Yusif

Mahmoud Darwish

Father! I am Yusif
Oh father!
My brothers neither love me
nor want me in their midst.
They assault me,
throw stones at me
and with insults they shower me.
They wish me dead
so they can give their false eulogies.
They shut your door before me,
and from your field
I was expelled.
Then they poisoned my grapevine,
and ruined my dreams.

And when the passing breeze
flirted with my hair,
they became envious
and outraged at you and me.
What have I done to them, father
and what loss did I cause?
Butterflies land on my shoulder,
wheat bows toward me
and birds hover above my hand.
What then did I do wrong, father
and why me?
You’re the one who named me Yusif!

They pushed me down the well
and then they blamed the wolf.
Oh, father! The wolf is more merciful
than my brothers.
HaveI wronged anyone when I 
told about my dream:
Of eleven planets, I dreamt,
and of the sun and the moon
all kneeling before me.

Translated from the Arabic by Manal Swairjo.

This poem appeared in Al Jadid Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 28, Summer 1999.

Copyright © 1999 AL JADID MAGAZINE