1969. Saloua Raouda Choucair (illustrations). Softcover. Very very rare. Used - Good. Staple bound, intact and mostly tight. Some foxing and light creasing to illustrated wraps. Some wear to spine. Gift inscription in Arabic to prior owner on last page; otherwise text block clean and unmarked. Illustrated. 15 x 15 cm (square). 34 leaves, unpaginated. Item #10061
With a foreword by Dr. A/R Yaghi from the University of Jordan.
English translation by Frances Fuller, with the original version in Arabic to follow.
From our Instragram post on this book, dated 3 April 2019:
This is probably the kind of book that belongs in a museum rather than a bookshop. For one it was written by perhaps the most famous Palestinian poet who ever lived: Mahmoud Darwish (محمود درويش). Second, it contains artwork by noted Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair. Third, it is exceedingly rare: OCLC Worldcat, the world’s largest online library database, says there are only 6 copies of this book in existence in libraries around the world.
Darwish wrote ‘The Soldier Who Dreamt of White Lilies’ shortly after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It is a poem in which Darwish recounts through conversations and musings his relationship with an Israeli soldier, and came at a time when ill-will between between Arabs and Israelis was at its peak.
When it was first published, the poem earned Darwish the ire of both Israelis and Arabs. Arabs called Darwish a traitor for his attempts to empathize with an Israeli soldier. And Israelis called Darwish anti-Israel for his portrayal of an Israeli soldier who ultimately leaves the army because he became disillusioned by the Zionist dream.
Darwish’s poem begins with the following recurring verse:
He dreams of white lilies,
Of the branches of a tree,
Of an olive-tree, bosomed in branches,
putting out leaves
In the evening
He told me he dreamt
Of a bird,
Of blossom on the lemon-tree.
What these things might mean he did not ask himself.
He knew those things that he could smell,
And understand those things that he could lay his hands upon.
The book itself contains the poem as it was originally written in the Arabic, in addition to an English translation, courtesy of Frances Fuller.