The Struggle Within

POETRY FORMAT, 31 Oct 2016

Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh – TRANSCEND Media Service

Mazin Qumsiyeh





Facing life’s challenges and insecurity
The heart yearns for serenity

How can we ignore the oppressor’s meanness
And simply understand his weakness

With so much deception
What is to change perception?

We struggle to see the positives
Even as we are flooded with negatives

A child hungers amid flies and vultures
While billionaires invest in ventures

Zionists steal our lands
And profit from our raised hands

Tossing and turning in their dreary night
Their biggest fear is truth coming to light

The corrupt rule in Ramallah
The weak put faith in Allah

Within you feed the good wolf more
If you do not want the bad one to score

Does the struggle within have winners
Or is it only in the case of the sinners?

The righteous are also struggling
Their caring hardly a blessing

In darkness, creating, and sheltering light
Is not a life of ease or of delight

burden hard to carry in sickness or in health
the (good) struggle goes on till the last breath

“joyful participation in the sorrows of world”
Buddhists had it right – participation a key word

From good will and good deeds
We are counseled that joy springs seeds

We are advised to take time
To appreciate the sublime

For us Palestinians, it is harder to reason
After decades of colonization and treason

though words easy to say, we still struggle to understand
and even harder to plan: How we continue to withstand?

How we have resilience
How we create persistence

Perhaps what sustains us is goodness all around
And the beauty of this hallowed ground

Perhaps we see divine in all of us
not just Palestinian baby Jesus

we see it in birds singing early mornings
even bats hunting insects evenings

we see it in poor honest unemployed
in families and children when joyed

we see it in smiles and stretched hands
in the rythm of seasons in ancient lands

we see it in memories of Karameh victory
and all those who are symbols of bravery

we see it in forgotten graves of massacred
and in the hunger strikes of the incarcerated

we see it in a smile of dabka girls who carry genes
of their ancestral Canaanitic queens

we hear it in the rhythm of tabla and oud *
the call of the athan**, church bells, and even silent sumoud

we smell it aroma of tabboun za’atar ***
taste it apricots, guava, figs, and loz akhdar****

we taste it in zibda baladiya***** with mountain honey
and in herbal medicines curing the worst agony

Countless generations passed in the arms of mother Palestine
babies from Issa to the Ahmed of maddonnas divine

Our clock will end soon and we are no more
As we join all those departed who struggled before

We bequeeth to our children beauty and burden
Thoughts pass as the plants leave their seeds in the garden

the secret to life is love and suffer grandfather told us
yet, the dust of billions of forgotten ancestors remind us

as we breathe it and eat it that we mortals must have humility
and that humility added to struggle and love equals serenity

the old country song says: in the end matters only kindness
this old country man says: humility and love can conquer our madness

“Stay human” Vittorio Arrigoni said
In Palestine “Keep the hope alive” was echoed
*tabla and oud: eastern musical instruments corresponding to drum and guitar
**athan: muslim call to prayer
***tabboun za’atar: bread of traditional kiln with thyme
****loz akhdar: green almonds
*****Zibda baladiya: A country butter made from goat milk


Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine. He is a professor at Bethlehem University and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History in Bethlehem.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 31 Oct 2016.

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