Friday, July 6, 2007

Samih al-Qasim's "End of a Talk with a Jailer"/Walls and the Security State, continued

Ibis Editions recently published Sadder than Water, a small selected poetry edition of the poems of Samih al-Qasim, a Palestinian poet, reviewed in The Nation. One of the brilliant little poems of this fine bilingual book, is "End of a Talk with a Jailer"--a poem that articulates the ways in which 1) a security state like Israel, which imprisons and detains without charge thousands of Palestinians, comes to be imprisoned by its own fear and paranoia; 2) all of us are bounded by the cell of our own perceptive worlds. I'm thinking here of both the political notion of Shibley Telhami's "the prism of pain" and of the wider phenomenological and epistemological questionings of Berkeley and Wittgenstein.

"End of a Talk with a Jailer"

From the narrow window of my small cell,
I see trees that are smiling at me
and rooftops crowded with my family.
And windows weeping and praying for me.
From the narrow window of my small cell--
I can see your big cell!

Listen to this interview of Samih al-Qasim from The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

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