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, Vol. 5, no. 28 (Summer 1999)

Copyright (c) 1999 by Al Jadid