On the Wings of Freedom

Sabah Zwein

On the Wings of Freedom

On "Khana Farigha" (Blank Space)

Salman Masalha’s language is characterized by the pushing of the self far from the banal. The language presents itself to the reader, sure of itself, quiet and different. The difference is in the constant orientation that the poet adopts in the work of constructing the poetic expression, which seems ostensibly familiar but in truth is truly striking.

In Masalha’s poetry we feel as though it were a storm wind that is blowing without taking into account what it will leave behind. Salman Masalha’s language is a fortress that he places in face of the tribulations raging all around. He does not describe, but rather states the details of life from within a profound perception in which there are intense emotions mixed with the idea of death, the hidden and the unknown. He does not address the everyday, even if in a quick reading we might think that he adopts this sort of discourse. He goes forth from within a personal and surprising articulation and takes off in order to glide alone in the skies of poetry, equipped with the wings of freedom. He does not belong to any flock and he sounds only his own song. He seeks truth and pursues new fields and when he returns to the forest he finds only an old nest, and even the tree in the forest no longer recognizes him. The love of the journey to the unknown causes death to grow in his wings, cause the search for a woman.

The poet mourns the loss of place and the loss of meaning. When he notices the “dry branch,” he seems to come to the realization of the difficult and bitter reality, as it has not remained the same land and the same place, with the precious memories. This is the reality of death in the homeland, or life in the unknown homeland.

Nostalgia leads the poet to distant realms, to realms that belong to the distant past, to distant memories and a distant heritage. The waves bear him and throw him onto shores of primal sands, and at the same time place him in the erupting nature that never rests for a moment nor reveals his identity to him. “Hidden, like Bedouin love, the winds of madness blew over me, letting me lean on the trunks of palm trees, eternally tied, I would return to the empty desert like one whose entire search is in vain, apart from the faded splendor.”

If the writing of poetry cannot be devoid of nostalgia, and every poet expresses this in his own way, then Masalha serves it up with a light hand. He writes his nostalgia in a realistic way by means of presenting the idea in clear words and sentences and with great economy. He does not go on at length, and he keeps away from whining. He relies on his roots, dreams about them and it appears that he is burning with longing for those roots.

At the same time, Maslha lives the present. Ostensibly, he seems not to care. Is this really the case? Even though it appears that he is free of this flood, often stream of feeling flow from him that suffice to set the landscapes around him on fire. At the same time, he takes care to control his language so that it will not deviate from the fortress he has built for himself, so that the language will continue to reside within the wall of beauty that is carved in a sensitive way. “As I lie on my back with nothing beneath me to protect me from my sorrow, I cannot see above me anything but the night I have brought down, shards of ancient countries at my feet. If I come to build the house of our love in you, keep the house and be.”

Published in: An-Nahar, Beirut,June 26, 2002