Mahmoud Darwish (1940-2008) was the most important contemporary Palestinian poet in the Arab world.
He was born in 1942 in the village of Birweh in the Galilee, which was razed to the ground by the Israelis in 1948. His poems are known throughout the Arab world, and several of them have been put to music.
He published around 30 poetry and prose collections, which have been translated into 35 languages.
In 1997 a documentary was produced about him by French TV directed by the noted director Simone Bitton. His book of poetry "Stage of Siege" was published in 2002.
He was awarded The Lotus Prize by the Union of Afro-Asian Writers (1969), the Lenin Peace Prize (1983) by the USSR, and was made a commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters (1993) by France.
In 2001 he was awarded The Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom (USA).
He died in August 2008 in Houston Texas while undergoing a heart operation.
The following are excerpts of his poetry: