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Learning English - Words in the News
13 August, 2008 - Published 13:53 GMT
Last farewells to Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish palestinian poet

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are lining the streets of Ramallah on the West Bank for the funeral of poet Mahmoud Darwish, one of the most influential cultural figures in recent Arab history. This report from Aleem Maqbool:

Listen to the story

Palestinians will be burying a national icon, a man whose work was often based on his experiences of life in exile and under occupation that resonated with many. Over the decades, he was instrumental in forging a sense of Palestinian national identity. People of all backgrounds here feel they had a personal connection to Mahmoud Darwish, and pride in a man who told their story in a way they weren't able to.

Thousands would flock to his recitals, his poems were transformed into popular songs and used in political speeches, and the words he wrote now form part of Palestinian daily life.

But he wasn't shy of talking of his people's shortcomings. He had written fierce criticism of the divisions among Palestinians, believing, in some ways, what they were doing to themselves was worse than anything others had done to them.

There's little doubt his work, not just on the Palestinian cause, but on love and hope and death, will endure across the Arab world.

Aleem Maqbool, BBC News, Ramallah

Listen to the words

a national icon
here, someone who is uncritically admired by the whole nation (often because they symbolize or represent an idea or movement)

in exile
when someone is sent or kept away from their own country, often for political reasons

resonated with
were shared by, struck a chord/note with

he was instrumental in forging
his work was one of the most important factors that helped to form and develop

of all backgrounds
from all social classes, of different statuses and with different family histories

flock to his recitals
come in large groups to hear him read his poems

he wasn't shy of talking
he was confident enough to talk, he didn't avoid talking

faults, failures to achieve something

fierce criticism of the divisions among Palestinians
strong disapproval of the fact that Palestinians were not united

here, last/be remembered

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