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Mourid Barghouti's “It's Also Fine”

Updated on October 2, 2017
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Mourid Barghouti

Source

Introduction and Text of Poem, "It's Also Fine"

Mourid Barghouti says of poetry, "One of its charming miracles is that through its form, poetry can resist the content of authoritarian discourse."

Translated into English from Arabic by Radwa Ashour and the poet himself, "It's Also Fine" asserts that not all deaths need to be violent. Barghouti's poem features four versagraphs, each dramatizing opposition to the glorification of violent death.

It's Also Fine

It's also fine to die in our beds
on a clean pillow
and among our friends.

It's fine to die, once,
our hands crossed
on our chests empty and pale
with no scratches, no chains, no banners,
and no petitions.

It's fine to have an undustful death,
no holes in our shirts,
and no evidence in our ribs.

It's fine to die
with a white pillow, not the pavement, under our cheeks,
our hands resting in those of our loved ones
surrounded by desperate doctors and nurses,
with nothing left but a graceful farewell,
paying no attention to history,
leaving this world as it is,
hoping that, someday, someone else
will change it.

Reading of Barghouti's "It's Also Fine"

Commentary

First Versagraph: "It's also fine to die in our beds"

The speaker begins as if in response to the claim that death must come from a violent clash against an enemy. He says, "it's also fine"; not simply that it is fine.

To some readers, this inclusive term may leave open the acceptance that it might be equally "fine" to die violently, but the speaker's repeated description of a more pleasant death works to refute the notion.

The speaker avers that dying in one's bed with a "clean pillow" while surrounded by friends is a "fine" way to go. The counterpart to this peaceful exit from life might include dying on a battlefield or suffering as the victim of some heinous crime.

Second Versagraph: "It's fine to die, once"

The speaker then states that another fine way to die would be just "once / our hands crossed on our chests." A deliberate, slow existing from the body without visible signs of torture would be acceptable: "with no scratches, no chains, no banners, / and no petitions."

The ordinary citizen's death should be as tolerable as a soldier who undergoes mutilation by the barbaric enemy who will not accept political "petitions" or at the hands of criminal in the act of robbery. The ordinary death, according to the speaker, is "fine."

Third Versagraph: "It's fine to have an undustful death"

A serene death, "an undustful death" is also suitable. Such a death would leave

a body without bullet holes "in our shirts" and "no evidence in our ribs." The body would be whole and untouched, not maimed and battered as those who invite such atrocities in the name of their cause or crime.

Fourth Versagraph: "It's fine to die"

The speaker in the final versagraph reiterates his claims that it is fine to die in bed "with a white pillow." Instead of dying on the sidewalk with "pavement, under our cheeks," we should be allowed to die with our heads on pillows, with our hands "resting in those of our loved one."

We should be fine with allowing ourselves the luxury of having "desperate doctors and nurses" buzzing around us trying to keep us from dying. The speaker stresses that it should be all right to leave with "a graceful farewell / paying no attention to history / leaving this world as it is."

The mature adult knows what most adolescents do not: that "changing the world" is a romantic notion. The speaker's stance offers a refreshing counter to notions that glory is attained only through violence.

Death should be acceptable even if attained through natural causes, with the departing soul leaving in peace with some level of comfort.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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