Fall of the Moon

by Marcel Khalife

The pigeons fly the pigeons descend Prepare the land for me so I can rest because I love you until I'm weary... Your morning is fruit from song and this evening's made of gold And we are ours when a shadow enters its shadow in marble, and when I hang myself it is myself I resemble on a neck that embraces only clouds. You are the air undressing before me like tears of grapes, you are the start of a family of waves gripping the shore and estranging itself, and I love you, you're my soul's beginning and you're the end The pigeons fly the pigeons descend
And we love life if we find a way to it. We dance between two martyrs and we raise a minaret for violet or palm trees. We love life if we find a way to it. And we steal from the silkworm a thread to build a sky and fence-in this departure. We open the garden gate for the jasmine to go out as a beautiful day on the streets. We love life if we find a way to it. And we plant, where we settle, some fast growing plants, and harvest the dead. We play on the flute the color of the faraway and sketch over the dirt corridor a neigh. We write our names one stone at a time, O lightning make the night a bit clearer. We love life if we find a way to it...
Oh, my proud wound my land isn't a suitcase and I'm not a traveler I'm a lover and my beloved's the land
Mohammad 09:04
Mohammed nests in his father's lap a bird terrified of the hell in the sky "Father, protect me from flying up in the air my wings are small for the wind and light is black" He wants to go home without a bike or a new shirt, he wants to go to his school chair to grammar period "Father, take me home so I could do my homework and live my life bit by bit on the seashore under palm trees" but nothing is farther than this.
I thought one day of leaving, but a sparrow landedon her hand and slept. It was enough that I fondle a grapevine in a hurry for her to know I was filled with wine. It was enough that I go early to bed for her to clearly see mysleep, and extend her night to guard it. Enough for her to know my days hover around her and in her view. My mother counts my twenty digits from afar. She combs me with her golden lock and searches in my underwear for foreign women, and darns the hole in my sock. I didn't grow up on her hands as we had wished: she and I, we parted ways by the marble slope, clouds loomed over us, and over some goats that inherit the place. There is no time around you, mother, for sen- timental talk. You knead the afternoon with basil and bake for sumac the rooster's crest. I know what wrecks your punctured peacock heart since you've been expelled twice from paradise. Our entire world changed, so our voices also changed. Even the greeting between us fell like a button over the sand, echoless. Say: Good morning! Say anything for life to grant me her dalliance. We meet only as farewell at the crossroads of speech. For example, she says to me: Marry any stranger more beautiful than the neighborhood girls, and believe no woman but me. And don't burn to illuminate your mother, that's her lovely task. Don't long for a rendezvous with the dew. Be realistic like the sky. And dash like a colt into life. And be who you are wherever you are. And carry no more than your heart's burden. My mother lights up Canaan's final stars and tosses her shawl in my final poem!
Now, in exile... yes, in the house, in the sixties of a swift age they blow out the candles for you. Rejoice, but with utmost calmness, because a reckless death has lost its way in the heavy crowds... and deferred you. A curious moon on the ruins laughs like a buffoon. Don't believe that it approaches to accept you. It has, in its ancient task, as the new March has, given back to the trees the names of longing and ignored you. So celebrate with your friends the shattered chalice. At sixty, you won't have the remain- ing tomorrow to carry on the shoulders of anthem, and it won't carry you. Tell life: Walk leisurely as women confident of their magic and schemes walk. Each one has a hidden call: I am yours / how beautiful you are. Walk leisurely, life, so I can see all of your faults around me. I have often forgotten you in your vastness while looking for me and you And whenever I realized one of your secrets you callously said: How ignorant you are! And tell absence: You lack me, yet I am present... to make you whole.
There's a song on my mind, sister, about my country, why don't you sleep so I can write it I saw your body carried in chains and leaking colors, so I said to them: my body is over there! But they blocked the road to the town center We were young, trees were high, you were prettier than my mother and my country Where did they come from when your folk and mine were the ones who fenced the almond grove with toil and thorn! We think of life in a hurry we barely see anyone grieving another. Your body was dispossessed when my mouth was toying with a fresh honey drop that had settled on my muddy hand. There's a song on my mind, sister, about my country, why don't you sleep so I can tattoo it on my flesh.
Remember 01:57
Remember yourself to grow older, forget the dust Remember remember your ten toes, forget the shoes Remember your facial features forget winter's fog Remember your name and your mother, forget the alphabet, Remember your country forget the firmament Remember remember!
Her Eyes 07:37
Two eyes lost in color. Green before grass is green. Blue before dawn is blue. They mimic water's color, then dart a hazel look toward the lake and turn it green. The widen when stars stroll on the roof, constrict in love's bed. They open to receive a dream that glimmers in the night's lids, and close to receive honey that pours from a beehive. They lift poplars and willows higher. And escape from mirrors that are too narrow for them. They are who they are at night, two mirrors of my unknown fate. Two eyes, clear, cloudy, truthful, liars, her eyes.
You who are heading to a wheat grain's cradle plow my body You who are heading to the mountain of fire pass over my body You who pass over my body will not pass I am the land in a body you will not pass I am the wakeful land you will not pass I am the land you who pass over the wakeful land will not pass you won't pass you won't pass
As grass sprouts in the joints of a stone as two strangers we came to be when the spring sky was authoring stars and I was composing a phrase of love to sing for your eyes Do your eyes know that I've waited a long while as a summer bird waits? And that I've slept as an emigrant sleeps with one eye resting for the other to remain awake? We're two friends so walk beside me hand in hand together we'll bake bread and write songs we are lovers until the moon sleeps I love you as caravans love an oasis some water and grass and as a poor man loves a loaf of bread. We'll always stay friends
In Damascus 04:27
In Damascus the doves fly behind the silk fence two by two In Damascus I see all of my language written with a woman's needle on a grain of wheat edited by the partridge of the Mesopotamian rivers In Damascus dialogue goes on between the violin and the oud, and about the endings: whenever a woman kills a passing lover she attains the Lotus Tree of Heaven! In Damascus a gazelle sleeps next to a woman in a bed of dew, the woman takes off her dress and covers Barada with it! In Damascus a bird picks at what is left of wheat in my palm and leaves for me a single grain to show me my tomorrow tomorrow In Damascus the jasmine dallies with me: Don't go far, follow my tracks. The garden becomes jealous: Don't come near the blood of night in my moon In Damascus I count my ribs and return my heart to its trot, perhaps the one who granted me entry to her shadow has killed me and I didn't notice In Damascus I write in a woman's journal: All that's in you of narcissus desires you and no fence, around you, protects you from your night's excess allure In Damascus the traveler sings to himself: I return from Syria neither alive nor dead but as clouds that ease the butterfly's burden from my fugitive soul


There is perhaps no parallel in our modern
times to the artistic bond between Marcel
Khalife and Mahmoud Darwish. It is rare
that a celebrated musician is the twin
manifestation of a great contemporary
poet. Khalife's deep reading of Darwish's
poetry lasted over the four decades of the
poet's life. If an author's dream is to have
one true reader, Darwish found a special
one in Marcel. Marcel heard the modern
Arabic poem as sung speech in a manner
that illuminated the contemporary Arabic
song's ability to embrace rhythm and
phrase within new horizons. His music and
song are "bread for speech," as Darwish
called them, that evaporate the mirage
which often exists between modern poem
and song, in an age where the poem is
wary of public consumption. Darwish and
Marcel shared an exalted belief that, while
it can, art does not dance alone.

Two fiercely independent artists: Marcel
never asked Darwish permission to
compose his poems to music, and Darwish
never asked Marcel to put his poems into
song, nor wrote any of them with that in
mind. And just as Darwish's poem never
ceased developing over the decades, Marcel
Khalife's music kept on transforming:
from the intensely lyrical and committed
to the conversational and introspective;
from the traditional and classical Arabic
song, from the untranslatable and deeply
palpable "Tarab," to the innovative open
music of the jazzy and the cinematic. The
lyrics included here span nearly all forty
years of Darwish's poetry. The progressive
arc of the poet's transformation is easy to
recognize. Similarly the listener will easily
distinguish Khalife's multiple rebirths and
returns. And as music and song are also
an idea of translation, lyrics also are. Some
of the poems here are excerpts of their
original whole, seamlessly sliced and then
spliced by Marcel Khalife: the text becomes
music's subject, just as music becomes
subject to the text.

-Fady Joudah (a Palestinian American poet and winner of the PEN prize for his translations of Mahmoud Darwish's poetry)


released April 9, 2012

Marcel Khalife: composer, oud, vocals
Mahmoud Darwish: poetry

Al Mayadine Ensemble

Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Vladimir Sirinko

Oumaima Khalil: vocals
Yolla Khalife: vocals
Rami Khalife: piano
Bachar Khalife: percussion
Peter Herbert: double bass
Mark Helias: double bass
Ismail Lumanovski: clarinet
Anthony Millet: accordian
Fabio Presgrave: cello
Mahmoud Tourkmani: guitar

Mixing: Skip Burrows, Sunrise Sound Recording, Houston, TX
Mastering: Alexis Bardinet, Globe Audio Mastering, Bordeaux, France

Cover Design: Emile Menhem
Layout Design: Rita Sayegh/Constructure
Fady Joudah: English translation of poems

Producer/Publisher: Nagam Records
Copyrights: Nagam Records, Inc. (2012)


all rights reserved



Marcel Khalife Houston, Texas

Marcel Khalifé is a composer, Oud master & performer. Marcel's creativity, innovations, and humanitarian concerns along with contributions to the promotion of arts and Culture in the Arab world has earned him tens of awards in the Arab World and Internationally. ... more


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