A Soldier Dreams of White Lilies: Background information when reading Sadness Is a White Bird

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Sadness Is a White Bird

by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher X
Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 12, 2019, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat

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About this Book

A Soldier Dreams of White Lilies

This article relates to Sadness Is a White Bird

Sadness is a White Bird's cryptic title is actually a direct quotation from Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish's 1967 poem, "A Soldier Dreams of White Lilies," which forms part of his collection The End of Night.

Did you feel sad? I asked.
Cutting me off, he said, Mahmoud, my friend,
sadness is a white bird that does not come near a battlefield.
Soldiers commit a sin when they feel sad.

Indeed, much of Rothman-Zecher's novel takes inspiration from the imagery and themes within this seminal poem that stages a dialogue between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian narrator who shares the poet's name, Mahmoud.

Mahmoud Darwish Mahmoud Darwish, who passed away in 2008 after complications from open-heart surgery, is widely regarded as one of the most popular Palestinian poets. He was especially known for how he used his art to draw attention to the Palestinian cause. Mahmoud's poems often evoke a sense of Palestinian national aspiration, and as such "White Lilies" is quite atypical in the poet...

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