Poet's Life in Palestine
"For a full decade almost no Arabic books were available for sale in Israel, a situation brought about by the Arab states' blockade of Israel and Israel's strict censorship policies. Arabic books were neither imported nor printed within the country for several years, and even after initial attempts were made to publish locally, the number of volumes that emerged was miniscule. One scholar who has surveyed the situation that prevailed during the first ten years of Israel's existence counted just eight books of Arabic poetry, written by five poets - this, though poetry had been for centuries that language's most privileged and popular form of literary expression. The overall situation was perhaps summed up best in a single line (novelist Anton Shammas calls it "the best known line in local Arabic literature") written in 1956 by Nazareth poet Michel Haddad, who had recently come to be one of Taha's best friends "Farewell to thee, ability to breathe."