Samih al-Qasim was born in may 1939 to a Druze family in the town of Zarqa in Jordan. His father, Muhammad al-Qasim al-Hussein, was from the village of al-Rama in the Upper Galilee. In 1941, Samih al-Qasim returned with his family to al-Rama and attended the Latin Nuns School and al-Rama School between 1945 and 1953. He then continued his education in Nazareth at the Terra Sancta College between 1953 and 1955 and subsequently at the Municipal Secondary School between 1955 and 1957. Thus from age nine al-Qasim was educated in Israel after it was established in 1948.
Al-Qasim began his professional career as a government teacher and taught at primary schools in the Galilee and al-Karmel. Al-Qasim began to compose poetry at an early age. His first collection of poems, Pageants of the Sun, was published when he was nineteen years old. In the early 1960s, al-Qasim began to work as a journalist. In the early 1970s he became editor of the cultural magazine al-Jadid, published by the Communist Party, and remained its editor for ten years. By the mid-1970s, he had co-founded the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and was a member of the Druze Initiative Committee as well as the National Committee for the Defense of Arab Lands.
Al-Qasim resigned his editorship of al-Jadid following a dispute with the Communist Party leadership over its attitude to the political developments in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev. Al-Qasim was an enthusiastic supporter of the policy of perestroika (restructuring) pursued by Gorbachev. In Nazareth, and along with writer Nabih al-Qasim, he issued a cultural quarterly called Ida’at and was also honorary editor of the newspaper Kull al-‘Arab, which was published in the same city.
Samih al-Qasim is regarded as one of the pillars of contemporary Arabic poetry and one of the most prominent poets of the Palestinian resistance. He made the cause of his Palestinian people his own and illumined its humanitarian and universal aspects. His poetry displays his pride in his Arab identity, attachment to the land, and religious tolerance. A number of his poems have been turned into revolutionary songs that circulated widely. Following his first collection of poetry, Pageants of the Sun (1958), he published over the course of his career more than seventy books, including poetry collections, prose works, and plays, and his works have been translated into more than ten languages
Samih al-Qasim died in Safad Hospital on 19 August 2014. His body was carried to his village al-Rama where thousands turned out for his funeral.