Many of Darwish's poems were set to music most notably "Rita and the Rifle", "I lost a beautiful dream", "Birds of Galilee" and "I Yearn for my Mother's Bread" and have become anthems for at least two generations of Arabs, by Arab composers, among them Marcel Khalife, Reem Kelani, Majida El Roumi and Ahmad Qa'abour. In the 1980s, Sabreen, a Palestinian group in Israel, recorded an album including versions of Darwish's poems "On Man" and "On Wishes". Khalife was accused of blasphemy and insulting religious values because a song entitled "I am Yusuf, oh my father" based on Darwish's lyrics, cited a verse from the Qur'an. In this poem, Darwish shared the pain of Yusuf (Joseph) who was rejected by his brothers, who fear him because he is too handsome and kind. "Oh my father, I am Yusuf / Oh father, my brothers neither love me nor want me in their midst". The story of Joseph is an allegory for the rejection of the Palestinians.
Tamar Muskal, an Israeli-American composer incorporated Dawish's "I Am From There" into her composition "The Yellow Wind," which combines a full orchestra, Arabic flute, Arab and Israeli poetry, and themes from David Grossman's book The Yellow Wind. Youseff M. Ibrahim,
In 2002, Swiss composer Klaus Huber completed a large work entitled Die Seele muss vom Reittier Steigen…, a chamber concerto for cello, baritone and countertenor that incorporates Darwish's "The Soul Must Descend from its Mount and Walk on its Silken Feet".
In 1997, a documentary entitled Mahmoud Darwish was produced by French TV, directed by French-Israeli director Simone Bitton.
Darwish appeared as himself in Jean-Luc Godard's Notre Musique (2004).
In 2008, Mohammed Fairouz set selections from State of Siege to music.
In 2008 Darwish starred in the five-screen film id – Identity of the Soul from Arts Alliance Productions, in which he narrates his poem "A Soldier Dreams of White Lilies" along with Ibsen's poem "Terje Vigen". Id was his final performance and premiered in Palestine in October 2008, with audiences of tens of thousands, and currently (2010) continues its worldwide screening tour.
In 2009 Egin, patchanka band from Italy, published in the album Des Maunet a song with the poem "Identity Card".