MODERN PERSIAN POETRY
Five Poems from Modern Persian Poetry
By: Mahmud Kianush
Published by: The Rockingham Press 1996
Copyright shall at all times remain vested in the Author.
No part of the work shall be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the Author's express written consent.
Mehdi Akhavan Saless
Nima Youshij (1895 - 1969)
My Heart of Steel
Leave me alone,
- Me, the babbler-
And do not take away my horse,
My saddle-cover and my provision,
Because a restive thought
Has drawn me out of my house.
I have returned from a land
Where no happiness is found.
I have seen lands
Which are the bases of vicious rebels
Who occupy themselves with massacres;
Lands, with spring planted in every corner,
Not flowers, but the wounds of men slain.
On my way, I thought in vain
That any traveller could pass
Through this desert of death
If he had a heart of steel
And could nonchalantly observe good and evil,
Taking all problems easily,
Knowing this world
As the place of hatred and murder,
The place of destruction and wretchedness.
But now I see that my return,
With all the wisdom I put to use,
Has been to the same desert of death,
And the horrible nightmares which have been
My memories from my journey
And still alive before my eyes,
Burning my existence
In their annihilating fire.
For me, a ruined man of travel,
There is not a moment of time to stay;
Now I am more plundered than anyone else;
I have lost whatever I had,
My heart of steel is no longer with me;
I was nothing but my heart,
And now I see
That my heart of steel is left behind on the way;
There is no doubt
That my heart has been thrown
By those malicious people
Into the arms of a spring
Whose flowers, as I said,
Are of blood and wounds.
And now I am thinking that my heart of steel
Rusting in the blood of my brothers
So innocently, so unjustly slain.
Ahmad Shamloo [A. Bamdad] (b. 1925)
The Garden of Mirror
With a lamp in my hand,
and a lamp shining ahead,
I am on my way
to fight against darkness.
The cradles of weariness
have stopped swaying,
And in the depths a sun
lightens the burnt-out galaxies.
The riotous cries of lightning,
When the hailstones take form
in the restless wombs of clouds;
And the silent pain of the vine
When the baby grapes appear
at the top of long, winding branches:
My cry was all an escape from pain,
Because, in the most horrible nights,
I have been seeking the sun
with a hopeless prayer.
You have come from the suns,
from the dawns.
In a void where there was neither a God,
I have been seeking your glances
and your trust
with a hopeless prayer.
A vital current
Between two deaths
In the emptiness between two solitudes:
Your trust is something like this!
Your joy is ruthless and noble,
Your breaths in my empty hands
are songs and grass.
I rise !
A lamp in my hand, a lamp in my heart.
I polish my rusty soul.
I set a mirror opposite yours
To make your image infinite.
Forough Farrokhzad (1933-1967)
He took me to the rose garden,
And in darkness, he threaded
a red rose in my ruffled hair,
And made love with me
On a red rose petal.
O paralysed pigeons,
O native, infertile trees,
O blind windows,
Below my heart and deep inside my loins
A red rose has begun to grow,
A red rose,
Red as the flags of revolution.
Ah! I am pregnant, pregnant,
I am pregnant.
Sohrab Sepehri (1928 - 1980)
The Motion of the Word Life
Beyond the pinewood, snow;
Snow, and a flock of crows.
The road means emigration;
Wind, sounds traveller,
and feeling like having some sleep.
Ivy foliage, arrival, and
stepping into the backyard.
I and my gloomy heart,
and these wet windowpanes.
I am writing, and two walls,
and several sparrows.
Someone is sad;
Someone is weaving;
Someone is counting;
Someone is singing.
Life means a starling took wing.
What has made you unhappy?
Pleasant things are not scarce;
for instance, the sun
that shines there;
The child of the day-after-tomorrow;
Or the pigeons of last week.
Drops of water falling;
Snow lying on the shoulder of silence;
And time on the spine
of the white jasmine.
Mehdi Akhavan Saless [ M. Omid]
(1928 - 1990)
At the lunch table
I was positioning myself as usual
With one or two goblets
Of my stinging, deadly booze,
Taking as nibbles
The bitter, burning lip-biting
Of one who,
with all the world,
Still feels alone.
The little boy,
- my son -
Has gone up there,
In the nook above two rows of bookshelves,
With his hands stretched on both sides,
Leaning on his elbows,
His palms open,
His legs hanging down,
And his head lifted up,
Like a cross made of rough wood,
Or, if I must avoid a rough similization,
Perhaps like a crucified man.
"Come down, Zardosht," said his sister, (1)
"Its time to go to bed;
"Come down, I'm sleepy!"
"I won't come down,"
said the Zardosht of the cross;
I told him, or I should have told him,
"You come down, son!
"Your father must sleep up there!"
"Up there your father is asleep!"
(1) In the poem, Zardosht is the name of the poet's son but,
as he is drunk and lonely, the poet sees the image of Zardosht (Zoroaster or Zarathustra), founder of the Zoroastrian religion, mixed with images of Jesus Christ on the cross. Though he never denied being a Moslem, Akhavan Saless was deeply interested in ancient Persian civilisation and its religions.
"Modern Persian Poetry"
(An anthology in English)
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1998 K. Kianush, Art Arena