IRAN: POETRY IN TRANSLATION

Forrough!

THREE POEMS BY FOROUGH FARROKHZAD (1935-1967)

Forough is the Sylvia Plath of Iran.  She is one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Her work is passionate, controversial, and was banned for ten years after Iran’s 1979 Revolution. She died in a car accident at the age of 32.

Sherry

TRANSLATED BY SHERRY LAICI  (SHOHREH)

Sherry, born in Tehran in 1986, represents the Iran few Americans know: interested in social taboos and women’s issues, she is a performance artist, a translator, a video artist, and a scholar of literature and languages.

 

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I WAS DYING OF YOU…

I was dying of you, but you were my life.

You were going with me.
You were reading inside me.
You were going with me,
While I was walking the streets with no destination.
You were going with me.
You were reading inside me.

You were inviting the sparrows in love to the
bright windows, among the elms

When the night had been repeated,
when the night had not yet ended.

You were inviting…
You were coming to our alley with your lights,
You were coming with your lights
When the children were going,
And the clusters of acacia slept,
And I was alone in the mirror.
You were coming with your lights…

You were giving me your hands,
You were giving me your eyes,
You were giving me your love
While I was hungry,
You were giving me your life,
You were generous as light.

You were picking the tulips
And covering my hair.
You were picking the tulips
While my hair throbbed from nudity.

You were rubbing your cheeks
against the anxiety of my breasts,
while I had nothing to tell.

You were rubbing your cheek
Against the anxiety of my breasts and
you listened
to my blood going while it moaned,
and you were listening
to my love dying while it cried…

You were listening but
you were not able to see me.

 

THE CLOCKWORK DOLL

Oh, yeah, even more…
You can stay silent, even more…

For a long time
With a fixed, lifeless eyes
You can gaze at the smoke of a cigarette…
At a cup’s form,
At the colorless flower of the rug,
At the fictitious line on the wall.
With numb fingers
You can draw back the curtains and see
It’s heavily raining in the alley,
A child with his colored kite
Taking shelter beneath a canopy,
The old cart is fleeing the deserted square in haste…
You can stay next to the curtains,
But blind, deaf.

You can cry out
With utterly false voice, utterly alien,
“I Love!”
You can be a gorgeous and healthy female
In the powerful arms of a man

With shiny skin,
With two firm and full breasts.
You can ruin the value of love by debauchery.

You can belittle craftily
Every perplexing riddle,
You can only do crosswords.
You can only be happy to find out the absurd answer,
The absurd answer, yeah, five or six letters.

You can kneel down for a lifetime,
Head bowed, before the cold shrine.
You can see God in an anonymous grave.
You can find your faith by a few pennies.
You can decay like the old prayer
Inside a mosque’s chambers.
You can be like a zero,
Yielding nothing,
Whether added or subtracted or multiplied.
You can think your eyes are like the buttons from an old shoe,
Caught in a web of anger.
You can dry up like water from one’s own pit.

You can hide inside the closet,
One moment with shame,
Like a ridiculous black and white instant photo.
You can play the role of sentenced, or beaten, or crucified,
Inside the empty frame of a day.
You can cover the hole of the wall by smiling.
You can get involved with absurd roles.

You can be like the clockwork dolls.
Look out at the world through two glassy eyes.
You can sleep years inside a felt box.
Your body
Full of straw,
Wrapped in layers of confetti and lace,
With every licentious squeeze of someone’s hand.
You can cry out, for no reason:
“Ah…How happy I am…”

 

ANOTHER BIRTH

The whole of my existence is a dark verse
that will take you away in its repetition
to the dawn of eternal budding and blooming.
In this verse, I sighed at the thought of you …Ah,
In this verse, I tied you
to the tree and water and fire.

Perhaps life is a long street that a woman crosses with her basket every day.
Perhaps life is a rope a man hangs himself with from a branch.
Perhaps life is a child who returns from school.
Perhaps life is the lighting a cigarette, in the languorous memory of love making.

Or perhaps life is coming across…a passer-by who
tips his hat to another with a meaningless smile
and says, “Good morning.”
Perhaps life is that blocked moment
when my gaze ruins itself in the pupils of your eyes
and there is a feeling
that I will blend with the moon’s perception and the reception of darkness.

In a room that is the size of loneliness, my heart
that is the size of a love
gazes at the simple pretext of its happiness,
the beautiful decay of the flowers in the vase,
the sapling you have planted in our garden,
and the singing of canaries that is the size of a window

Ah…
This is my share, this is my share,
this is my share,
the sky which is stolen from me by covering a curtain.

This is my share,
descending an abandoned stair
to a place destructive, alienated.

This is my share,
the sorrowful walk in the garden of memories,
dying in a sorrowful voice which says to me:
“I love your hands”

I plant my hands in the garden,
I will become green, I know, I know, I know
and the swallows will lay their eggs in the hollow of my inky fingers

I will wear earrings which are made from a twined red cherry
and dress my fingernails with dahlia petals.
There is an alley where
the boys, who were in love with me,
with shaggy hair and narrow necks and skinny legs
still thinking about that innocent girl’s smile,
the girl the wind blew away one night.

There is an alley that my heart
stole from my childhood’s neighborhood.

The journey of a form through,
inseminating the dry line of time,
the conscious image
that returns from a mirror’s party,
and this is how
someone dies
and someone lives.
No hunter will ever catch a pearl in a stream that flows into a pit.

I know a sad sprite who inhabits an ocean,
and she plays her heart through a wooden harmonica
softly, softly

The sad sprite
who dies of a kiss at night
and will be born of a kiss at dawn.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Mr. Woo said,

    July 12, 2016 at 1:56 am

    Great translations. I can only imagine reading this in the original, but I imagine it even more mesmerizing:

    I plant my hands in the garden,
    I will become green, I know, I know, I know
    and the swallows will lay their eggs in the hollow of my inky fingers

    &

    You were inviting the sparrows in love to the
    bright windows, among the elms

    When the night had been repeated,
    when the night had not yet ended.

    Hard to go wrong with birds. Thank you Forough. & Sherry.


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