“But the blooming words declare the storm with bravery”: Five 21st-century Iranian women poets

“A Rush”  by Sylvana Salmanpour

With soft words

I draw a childhood dream

on a nascent memory.

I write in peace

so that the silky dream of the notebook

will not tear apart.

But the blooming words declare

the storm with bravery.

“Those Days”  by Fereshteh Sari

Those days


was my room

and wherever I felt unsafe

I gravitated into its eternal sanctuary.

These days

there aren’t any rooms

that can harbour me against the crowd

and behind every window

inside and outside every room

a two-faced clown sneers.

“The Stone I become”  by Nasrin Ranjbar Irani

I do not grow or nurture

the stone, I become

the stone

I mask the spring’s mouth

I do not cry or distress others

The Rock, I become

The Rock

that intrudes into the peaceful pond

Neither do I laugh nor do I want others to laugh

The stone, I become

the stone and I shatter the mirrors.

To poetry

I vow, to joy, to dew,

that I will be a stone again

an undeniable slash across the brow

But before these all

I want to be

the glass

the flame

the mirror

Ah!  A crystal ball

and the spring rain…

Once and Only Once

To be in love, in love, in love

in this lifetime,

Once and Only Once!

“Neither a Satellite nor the Internet”  by Pegah Ahmadi

A poem ambles across the wall

forever and a day

In the heart of the kitchen it spins,

spins on the porch

And when it returns

It utters:

Neither a Satellite nor the Internet

I am not the universal Media

Nothing but a new leaf on this arid plant

Or the thought of a rendezvous

Makes me rejoice

I am only a poem to brush your hair

A poem to pass through you!

“A Day without You”  by Nasrin Behjati

And I commenced my day

Without you or your name

I spilled you out of my tea

Out of my breakfast

From the kitchen

And I didn’t nurture the plants…

so that I could witness your rage,

Your name from autumn

The autumn from the field

And the field from the poems,  I


I heaved you out of my memories and

the seasons and I walked to the mirror

To cut short the locks you loved so,

Alas!   In the mirror a sunflower reflected

Your unkind frame,

Outlined my face forevermore,

I had become you!


The poems featured here from five Iranian women poets were translated

from Persian (Farsi) into English by Sheema Kalbasi.

Visit her literary site:  http://www.sheemakalbasi.com

Quatrains that Question: 20th-century Iranian poets: Mohammad Mehdi Fulâdvand, Abdulhosayn Nosrat, Mohammad-Taqi Bahar

It is better that the world be a mystery for us,

Better that a hundred voices be in the assembly of the wise.

If the veil drops from the face of the mysterious Belovéd,

What more need will there be for supplication, glorification, and pride?


The world is like a bubble.   What kind of bubble?

A bubble, not on water, but on the surface of a mirage.

A mirage which is seen in a dream.

A dream which is seen by someone who is dead-drunk.


Our freedom is the principle of our development,

Which is the purpose intended by God.

Live freely, but be careful not to allow

Your freedom to be the brigand* of others’ freedom.


*brigand = bandit, plunderer, robber


Translations from Persian (Farsi) into English:  © Reza Saberi

Isfahâni, Sabzvâri, Behizâd, Sarvi: رباعیات

I do not do anything except with a pure and sincere heart.

I do not care for anyone’s approval or disapproval.

Even if I am hurt by the whole world,

I want no one to be hurt by me.


If you wish to step onto the road of love,

You must first have the mind for love, then the heart for it.

Think not of the comforts and difficulties of love.

Take to the sea and ask not where the shore is.


O moon-like Sâqi*, give me wine in this month of fasting.

For fasting became forbidden to me now.

Let me break my fast – for my eyes saw the crescent moon

Of your eyebrow and the full moon of your face.


(*Sâqi – the cupbearer / wine-servant, in a tavern –

often a handsome youth;  in Sufism, Sâqi is a spiritual master)



The spirit is intoxicated when it sees the belovéd’s face.

Any nonbeing becomes being – by his existence.

Alas, alas, this exhilarating wine of union

Goes from one hand to another in the feast of life.


I have drunk the water of life from my belovéd’s lip.

I have drunk the wine of spirit from the cup of unity.

I know neither disbelief nor belief.

I have tied belief and disbelief with the knot of love.


20th-century Persian Rubáiyát (“Quatrains”) by Saghir Isfahâni  (#1 and #3), Hamid Sabzvâri (#2),

Jalâl Behizâd (#4), Hushang Hekmati (Sarvi) (#5).

Translations from Persian (Farsi)  into English:  © Reza Saberi

Perfect Poems: the Mediaeval Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám / ‏ عمر خیام

In the sphere of the sky, whose depth is invisible,

There is a cup from which everyone must drink in turn.

When your turn comes, do not sigh.

Drink it happily, for it is your turn to drink.


Time is ashamed of that person

Who sits lonely and grieves over days now past.

Drink wine from a glass to the sound of a harp

Before the glass smashes into a rock.


Yesterday I saw a jug-maker in the bazaar,

Who was treading a lump of clay, repeatedly,

While that clay told him in its own language:

“I used to be like you.  Treat me kindly!”

Why do you grieve over existence, my friend?

Why do you afflict your heart and soul with futile thoughts?

Live joyfully and spend your life happily in the world.

They did not consult you in the beginning anyway.


Some people are thoughtful about religion.

Others are suspicious of any conviction.

I am afraid one day a voice may call out:

” Oh ignorant ones,  the way is neither this nor that. “


From the nadir of the black mud to the zenith of Saturn,

I have solved all the major problems of being.

I untied many difficult knots, using many tricks.

Every knot I’ve opened, except the knot of death.






Omar Khayyám (1048-1131) was born in Nishapur, Persia (contemporary Iran),

and is considered to be among the greatest of all the world’s poets.

He composed a thousand rubáiyát  (Persian-language quatrains) – brief poems in

four lines that touch upon Life’s big themes:  the love for the Belovéd (be it human and

amorous, or be it the love of God (Allah);   the meaning of Life;   Spirituality;

the mystery of Death.

Khayyám was a profoundly mystical thinker – Sufi and Muslim –

an astronomer and mathemetician who was also a poet.  People have interpreted

and mis-interpreted the meanings of his quatrains – 19th-century translator

Edmund FitzGerald most famously (yet beautifully) – but Khayyám’s voice – intelligent,

warm, vigorous, direct – speaks to all our human wonderings even now, 900 years

“down the road”.   The contemporary translations here, from Persian(Farsi) into English,

have been done with a simple, pleasing clarity by Reza Saberi.

“An Acrostic to Benito Juárez” by Rubi / “Acróstico a Benito Juárez” por Rubi

Acróstico a Benito Juárez” por Rubi / “An Acrostic to Benito Juárez” by Rubi


B  enito Juárez                                             B  enito Juárez:

E  ra mexicano.                                           E  specially Mexican was he.

N  acido en Oaxaca,                                   N  atal place?  Oaxaca, and he was

I  ndígeno – ¡seguro!                                   I  ndigenous – for sure!

T  oda su infancia                                        T  ending sheep was the task

O vejas cuidaba.                                          O  f  his childhood.

*                                                                         *

J  uárez político                                           J  uárez the Politician

U nió a los pobres,                                      U  nited with the poor, en-

A  mó la justicia,                                        A  moured of justice,

R  echazó a los franceses.                         R  epelled the French.

E  n conclusión él fue                                 Ever known shall he be, the

Z  apoteco valiente.                                    Z  apotec most brave.




Hoy día – el 21 marzo – se celebra el natalicio del prócer mexicano – Benito Juárez .

Rubi…¡te agradecemos!


Benito Juárez  (1806-1872) was President of México, serving five terms between 1858 and 1872.

Illiterate till the age of 12, by 1834 he was a lawyer, and by 1847 – governor of the state of Oaxaca.

As President he began nation-wide reforms, including the promotion of a civil society

– this included the curtailment of the powers of the dominant Catholic Church.  He brought an end to

the Franco-Mexican War (“The Maximilian Affair”) of the 1860s, and his political movement,

La Reforma, though interrupted by the sometimes-regressive presidency of Porfirio Díaz, is

clearly viewed as the first push toward modernization of Mexico’s economy, politics, and society.

Today, March 21st, is Benito Juárez’ birth date.


Interpretación del poema en inglés / Poem interpretation into English from Spanish:

Alexander Best

Happy Persian New Year! / !سال نو مبارک

When I started up out of sleep

it was just the beginning of spring

– no more,

no less.

The stray dog

washes its body

in spring rain.

Your life will become radiant through love.

You will become spirit from head to toe through love.

When the spring wind of love comes into motion,

Any branch which is not dry –  starts dancing !


Толстой, Майков, Фет, Пушкин, Дельвиг: Весна Pycckar! / Russian Spring!

Алексей Толстой / Count Aleksey Tolstoy (1817-1875)

Early-early Spring



The early-early spring it was,

new blades of grass peered forth,

rivulets ran, the air was warmly soft,

and the woods were of transparent green.

The shepherd’s horn at break of day

was yet unheard in the village;

the forest ferns still kept their fronds

in spikes of laces furléd.


Early-early spring it was –

white gleamed from the silver birch-trees –

– and then I beheld thine eyes to smile

from under lowered eyelids…

Was it in answer to my love

thine eyelashes did tremble – ?

O Life – woods – sunshine clear!

O Youth, O hopes high soaring!

And tears came to my eyes

As I adored thy features…


It was in early-early spring –

the silver birches gleamed –

in this morning of our life,

O happiness – and tears!

O Life – woods – and sunshine clear!

Fresh breath of silver birches!



Аполлон Майков / Apollon Maykov (1821-1897)

Весна / Spring


Посвящается Коле Трескину

Уходи, зима седая!

Уж красавицы Весны

Колесница золотая

Мчится с горней вышины!

Старой спорить ли, тщедушной,

С ней – царицею цветов,

С целой армией воздушной

Благовонных ветерков!

А что шума, что гуденья,

Теплых ливней и лучей,

И чиликанья, и пенья!..

Уходи себе скорей!

У нее не лук, не стрелы,

Улыбнулась лишь – и ты,

Подобрав свой саван белый,

Поползла в овраг, в кусты!..

Да найдут и по оврагам!

Вон – уж пчел рои шумят,

И летит победным флагом

Пестрых бабочек отряд!




Афанaсий Фет  / Afanasy Fet (1820-1892)

Vesna na dvore / Spring Has Come

What fresh, invigorating air!

No words can do it justice—none!

How loud, at noontide, runnels in the gulley

Spin their silvery skeins against the stones!

Birdsong trembles in the ether, fades;

Rye is greenly sprouting in the field—

And soft a gentle voice is singing:

“Another spring, and you alive to greet it!”



Александр Пушкин (1799-1837)

Ты и вы

             Пустое вы сердечным ты

             Она обмолвясь заменила,

             И все счастливые мечты

             В душе влюбленной возбудила.

             Пред ней задумчиво стою,

             Свести очей с нее нет силы;

             И говорю ей: как вы милы!

             И мыслю: как тебя люблю!



Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

You and Thou

             She used the hearty thou, by chance,

             Instead of you, so stiff and formal,

             Arousing happy dreams at once

             Inside my loving heart and soul.

             I’m standing speechless in a glow

             Admiring her sincerely;

             I tell her:   you are charming, really!

             I think inside:  I love thee so!



            Антон Дельвиг  (1798-1831)


             Прекрасный день, счастливый день:

             И солнце, и любовь!

             С нагих полей сбежала тень –

             Светлеет сердце вновь.

             Проснитесь, рощи и поля;

             Пусть жизнью все кипит:

             Она моя, она моя!

             Мне сердце говорит.

             Что, вьешься, ласточка, к окну,

             Что, вольная, поешь?

             Иль ты щебечешь про весну

             И с ней любовь зовешь?

             Но не ко мне,- и без тебя

             В певце любовь горит:

             Она моя, она моя!

             Мне сердце говорит.


            Anton Delvig (1798-1831)


             Oh what a lovely, happy day!

             There’s love, the sun, the plain!

             The shadows all have gone away

             My heart is light again.

             Wake up, you groves and fields, and see

             That all is filled with life!

             She’s mine! – my heart is telling me,

             She’s mine, and all is live.

             Why do you, little swallow cling

             Onto to my windowpane?

             Perchance, you sing about the spring

             Inviting love again?

             It’s not for me, as I can see,

             The singer’s love, divine.

             It is my heart who’s telling me:

             She’s mine, oh yes she’s mine!


Translations from Russian:  Alec Vagapov