“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


Mohammad-Taqí Bahār: “Rid the heart of darkness” – a poem for Nowruz

Mohammad-Taqí Bahār (Iranian poet, 1884-1951)



Spring now, flowers are coming, there’s happiness in the green vine,

Blossoms are blooming – all except mine.

Free spirit, don’t lose heart, on New Year’s Day *,

I heard from the lips of a lily today:

Do not sing the seven illusions this New Year’s Eve **, I beg thee:

Complaint, curse, corruption, cacophony, clumsiness, chaos and cruelty.

The seven symbols make:  of serene “sabzeh”, of scented “sonbol” and sweet “seeb”;

Of “senjed”, “samanu”, “seer” and “somaq”.

Send the seven symbols to the table of a lover.

Toss the seven illusions toward the door of an ill-wisher.

It’s New Year’s Eve – rid the heart of darkness.

Eventually this shadow-night will turn to brightness.

Carry out the New Year traditions and, God willing,

Bring back that feeling of excellent beginnings !





“sabzeh” – a flowerpotful of newly-sprouted wheat

“sonbol” – the Hyacinth flower – native to Iran, early Spring bloomer

“seeb” – apple

“senjed” – fruit of the mountain-ash tree, or red date, a.k.a.  jujube

“samanu” – a creamy wheat germ pudding

“seer” – garlic

“somaq” – red berries of the Sumac tree

Editor’s note:  Also “serkeh” – vinegar – representing old age and patience…




* The Persian/Iranian New Year is always the same day as the

First Day of Spring – March 20th this year.  It is known as

Nowruz – “New Day”.  Nowruz is pre-Islamic in origin, and is

celebrated by the Kurdish people as well.

** March 19th this year

Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh: Habla la “Voz” irlandesa / The Irish “Voice” Speaks

ZP_Kerry Way walking path between Sneem and Kenmare_Ireland


Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh

(nace 1984, Tralee, condado de Kerry, Irlanda

/ born 1984, Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland)

“Cuando Uno Se Desespera”


 Hay algunos días cuando

– admitámoslo –

me canso de

unirme por su defensa

Me agoto de estar arraigado

aquí junto a su cabecera

Esta lengua

que ha sido violada,

estoy esperando que se recupere,

cuidando de ella, diligentemente,

deseándole que la Vida entre en ella de nuevo

Y cuando veo

sus huesos pudriéndose


Sé que

algún día

no quedará nada

sólo el polvo, mudo…

como yo – si pensamos en esto.




“Laethanta Lagmhisnigh”


Admhaím corrlá

bím traochta

dá cosaint os comhair an tsaoil

Bím bréan de bheith fréamhaithe

cois leapan

na teangan éignithe


ag guí biseach uirthi

á faire go cúramach

ag impí beatha inti arís

Is nuair a chím

a cnámha lofa

ag cailciú


ná beidh fágtha

lá éigin

ach smúit bhalbh . . .

ach an oiread liom féin.




“When One Despairs”


Some days, let’s admit it,

I tire

of rallying to her defence

I weary of being rooted

here by her bedside

this language

that has been violated

hoping she’ll come around

watching her assiduously

wishing the life back into her again

And when I see

her rotting bones


I know that

one day

there will be nothing left

nothing but dust, mute . . .

like myself, come to think of it.




“Un Tema de Cierto Pesar”


No, no estoy tan deprimido que

me quedo

debajo del edredón

todo el día

– eso sería una exageración.

Sólo es que

mi ojo

me hizo feliz verle a usted,


a quien dejé ahí


Y esta mañana

en mi boca

hay un sabor de cerveza negra

– y el pesar.






Nílim chomh duairc

go bhfanfainn

fén duvet

ar feadh an lae

sin áibhéil.

Níl ann ach gur

thug mo shúil

taithneamh éigin duit,

a stróinséir

is gur fhágas

im dhiaidh tú

oíche aréir

agus go bhfuil

blas pórtair

is áiféala

im’ bhéal

ar maidin.




“A Matter of Some Regret”


No, I’m not so depressed

as to stay

under the duvet

all day

That would be an exaggeration.

It’s just that

my eye

gladdened at the sight of you,


left behind

last night.

And this morning

there’s a taste of stout

and regret

in my mouth.



© Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh

Translation from Irish into English:

© Gabriel Rosenstock



“Barrio Chino”


Barrio chino

bullicio sin final

un sonido resaltó

entre los enredados sonidos

jalándome hacia

su súplica…

era un pescado

en una vasija poco profunda


con mucha urgencia.

Una mujer que lo miraba

con ojos saltados

como los ojos del pescado,

alcanzando la orilla

sin esperanzas.






El Corrib* se desbordó


una poza debajo del Arco

el cielo amenaza esta mañana

y a mi casi me aplastan

en la luz roja del semáforo

un hombre de nariz aguileña

sentado en un pequeño muro,

dolor en sus ojos.

un cisne en sus brazos,

una bolsa negra la cobijaba,

una herida brillante es su blanco cuello.



*Corrib – un río en el condado de Galway, Irlanda






rírá síoraí Chinatown

éiríonn torann amháin

os cionn an chlampair

is meallann mé chuige

lena impí…

iasc a bhí ann

in árthach íseal

ag slup slaparnach

le hoiread práinne.

Bean á fhaire

a súile ar bolgadh

amhail súil an éisc

ag cur thar maoil

le neart gan feidhm.






bhris an Choirib a bruacha


bhí tuile fén bPóirse

bhagair an spéir ar maidin,

is ba dhóbair gur deineadh leircín díom

ag solas tráchta dearg

bhí fear cromógach suite

ar bhalla íseal,

goin ina shúile.

ina bhaclainn, bhí eala,

sac dubh uimpi

is cneá dearg ar a muineál bán.







the racket’s neverending

one sound rose

above the jingle jangle

drawing me towards

its plea…

it was a fish

in a shallow vessel

slup-slopping about

with much urgency.

A woman watching it

her eyes bulging

like the eyes of the fish

bulging to the brim




Translation from the Irish: Gabriel Rosenstock






the Corrib* broke its banks

last night

a pool under the Arch

the sky threatened this morning

and I was almost flattened

at a red traffic light

a hook-nosed man sat

on a low wall,

hurt in his eyes.

in his arms was a swan,

a black sack around her,

a bright red wound on her white neck.



*Corrib – a river in County Galway, Ireland

Translation from the Irish:  by the poet herself.



About the Poet:

Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh’s first collection of poetry, Péacadh, was published in 2008.  She has read poetry in Montréal, New York, Paris and Baile an Fheirtéaraigh.  She was raised speaking Irish and English, but writes in Irish only as she thinks it’s a more exciting language.


Traducciones del inglés en español /

Translations from English into Spanish:

Alexander Best  (“Cuando Uno se Desespera” y “Un Tema de Cierto Pesar”)

Lidia García Garay  (“Barrio Chino” y “Herida”/ “Chinatown” and “Wound”)


Caitríona Ní Chléirchín: La nueva poetisa lírica irlandesa / The new love lyricist of Irish poetry

Two scythes.

Caitríona Ní Chléirchín

(nace/born 1978, Gortmoney, Emyvale,

condado de Monaghan, Irlanda/Ireland)

“Segando con Guadaña”


Érase una vez, la guadaña

era afilada

con la piedra de guadaña


debajo del tocador

por miedo de que

un niño hiciera pedazos de ella.


Hoy día, no quedan ni guadaña ni piedra de guadaña

sólo los pedazos de recuerdo.





Tráth, cuireadh

faobhar ar speal

le cloch faobhair

a cuireadh faoi cheilt

faoin drisiúr

ar eagla go ndéanfadh

leanbh conamar de.


Inniu, níl speal, ná cloch faobhair,

ná drisiúr a thuilleadh,

níl ach conamar na gcuimhní againn.






Once, a scythe

would be sharpened

with the scything stone


under the dresser

for fear

a child would make fragments of it.


Today, no scythe or scything stone remains

only the fragments of memory.






Como una abeja casi en mi corazón,

apareciste floreando por mis pechos,

y todos tus besos eran las picaduras más dulces,

atrayéndome con besos-picaduras.

Hiciste la miel en mi ombligo,

pero la picadura la más grande fue entre mis piernas.

Me pinchaste

con palabras tan suaves.

Revoloteó el corazón

y debajo de ti

como un azahar o un tallo, me doblé.

Me abriste como una puerta de miel

y todo mi dulzura bebiste.

Está moteado ahora el cuerpo con picaduras azules-rojas,

con salpicadura de gema morada,

y pintada por todo con mordiscos de amor y odio.

Clavaste en mí tu aguijón,

y llena mi cabeza tu zángano.

Una abeja salvaje, un abejorro zumbando

dentro de mí para siempre,

nunca mostrándome ninguna clemencia.





Ba gheall le beach i mo chroí thú.

Tháinig tú amach ag bláthú trí mo chíocha

is ba chealg mhilis iad na póga

cealgphógadh do mo chealgadh.

Rinne tú mil i m’imleacán,

ach chuaigh an chealg ba mhó idir an dá chos.

Phrioc tú mé

le briathra míne.

Tháinig eitilt ar mo chroí

is lúb mé fút mar bhláth, mar ghas.

D’oscail tú mé mar dhoras meala

is d’ól tú uaim

achan mhilseacht.

Anois tá mo cholainn breactha le cealga gormdhearga,

buailte le seodchealga corcra

clúdaithe le baill seirce is fuatha ó bhun go barr.

Sháigh tú ionam do chealg bheiche

is níor stad do dhordán riamh i m’inchinn.

Beach fhiáin ab ea thú, bumbóg ag crónán go síoraí ionam

is ní raibh trócaire ar bith agat dom.






Like a bee almost in my heart,

you emerged flowering though my breasts,

and your every kiss was the sweetest sting,

enticing me with sting-kissing.

You made honey in my navel,

but the greatest sting went between my legs.

You pricked me

with words so gentle.

My heart fluttered

and beneath you

like a blossom or a stem, I bent.

You opened me like a honey door

and all my sweetness you drank.

My body is speckled now with blue-red stings,

with purple gem-sting stippling,

and dappled all over with love and hate bites.

You thrust your bee-sting into me,

and your drone still fills my brain.

A wild bee, a bumbling humming bee

forever inside me,

never showing any mercy.




The poet  tells us:

“The ‘musics’ of Irish and English are different…In Irish you can hear the sea, the mountains,you can hear echoes of loss.  I’m not saying you can’t hear these in English – just that Irish is more musical, less clinical. English has been described by some Irish speakers as the language to sell pigs in – I think that’s too harsh.  I think in the way we speak English in Ireland you can hear the longing for Irish.  Irish is more elemental, earthy, more natural in a way – a language greatly wounded and for that reason maybe closer to the body and emotion – for me as a poet.”


©  Caitríona Ní Chléirchín

Translations from Irish to English:

by the poet herself.


Translations from English into Spanish /

Traducciones del inglés al español:

Alexander Best (“Bee”)

Lidia García Garay (“Scything”)