onsdag 13. april 2011

Ahmad Shamlou's Poetry in English

The Sacred Tree of Life-or a Blessing Cross, I am not;

But only a young plant -with wide open arms,

to gather you in-for a moment of rest

whenever You wish.”

Ahmad Shamlou (1925 — 2000) was a very prolific Persian poet, writer, and journalist. His poetry shoud be placed within the new frames initiated for Persian poetry by Nima Youshij.

Ahmad Shmlou’s career spanned over half a century, a century with decisive turns in the country’s socio-political environment. Such environment combined with the richness of the poet’s repertory of myth and his universal outlook on human condition allowed him to use themes that are to some extent exotic to Iranian culture in his poetry. It is so that he artfully uses the atmosphere like the Passion of Christ or Exodus and Passover or masterpieces like Hamlet for his personal expressions.

In his poetry language takes on more complex uses compared to his contemporary poets and his style is quite pretentious. The abstractions used in his poems are less figurative than usual for Persian poetry tradition and one sees the conscious intervention of the poet is the arrangements of emotions and thoughts. The themes in his poetry range from poilitical issues mostly freedom to human condition and love. He was a Nobel prize nominee for literature in 1984.

Maryam Dilmaghani

Winter 2008, Montréal

The Hymn of Abraham in Fire
The flood of Dawn,
-wounded and bleeding-
runs to the greeting of a Man
beyond the ground of the ordinary.

A man
who wanted the Land green.
A man
who deemed Love
the ornament of Exquisite Beauty,
-and solely so-

For in his eyes
dust and sand
undeserved this prized gift
that is Love.

What a man!
What a man!
A man who believed:
The truth of a heart
only blazes more
with the encounter of blades.
A man who believed:
The fate of a voice
is to utter the finest of words,
and solely so.

A man,
Sublime like a lion on the top of a cliff:
Such loyal to Love!
And the wheel of fortune sketched his story
in the likeness of Achilles.
What a man!
A Knight in his bright armour!
And the mystery of his end
flows constantly
in the Sorrow of Love
and in the Torments of Solitude.


“O Sad Spandyat*,
May you forever remain
with veiled eyes!”


“And who
was ever as dignified
as to draw the Lines of My Destiny?
Which One?”

I alone, screamed: No!
I alone, abstained
from the Fall.
I was a voice
-and a face
amongst the collection of depictions-

And then
I was animated in the Dimensions of Sense.
I was,
And then I became:
Not alike a bud
thriving into a rose;
and not like roots into stems;
and not like seeds into forest;

But like a man
just a man
surging into The Martyr:
The martyr that Heavens worship
-with devotion and humility-

As I never was
Of the wretched and the meek
-the crowd of the slaves-
And it never was
that Paradise
could prize
my enforced deference:
Only another Divine
could ever be Mine!

A divine
warranting a creature
that stands against the fate
valiant and free.
And indeed,
I laboured the birth
of this Other Divine.


Alas, for the brave-heart
and the lion that you were;
Like a mountain, like a rock.
And before streaming on this grass
You had already died
even beyond
the cross of intergrity and dignity.

And no!
Neither God, nor Devil
could ever decide your fate
as a fetish that The Others worship;
But merely The One
that His Other Ones
eternally cherish!

By Ahmad Shamlou
Translation: Maryam Dilmaghani

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