Stranger

We present this work in honor of Eid al-Fitr.

Tahereh Saffarzadeh
Persian
1936 – 2008

 

I am a pantheon of feelings,
and I will not hold you–Snowdrift of lies–
I fear you will turn to ice the memories I cherish,
remember of humanity.
I am that lonely one who understands,
the agony of loneliness,
the silence of the tolerant,
the wrath of the inflamed.
But I never understand you,
—all insouciance and silly cheer.

The Sin

Forough Farrokhzad
Persian
1935 – 1967

 

I have sinned a rapturous sin
in a warm enflamed embrace,
sinned in a pair of vindictive arms,
arms violent and ablaze.

In that quiet vacant dark
I looked into his mystic eyes,
found such longing that my heart
fluttered impatient in my breast.

In that quiet vacant dark
I sat beside him punch-drunk,
his lips released desire on mine,
grief unclenched my crazy heart.

I poured in his ears lyrics of love:
O my life, my lover it’s you I want.
Life-giving arms, it’s you I crave.
Crazed lover, for you I thirst.

Lust enflamed his eyes,
red wine trembled in the cup,
my body, naked and drunk,
quivered softly on his breast.

I have sinned a rapturous sin
beside a body quivering and spent.
I do not know what I did O God,
in that quiet vacant dark.

All Pervading Consciousness

In honor of the Prophet’s Birthday, we present this work by one of Persia’s greatest Muslim poets.

Attar of Nishapur
Persian
1145 – 1220

 

And as His Essence all the world pervades
Naught in Creation is, save this alone.
Upon the waters has He fixed His Throne,
This earth suspended in the starry space,
Yet what are seas and what is air? For all
Is God, and but a talisman are heaven and earth
To veil Divinity. For heaven and earth,
Did He not permeate them, were but names;
Know then, that both this visible world and that
Which unseen is, alike are God Himself,
Naught is, save God: and all that is, is God.

And yet, alas! by how few is He seen,
Blind are men’s eyes, though all resplendent shines
The world by Deity’s own light illumined,
O Thou whom man perceiveth not, although
To him Thou deignest to make known Thyself;
Thou all Creation art, all we behold, but Thou,
The soul within the body lies concealed,
And Thou dost hide Thyself within the soul,
O soul in soul! Myst’ry in myst’ry hid!
Before all wert Thou, and are more than all!

Because I Cannot Sleep

Rumi
Persian
1207 – 1273

 

Because I cannot sleep
I make music at night.
I am troubled by the one
whose face has the color of spring flowers.
I have neither sleep nor patience,
neither a good reputation nor disgrace.
A thousand robes of wisdom are gone.
All my good manners have moved a thousand miles away.
The heart and the mind are left angry with each other.
The stars and the moon are envious of each other.
Because of this alienation the physical universe
is getting tighter and tighter.
The moon says, ‘How long will I remain
suspended without a sun?’
Without Love’s jewel inside of me,
let the bazaar of my existence be destroyed stone by stone.
O Love, You who have been called by a thousand names,
You who know how to pour the wine
into the chalice of the body,
You who give culture to a thousand cultures,
You who are faceless but have a thousand faces,
O Love, You who shape the faces
of Turks, Europeans, and Zanzibaris,
give me a glass from Your bottle,
or a handful of being from Your Branch.
Remove the cork once more.
Then we’ll see a thousand chiefs prostrate themselves,
and a circle of ecstatic troubadours will play.
Then the addict will be freed of craving.
and will be resurrected,
and stand in awe till Judgement Day.

Ancient Eve

Simin Behbahani
Persian
1927 – 2014

 

Love at Eighty?
Admit it: it’s bizarre.

Ancient Eve is, once again
offering apples:
red lips and golden tresses.
Beautiful,
but not divine.

If my face has color
it’s just makeup, a deceit.
But in my chest a heart
beats its wings wild with desire,
every seventy of its heartbeats
multiplied by two.

Love and shame and my body
warm with lust. I burn
with fever, a fever
past any physician’s cure.
But at my side is bliss,
my lover
kind and faithful
and as long as he is here
I dwell in heaven.

I can’t breathe a word;
my mouth’s sealed
shut with your kisses,
their tongues of flame.
Oh, my thirsty lover!
Look at my happy fortune:
You, I, us tonight.
with a wine so delightful
where’s the room for restraint?

Adam! Come see the spectacle.
Leave behind your denial and conceits
and watch as the Eve of eighty
rivals the twenty-year-old she.