The Inside Assyria Discussion Forum #5

=> Re: Fareen takes his High School Equivalency test

Re: Fareen takes his High School Equivalency test
Posted by Marcello (Guest) - Monday, April 30 2012, 16:26:39 (UTC)
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A few months back, I happened on a site run by this Persian girl who'd translated the works of modern Iranian poets. The first poem I read is the one below, originally titled, "Marge Vartan", in Persian: "Death of Vartan". At the end of the poem, it explains why the original title was changed.

Ahmad Shamlou (Death of Nazeli, 1957)

Spring smiled–
and the redbuds flourished.

... In the backyard,
the aged lilac drowned–
in thousands of blossoms,
‘Have Faith, Faith!
Being, opt for Being!
Nazeli! Break away, away–
from the cursed hands of Death!’

But Nazeli, proud,
departed in silence;
quenching her flaming rage-
with the shower of her sorrow.

‘Nazeli, Speak!
Speak a word!
Or the bird of silence will hatch–
the egg of your invincible defeat!’

Nazeli spoke not!
And the sun rose–
from the bed of darkness-
to the bath of blood,
and then,
vanished again.


Nazeli spoke not a word!
Nazeli was a Falling Star:
Shining at once, traversing the night–
and fading away.

Nazeli spoke not a word!
Nazeli was a Transient Violet.
Flowering at once, heralding the warmth:
“The Reign of Winter is Over!”
And then, fleeing away–
from the sight.

Nazeli is gone.

(Trans.: MD, May 2010, New Brunswick)

PS. This poem been written for an Iranian-Armenian political prisoner in the pre-revolution Iran, named Vartan Salakhanian, a member of the Tudeh party (the communist party of Iran, in that era; Shamlou himself was a strong sympathizer of the Tudeh and he was arrested several times). As a member of Tudeh party, Vartan has been captured and tortured to death to reveal the names of his comrades but he remained absolutely silent. In the early publications, Shamlou changed the title of the poem from 'Death of Vartan' to 'Death of Nazeli' (a female given name) fearing prosecution for himself.

This became one of my favorite poems for several reason, which by now, I think Pancho and Rashad will understand.

- This second poem is by the late, tragic Forough Farrokhzad, who died at the age of 32 in 1967, when she swerved out of the way trying to avoid hitting a school bus full of young children, in the process ending up crashing into a stone wall and shortly dying. Now I had taken a sentence from (you guess it, Wiki)in which it states: "Farrokhzad, a female divorcée writing controversial poetry with a strong feminine voice, became the focus of much negative attention and open disapproval." I added to this sentence that she was a brave artist, and most importantly, a valient woman, who within a male dominated poetry scene, and most importantly, a male dominated nation, she explored themes within her poetry that even some men at that time had a difficult time freely embracing without having to battle an almost sysyphean task of a slow, laborious -- and sometimes seemingly futile -- uphill battle to get their published works read without being rebuked by the society at large, but most importantly banned the authorities.

I didn't want to soley stick to Iranian writers and artists of that perioid (1950s) so I talked about Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer","The Rosy Crucifixion: "Sexus", "Plexus" and "Nexus"; Jean Genet's "Our Lady of the Flowers"; William S. Burroughs, "Naked Lunch"; Allen Ginsberg's "HOWL"... the comedic, satire of the late, Lenny Bruce.. and how in "free" America these artists had to fight endless courts battles to lift the ban off their books.

She flipped out on me. Accussed me of being a "self-hating" Iranian who accepts the barbarian depiction of Persians in films like "300".. and on and on.. called me "arrogant".. The funny thing is that I later found that she IS or WAS one of the editors from the same Wiki page from which I quoted that sentence. She blocked me, not allowing me to make my case.

Now the first things she said to me when we met on this site was "I'm an economist"... I never ask what people do, and don't like being asked what I do.. Then after calling me "arrogant" because I used these other American writers to point out that if American writers were having such a difficult time getting their books out to the public without them being banned (or censored), then as a woman, Farrokhzad was putting a lot on the line (in the '50s and '60s Iran by exploring the taboo themes she explored in her work... furthermore, I told her, if Shamlou, a man in a male dominated society, had to change the title of his poem from the original, "Death of Vartan" to "Death of Nazeli", does not then imply that there was wide repression..

She said, I use "mathematics and science", you are "ignorant" and "arrogant" and are only extrapolating from what you don't know.. She tells me I wasn't alive then, I told her my father was and he's the one that got me hip to these poets, filmmakers, thinkers, etc., and the whole restrictive vibe of that milieu. Her last words were (IN CAPS) "I AM A CERTIFIED CHILD PRODIGY!"
I wanted to reply: Arrogant, lately? But I'm a gentleman, and wrote thank you for the poetry. Khoda Hafez (which is standard goodbye in Persian, like Shena).. Anyway, the good thing out of this psychotic exchange, where these two beautiful poems.. Hope you enjoy.. Sorry for the long stroy.

Forough Farrokhzad (from My Beloved, 1962)

My beloved,
with his bare, bold body–
rose over his legs,
fearless like death.

On his firm face,
... an array of fine lines–
was tailored by the revolt–
of his limbs.

My beloved surely belongs–
to a faded clan.


In the depths of his eyes, it seems–
A Tartar is constantly on guard–
for the advent of the knights.

In glow of his teeth, it seems–
a primal man, is patiently waiting–
for cornering a prey.

My beloved is like this Earth–
in his blunt, fated air,
in his concrete, cruel rule.

My beloved surely belongs–
to a faded clan.


He loves with such a faith–
all bits of life, all tads of the earth,
all laughs and all the sorrows.

He loves with such a faith-
The void roads of the parish, the green veins of the trees,
the slight smell of soap, the fresh taste of milk.

My beloved surely belongs–
to a faded clan.


My Beloved,
is a Natural Man.
And like the rest–
of my coffer of faith,
I always hide him away,
in the wake of the warmth of my breasts.

(Trans.: MD, April 2006, Montreal)


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