Archive Sections: letters | music | index | features | photos | arts/lit | satire Find Iranian singles today!
Poetry

Poetry that is life
A new translation of the timeless “Sh’ri keh zendegist”


Translation by Omid Ghaemmaghami
August 29, 2005
iranian.com

The themes of the classic poet
Had nothing to do with life.
In the barren space of his imagination
He conversed with none save his wine and his sweetheart.
Day and night, he lived in a fantasy world
Imprisoned in the snare of the beloved’s silly “tresses,”
Meanwhile, others
Holding the wine-cup in one hand and their lover’s hair in the other
Went about the earth drunk, clamoring aloud!

***

Since the theme of classic poet
.................................Was nothing more than this
The effect of his poem
.................................Was likewise nothing more than this:

You couldn’t use his poetry as a drill;

In the course of war
You couldn’t use the scheme of his poetry
To remove every large barrier
.................................That impeded the path of the masses.

In other words, its presence achieved naught
It mattered not whether it existed or not
You couldn’t use his poetry in place of gallows.


Whereas

...........I personally

......................With my poems close by

Once fought
Side by side with Shin Chuay, the Korean

Some time ago
I even managed to suspend
The poet Hamidi
......................On the gallows of my poems...

***

The theme of today’s poetry
Is a theme altogether different...

Today
...........Poetry
......................Is the weapon of the masses
For the reason that poets themselves
Are branches from the forest of the masses
And not hyacinths and jasmines from so and so’s garden.

Today’s poet
......................Is no stranger
To the shared pains and sufferings of the masses:

She smiles
......................With the lips of the people,
With her own bones
She grafts together
The agonies and hopes
......................Of the common folk.

Today
...........The poet
......................Must put on nice clothes
Must wear clean, polished shoes,
There, in the most crowded parts of town
With the precision that is her gift and hers alone
She must pick out one by one
Her poem’s theme, its rhythm and its rhyme
From among the people passing by:

“Come follow me, dear friend!
For three whole days now,
......................I have been going here and there
.................................Searching for you everywhere!”

“Searching for me?
...........How strange!
......................Sir, surely you’ve mistaken
Me for someone else?”

“No dear
...........That would not be possible:
...........I can recognize the new rhythm of my poem
...........From a distance far away”

“Say what?
......................A poem’s rhythm?”

“My friend, have some patience...
I have always sought
......................My rhythm, words and rhymes
In the streets and alleyways.
The units of my poems are naught save the people
“ Life” [which is really the “meaning of the stanzas”]
“ Word”, “Rhythm”, “Rhyme,”
I seek them all from amongst the people...
......................This is the method that best provides poetry
Its very life and spirit... ”

Now
The time has come
For the poet to win over the passerby
To the reasoning that is unique to verse
So that he may eagerly accept it
For if not, all the poet’s care and attention will have been in vain...

***

Good
Now that rhythm has been attained
It’s time to embark on the search for words:

Every word
To the extent to which its name make apparent
Is a sweet and witty girl...

The poet must seek out the words
Which suit her rhythm.
This task is difficult
However
..........There is
......................No other way:

Mister Rhythm and his wife, Mrs. Word
If they are not well-suited for one another
If they are not like-minded
Then without a doubt their life together will not be pleasing.
The same happened to my wife and I:

I was the rhythm, she was the words [the axes of the rhythm]
The theme of our poem
Was the undying union of the lips of love...
Even though our children’s smiles [these joyous beats]
Cheerfully lived on in this poem
Of what use was it! When cold black words
Brought on those gloomy and woeful feelings:
It not only broke the rhythm
Not only cut up those joyous beats
Not only made the poem fruitless and dull
But also wore out the master without cause!

In any case, I’ve said too much
And a painful
......................Bloody wound has opened...

***

As we’ve said:
The pattern of the modern poet’s poetry
...........Is Life!

The poet uses the water-color of verse
And paints
From life’s tableau
.................................A painting on top of another drawing:

She writes poetry,
......................That is to say
She senses the wounds of the aged town
In other words
...........She speaks the tale
......................Of the coming of a beautiful dawn
.................................To the darksome night

She writes poetry,
......................That is
She cries out and makes known
...........The sufferings of her land

In other words
With her anthem
......................She breathes life
.................................Into wearied souls.

She writes poetry,
......................That is to say
She overfills
...........The cold and barren hearts
......................With joy and delight

That is
With her face set towards to the rising sun
......................She awakens
.................................The sleep-filled eyes.

She writes poetry,
...........Meaning
......................She interprets her age’s Letter of Honor.

Meaning
......................She recites the tale of the champions of her era.

***

If poetry is life,
Then this empty discussion of words
Is in and of itself
......................Also useless...
We feel the sun-lit warmth
Of love and hope
At the base of darkest
.................................Verses of the poem:


Kayvan
...........Has composed
The anthem of his life
In blood
Vartan
...........Has composed
The clamor of his life
In silence

But even if
...........In the rhyme of life
There is naught more save
The long-drawn-out beats of death,
...........In both poems
......................The meaning of each death
.............................................................................Is life!

COMMENT
For letters section
To Omid Ghaemmaghami

ALSO
Ahmad Shamloo
Features in iranian.com

Shamlu.com

RELATED
Poetry

Book of the day
mage.com

Shahnameh
Three volume box set of the Persian Book of Kings
Translated by Dick Davis

Copyright 1995-2013, Iranian LLC.   |    User Agreement and Privacy Policy   |    Rights and Permissions