Barbad, the Lute Player


Barbad, the Lute Player
by Majid Naficy

In the Spring

Come back with Barbad (*)

Carrying a lute

And wearing a green cape.

Sneak into the royal garden and straddle the brook

Pass with haste from behind the hedges

Look from the corners of your eyes at the suspended apple

Floating on the fountain of the garden pool

And hide in the middle of willows and pine trees.

There, you will find an ancient pine

Connecting you to the sky.

Hang the lute from your shoulder

And step by step

Climb the overarching limbs

And nest like a singing bird

Behind the green canopy.

The king will come to the balcony

And sit at the New Year's throne.

The cup bearer fills the cups with wine

And Mardooy, the butler, lights the candlesticks

And minstrels walk to the floor gracefully.

But before the trickster Sarkesh, the chief of royal musicians,

Tunes his harp  lightly with a few strums

And percussionists  and fiddlers  sit in their places

And the singers clear their throats with shallow coughs,

Take the lute from your lap

And play the "Born with Justice" sonata.

The court guards with their clubs

And the Sarkeshites with their horns

Will sit in silence

And the lute will talk instead of you,

And your enchanting fingers

Which make Sarkesh envious

Will play the "Green all Green" sonata

In the sanctuary of the royal garden.  


While the king is still enchanted

Climb down from your green nest

Look at your reflection in the water

Walk without haste from behind the hedges

And this time, tall with head high

Pass through the half-open gate,

and as before

Stay a wandering minstrel.

Lute is a horse.

It grows in grand ranches

But dies out in small homes.

-- July 18, 2001
[Persian original]

* - Barbad was a famous Persian musician at the time of King Khosrow Parviz (590-628). According to the national epic of  The Shahnameh, composed by FErdowsi (935-1020), Sarkaesh, the chief of royal musicians, envied Barbad and did not allow him to appear before the king. One Spring, at the time of Nowruz's celebration, Barbad sneaked into the royal garden and by playing a "barbat" (lute) mesmerized the king and became his favorite musician.   


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