Ali Salami

Forough Farrokhzad: Selected Poems [English Edition]

One of the leading modern poets of Iran, Forough Farrokhzad was born and brought up in a military family. She married Parviz Shapur, the well-known Iranian satirist at the age of 16. The following selection has been translated by Ali Salami.

Forough Farrokhzad learned painting and sewing and moved to Ahvaz with her husband. Thence she started corresponding with well-known magazines; her first volume of poetry “The Captive” came out in 1965. The Captive was a romantic collection widely influenced by Fereydoon Moshiri, Nader Naderpour, and Fereydoon Tavallali. Later on, her books “The Wall” and “The Rebellion” were published in the same poetic mood.

In 1962, Forough Farrokhzad went to Tabriz and made a film entitled “The House is Black” about the lepers’ colony which bagged numerous international awards. In 1963, she published her fourth volume of poetry “Another Birth” which was indeed another birth in the modern Persian poetry.

Forough Farrokhzad

Her long poem “Let us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season” was published posthumously which is beyond doubt the best-structured modern poem in Persian. Her collected poems are a perfect prototype of modern Persian poetry.

Forough Farrokhzad died in a car accident at the age of 32 on February 14, 1967.

Forough Farrokhzad was a lonely woman as professor Hillman suggests. This sense of deep solitude and isolation was largely imposed by the society where she lived.

Forough accepted this bitter feeling of isolation as an essential part of her feminine being.


In my little night creeps an anguish of ruin.


Do you hear Darkness blowing?

I view this felicity in the attitude of a stranger

I am addicted to my despair.

Despondent though she is, she is waiting for a messiah to come and liberate her from this sense of loneliness with the power of love.


O Green from sole to crown!

Place your hands in my loving hands

Like a blazing memory!

Deeply immersed in grief, Forough is like a drowning man clutching at any straw. Sometimes she takes on such a spiritual tone that you’d think she was a holy woman. But at other times she is so weary of waiting that she loses patience and lets out a loud cry of protest against heaven and earth, in the attitude of someone who has lost the solid ground of faith and can barely see a spark of hope from the divine source.

Forough excludes the possibility of true love and attacks the male-dominated society in which a woman is seen only as an object of sexual gratification and not as a being endowed with human feelings.


With a voice so false, so strange

One can cry:

“I love”

In the domineering arms of a man

One can be a pretty healthy female.

Forough defies social conventions and struggles to free herself from the so-called shackles that muzzle the free female voice in a traditional society. Her poetry exposes a voice trapped in a patriarchal society where women have little opportunity or freedom to express their innermost repressed feelings and desires. At the risk of being ostracized, she creates an unabashedly feminine poetry. Early critics reacted very differently to her poetry. For some, her poetry was an expression of a troubled soul, for others it was merely a bold attempt to rebel against social norms. After her tragic death, however, critics began to pay serious attention to the esthetic aspects of her work and her poetic courage.

Forough sees poetry as a mission for which she sacrifices her role as a mother and abandons her family and her only son. She feels that only through poetry can she live her life and give meaning to her existence.

Forough left a precious legacy of poetry though she lived only a brief life. Forough Farrokhzad is often compared with Sylvia Plath


Forough Farrokhzad: Selected Poems 

Another Birth

My entire soul is a murky verse

Reiterating you within itself

Carrying you to the dawn of eternal burstings and blossomings

In this verse, I sighed you, AH!

In this verse,

I grafted you to trees, water and fire


Perhaps life is

A long street along which a woman

With a basket passes every day

Perhaps life

Is a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch

Perhaps life is a child returning home from school

Perhaps life is the lighting of a cigarette

Between the lethargic intervals of two lovemakings

Or the puzzled passage of a passerby

Tipping his hat

Saying good morning

to another passerby with a vacant smile

Perhaps life is that blocked moment

When my look destroys itself in the pupils of your eyes

And in this there is a sense

Which I will mingle with the perception of the moon

And the reception of darkness


In a room the size of one solitude

My heart

The size of one love

Looks at the simple pretexts of its own happiness,


At the pretty withering of flowers in the flower pots

At the sapling you planted in our flowerbed

At the songs of the canaries

Who sing the size of one window.



This is my lot

This is my lot

My lot

Is a sky, which the dropping of a curtain seizes from me

My lot is going down an abandoned stairway

And joining with something in decay and nostalgia

My lot is a cheerless walk in the garden of memories

And dying in the sorrow of a voice that tells me:

“I love

Your hands”


I will plant my hands in the flowerbed

I will sprout, I know, I know, I know

And the sparrows will lay eggs

In the hollows of my inky fingers

I will hang a pair of earrings of red twin cherries

Round my ears

I will put dahlia petals on my nails

There is an alley

Where the boys who were once in love with me,

With those disheveled hairs, thin necks and gaunt legs

Still think of the innocent smiles of a little girl

Who was one night blown away by the wind

There is an alley which my heart

Has stolen from places of my childhood


The journey of a volume along the line of time

And impregnating the barren line of time with a volume

A volume conscious of an image

Returning from the feast of a mirror


This is the way

Someone dies

And someone remains

No fisherman will catch pearls

From a little stream flowing into a ditch



Know a sad little mermaid

Dwelling in the ocean

Softly, gently blowing

Her heart into a wooden flute

A sad little mermaid

Who dies with a kiss at night

And is born again with another kiss at dawn

Those Days

Those days are gone

Those darling days

Those vigorous verdant days

Those sequin-studded skies

Those branches bearing cherries

Those houses leaning on each other

Within the green hedges of ivies

Those rooftops of playful kites

Those alleys stupefied by the scent of acacias


Those days are gone

Those days when from the slits of my eyes

My songs boiled out like air bubbles

Whatever my eye settled on

It drank up like fresh milk

As if in the pupils of my eyes

Dwelled a restless merry rabbit

Each morning together with the ancient Sun

It went hunting in unknown pastures of discovery

At nights it sank into deep dark jungles


Those days are gone

Those snowy silent days

When from behind the windows in the warm room

I stared out

My pure snow

Gently fell like soft cotton

On the old wooden ladder

On the slack clothes-line


On the tresses of aged pine-trees

And I thought of tomorrow, ah


That slippery white mass

Began with the rustle of grandma’s chador

A large veil worn by women in some Muslim countries

And her shadow fluttering at the threshold

-Suddenly left in the cold sense of light-

And the confused pattern of the birds’ flight

Within the colored cups of glass



The warmth of the korsi induced sleep

A heater-like object formerly used in winter

Quickly and boldly

Far from grandma’s eye, I erased

Checkmarks from my old notebooks

When snow settled

I rambled in the garden, woeful

Beside vases of dry jasmine

I buried my dead sparrows


Those days are gone

Those days of ecstasy and wonder

Those days of sleep and wakefulness

Those days each shadow contained a secret

Each closed box held a treasure

In the silence of noon, every corner of the storeroom

Seemed to be a world

Anyone who knew no dread of the dark

Was a hero in my eyes

Those days are gone

Those New Year days

Those cravings for sunshine and flowers

Those vibrations of scent

In the silent coy company of wild narcissuses

Visiting town

In the last morning of winter

The cries of venders in the long green-flecked streets


The bazaar was afloat in wandering odors,

In the astringent smells of coffee and fish

The bazaar stretched out, elongating and mingling

With all the moments along the way

And turned in the depths of the dolls’ eyes

The bazaar was Mother rushing

Towards green fluid volumes

Then returning

With boxes of gifts, with full baskets

The bazaar was rain, which was falling, falling, falling


Those days are gone

Those days of gazing into the secrets of body

Those days of cautious familiarity

With the beauty of blue colors

A hand holding a flower

Calling from behind a wall

Another hand

And little stains of ink on this terrified, tormented,

Trembling hand

And love

Manifesting itself in a bashful greeting


In the sweltering smoky noons

We chanted our love in the alley’s dust

We perceived the simple language of dandelions

We took our hearts to the garden of innocent kindnesses

And lent them to trees

And the ball passed from hand to hand, conveying a kiss

And love was a baffled meaning

In the darkness of passageway


It encompassed us;

And drew us in the burning gust of breaths, beatings,

And secret smiles


Those days are gone

Those days like vegetation rotting in the sun

Rotted in the sun

And those alleys stupefied by the scent of acacias got lost

In the clamor of streets of no return

And the girl who colored her cheeks

With cranesbills petals, ah!

Was now a lonely woman

Was now a lonely woman

The Sun Will Rise

Behold! Deep in my eyes

Sorrow melts drip drip drip

Behold! My dark rebellious shadow

Falls captive to the Sun


My entire being collapses;

A spark envelops me

Lifts me up to the peaks

Entraps me


My entire sky

Overflows with falling stars

From a distance so far away, you emerged

From the land of perfumes and lights

You have now let me into a bark

Of ivory, of clouds, of crystals

Carry me, O Soothing Hope!

Carry me to the town of lays and desires


You direct me along a starry path

You place me above the stars


I am burning in stars

I am feverishly filled with stars

Like simple-hearted red fishes

I came to pluck stars in the pool of night


Far and away was our land

Far from this azure-hued vaulted sky


Now the sound of your voice

Falls upon my ears

And the sound of the snowy wings of angels as well

Behold where I have reached

I have reached the galaxy, eternity, immortality

Now that we have soared up to the peaks

Lave me in the wine of the waves

Wrap me into the silk of your kisses

Wish me into long deep nights

Never leave me

Never separate me from these stars


Behold! Night, like wax

Melts drip drip drip along our path

The black chalice of my eyes

Warmed by your lullaby

Overflows with the wine of slumber

Upon the cradle of my lays


You breathe; and the sun will rise!

Love Song

The night is painted by your dream

Your perfume fills my lungs to extreme

You are a feast for my eye!

All shapes of woe you belie

As the body of earth is washed by rain

From my soul you cleanse all stain!

In my burning body you are a turning gyre

In the shade of my eyelashes you are a blazing fire.

You are more verdant than a wheat field!

More fruit than golden boughs you yield!

To the suns you open the gate

To counteract dark doubt’s spate

With you there is no reason for fears

But the pain of joyful tears

This sad heart of mine and profuse light?

This din of life in the abyss of blight?

The glance in your eyes is my field

And with it my eyes are sealed

Before this I had no other image

Or I would not but you envisage

The pain of love is a dark pain

Going and demeaning oneself in vain

Leaning against people with black sight

Defiling oneself with the filth of spite

Finding in caresses venom of wile

Finding villainy in friend’s smile

Handing gold coins to the marauding band

Getting lost in the midst of the bazaar land

With my soul united you will be

From grave you will raise me

Like a star on wings decked with gold

You come from a land untold.

You alleviate sorrow’s pang

Flooding my body with embrace’s tang

You are a stream flowing onto my dry breast

My bed of my veins with your water is blest

Within a world which on darkness does feed

With every step you take I proceed

Underneath my skin you go!

There like blood you flow

Burning my tresses with a fondling hand

Flushing my cheeks with an urging demand

You are a stranger to my gown

An acquaintance with my body’s lawn

You are a shining sun that never dies

A sun that rises in Southern skies

You are fresher than first light

Fresher than spring, a lusher sight

This is no longer love; this is pride

A chandelier that in silence and darkness died

When Love did my heart entice

I was filled with a sense of sacrifice

This is no longer me, this is no longer me

My life with my ego amounted to a null degree

My lips your kisses prize

Your lips are the temple of my eyes

In me you stir a great rhapsody

Your curves are an attire on my body

O how I crave to sprout

And my joy with sorrow shout

O how I wish to rise

And my eyes with tears baptize

This forlorn heart of mine and incense perfume?

The music of harp and lyre in a prayer room?

This void and these flights?

These songs and these silent nights?

Your glance is a wondrous lullaby

Cradling restless babes thereby

Your breath is a trancing breeze

Washing off me tremors of unease

Finding in my morrows a place to sleep

Permeating my world deep and deep

In me the passion for poetry you inspire

Over my lays you cast instant fire

You kindled my passionate desire

Thus setting my poems afire.


© Ali Salami 2023

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