Another Birth

translated by Neal Koga

[Click here to read the lyrics in Farsi.]


The whole of my being is a dark verse of Scripture
which in its repeated recitations will take you away
to the dawn of eternal buddings and bloomings.

In this verse I sighed for you, sighed,
ah, in reciting this verse I grafted you
to tree and water and fire.

Perhaps life is a long avenue
which a woman crosses each day
with a basket. Perhaps life is

a rope with which a man
hangs himself from a tree,
perhaps life is a child coming home from school.

Perhaps life is the lighting of a cigarette
in the languorous interval between
two intimate embraces in bed,

or the absent-minded passing of a passer-by
who raises his hat and with a meaningless smile
wishes another passer-by good morning.

Perhaps life is that moment, enclosed
within itself, when my gaze is laid waste
within the black center of your eye,

and in this feeling that I will compound
with attaining to the moon,
with grasping the night’s obscurity.

In a room the size of loneliness, my heart,
the size of a passionate love, regards
the simple subterfuges of its own good fortune:

the beautiful fading of flowers in their vase,
the sapling you planted in our garden,
and the singing of canaries whose song
is the size of a window.

Oh, my lot is this, my lot
is this: my lot is a sky
taken from me by a descending curtain, my lot

is descending an abandoned stairway
and being united with something down there
in the decay, in the exile. My lot

is strolling grief-stricken through the garden
of memories and perishing in the sorrow
of the voice that says to me,

“I love your hands!”

I plant my hands in the garden; I will become
green and lush, I know,
I know, I know . . .

And the swallows will lay their eggs
in the hollows of my ink-stained fingers.

From each ear I hang an earring
made from a twinned red cherry,
and attach dahlia-petals to my fingernails.

There is an alleyway where the boys
that adored me, with their tousled hair
and slender necks and skinny legs,

still think of a young girl’s innocent smile,
that smile which the wind one night
bore away.

There is an alleyway which my heart
has stolen from the streets of my childhood.

The journey of a solid body along the line of time,
and, through a solid body, impregnating
the dry and lifeless line of time -
a body become aware
of the image of a mirror returning from a party.

And it is in this way
that someone dies
and someone stays behind.

No fisherman will ever catch a pearl
in some meager stream
that drains out into a ditch.

Me, I know
a little grief-stricken fairy who dwells in the ocean
and plays her heart through a wooden flute,
softly, softly,

a grief-stricken fairy who dies
at night through a kiss and in the morning
will come into the world

through a kiss.

Translation from the Farsi
By Neal Koga

Editorial note: From Tavalodi Digar, © 1964 by Forugh Farrokhzad. English translation © 2015 by Neal Koga.


Photo ©

Forugh Farrokhzad (1935–1967) was an Iranian poet and filmmaker. Her published works include The Captive, The Wall, Rebellion, Reborn, and Let Us Believe in the Dawn of the Cold Season. She broke with many traditional conventions and thus exercised an immeasurably important influence on modern Iranian poetry.

Neal Koga translates short stories and poetry from German, Persian, and Turkish, and works freelance as a manuscript editor. His translation of Galsan Tschinag’s “The Swan Song of a Departing People” appears in the March 2015 print edition of WLT. He also composes and publishes songs under the name Jamal.