Four Love Poems from Iran

July 27, 2016
Mohammadali F., “Daffodils,” Tehran, 2009
Mohammadali F., “Daffodils,” Tehran, 2009

Translator’s note: Regarded as one of the leaders of the movement of “New Poetry” in Iran, Nader Naderpour (1929–2000) composed many poems celebrating the beloved. His outlook on the feminine ranged from simple poems detailing erotic and sexual scenes to romantic and idealistic pictures of ethereal soul mates. The following poems, newly translated, were expurgated from Iranian collections of Naderpour’s poems after 1979. – Rouhollah Zarei  


A room lit by the autumnal moon,
a red lamp on the corner of the table,
the earth and the sky in sweet sleep,
the heartbeats of the watchful clock.
Two cups of bitter wine,
two bowls of sweet nougat,
a soft quilt of Chinese silk,
the upper of two naked arms
the lower of two naked legs. 


Night Flower 

When the lamp of the moon turned on
when the stars bloomed
when the briny breeze of the seas
sniffed at the white foam
you return, naked and alone
with the fragrance of violets and daffodils,
your lips: bright fire
your arms: molten copper
like a cloudy bed for the sun
I engulf your whole being
you giggle and coquettishly ask
to choose among the stars.
I look at the sky: silent.
You look at my eyes: mystified.
Our lids droop
like the wings of two birds on a rainy night
You laugh and open your lips,
the wind moans simultaneously:
“What a deep calm night is tonight
No caress, no cry!”
Suddenly a kiss burns your lips
like a bee stinging a flower petal,
the hot kiss emanates the tang of grapes
in our mouths.
Your lips get a new colour,
you close your eyes savoring the kiss with relish:
“What a deep calm night is tonight!”
You whisper with a sly chuckle.
At dawn when ducks
pick stars from the horizon’s rooftop
in a bed of moonlit sands
they see the two shadows as one!


Natural Map

She belonged to the earth’s naked body:
soft white soil
with two burning hills
embraced by the sun
and two arms of a river
flowing down
to an embarrassing cleft
at the bottom of which
grew a wet patch of grass
watered by a spring
as red as a smile.
I wept in the evening
of her narrow ravine. 



In the sky’s ceramic tallow-burning light,
on a colorful bedspread with hundreds of patches,
Tehran, the prostitute,
lies drunk and naked.
She has closed her eyes out of fear
the red-skinned sun might sew her at dawn
to the bed with his arrow,
but she has opened her two fat legs
and the Alborz mountain range
is screwing her in the dead of the night.


Translations from the Persian
By Rouhollah Zarei with Roger Sedarat

Translator’s note: I wish to thank Dr. Sedarat for his suggestions and revisions to the poems “Natural Map” and “Geography.”

Nader Naderpour (1929–2000) published his first collection of poetry in the 1940s. In the 1960s he directed the literature department of the Iranian National Radio and Television. He left Iran in 1980. Regarded as one of the leaders of the movement of “New Poetry” in Iran, he published nine collections of poems. Naderpour was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was awarded the Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett Grant in 1993.

Rouhollah Zarei is an assistant professor of English, Yasouj University, Iran. He is the author of Edgar Allan Poe: An Archetypal Reading and co-authored The Unsaid: Nature and Nostalgia in the Poetry of Nader Naderpour (forthcoming).

Roger Sedarat is an Iranian American poet and translator. He is the author of two poetry collections: Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic and Ghazal Games.