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Terrestrial Verses

'The Sad Little Fairy'1 's Death Anniversary

Thirty nine years after her tragic death in a car accident on Feb' 14, ,1967, which happened because she tried to avoid crashing into a mini-bus full of children coming from school, Forough Farrokhzad is still considered one of the great poets of the modern era in Persian Poetry. Her feminine, bold, sincere outlook and frankness of expression, unique among Iranian women poets up to her time, combined with poetic craft and imaginative talent, ranks her among the five outstanding figures in modern Persian poetry.
By the age of twenty –five, Forough had published three volumes of poetry: ? Asir (Prisoner) (1955) , Divar (The Wall) (1957) and Esyan (Rebellion) (1968) .
Her earlier poems were personal, sentimental and romantic, but she underwent a drastic change, both in form and content, in her later poetry collected and published in her fourth volume Tavalodi Digar (Another Birth) (1964) . In the poems published in this volume, more mature thinking and a sense of social commitment replaced the earlier confessional more personal modes of expression and a freer rhythm scheme was employed.
Two of her poems are of the kind which is referred to as apocalyptic: In kasi ke mesl-e hich kasi nist (The one who resembles no one) published after the publication of Another Birth, she explicitly'… predicts the coming of a social Messiah who will establish social justice.'2
The other one, a: y-e hay-e zamini (Terrestrial verses) , a translation of which is presented below, is also apocalyptic in content.
The prophetic vision, portrayal of social conditions and anticipation of change, are specifically striking in the following poem, which has a biblical tone.

1. From a line in the final stanza of a poem by Forough named Another Birth, which reads: I know a sad little fairy/ who lives in an ocean/ and softly plays her heart/ into a magic wooden flute.
2. Ghanoonparvar, M. R. (1984) , Prophets of Doom, New York: University press of America.









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Then the sun grew cold
and blessing left the land.

And the grass dried up in the meadows
and the fish dried up in the seas
and the earth
did not accept the dead any more.

In all the pale windows
the night was continuously accumulating
and overflowing
like a doubtful conception
and the roads abandoned their continuation
in the dark.

No one pondered love anymore
no one pondered victory anymore
and no one
pondered anything anymore.

In the caves of loneliness
absurdity was born
blood smelt of bhang and opium
pregnant women
gave birth to headless babes
and the cradles shamefully
took refuge in the graves.

What a dark bitter age!
bread had defeated
the wonderful power of prophesy
the apostles, dejected and starved
Fled the divine meeting places
and the lost lambs of Jesus
no longer heard the shepherd's 'Hey'
in the consternation of the plains

In the eyes of the mirrors motions, colors and images
were all reflected up-side down
and over the heads of mean clowns
and the impudent faces of prostitutes
burned a sacred bright halo
like a blazing parasol.

Marshes of alcohol
with their acrid poisonous fumes
drew the inert mass of intellectuals down to their depths
and the obnoxious mice
nibbled the gilded pages of books
in the old cupboards.

The sun had died
the sun had died, and
the 'Morrow' had a lost vague meaning
in the minds of the children
they depicted the peculiarity of this antiquated word
in their homework with a large black spot.

The people
the fallen masses of people,
skeletal, discouraged and bewildered
migrated from exile to exile
under the inauspicious burden of their corpses
and a painful craving for crime
swelled in their hands.

At times a spark, a trifling spark
suddenly exploded this silent lifeless society from within.
They attacked one another
men cut each other's throats
with knives
and slept with under-age girls
in a bed of blood.

They were drowned
in their own terror
and a fearful feeling of guilt
had paralyzed
their blind stupid souls.

Always at execution ceremonies
when the noose ejected
the convulsive eyes of the convict
out of the sockets
they withdrew into themselves
and their fatigued old nerves
twinged with a carnal imagination

But you would always see
these petty criminals
in the squares
standing and gazing at
the constant down-flow of water
from fountains.
* *

Perhaps,
behind the crushed eyes
and in the depth of the frost
there still existed a half-alive confused thing
which in its sluggish struggle
tried to believe in the purity
of the songs of water


Perhaps!
but what an endless void!
the sun had died
and no one knew that
the name of the sorrowful dove
which had escaped the hearts
was 'Faith'


Oh voice imprisoned!
Will the magnificence of your despair
ever cut a tunnel into the light
from anywhere in this loathsome night?
oh voice imprisoned!
the last voice of all voices
Terrestrial Verses
Forough Farrokhzad
Translated by: Reza Parhizgar

Then the sun grew cold
and blessing left the land.


And the grass dried up in the meadows
and the fish dried up in the seas
and the earth
did not accept the dead any more.


In all the pale windows
the night was continuously accumulating
and overflowing
like a doubtful conception
and the roads abandoned their continuation
in the dark.


No one pondered love anymore
no one pondered victory anymore
and no one
pondered anything anymore.


In the caves of loneliness
absurdity was born
blood smelt of bhang and opium
pregnant women
gave birth to headless babes
and the cradles shamefully
took refuge in the graves.


What a dark bitter age!
bread had defeated
the wonderful power of prophesy
the apostles, dejected and starved
Fled the divine meeting places
and the lost lambs of Jesus
no longer heard the shepherd's 'Hey'
in the consternation of the plains


In the eyes of the mirrors motions, colors and images
were all reflected up-side down
and over the heads of mean clowns
and the impudent faces of prostitutes
burned a sacred bright halo
like a blazing parasol.

Marshes of alcohol
with their acrid poisonous fumes
drew the inert mass of intellectuals down to their depths
and the obnoxious mice
nibbled the gilded pages of books
in the old cupboards.

The sun had died
the sun had died, and
the 'Morrow' had a lost vague meaning
in the minds of the children
they depicted the peculiarity of this antiquated word
in their homework with a large black spot.

The people
the fallen masses of people,
skeletal, discouraged and bewildered
migrated from exile to exile
under the inauspicious burden of their corpses
and a painful craving for crime
swelled in their hands.

At times a spark, a trifling spark
suddenly exploded this silent lifeless society from within.
They attacked one another
men cut each other's throats
with knives
and slept with under-age girls
in a bed of blood.


They were drowned
in their own terror
and a fearful feeling of guilt
had paralyzed
their blind stupid souls.


Always at execution ceremonies
when the noose ejected
the convulsive eyes of the convict
out of the sockets
they withdrew into themselves
and their fatigued old nerves
twinged with a carnal imagination


But you would always see
these petty criminals
in the squares
standing and gazing at
the constant down-flow of water
from fountains.
* *

Perhaps,
behind the crushed eyes
and in the depth of the frost
there still existed a half-alive confused thing
which in its sluggish struggle
tried to believe in the purity
of the songs of water


Perhaps!
but what an endless void!
the sun had died
and no one knew that
the name of the sorrowful dove
which had escaped the hearts
was 'Faith'


Oh voice imprisoned!
Will the magnificence of your despair
ever cut a tunnel into the light
from anywhere in this loathsome night?
oh voice imprisoned!
the last voice of all voices

Submitted: Thursday, May 16, 2013
Edited: Thursday, May 16, 2013


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Terrestrial Verses
Forough Farrokhzad
Translated by: Reza Parhizgar

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