I respect poetry in the very same way that religious people respect religion.
I must have been around 14 or 15 years of age when I first read Forough Farrokhzad’s poetry. Most parents would not approve; but mine did not prevent me from reading her. Come to think of it; they never banned me from reading anything. It is also true that neither my mom nor my dad were rigorous readers; so perhaps they had no idea what I was reading. One of the many downsides of losing your parents too early in life is that one does not get answers to questions that keep coming up as one ages. Anyhow, I am thankful to my parents for not banning Forough as I was smitten with her poetry.
I don’t know how one could not fall for her way of describing living, loving and dying through a woman’s perspective. I love Forough’s honesty and her direct, sharp words. I love how boldly and shamelessly she describes and shares her raw emotions and thoughts in such flowing words- so carefully chosen that they actually seem random.
Forough Farokhzad was born on January 5th, 1935 in Tehran and died on February 13, 1967 in a car acceident. To avoid hitting a school bus, she ran her car into a stone wall. Her life was very short, very intense, very volatile and very productive. She also directed a couple of documentary films, one of which (The House is Black) earned several international awards. Forough is the best known femal Iranian poet of the 20th century and truly an iconoclast. I was told by my father that Forough lived in his neighborhood and he used to run into her from time to time. He told me that she had a kind face and usually wore a sad smile.
Last Summer, I shared some of Khayyam’s poetry with my readers. This Summer will belong to Forough. Lets start from the beginning with (the Captive)- her first collection of forty-four poems, published in the early summer of 1955.
t h e C A P T I V E ( A S I R )
I want you, yet I know that never
can I embrace you to my heart’s content.
you are that clear and bright sky.
I, in this corner of the cage, am a captive bird.
from behind the cold and dark bars
directing toward you my rueful look of astonishment,
I am thinking that a hand might come
and I might suddenly spread my wings in your direction.
I am thinking that in a moment of neglect
I might fly from this silent prison,
laugh in the eyes of the man who is my jailer
and beside you begin life anew.
I am thinking these things, yet I know
that I can not, dare not leave this prison.
even if the jailer would wish it,
no breath or breeze remains for my flight.
from behind the bars, every bright morning
the look of a child smile in my face;
when I begin a song of joy,
his lips come toward me with a kiss.
O sky, if I want one day
to fly from this silent prison,
what shall I say to the weeping child’s eyes:
forget about me, for I am captive bird?
I am that candle which illumines a ruins
with the burning of her heart.
If I want to choose silent darkness,
I will bring a nest to ruin.
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