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Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


This poem has given me a run for my money. When I complained to my sister on the phone today, chatting over the poem and some of the interpretations, she said: "it is not called Another Birth for no reason" emoticon

What I hope to receive from you generous friends is a critique of the poem in every way you would critique this if it were written by me. I decided against pointing out areas about which I am most concerned. Maybe later on after a dialog has started, I will bring those forward.

I am eternally grateful to you all for your help and encouragement.


Another Birth
By Forough Farrokhzad

My whole existence is a dark verse,
a verse that repeats itself and takes you
to a dawn of perpetual bloomings and buddings
I sighed you in this verse, sigh,
in this verse, I tied you
to trees and water and fire

life is perhaps
a long-stretched street where every day
a woman passes through
carrying a basket
or a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch
life is perhaps a child who walks home from school

or maybe lighting a cigarette
....................in that lazy interval between two copulations

or the lost crossing of a passerby who raises his hat
to another, with a meaningless smile, says
..........................................................“good morning”
life is perhaps that moment, obstructed
when my steady gaze wrecks itself in your swimming eyes
or maybe it is in this feeling
that I want to blend
with grasping moon, with perceiving darkness

in a room the size of my loneliness
my heart
the size of one love
inspects her uncomplicated excuses for happiness
the charming withering
of flowers in a vase
a seedling you planted in our yard
the songs of the canaries who sing
the size of a window

a sigh,
that’s my share
that’s my share
my share
is a sky a curtain can take away from me
my share is descending an abandoned staircase and connecting
...................................to something decayed, something foreign
my share is an unhappy stroll in the garden of memories
vanishing in the sadness of a voice
that tells me
“I love your hands”
I will plant my hands in the garden
they will grow, I know, I know, I know
in the curves of my ink-stained fingers
swallows will lay eggs

I will put on earrings
a pair of twin red cherries
and on my nails, I will glue dahlia petals
the boys who were in love with me
with the same disheveled hair, long necks and skinny legs
are still thinking of the innocent smiles of a girl
who was, one night, taken by the wind
there is a street my heart has stolen
from my childhood quarters

the journey of a mass
along a timeline,
impregnating that parched timeline,
a mass of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration
and this is how
someone dies
someone lives
and in a humble rivulet flowing into a puddle
.......................................no fisherman will ever catch pearls

I
know of a sad little fairy
who lives in the ocean,
plays her heart, in a wooden flute
slow, slow
a sad little fairy
who dies of a kiss at night
..............................at dawn, with a kiss, is reborn.




Last edited by deepwaters, Jan/23/2010, 1:40 pm
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


I knew very little about this wonderful poetry before, and now you've got me avidly reading her stuff. Thanks for that. I'm going to go and order a book of hers right now if I can find one online. I've got a few suggestions about your translation here, but I'll come back later and do it properly.

Cheers,

Steve.
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Steve -

Thanks for stopping by. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on the translations you find.

now you've got me avidly reading her stuff
Thanks for saying that. I was a little worried that I was making too many posts too close to each other.

-s
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Shab,

Just a quick note to say, no, you aren't posting too many of these poems. It may take me a few days to respond to them all properly, but I find it useful to have a group of to poems consider. As I said elsewhere, this helps me get a feel for both the original poems and your way of translating them. I, too, am happy to be discovering Farrokhzad and her work through your translations and the links you and others have provided.
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


quote:

Katlin wrote:
It may take me a few days to respond to them all properly, but I find it useful to have a group of to poems consider.



sure sure, I understand. I did not want to be annoying by taking too much and not giving back.

thanks!
-s

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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Hi, Shabnam, I'm sort of mustering myself to try to get to grips with maybe addressing the possibility of having something to say about having something to say about this one.

Okay, I've been reading the translation by, I think, Tavalodi Digar. I'm not quite sure what I'm reading there and there's no basic acknowledgement of the translator, but I assume that is him/her. It might turn out that it's the website owner, or maybe it means 'all rights and privileges', in which case I will look fairly silly, but I'm used to that.

Now I'm not quite sure what to do with this. I suppose I'm not ready yet to read two versions and hope to make any sense of a comparison, and then also any appraisal of one of them.

I think my only hope at this point is just to look at your version and see how that feels to me as a human who knows a bit about poetry. I don't think I'm qualified to take it any further than that. So I am just going to meander through in a very undisciplined fashion that is very slightly informed by having read another translation. But mainly I'll just take it as a poem. I hope that is okay.

My whole existence is a dark verse,
a verse that repeats itself and takes you
to a dawn of perpetual bloomings and buddings
I sighed you in this verse, sigh,
in this verse, I tied you
to trees and water and fire

I love things of darkness, so this instantly speaks to me. I also love how that 'sigh' is deployed there. It's kind of comical, kind of Simpsons, and it just works very well to humanize this very dark and elemental passage. What you get here is the instant entry into rapture. This is not an ordinary state that is being described.

life is perhaps
a long-stretched street where every day
a woman passes through
carrying a basket
or a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch
life is perhaps a child who walks home from school

For me this is some of the weak stuff, the using of metaphor over and over as though finally the reader might get it. I don't think endless imaginative metaphor is very credible in poetry any more. It's just a sort of exercise. Hitting the right metaphor the first time is probably far better.

or maybe lighting a cigarette
....................in that lazy interval between two copulations

There's a definite choice to be made there about the language. Is 'copulations' more appropriate than 'making love', which I think was what was used in the other version I read. I have no idea about the register of the original version, but 'copulations' is a lot colder than 'making love'. Is there a reason for this coldness?

or the lost crossing of a passerby who raises his hat
to another, with a meaningless smile, says
..........................................................“good morning”
life is perhaps that moment, obstructed
when my steady gaze wrecks itself in your swimming eyes
or maybe it is in this feeling
that I want to blend
with grasping moon, with perceiving darkness

I guess I want an article before 'grasping moon'. I don't feel comfortable without one. I feel slightly uncomfortable with 'perceiving darkness' too, though less so.

in a room the size of my loneliness
my heart
the size of one love
inspects her uncomplicated excuses for

I don't get with breaking a line on 'for'.

happiness
the charming withering
of flowers in a vase
a seedling you planted in our yard
the songs of the canaries who sing
the size of a window

a sigh,
that’s my share
that’s my share
my share

I dig this repetition rather a lot.

is a sky a curtain can take away from me
my share is descending an abandoned staircase and connecting
...................................to something decayed, something foreign
my share is an unhappy stroll in the garden of memories
vanishing in the sadness of a voice
that tells me
“I love your hands”
I will plant my hands in the garden
they will grow, I know, I know, I know
in the curves of my ink-stained fingers
swallows will lay eggs

I will put on earrings
a pair of twin red cherries
and on my nails, I will glue dahlia petals
the boys who were in love with me
with the same disheveled hair, long necks and skinny legs
are still thinking of the innocent smiles of a girl
who was, one night, taken by the wind
there is a street my heart has stolen
from my childhood quarters

the journey of a mass
along a timeline,
impregnating that parched timeline,
a mass of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration
and this is how

That 'and' seems weak and unnecessary to me.

someone dies
someone lives
and in a humble rivulet flowing into a puddle

Same here about the 'and'.

.......................................no fisherman will ever catch pearls

I
know of a sad little fairy
who lives in the ocean,
plays her heart, in a wooden flute

No need for that comma after 'heart', is there?

slow, slow
a sad little fairy
who dies of a kiss at night
..............................at dawn, with a kiss, is reborn.


Okay then, there are some feelings about it. Don't take them as more than that -- they are just feelings. It's powerful and adept poetry, and I just ordered The Mirror of the Soul off Ebay. Maybe next time I will know what I am talking about.

Thanks very much for these fascinating translations, Shabnam. I'm really appreciating this stuff.

Steve.

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deepwaters Profile
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Steve -
Thanks so much for commenting.

I think, Tavalodi Digar.
“Tavalodi Digar” is the name of the poem in Farsi emoticon It is also the name of the collection in which the poem appeared.

I am just going to meander through in a very undisciplined fashion that is very slightly informed by having read another translation. But mainly I'll just take it as a poem. I hope that is okay.
Better than ok. It is great.



or maybe lighting a cigarette
....................in that lazy interval between two copulations

There's a definite choice to be made there about the language. Is 'copulations' more appropriate than 'making love', which I think was what was used in the other version I read. I have no idea about the register of the original version, but 'copulations' is a lot colder than 'making love'. Is there a reason for this coldness?

You have pointed out one of the places with which I struggle. I cannot see using “love-making” for the following reason: there is a word in Farsi that means exactly “love-making”. Forough is not using that word. She is using a word that is like mating, or a less vulgar version of !@#$. My sense of the poem and the poet is that this choice is intentional; I read that line and I imagine a woman bored, smoking after an episode of sex, and it is not even clear if the next bedding is with the same person. Actually, I first chose “bedding” but then I thought the first image it evokes is of sheets. Mating seems so animalistic to me, and the word she is using is really human. So, I settled on “copulation” but with reservation. I can certainly see “love-making” as the easy way out, but I thought maybe someone will think of something I have not thought of.


or maybe it is in this feeling
that I want to blend
with grasping moon, with perceiving darkness

I guess I want an article before 'grasping moon'. I don't feel comfortable without one. I feel slightly uncomfortable with 'perceiving darkness' too, though less so.

But adding the article would change the meaning to “I want to blend this feeling with the moon that is grasping”. But, the interpretation here is “I want to blend this feeling with the feeling of understanding moon and the feeling of perceiving darkness.” Do you still think the definite article is needed? You might have read somewhere else that I occasionally struggle with the use of this article.

the journey of a mass
along a timeline,
impregnating that parched timeline,
a mass of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration
and this is how

That 'and' seems weak and unnecessary to me.

Duly noted. I will consider your suggestion of deletion.

I
know of a sad little fairy
who lives in the ocean,
plays her heart, in a wooden flute

No need for that comma after 'heart', is there?

Gaak. No, no need. I changed this from “in a wooden flute, plays her heart” and the comma was left behind.

Okay then, there are some feelings about it. Don't take them as more than that -- they are just feelings. It's powerful and adept poetry, and I just ordered The Mirror of the Soul off Ebay. Maybe next time I will know what I am talking about.

Thanks very much for these fascinating translations, Shabnam. I'm really appreciating this stuff.


Thank you for your thoughts, your feelings, your time, and your words. It is greatly appreciated.

Oh, and that lone break you point out before "happiness" was an error on my part. Thanks!





Last edited by deepwaters, Jan/27/2010, 2:54 pm
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Shabfriend, I want to say something as carefully as I can. It is Saturday afternoon here and I finally have the requisite time to go after the board's more substantial stuff. Before reading your poem something occurs to me, let's call it a cautionary note.

I do not know much about the tradition of Persian poetry stemming from Hafiz. My introduction to the tradition was through Flamenco poetry of the south of Spain. It was Lorca who established, I think conclusively, that the tradition of Flamenco poetry drew essentially on the Persian high model. Because of my love of Flamenco poetry I was fascinated by the information. And the connection makes sense. Flamenco poetry came out of an admixture of Gypsy, Iberian, Sephardic Jewish, and Mauresque elements. In the Alhambra, say, and until 1492, everything involving Islamic Civilization, which would include the Persian poetry tradition of Hafiz, would have been a salient feature. Without question Flamenco poetry essentially took from the Hafiz model. But it also, and this cannot be emphasized enough, took from the prosodic tradition going back to the Persian poet.

I know you want crit. You are a professional that way. But, when revisiting your translations after receiving the same, it is essential you keep in mind your audience is almost entirely ignorant of that tradition, its rules of procedure, its prosodics, the poetic elements it looks to draw on. For us to get the full context within which Forough worked, and which you as translator must needs keep true to even while you try to make the exchange into English and notions of what makes for good poetry, you would have to give us lessons in how Hafiz operated. While I know enough to know Forough worked within a traditional context, I don't know enough to know all the particulars. Please Shabfriend, keep this in the back of your head when you take our comments back to your drawing board.

As an aside I am remembering to tell you that my main poet, Goethe, read a translation of Persian poetry in the first decade of the 19th C. He was so taken by it he learned Farsi in order to read Hafiz. Then he and a friend's wife whose name I'll have to look up wrote poetry in German faithfully imitating the Persian model. It got pretty steamy too. Hope my story gives you a smile.

Now let me get drunk on Forough.

Tere
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Another Birth
By Forough Farrokhzad

My whole existence is a dark verse,
a verse that repeats itself and takes you
to a dawn of perpetual bloomings and buddings
I sighed you in this verse, sigh,
in this verse, I tied you
to trees and water and fire

life is perhaps
a long-stretched street where every day
a woman passes through
carrying a basket
or a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch
life is perhaps a child who walks home from school

or maybe lighting a cigarette
....................in that lazy interval between two copulations

or the lost crossing of a passerby who raises his hat
to another, with a meaningless smile, says
..........................................................“good morning”
life is perhaps that moment, obstructed
when my steady gaze wrecks itself in your swimming eyes
or maybe it is in this feeling
that I want to blend
with grasping moon, with perceiving darkness

in a room the size of my loneliness
my heart
the size of one love
inspects her uncomplicated excuses for happiness
the charming withering
of flowers in a vase
a seedling you planted in our yard
the songs of the canaries who sing
the size of a window

a sigh,
that’s my share
that’s my share
my share
is a sky a curtain can take away from me
my share is descending an abandoned staircase and connecting
...................................to something decayed, something foreign
my share is an unhappy stroll in the garden of memories
vanishing in the sadness of a voice
that tells me
“I love your hands”
I will plant my hands in the garden
they will grow, I know, I know, I know
in the curves of my ink-stained fingers
swallows will lay eggs

I will put on earrings
a pair of twin red cherries
and on my nails, I will glue dahlia petals
the boys who were in love with me
with the same disheveled hair, long necks and skinny legs
are still thinking of the innocent smiles of a girl
who was, one night, taken by the wind
there is a street my heart has stolen
from my childhood quarters

the journey of a mass
along a timeline,
impregnating that parched timeline,
a mass of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration
and this is how
someone dies
someone lives
and in a humble rivulet flowing into a puddle
.......................................no fisherman will ever catch pearls

I
know of a sad little fairy
who lives in the ocean,
plays her heart, in a wooden flute
slow, slow
a sad little fairy
who dies of a kiss at night
..............................at dawn, with a kiss, is reborn.

(poem translated by Shabnam)

Okay. I accept you are not going to let me get drunk this time on this exquistely beautiful poem. If I ever thought I was an essential poet I am having second thoughts now. No wonder Goethe learned Farsi. Here is a walk-through, strophe by strophe. Please keep in mind I do not have a literal, prose, translation in front of me.

S1 last line my mind wants this: 'to earth, air, fire, and water.' Not in keeping with the tradition perhaps. But the kind of whole image that carries over elementally.

S2 touches the existential nerve in me. Were the poem mine I would have said 'life is perhaps a child who walks for home after school.'

Next two strophes quite good. Only I would not modify crossing with lost.

Oh I do love S5. "charming withering" or maybe 'charmed withering.'

S6. "descending" or 'walking down.'

S7. The censura between lines three and four is not clear. It needs a comma after petals for the sake of sense.

S8. This is the poem's one weak strophe, except for the last, fisherman line. Is it so in the original? Masses and timelines say nothing to my body.

Last stanza. I wanted the poem to end with S8 until I read the last. And I said yes I remember that mermaid too, the very same one.

There you go, Shabfriend. The poem is a beautiful poem. I think I get why translating it causes you so much trouble. It is the inside journey she exposes to daylight. And she does it in the way that water bubbles to the surface where the discomfort of sudden sunlight causes the eyes to blink.

Somewhere I really should put up Lorca poetry to show the familial resemblance. This stuff is cante jondo to me.

Tere
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


hi Shab,

Upthread someone assigned the quality of "rapture" to these poems (Steve?) and that comes through to me as well.

I loved the use of many metaphors following, "life is perhaps," because each one seemed to capture a different shading or texture of experience.

"copulation," struck me as perfect for some reason while "perceiving darkness," was a bit jarring...are you looking for a word which encompasses seeing, understanding and accepting? Knowing, maybe...but not quite.

Apologies to you and Steve for being lazy and just riffing on his comments but I wouldn't have known where to begin. This poetry is gorgeous. Thank you for bringing it to the board.

Chris





Last edited by ChrisD1, Jan/25/2010, 10:12 am
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Hi Shab,

I'm starting to see some connections between the poems you've translated, recurring themes and images, for example, which are fun to notice and appreciate.

Some specfics for you to use or lose as you choose:

If you go the route of including the four elements in S1, you might consider: to trees and wind, water and fire.

Here's an idea for the lines about the moon and darkness:
 
or maybe it is in this feeling
I want to blend
with grasping moon, perceiving darkness

or

or maybe it is in this feeling
that I want to blend
of grasping moon, perceiving darkness

Copulation works for me as does perceiving darkness (moreso without the with).

Perhaps drop the last I before know:

they will grow, I know, I know, know
in the curves of my ink-stained fingers
swallows will lay eggs

This is the one stanza which doesn't come through for me:

the journey of a mass
along a timeline,
impregnating that parched timeline,
a mass of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration

Can you tell us more about what the original is saying? I think timeline is okay; it's mass I find confusing.

I hope some of this is helpful. Thanks again for posting these translations.
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Tere-

Thank you for your comments.

S1 last line my mind wants this: 'to earth, air, fire, and water.' Not in keeping with the tradition perhaps. But the kind of whole image that carries over elementally.
Hmm, interesting thought. Will mull it over.

S6. "descending" or 'walking down.'
Sorry, I am confused here. Are you saying you don’t like “descending” which I have as much as “walking down”?

S7. The censura between lines three and four is not clear. It needs a comma after petals for the sake of sense.
Yup. Thanks.

S8. This is the poem's one weak strophe, except for the last, fisherman line. Is it so in the original? Masses and timelines say nothing to my body.
I understand and agree. I am reworking this strophe to improve its image. I think I almost have it, so maybe in a day I will post a revised version.

Somewhere I really should put up Lorca poetry to show the familial resemblance. This stuff is cante jondo to me.
That would be great! You know, Lorca is a much more popular and well-know poet in Iran than he is in the US – at least, in my experience. I am starting to see why.
-s


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Chris -
Thank you for your feedback.

quote:

ChrisD1 wrote:
while "perceiving darkness," was a bit jarring...are you looking for a word which encompasses seeing, understanding and accepting? Knowing, maybe...but not quite.


yes, I am thinking of a perception, where you fully comprehend the other being/entity. Any thoughts?

-s
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Kat –
Thank you for your comments.


I'm starting to see some connections between the poems you've translated, recurring themes and images, for example, which are fun to notice and appreciate.

One thing I should have mentioned is that all the poems I have put up so far are from the same volume of poetry, Another Birth. I am currently working on a few from her last volume, which was unfinished.


Here's an idea for the lines about the moon and darkness:
 
or maybe it is in this feeling
I want to blend
with grasping moon, perceiving darkness

or

or maybe it is in this feeling
that I want to blend
of grasping moon, perceiving darkness

I am leaning towards the first modification, perhaps because I kept putting the “that” in and taking it out.


This is the one stanza which doesn't come through for me:

the journey of a mass
along a timeline,
impregnating that parched timeline,
a mass of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration

Can you tell us more about what the original is saying? I think timeline is okay; it's mass I find confusing.

OK, here is my interpretation. Please keep in mind that it is interpretation because this is the strophe that is fairly abstract and I have been having discussions with my sister (whose artistic abilities and understand I highly respect) over what exactly Forough is saying.

The final conclusion, yesterday, was the following. She talks about that street that her heart has stolen from her childhood, then

there is a street my heart has stolen
from my childhood quarters
a mass traveling on a timeline
dry timeline impregnated with a mass
of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration

Here is a problem I have. For the first two “mass”es I like to use “bulk”, but in the third use, “bulk” would not make sense. I think, she is using a mass along a timeline to refer to memories, maybe. Like I said, this is an interpretation. Another option I am considering is using “form” which is not quite consistent with the original but works better I think. Does any of my ramblings make sense?

Your comments are helpful, yes. Thank you.
-s
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Shab,

That is a conundrum. I'm still not really understanding what the original poem is going after. I myself had thought of bulk for mass but wasn't sure that was what she/you meant. I think form might be better. I am also leaning more toward parched than dry, but that could changes as you tweak the translation. Would the word reflection work anywhere? I like mirror's celebration. Maybe if you tried writing the lines out as prose, in paragraph form to get the the sense of it down for yourself, then you could work on making it into lines of poetry? Again, I don't know if paraphrasing the stanza would help or not. Just throwing out suggestions.
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Shab,

I'm sorry for the delay in getting back to this thread. Re: "perceiving darkness," would you consider 'behold?'

"to perceive by the visual faculty, to perceive by use of the mental faculty; comprehend. To look upon gaze at." So some variation of 'behold?'

As you often say, just my 2 cents. Toss it at will, of course.

This process you are intrducing us to is fascinating. Allowing us to see the work in progress is a gift. Thank you.

Chris
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Kat -

My interpretation of that section of the poem is the following:

There is that street that my heart has stolen from my childhood. Memories can be a bulk traveling along a timeline; a dry (I think she means dry mathematically, a predetermined straight line) timeline that is pregnant with this mass/bulk, a bulk that is a self-aware image.....

so, that's why I thought the following might represent that:

there is a street my heart has stolen
from my childhood quarters
a mass traveling on a timeline
dry timeline impregnated with a mass
of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration

I really appreciate your staying with this little wrinkle.
-s
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Chris -

I am mulling over "behold." Thanks very much for your suggestion.
-s
Jan/29/2010, 1:35 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Shab,

I am starting to get a better understanding of those lines. I can see why you opted for dry instead of parched. Predetermined made me think of straight and then unswerving. I didn't understand about the mass being memories, but that might be just me. Would it be too blatant to reference memory directly:

there is a street my heart has stolen
from my childhood quarters
a mass traveling on a timeline
dry timeline impregnated with a memory (or memories)
of one self-aware image
returning one mirror’s celebration

or maybe

there is a street my heart has stolen
from my childhood quarters
memory (or memories) traveling on a timeline
dry timeline impregnated with a mass
of one self-aware image
returning from one mirror’s celebration

Just some thoughts. Please feel free to disregard.






Feb/3/2010, 4:27 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Another Birth (Forough Farrokhzad)


Kat -

I like your suggestion of referring to memory somewhere...maybe:

there is a street my heart has stolen
from my childhood quarters
a mass traveling on a timeline
dry timeline impregnated with memories
a mass of one self-aware image
returning one mirror’s celebration

how does that sound? thanks a lot for returning to this.
Feb/4/2010, 4:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 


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