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Believe in the Start of the Cold Season (Forough)


Believe in the Start of the Cold Season…
By Forough Farrokhzad
(from her last (unfinished) volume of poetry: Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season)

And here I am
a woman, alone
at the brink of a cold season
at the beginning of an understanding
understanding the world’s filthy existence
the simple gloomy despair of the sky
the impotence of these concrete hands.

time flew
time flew and the clock chimed four times
it chimed four times
today is the first of Dei*
I know the secret of seasons
I understand the language of moments
the savior is sleeping in a grave
and soil, this accepting soil
is a reflection of peace

time flew and the clock chimed four times.

the wind blows in the street
the wind blows in the street
and I think of flowers mating,
of buds with skinny pale stalks,
of this tired tubercular time
and a man passes by the wet trees
a man whose ropes of blue veins
have crawled up his throat
like dead snakes,
in his tumultuous temples, they repeat that bloody chant
hello
-hello
and I think of flowers mating.

at the brink of a cold season
at the funeral of mirrors
the mournful gathering of pale experiences
and this sunset impregnated by the knowledge of silence
how do you stop
someone who walks this way
slowly,
conspicuously,
mystified.
how do you tell a man he is not alive
that he never
has been alive!

the wind blows in the street
the solitary crows of isolation
circle the air in the old gardens of ennui
and that ladder
has such a pathetic height!

they took the whole naiveté of one heart
to the castle of fairy tales
and now
who will ever get up to dance
who will let tresses of her childhood
float on open waters
and who
after finally picking the apple, inhaling the scent,
will crush it under her feet!

my companion,
my one and only companion
what dark clouds are anticipating
the day of Sun’s celebration.

as if it was on the course of imagining a flight
where a bird appeared one day
it was as if those new leaves, panting in lust of a breeze
as if they came from lines of a green illusion
as if that purple flame that burned in the clean conscious of the windows
was nothing but an innocent impression of a lantern!

the wind blows in the street
this is the beginning of ruination
it was blowing that day too
when your hands were ruined,
dear stars
dear cardboard stars
when deceit starts blowing in the sky
how can you take refuge
in the verses of disgraced prophets?

like the dead from thousands and thousands years ago, we
will find each other
and then
the Sun will pass judgment on the decay of our corpses.

I am cold
I am cold as if I will never be warm again
my companion
my one and only companion
but how old was that wine?**
look at how time
has such a weight here
and how the fish chew on my flesh
why do you always keep me at the bottom of the ocean?!

I am cold and I detest shell earrings
I am cold and I know
that all that will be left behind
from the red illusions of a wild poppy
will be a few drops of blood.

I will let go of straight lines
will let go of counting numbers too,
among all the limited geometric shapes
I will take refuge in the emotional expanse of openness
I am naked
naked
naked
like the silence in between whispers of love, naked
and all my wounds are from love
from love, love, love!
I have steered this lost island
through the revolutions of oceans
and explosions of mountains,
splintering was the secret of that united being
whose most meager bit gave birth to the sun!

greetings innocent night!
greetings the night that turns the eyes of wolves
to bony holes of trust and faith,
by your streams
the ghosts of willows sniff
the kind ghosts of hatchets
I come from the world of indifferent thoughts, words, and sounds
this world is a snake hole,
full of sounds of footsteps of those
who kiss you while braiding
your hang rope in their minds!

greetings innocent night!

between window and watching,
there is always a distance,
why didn’t I look?
like that time
when a man was passing by the wet trees!
why didn’t I look?
seemed as if my mother had wept that night
the night that I reached pain, my fetus took form,
the night that I became the bride of jasmines
the night that Isfahan was filled with the echo of blue tiles
and the one who was my other half,
had returned to my fetus
and in the mirror I was seeing him
like the mirror, he was pure, he was bright
suddenly he called my name
and I became the bride of jasmines…

seemed as if my mother had wept that night
a worthless light peeked at this blocked window
why didn’t I look?
every moment of happiness knew
that your hands would be ruined
yet I didn’t look
until the clock’s flaps
opened and that sad coo coo bird sang four times
it sang four times
and I ran into that small woman whose eyes
were the empty nest of firebirds
whose thighs were so full of motion
as if she was taking virginity
of my glorious dreams with her
to night’s bed!

will I ever comb my hair
in the wind again?
will I, once more, plant pansies in the yard?
and the geraniums
will I place them in the sky behind the windows?
will I dance on goblets again?
will I be carried to the anticipation of sound, with one door bell?

I told mother “it’s over”
I said “accidents always happen before you can think of them
we should send condolences to the paper.”

a vacuous person
a person vacant, yet full of trust
look at his teeth
how they sing songs while chewing
and his eyes
how they rip apart while staring
and how he passes by wet trees:
slowly,
conspicuously,
mystified.

at 4 o’clock
at the moment when ropes of blue veins
crawl up his throat like dead snakes
and in his tumultuous temple
they repeat a bloody chant
-hello
-hello
have you ever
smelled
those four blue tulips?

time flew
time flew and night fell on the limp branches of jasmines
night was gliding behind the windows
and with his cold tongue
was sucking in the passing day’s leftovers.
where do I come from?
where do I come from that I am soaked
in the smell of the night?
his grave is still fresh
I am speaking of the grave of those two young green hands!

my companion, my one and only companion
so kind you were when you lied to me
so kind you were when you closed mirrors’ eyelids
and when you cut the wire stems
of the chandeliers
and in the cruel darkness, you lead me to love’s pasture
to that dazed steam, an extension of one yearning’s flames,
that would settle on the soft grass of sleep
and those cardboard stars
would circle the infinity
why was a word spoken?
why was a glance invited for a visit
why was a caress
taken under the cover of virginity’s braids?
look here
the one who spoke with words
who caressed with his eyes
who steadied after a stampede with a caress
she is crucified
on crosses of delusion
and traces of your five long fingers
that were like five letters of truth
are still visible on her cheeks!

what is silence, what is it, my one and only companion?
what is silence but unsaid words
I can no longer talk, but the finches speak
they speak the language of nature’s current celebration
their language is:
spring.
leaf.
spring.
their language is:
breeze.
scent.
breeze.
the language of finches dies in factories.

who is this on this road to eternity
moving towards the spiritual unity
winding his constant watch
with the logic of deduction and seduction
who is this who hears the rooster’s call
not as the beginning of day
but as the smell of breakfast
who is this who has a tiara of love,
and yet decaying in her wedding gown?

at the end, the sun
did not shine on the two disappointed poles
at the same time.
you emptied out of the echo of blue tiles.
and I am so full that they kneel and pray on my voice…

blissful corpses
weary, tired corpses
thoughtful quiet corpses
pleasant corpses, fashionable, tasteful
in stations at the scheduled time
in a background of temporary suspicious lights
and the lust of shopping for the rotten fruits of nothingness
ah, these people watch out for accidents in intersections
and these whistles of stop
at the moment, when a man should
he should, he should
be crushed under the wheels of time
a man who is passing by wet trees!
where do I come from?
I told mother “it’s over”
I said “accidents always happen before you can think of them
we should send condolences to the paper.”

greetings alien loneliness
I surrender you this room
because the dark clouds always
are prophets of the fresh verses of ablution
and in the martyrdom of a candle
there is a bright secret
best known by that last, that longest flame

we should believe
believe in the beginning of the cold season
believe in ruins of gardens of imagination
in turned-down fallow hatchets
and in imprisoned seeds.
look how heavily the snow is falling!

perhaps truth was in those two young hands,
those two young hands
which were buried under the constant snowfall
and next year,
when spring
sleeps with the sky behind this window
when green fountains of thin stems
burst out of its skin
it will blossom
my companion,
my one and only companion
believe in the beginning of the cold season…





* Dei is the month that starts winter, and the first of Dei is the winter solstice.
**- I believe this is a line from a famous poem, but I will have to do some research.
Jul/1/2010, 10:08 am Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Believe in the Start of the Cold Season (Forough)


Hi Shab,

Although I am too tired right now (had a long, busy day) to tackle this tonight, I just wanted to let you know that I look forward to jumping into this new Forough translation.
Jul/1/2010, 8:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Believe in the Start of the Cold Season (Forough)


Shab,

This is extraordinary. I've read through it once and plan to re-read. Glad to have you back and contributing these riches.

Chris
Jul/2/2010, 12:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: Believe in the Start of the Cold Season (Forough)


Whoa! Just whoa! I can tell you specifically why this poem works for me. But then I would have to get mechanical, parsing and all, and not adequately touch on why this works for me. The most I can say is that I read a poem like this and I know, viscerally know, why I turn to poetry before and after everything else. This right here is what I look for in poetry above all else. My god but this is beautiful, masterful! So sure of itself in its vulnerability. The line that stands out starkly, that I understand the most, and that tells me I know what she is saying, her logic, is: "the language of finches dies in factories." Only a poet gets this existential truth. And see how she, by contrast, sings like a finch. A lament? Maybe. A celebration? Absolutely!!!! Only somebody who in Orphic fashion has gone to the dead, has lived among the madness of the dead, and who has come back to the upper air, sings like this.

Right now, Shab, I am angry at myself, thoroughly pissed off, and for two reasons. First, I am only now, thanks to you, taking account of Forough. Second, I was not born Persian. This poem so speaks to my sense of home. It's her sense of the inside sense that gives the home feeling. She is the Rilke of Iran.

Your channelling of Forough humbles the hell out of me. If you want I'll come back later and pick a little at some word choices. Right now I just want to swim in the poem.

Tere

Jul/3/2010, 4:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Believe in the Start of the Cold Season (Forough)


Kat-
I look forward to your feed back. Thank you.

---
Chris-
Thank you for commenting. I agree that it is extraordinary. Thank you for letting me know that it comes through.

---
Tere-
I am glad you liked the poem. Thank you for your comments. Very much appreciated.


quote:

Terreson wrote:
If you want I'll come back later and pick a little at some word choices.



yes, I would like that very much. thank you!

-shab

Jul/4/2010, 3:33 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
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Re: Believe in the Start of the Cold Season (Forough)


Shab, maybe I have something for you. I don't know if this will help in your approach to Forough, or even if you need the help. Maybe instead what I'll say helps me in my approach to her through you.

I've mentioned before, and more than once, my abiding interest in the tradition of flamenco poetry. Especially with respect to its almost primordial, certainly ancient, focus on duende, which is a word that can't really be defined or explained, only experienced. But also with its class of poetry called deep song, or cante jondo. I've also mentioned having some years ago come across a collection of writings by Federico Garcia Lorca on flamenco poetry, especially coming from the Spanish province of Andalusia. It's called "In Search of Duende." Lorca traced the vestigial roots of flamenco poetry: the Spanish soul he likened as the flayed hide of the bull, Sephardic Jews, the Moors who once owned most of the Iberian peninsula, and Gypsies. He also and specifically mentions the high poetic forms of ancient Persia, what the Moors would have brought with them, especially as it was handled by Hafiz. All of this I've mentioned many times.

When I read your Forough translations so much of what Lorca says about duende and deep song automatically comes to mind. Here are some passages from a lecture he gave on cante jondo in 1922 in Granada.

~It is song without landscape, withdrawn into itself and terrible in the dark. Deep song shoots its arrows of gold right into our heart. In the dark it is a terrifying blue archer whose quiver is never empty.~

~Woman, heart of the world and immortal keeper of 'the rose, the lyre, and the science of harmony' looms on the infinite horizon of these poems. The woman of deep song is called Pain.~

~All of the poems of deep song are magnificently pantheistic: the poets ask advice of the wind, the earth, the sea, the moon, and things as simple as a violet, a rosemary, a bird. All exterior objects assume their own striking personalities and take on active roles in the lyricaql action.~

~With deep spiritual feeling the Andalusian entrusts nature with his very most intimate treasure, completely confidant of being listened to.~

~One feature of deep song, one admirable poetic reality, is the strange way the wind materializes in many of the songs.~

~One of the most remarkable characteristics of deep-song poems is their almost complete lack of a restrained, middle tone.~

~...So then, emotiveness is deep song's most striking trait.

That is why, though many of the songs of our Peninsulacan make us see the landscapes where they are sung, deep song sings like a nightgale with no eyes.~

~When our songs reach the very heights of pain and love they become the expressive sisters of the magnificent verses of Arabian and Persian poets.~

~But where the resemblance is most striking of all is in the sublime amorous ghazals of Hafiz, the national poet of Persia, who sang the wine, beautiful women, mysterious stones, and infinite blue night of Shiraz.~

This especially brings Forough to mind:

~When the cantaor sings he is celebrating a solemn rite. He rouses ancient essences from their sleep, wraps them in his voice, and flings them into the wind. He has a deeply religious sense of song.

Through the chanters the race releases its pain and its true history. They are simple mediums, the lyrical crest feathers of our people.

They are strange but simple folk who sing hallucinated by a brilliant point of light trembling on the horizon.~

I have a favorite Lorca poem and I swear I can as easily imagine hearing it on the lips of Forough as on his. It is called "Dance of the Moon in Santiago":

Regard the white gallant,
look at his spent body.

It is the moon that dances
in the Courtyard of the Dead.

Look at his spent body,
blackened with shadows and wolves.

Mother, the moon is dancing
in the Courtyard of the Dead.

Who wounds the stone foal
at the very portal of sleep?

It is the moon! It is the moon
in the Courtyard of the Dead!

Who stares at my gray glasses
his eyes filled with clouds?

It is the moon! It is the moon
in the Courtyard of the Dead!

Let me perish in my bed
dreaming of golden flowers.

Mother, the moon is dancing
in the Courtyard of the Dead.

Ay, daughter, with the wind of the sky
I turn suddenly white!

It is not the wind but the sad moon
in the Courtyard of the Dead.

Who bellows with this moan
of a great melancholy ox?

Mother: The moon, it is the moon
in the Courtyard of the Dead.

Yes, the moon, the moon
crowned with furze
that dances, dances, dances
in the Courtyard of the Dead.

(Federico Garcia Lorca, murdered by Franco's Fascists in 1936.)

Well, I guess I can't resist. I've mentioned all of this before too. Above I say duende cannot be explained, only experienced. But it keeps coming through in your Forough poems, the last one so far perhaps most of all. Here is how Lorca tried to describe it:

~These 'black sounds' are the mystery, the roots fastened in the mire that we all know and all ignore, the fertile silt that gives us the very substance of art.~

~The duende, then is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought.~

~This 'mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains' is, in sum, the spirit of the earth...~

~The true fight is with the duende.~

~But there are neither maps nor exercises to help us find the duende. We only know that he burns in the blood like poultice of broken glass, that he exhausts, that he rejects all the sweet geometry we have learned, that he smashes styles, that he leans on human pain with no consolation...~

~The magical property of a poem is to remain possessed by duende that can baptize in dark water all who look at it, for with duende it is easier to love and understand, and one can be sure of being loved and understood. In poetry this struggle for expression and communication is sometimes fatal.~

Without question it is Forough's duende that goes straight through me.

Tere
Jul/4/2010, 5:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Believe in the Start of the Cold Season (Forough)


Hi Shab,

I have read this poem several times now and want to say that it reads pretty seamlessly. Nothing strikes me as being awkward or confusing. I want to read the poem a few more times in order to fully appreciate the arc of Forough's structure here and in order to see how this piece fits in with other Forough poems you have translated, but my initial reaction is that you have hit your stride here with these translations.

Last edited by Katlin, Jul/11/2010, 6:58 pm
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Re: Believe in the Start of the Cold Season (Forough)


Tere-

Thank you so much for your generous response. It is more appreciated than words can express.

-------------------
Kat-

Your comment made me grin widely. Life has been a bit tough lately without an income, so these little gifts are what keep me afloat. Thank you.
Jul/13/2010, 6:32 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 


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