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Seda: Voices of Iran

Abmad Shamlou


Abmad Shamlou was a prolific Persian poet, writer, and journalist.  Shamlou’s career spanned over half a century, a century with decisive turns in the country’s socio-political environment.  Such environment combined with the richness of the poet’s repertory of myth and his universal outlook on human condition allowed him to use themes that are to some extent exotic to Iranian culture in his poetry. 

In his poetry, Shamlou takes on more complex uses compared to other contemporary poets and his style is quite pretentious.  The abstractions used in his poems are less figurative than usual for Persian poetry tradition and one sees the conscious intervention of the poet is the arrangements of emotions and thoughts.  The themes in his poetry range from political issues, mostly freedom, to the human condition of love.  He was a Nobel prize candidate for literature in 1984.

Age of Ages


I arrived

From the womb of Mother

To the dusts of the worlds

And the age of this earth

Is the lyre of my breath.

This grand lyre respire to the air

The dirge of all martyrs of blood and skin

On the bosom of broken hearted Mother earth.

O Mother Earth!

You know:

This tower of slaves

Is loaded by fingerprints, footsteps and sighs

You know, it is leaned to the side

Still reaching out for the moon

Like long ago in Babylon!

I bowed down

And I was slain

I prayed with open palms

And I was deposed.

O Mother Earth:

Ashes and dusts are alien to the depth of your blues

To the hidden pearl of the  seas.

Tell me now!

Let me know this hour!

What will be left?

O you!

O you!

Standing still, ruled back

Like snakes,

Over the chilled smell of your skin!

You have no arch, you have no flute,

There is no one to sing you dance

And there is no one to watch your dance!

Then Unfold!


O brothers, O sisters of the other side!

The snake is not sitting on a treasury,

It rules around your neck,

It rules around Mother’s heart,

It rules around our waists.

It is the naked death in his usual disguise.

O brothers, O sisters!

Remember the winged migration!

Remember the winged migration for dignity and faith

O Mother!

I know you will say again No

To the migration of dignity and faith!


I arrived

From the womb of Mother

To the dusts of the worlds

And the age of this earth

Is the lyre of my breath.


Children of The Depths

They thrive

In the town of no street

In the stale web of dead-end lanes

In the bath of smoke, drug and pain

Talisman in the pocket and stones in hands

The children of the depths

The children of the depths

They thrive.

The cruel swamp of fate in front

The curse of drained fathers on their back

Ears filled with their tired mothers’ blame

A void of hope and future in fists

The children of the depths

The children of the depths

They thrive.

They flourish

In the forest of no spring

On the trees of no yield

The children of the depths

The children of the depths


They chant with a bleeding throat

They hold a long invincible flag in their hands

The children of the depths

The  Kaveh* of the depths

Kaveh is a mythical figure in Iranian mythology who leads a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler


The Martyr


Look how vast


his sheltering shade


spreads on the earth


with humility


and with glory!

His hands


alike branches of 


the sacred tree life


glows with the light of love.


His fearless revolt


his far reach revlot


burned the gates of Hell


shook the walls of the Hell.


Not from cold lame of the razor blades


Or even poisoned swords


His death lands on his shoulders


from his smoky cloud of sorrow


running behind him for a while.


And that fortress of might


his heart


his hear whose key


th cadid verse of amity


collapses on itself


and yet not ot its back.





In the era of forceful negation of love


folded to one with his captive voice,


he such became, himself,


The Anthem of Love.


And  he such  became


he such became, himself,


The Elegy of Love.




Look how chaste


Look how vast


he streams on the earth


with humility and with glory!


And he such engraves


the effigy of nobility and of truth


on the heart the rocks!


Look how pure he fades away in the seas


with humility and with glory!


And loom how gracious he kneels in front of your thighs


with humility and with glory!




His death was the birthday of so very many knights.


Listen, If You Please! 


The bad year,

The sad year,

The windy year,

The tearful year,

The year of overwhelming doubts.

The year that days were running too long

and the patience was falling too short.

The year that pride,

the year that the sense of pride,

begged at its knees.

The year of plight

The lowly year

The year of sorrow

The year when Poury cried

The year of Morteza’s blood

The resigning leap year...


Life is not a trap.

Love is not a trap.

Not even death has ever been a trap

For the lost beloveds fly free,

Free and pure…


I found my love in the bad year,

the sad year,

who  repeats:

“Do not give in!”

I found  my hope in the sea of despair

My moonlight in the dark night

My love in the year of plight

And exactly when

I was about to turn into ash

I went on fire.

Life was spiteful to me

I have just smiled.

The earth was cruel to me

I lay on the ground.

For I thought life is not dark,

And the earth is neat.

I was bad

But I was not evil

I escaped from evil

The world cursed me

And then the bad year,  the sad year  arrived:

The year the Poury cried

The year of Morteza’s blood

The year of darkness.

And I found the star,

I found the beauty

I found the good

And I bloomed.

You are fine

And it is a confession.

I have confessed and cried,

Now I confess and smile.

For I thought the first and the last

The dark and the light

Always merge…


You are fine

And I was not evil.

I found you and my might, my words, may mass, my thoughts

All turned into poem.

The stones turned into poem,

the evil turned into verse,

And the verse turned into beauty.

So the heavens sang, the birds sang,

The water danced.

And I asked you:

“Be my small sparrow and I become

in you return at the spring, a blossomed tree.”


The snow melted, the flowers danced.

The sun smiled.

And I watched, I changed

I confessed:

“You are good, and the bad year, the sad year 

is gone.”

You smiled

And I came back to life.


I want to be good,

I want to be you!

That is why I could confess.


Stay with me, if you please!




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