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Seda: Voices of Iran

Houshang Ebtehaj

(1928-    )
Houshang Ebtehaj was born in 1928 in Rasht, North of Iran. He published his first book when he was only 19 years old. He chose ‘Sayeh' /sa:yeh/ as his pen name, which means ‘shadow' / ‘shade'.  Ebtehaj was active in different literary movements and gatherings and took considerable part in various literary magazines such as Sokhan and Kavian. 

After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Sayeh spent some time in prison for his ideas. He has several works in poetry almost all of which are well-known in the world of Persian literature. 

In his poems, Ebtehaj is shown as a highly motivated person in love, who has gone through years of pain and suffering. He also worked and did some meaningful researches on Hafez poems that is of high value. 


O Joy!

O joy!
O liberty!
O joy of liberty!
When you return,
What shall I do
With this melancholy heart?

Our sorrow is heavy,
Our hearts are bleeding,
Blood spurts from our heads to our feet,
From head to foot we are wounded,
From head to foot we are bloody,
From head to foot we are all pain.
We have exposed our loving heart to hazards
For your sake.

When the tongue feared the lip,
When the pen doubted the paper,
Even, even our recollection dreaded to speak during dreams,
We used to engrave your name in our heart
Like an image on turquoise.

When in that dark street,
Night followed night,
And the horror of its silence
Crashed on the closed window,
We spread your voice like spurting blood
Like a stone thrown in the swamp
On the roof and at the door.

When the deceit of the beast,
Disguised in Solomon's garment,
Wore the ring on his finger,
We used to rhyme your secret, like God's mightiest name
In poetry and ode.

We spoke of
Wine, of flower, of morning,
Of mirror, of flight,
Of Phoenix, of the sun.

We spoke of light, of goodness,
Of wisdom, of love,
Of faith, of hope.

That bird that journeyed in the cloud,
That seed in the ground that grow into a lawn,
That light that danced in the mirror,
And murmured to our heart's solitude,
Spoke of meeting you at every breath.

In the school, in the market,
In the mosque, in the town square,
In jail, in chains,
We murmured your name:

Those nights, those nights, those nights,
Those dark and horrible nights,
Those nights of nightmare,
Those nights of tyranny,
Those nights of faith,
Those nights of shouting,
Those nights of patience and awakenings,
We sought you in the street,
We called your name on the roofs:

I said:
"When you return
I will lift my young heart
Like the banner of victory,
And will hoist
The bloody banner
On your lofty roof.

I said:
"On the day that you return,
I will strew this blossoming blood, 
Like a bouquet of rose,
At your foot;
And will hang
My rolling arms
Around your proud neck.

O liberty!
This carpet lying under your foot,
Is dyed with blood.
This flower garlands is made of blood,
It is the flower of blood...

O liberty!
You come through the alley of blood,
You will come and I tremble in my heart:
What is this which is concealed in your hand?
What is this which is twisted around your leg?
O liberty!
Are you 
With chains?...


The Wall

Behind this lofty mountain,
Beside the pale sea,
There was a girl
with whom
I was madly in love.
As if Gali 
Had been created
That I should love her fervently,
And she should love me sweetly...

And you know
O silent stars!
How happy we were,
Me and she were drunk in the sweet sleep of hope,
And what pure happiness
Laughed in my eyes and hers...

And now, O coy maidens,
If you aren't dumb,
Open your mouths
And say what happened from that calumny?
What happened to this clouded spring!

And between me and she,
Now lies this vast plain,
Now this long way,
And this lofty mountain...

Translations by M. Alexandrian



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