Literature of Iran

Houshang Ebtehaj


Houshang Ebtehaj (Sayeh, 1927)

More than a modern poet, Ebtehaj is a lyrist in classical style, in which he reveals an easy mastery of traditional forms with new definitions. 

He published his collection of poetry, while he was still in high school in Guilan. In the political climate of the 1960's, Ebtehaj was an ardent advocate of social poetry. 

Ebtehaj's poetry is at times highly emotional and remarkable for its convincing directness and unconcealed sentiments.

The first Melody, The Mirage, Draft Exercise 1, The Earth, Several Leaves from Yalda, Draft Exercise 2, The Memory of Cypress Blood, Draft Exercises 1, 2, 3, Mirror in Mirror, Draft Exercises 1,2,3 and 4

Liberty, Translated to English by M. Alexandrian
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?...


Contemporary Persian Poets


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