Somehow, from the silence, a voice emerges.
The first stumbling attempts at speech initially reflect the echo of another’s utterance.
Gradually, one’s articulation, inflection and intonation differentiate into a distinct and recognizable resonance: a genuine voice.
We have the opportunity to savor the uniquely feminine voice of Forugh Farrokhzad, via a translation of one of her poems, and a recording of the original:
My whole being is a dark chant
which will carry you
to the dawn of eternal growths and blossoming
in this chant I sighed you sighed
in this chant
I grafted you to the tree to the water to the fire.
Life is perhaps
a long street through which a woman holding
a basket passes every day
Life is perhaps
a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch
life is perhaps a child returning home from school.
Life is perhaps lighting up a cigarette
in the narcotic repose between two love-makings
or the absent gaze of a passerby
who takes off his hat to another passerby
with a meaningless smile and a good morning.
Life is perhaps that enclosed moment
when my gaze destroys itself in the pupil of your eyes
and it is in the feeling
which I will put into the Moon’s impression
and the Night’s perception.
In a room as big as loneliness
which is as big as love
looks at the simple pretexts of its happiness
at the beautiful decay of flowers in the vase
at the sapling you planted in our garden
and the song of canaries
which sing to the size of a window.
this is my lot
this is my lot
my lot is
a sky which is taken away at the drop of a curtain
my lot is going down a flight of disused stairs
to regain something amid putrefaction and nostalgia
my lot is a sad promenade in the garden of memories
and dying in the grief of a voice which tells me
I will plant my hands in the garden
I will grow I know I know I know
and swallows will lay eggs
in the hollow of my ink-stained hands.
I shall wear
a pair of twin cherries as ear-rings
and I shall put dahlia petals on my finger-nails
there is an alley
where the boys who were in love with me
still loiter with the same unkempt hair
thin necks and bony legs
and think of the innocent smiles of a little girl
who was blown away by the wind one night.
There is an alley
which my heart has stolen
from the streets of my childhood.
The journey of a form along the line of time
inseminating the line of time with the form
a form conscious of an image
coming back from a feast in a mirror
And it is in this way
that someone dies
and someone lives on.
No fisherman shall ever find a pearl in a small brook
which empties into a pool.
I know a sad little mermaid *
who lives in an ocean
and ever so softly
plays her heart into a magic flute
a sad little mermaid
who dies with one kiss each night
and is reborn with one kiss each dawn.
*I changed the translation from “fairy” to “mermaid” here.
Note: the subtitles in the video reflect a different translation.
Only a fraction of the inhabitants of this planet, most of them the owners of a pair of X chromosomes, would be able to fully comprehend the magnitude of the courage–and the loneliness–exhibited by the burning soul of Forugh Farrokhzad.
Forugh Farrokhzad was an Iranian poet and film director. She attended school only until the 9th grade, and then was taught painting and sewing at a girls’ school for the manual arts. By age 16 she was married; by 18, she was divorced and had lost custody of her only child. She began writing poetry, and her first volume, The Captive, was published in 1955. She also suffered a nervous breakdown in 1955. She traveled to England to study film-making, and created a documentary film of a leper colony, The House is Black, in 1962. In 1967, while driving in Tehran, Farrokhzad swerved to avoid a school bus, and was ejected when her vehicle hit a stone wall. She died from the resulting injuries before reaching the hospital. Farrokhzad’s poetry was banned for more than a decade following the revolution in her homeland.
But she was not forgotten.
For the curious, here is a treasury of information on Forugh Farrokhzad.
….sound, sound, only sound,
the sound of the limpid wishes
of water to flow,
the sound of the falling of star light
on the wall of earth’s femininity
the sound of the binding of meaning’s sperm
and the expansion of the shared mind of love.
sound, sound, sound,
only sound remains.