Ahmad Shamloo

Ahmad Shamloo

(1925 – 2000) Penname A. Bamdad - Iranian poet, writer, and journalist. Shamloo was arguably the most influential poet of modern Iran. His initial poetry was influenced by and in the tradition of Nima Youshij. Shamlou's poetry is complex, yet his imagery, which contributes significantly to the intensity of his poems, is simple. As the base, he uses the traditional imagery familiar to his Iranian audience through the works of Persian masters like Hafiz and Omar Khayyám. For infrastructure and impact, he uses a kind of everyday imagery in which personified oxymoronic elements are spiked with an unreal combination of the abstract and the concrete thus far unprecedented in Persian poetry, which distressed some of the admirers of more traditional poetry.




Once upon a time,

Three Fairies sat
Naked at sunset
Under the blue dome of sky

"Boo-hoo," cried the Fairies
and their tears were like rain from Spring clouds

Their hair was as long as rope
and as dark as night
It may have been even longer than rope
and it may have been even darker than night

Before them, upon the horizon
Was a city of enslaved boys
Behind them, black and cold
sat the old fabled Castle (where they used to live)

They listened; and from the city they heard
the sounds of chains clinking
While from behind them in the castle
came the nightly moans

Hey, aren't you Fairies hungry?
Aren't you Fairies thirsty? or tired?
Why is it that you Fairies are crying?

The Fairies said nothing
and "Boo-hoo," they continued to cry
and their tears were like rain from Spring clouds

Dear Fairies, why are you crying?
You fairies must be afraid of something.
Are you worried that it may snow?
Are you scared that it may rain?
Do you fear that the wolf may come and eat you?
Or do you think that the Devil himself
is coming to eat you?

You Fairies must be afraid of something.
Why don't you come to our City?
Listen! Can't you hear the sound
of our City's chains clinking
Hey, look you Fairies!
Look how tall I am
Watch my white horse
with its honey-colored mane and it's honey-colored tail
which runs as swift as the wind
See the veins and muscles ripple hard as iron
in his legs and in his neck
Watch our horse's nose as he puts it in the air!

Our city is celebrating tonight
For the Devil's house has been overthrown
The country people are our guests tonight
Venturing from their homes

They are coming, "Dom" "Dom" "Dom"
They are drumming "Pom" "Pom" "Pom"
They are laughing, "Ha" "Ha" "Ha"
They are singing:
"The City is ours!"
"We are happy!" --- the Devil complains
"The world is ours" --- the Devil howls
"Whiteness is king! --- the Devil moans
"Darkness is ashamed" --- the Devil groans

Listen Fairies, the long night is ending
and the heavy doors of the castle are fastened.

If you can wake earlier and mount my horse
Together we can arrive in the City
If you can wake earlier and listen
you will hear the wonderful chains rattle and clink
Yes, the expensive chains
chain to chain and link by link
loosening and dropping from the people's wrists
The chains are worn out! They shatter!
If you are a Devil you will be miserable this night.

There is no place for Devils to run now
For them, the forests will be barren
For them, the jungles will be desert
It is different here in our City
Oh Fairies! You have no idea
how things have changed!

The Castle doors are open
the slave-holders and the Devils are ashamed
the slaves are being freed
The dungeons are being transformed
And now he who has been imprisoned and tortured
is given balm
The sharp straws have become soft rugs
Yes, the slaves are becoming free
So many, Free!
Free to consider revenge
With sickles and hoes
They become a flood,
a flood of slaves
a flood of anger, Whoosh!
The slaves are becoming free
So many, Free!
Free to consider revenge
With sickles and hoes
They become a roaring fire
And how beautiful are fireworks
in the heart of the night!
How wonderful the firelights!

Finally the night-fires dwindle and sunrise comes
Not much remains of the night
Now the slaves are ready to pick up torches
and beat the soul of the night with them
and finish off the Devil's darkness

They are ready; ready to bring him into courtyard,
ready to ridicule and taunt him.
It is time to take each other's hands
and dance around the loser

So, what are you crying about Fairies?
Stop your whining!

But the Fairies didn't answer
They only continued to weep
and their tears were like rain from Spring clouds

At the longest night of Winter
When we all used to sit around the Korsi (1)
eating sunflower seeds
While listening to the rainv
and its sound in the gutter

Our Nanny used to tell us stories
About striped fairies
The story of a yellow Fairy and a green Fairy
The story of the patient stone
The story of a goat on the roof and
the story of the daughter of the King of the Fairies!

You are those same Fairies!!
You have come to our world!!
But here in our world
You only sad and depressed
You act like our world is empty
You act like our world is absurd
You act like our world is nothing but pain

It is true
Our world is no Fairy-tale
with secret messages and happy endings
Our world is open-ended
And like it or not
Our world has thorns
Its deserts have snakes
Whoever is a real part of our world
knows these things deeply in their

Now what was wrong with your world, Fairies?
Who told you to leave your tall sweet castle?
Why did you come to our unique but difficult world?

The Fairies said nothing
And still they wept
And their tears were like rains from Spring clouds

I patted the Fairies on their backs
I wanted to send them back to their world
But then they started to scream

They were magical and they began to fly about.
They became old, they became tears,
They became young, they became laughter,
They became master and slave,
They became fruit, they became seed,
They became both hope and despair,
They became a bad omen

These magic tricks did not affect me
I watched their games
But I was not influenced by them
Their jinxed star did not sway me
And when they saw I did not turn into a stone
by any of their sorcery, they changed
One of them became a bottle of wine
One of them became a sea of water
And one of them became a mountain
rising up into the sky

I drank the wine
I swam the sea
I climbed the mountain
There was singing and dancing
in the City beyond the mountain

"Ha-Ha-Ha" we are happy!
No more slavery! We are free!
We destroyed injustice
We held freedom as our Mecca.
Since the City stood firm,
Since the living became ours,
We'll be happy forever!
We'll be free forever!
We have achieved our goal!
We have reached our home!

This is the end of our tale!
This is the end of our jail!

Translated by:
Mahvash Shahegh & Dan Newsome