Forugh Farrokhzad was an Iranian poet and film director. She’s one of Iran’s most influential female poets of the twentieth century, and one of the most important female voices of Persian literature in general.
Born in 1935, at the age of sixteen she was married to Parviz Shapour, an acclaimed satirist. Farrokhzad continued her education with classes in painting and sewing and moved with her husband to Ahvaz. A year later, she bore her only child, a son named Kāmyār (subject of A Poem for You).
I am composing this poem for you
on a parched summer dusk
halfway down this road of ominous beginning
In the old grave of this endless sorrow.
this is the final lullaby
at the foot of the cradle where you sleep.
may the wild sounds of my screaming
echo in the sky of your youth.
let the shadow of me the wanderer
be separate and far from your shadow.
when one day we reach one another,
standing between us will be none other than God.
against a dark door I have rested
my forehead tight with pain;
I rub my thin, cold fingers
against this door in hope.
Within two years, in 1954, Farrokhzad and her husband divorced; Parviz won custody of the child. She moved back to Tehran to write poetry and published her first volume, entitled The Captive, in 1955.
She never remarried. Instead, she turned to poetry and film and led an independent life. Her poetry was the poetry of protest – protest through revelation – revelation of the innermost world of women (a taboo subject until then).
Farrokhzad died in a car accident at age thirty-two. In order to avoid hitting a school bus, she swerved her Jeep, which hit a stone wall; she died before reaching the hospital. Her poem Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season was published posthumously, and is considered by some to be one of the best-structured modern poems in Persian.
will I once again
comb my hair with wind?
will I ever again plant pansies in the garden
and set geraniums in the sky
outside the window?
will I ever again dance on wine glasses
will the doorbell call me again
toward a voice’s expectation?
I said to Mother, It’s all over now.
I said, Things always happen before one thinks;
we have to send condolences
to the obituary page… .
Farrokhzad’s poetry was banned for more than a decade after the Islamic Revolution. A brief literary biography of Forough, Michael Hillmann’s A lonely woman: Forough Farrokhzad and her poetry, was published in 1987. She was controversial, even among some of the intellectuals of the time. That didn’t stop her, her voice was to be heard and it echoes still.
weary of divine asceticism,
at midnight in Satan’s bed
I would seek refuge in the downward slopes
of a fresh sin.
I would choose at the price of
the golden crown of godhood,
the dark and painful pleasure
of sin’s embrace.
For more on Farrokhazad, her life and work, go to ForughFarrokhzadorg.