The Captive (Asir) | The Wall (Divar) | Rebellion (Esyan) |
Another Birth (Tavalodi Digar) | Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season ( Iman Biyavarim beh Aghaz-a Fasl-e Sard )


t h e C A P T I V E ( A S I R )

I respect poetry in the very same way that religious people respect religion.

Forugh Farrokhzad, Four Interviews, p78

Farrokhzad's first collection, of forty-four poems including all those cited and quoted called (the) captive, was published in the early summer of 1955. The speaker throughout these poems is a serious, searching, loving, young woman. The poems contain no philosophizing themes, or full-blown descriptions of nature. Images drawn from nature appear in these poems as part of a world in which love and the giving it implies are all that matter or seem, to exist. The speaker reveals a spectrum of moods: anticipation, regret, joy, remorse, loneliness, abandon, repentance, doubt, and reverie. But the immediate issue is love, a woman's love for a man that makes the heart ache and that can satisfy all needs. Men appear in various stances, from proud, possessive, uncomprehending, faithless conquerors of the body to selfless lovers of whom the speaker feels unworthy. Men in the Captive poems are there with strong chests, embracing arms, heads to be held in one's lap, Lips to kiss. Lovemaking is often an end in itself, but has meaning as such. Some men do not comprehend this. Others, who see the speaker as a promiscuous object, are ignorant of love's magic and meaning and unprepared to commit themselves to love's giving. Although not joyous for the most part, The Captive poems radiate the vitality, sensuality, and hopefulness of a young woman emphatically portraying the significance of love. The poems as a whole lack an explicit Islamic environment or palpable Iranian settings, even though the reader can assume that the speakers' reiterated sense of captivity reflects a climate of traditional mores both Islamic and Iranian. Furthermore, the domestic setting seem both Iranian and reflective of conflicting emotions and doubts Forugh experienced as young wife, mother, and poet.
The immediacy and intensity of reader reaction to the personal, autobiographical voice in The Captive derived in large measure, of course, from their unprecedented feminine character. But even had Farrokhzad speakers, content, and perspectives been "masculine", the poems in The Captive and her subsequent collections would have provoked strong reader response because of a second, almost equally provocative feature: their "modernist" as opposed to "traditionalist" character.


The Captive ( Asir )

I want you, yet I know that never 
can I embrace you to my heart's content.
you are that clear and bright sky.
I, in this corner of the cage, am a captive bird.

from behind the cold and dark bars
directing toward you my rueful look of astonishment,
I am thinking that a hand might come
and I might suddenly spread my wings in your direction.

I am thinking that in a moment of neglect
I might fly from this silent prison,
laugh in the eyes of the man who is my jailer
and beside you begin life anew.

I am thinking these things, yet I know
that I can not, dare not leave this prison.
even if the jailer would wish it,
no breath or breeze remains for my flight.

from behind the bars, every bright morning
the look of a child smile in my face;
when I begin a song of joy,
his lips come toward me with a kiss.

O sky, if I want one day
to fly from this silent prison,
what shall I say to the weeping child's eyes:
forget about me, for I am captive bird?

I am that candle which illumines a ruins
with the burning of her heart.
If I want to choose silent darkness,
I will bring a nest to ruin.


O Stars ( Ay Setareh'ha )

Yes, this is I who in the heart
of night's silence
rip up love letters..
he is gone, yet affection for him
will not leave my heart.
o stars, what happened
that he did not want me?


A Recollection of the Past ( Yadi az Gozashteh )

A city on the shore of that roaring river
with chaotic palms and nights full of light
....which for years
has opened its arms to him and me.


Face to Face with God ( Dar Barabar-e Khoda )

From my bright eyes snatch
the eagerness to run to another;
. . .and teach my eyes
to shy away from the shining eyes of others. . .
O lord, O lord. . .
show your face and pluck from my heart
the zest for sin and selfishness.
do not tolerate an insignificant slave's
rebelliousness and refuge-seeking in others. . .
hear my needful clamor,
O able, unique God. 


The Captive (Asir) | The Wall (Divar) | Rebellion (Esyan) |
Another Birth (Tavalodi Digar) | Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season ( Iman Biyavarim beh Aghaz-a Fasl-e Sard )

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