Inscription

The stone lay there like a mountain
and we sat here a weary bunch
women, men, young, old
all linked together
at the ankles, by a chain.
You could crawl to whomever your heart desired
as far as you could drag your chain.
Pushing a Large Stone

We did not know, nor did we ask
was it a voice in our nightmare and weariness
or else, a herald from an unknown corner,
it spoke:
“The stone lying there holds a secret
inscribed on it by wise men of old.”
Thus spoke the voice over and again
and, as a wave recoiling on itself
retreated in the dark
and we said nothing
and for some time we said nothing.
Afterwards, only in our looks
many doubts and queries spoke out
then nothing but the ambush of weariness, oblivion
and silence, even in our looks
and the stone lying there.
One night, moonlight pouring damnation on us
and our swollen feet itching
one of us, whose chain was the heaviest
damned his ears and groaned: “I must go”
and we said, fatigued: “Damn our ears
damn our eyes, we must go.”
and we crawled up to where the stone lay one of us, whose chain was looser

climbed up and read:
“He shall know my secret
who turns me over!”
With a singular joy we repeated this dusty secret
under our breath as if it were a prayer
and the night was a glorious stream filled with moonlight.
One…two…three…heave-ho!
One…two…three…once more!
sweating sad, cursing, at times even crying
again…one…two…three…thus many times
hard was our task, sweet our victory
tired but happy, we felt a familiar joy
soaring with delight and ecstasy.
One of us, whose chain was lighter
saluted all, then climbed the stone
wiped the dirt-caked inscription and mouthed the words
(we were impatient)
wetted his lips (and we did the same)
and remained silent
cast a glance at us and remained silent
read again, his eyes fixed, his tongue dead
his gaze drifting over a far away unknown

we yelled to him”
“Read!” he was speechless
“Read it to us!” he stared at us in silence
after a time
he climbed down, his chain clanking
we held him up, lifeless as he was
we sat him down
he cursed our hands and his
“What did you read? huh?”
He swallowed and said faintly:
“The same was written:
“He shall know my secret
who turns me over!”
We sat
and
stared at the moon and the bright night
and the night was a sickly stream.

Translation: Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

The Leafless Garden

The cloud with its cold and damp skin
Has embraced the heaven tightly;

The leafless orchard
Is alone day and night
With his pure and sad silence.

His lyre is rain and his song is wind,
His garment is of nudity cloak,
And if another garment it must wear,
Let his Warf and woof be woven by golden ray.

It can grow or not grow, wherever he wants or doesn’t want;
There is neither a gardener nor a passerby.
The depressed orchard
Expects no spring.

If his eye sheds no warm luster
And on his face no leaf of smile grows,
Who says the leafless orchard is not beautiful?
It relates the tale of fruits raising their heads to the heaven, and now lying in the base coffin in earth.

The leafless orchard,
His laughter is tearful blood,
Mounted for ever on his wild yellow stallion,
It roams in autumn, the king of seasons.

Condolence and Greeting

Painting of Sadness loneliness solitudeFor Dr. Mohammad Mosadeq

Did you see, O mate, that the friend didn’t come?
The dust arrived but the horsemen didn’t come.

The candle burnt and melted
Yet that golden morning did not come.

We adorned the house and the table
Yet that famous guest did not come;

Sadness devoured the heart, joy and strength,
Yet the healer of pain did not come:

Those palaces were rent from their foundation
And all we did, did not serve any aim,

My heart burns for your pain and your patience,
O gardener, the spring didn’t come;

Many blossoms budded and withered,
Yet no flower did blossom;

The eye of spring boiled yet no more
Water flew to the purling stream;

O ancient lion, tied by the chain,
Who was not ashamed of being in chain,

The jail consumed your flesh but no messenger of liberty,
To you and the prison did come …

Over your noble and thirsty farm,
Except the cloud of poison, nothing did come.

Not even one from those caravans
Loaded with gems did come.

O the rarest and rarest of our time!
To you no luck for succor did come;

A long time elapsed and no brave man like you
In the battlefield did come:

Alas those ships
Did not reach a peaceful coast,

And your boundless pain, alas,
Was not accounted at all.

And your base friends in the battlefield,
Did nothing but to escape the field;

I know and your heart knows how much you suffered,
Though no symptom of grief did you display;

No bulk of rain poured on the mountain
As much as sadness poured into your soul.

Dandelion

Dandelion!,

Say, from where you are coming,
From where and what news you have brought?
May you bring good tidings!, but
In vain your roam
Around my roof and door.

I don’t expect any news,
Neither from a friend, nor from a native district;
Go to such a place where ears and eyes watch you;
Go to such a place where they expect you.
Dandelion!,
Everything is blind and deaf in my heart,
Stop lurking here where the self is a stranger to is soul;
You who have always brought bad news.
I tell my heart:
“You are false, o you are false,
You are a cheat, you are a cheat.

Dandelion!, o, but … alas…,
Did you leave with the wind?
I’m speaking to you! Where did you go? o
Is really any news anywhere still?
Has a warm ash still survived
In a hearth – I don’t covet a flame – but does a small still exist?

Dandelion!,
The clouds all over the world
Weep in my heart all the day and night.

*In Iran, especially in the Northeast, Dandelion is a bringer of good news.

Translated to English by M. Alexandrian