“On Loving,” a Poem by Forugh Farrokhzad, Translated by Sholeh Wolpé

The following poem is from the award-winning book Sin—Selected poems of Forugh Farrokhzad, edited and translated by Iranian-American poet Sholeh Wolpé. Farrokhzad, who died in a car accident in 1967 at the age 32, was a poet of sensuous extremes. Writing during the 1950s and 60s, her poems were considered unconventional and scandalous, as they very well might have been considered so by Western readers of that era. Today, she is an icon and one of the most beloved and respected poets of twentieth-century Iran. Her work has inspired and continues to inspire many, including the young poet Shideh Etaat, whose poem “Fly, Howl, Love” appears in this anthology. 

On Loving

Tonight from your eyes’ sky
stars rain on my poem,
my fingers spark, set ablaze
the muteness of these blank pages.

My fevered, raving poem shamed by its desires,
hurls itself once again into fire, the flames’ relentless craving.

Yes, so love begins,
and though the road’s end is out of sight, I do not think of the end.
It’s the loving that I love.

Why shun darkness?
The night abounds with diamond drops. Later, jasmine’s intoxicating scent lingers on the spent body of night.

Let me lose myself in you
till no one can find my trace. Let your dewy sigh’s fevered soul waft over the body of my songs.

Wrapped in sleep’s silk
let me grow wings of light,
fly through its open door
beyond the world’s fences and walls.

Do you know what I want of life?
That I can be with you, you, all of you, and if life repeated a thousand times, still you, you, and again, you.

Concealed in me is a sea: how could I hide it? How could I describe the typhoon inside?

I’m so filled with you
I want to run through meadows,
bash my head against mountain rocks, give myself to ocean waves.

I’m so filled with you
I want to crumble into myself like a speck of dust, to gently lay my head at your feet,
cling fast to your weightless shadow.

Yes, so love begins,
and though the road’s end is out of sight, I do not think of the end
for it’s the loving I so love.

About the Poet

Forugh Farrokhzad (1935-67) is arguably Iran’s most significant and controversial female poet of the 20th century. She died in an automobile accident at the age of 32. The translations in this anthology are from: Sin:—Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad (Univ. of Arkansas Press).