Ahmad Shamlu Poems

Ahmad Shamlu Poems,The Persian poet, also known by the surname Shamloo, or in his homeland as Ahmad Šāmlū,  occasionally used the pen name A. Bamdad when writing poetry or working as a journalist. Many critics consider him to be amongst the most influential poets in modern-day Iran.

While on first appearances his poetry suggests complexity, relying heavily on imagery, it is actually quite simple in its message. Traditional images that would be well known to Iranian readers are often borrowed from other master poets of the region such as Omar Khayyám or Hafiz. Much of his work has been translated into other languages and he translated a number of pieces of French literature into Persian.

Ahmad Shamlu Poems

Ahmad Shamlu Bio

He was born Ahmad Shamlou on the 24th November 1925 in Tehran. His father was a serving soldier and, due to the nature of his work, took his family around the country.

Ahmad’s education was therefore somewhat disjointed and he led an unsettled childhood both in and out of the home. At the age of 16 he found himself studying at the Tehran Technical School and was able to learn German while there. He was still studying at 20 but he failed to complete a degree course so gave up on his education from then on.

Anthem

Before being turned to ashes
by the wrath of the thunderbolt,
he had forced the steer of the tempest
to kneel before his might.To test
the faith of old
he had worn out his teeth
on the locks of ancient gates.
On the most out-of-the way paths
he struggled,
an unexpected passer-by
whose voice every thicket and bridge
recognized.
Ahmad Shamlu Poems
Ahmad Shamlu Poems

From Death

I have never feared death
Even though
Its hands were more fragile
Than banality.I dread, however, to die
In a land where
The grave digger’s wages
Exceed the price of human freedom.Looking for,
Discovering,
Choosing freely,
And transforming one’s essence
Into a fortress.If the price of death is higher than all that,
I deny, in absolute terms,
To have ever feared death.

Ahmad Shamlu Poems
Ahmad Shamlu Poems

In This Cul-de-Sac

entine maze
This crooked cold corner
They feed the fire
With poems and songsThinking, too, is risky.
Those who, late at night, knock on the door,
Are there to kill the lamp.
We must hide the light in the closet.Then there are the butchers
Stationed at all cross-roads,
Armed with a block and a bloody cleaver.
Trying times these are, my darling.Surgically,
They plant smiles on lips,
And songs in the mouths.
We must hide joy in the closet.

On lilies and lilacs,
They roast the canaries.
Trying times these are, my darling.

Drunk with victory, the Devil,
Celebrates our wake.
We must hide God in the closet.

Ahmad Shamlu Poems
Ahmad Shamlu Poems

Somber Song

In a leaden dawn
the horseman stands silent, and
the long mane of his horse is disheveled in the wind.Oh God, God,
horsemen should not stand still
when things are imminent.By the burnt hedge
the girl stands silent, and
her thin skirt moves in the wind.Oh God, God,
girls should not remain silent
when the men, hopeless and weary, grow old.

Ahmad Shamlu Poems
Ahmad Shamlu Poems

Tablet

As the dark cloud passed, I
in the crimson shadow of the moon
viewed the square and the streets
an octopus stretching a languid leg in every direction
toward a black swamp.And on the cold cobblestones
a crowd stood, so many
and in the midst a prolonged aticipation
bordering on despair and weariness.And every time the restlessness of the waiting
crept over them, it was as if
the animal shivered under his hide
from the chill of a running water
or else an itching sensation.I descended the dark stairway
holding the dust-covered tablet in my hands
and stood upon the dais
a half-spear higher than the multitude.

And I saw the crowd, so many
filling the cells all around the square
all over the space it extended
shaped by every passageway leading to the field
up to the borders of shade and gloom
like wet ink spreading into the dark
And with them was anticipation and silence.

Then I held up the clay tablet crying unto them:
“This is all there is, and sealed
it’s an old inscrition, aged and worn, lo! behold!
however tainted with the blood of many a wound
mercy it preaches, friendship and honesty.”

The crowd, however, lent no ear or heart to me
it seemed as if in the waiting itself was pleasure and profit
I yelled out to them: “You, devoid of courage
in vain you wait, this is the very last Coming.”

And I cried out: “Gone are the days
of mourning some crucified Christ
for today every woman is another Mary
and every Mary has a Jesus upon the cross
albeit with no Crown of Thorns, no Cruciform
and no Golgotha
no Pilate, no judges and no court of justice
Christs all of a destiny, clad similarly
uniform Christs, with boots and leggings alike
alike in everything,
with the same share of bread and gruel
(for sameness is indeed the dear heritage
of the human race)
and if not a crown of thorn,
there is a helmet to wear upon the head
and if not a cross
there is a rifle to bear on the shoulder
means of greatness all at hand
every supper may well be The Last
and every glance perchance that of a Judas.

“But beware, weary not your steps
in search of the orchard
for with the tree you shall meet upon your cross
when humanity and compassion
misty as a dream, gentle and fast
will rise before your eyes,
and the savage fangs of the truth
sharp as the rays of the desert sun
will pierce your eyes.

“And you shall know how ill-starred you are
how ill-starred you are!
for the least in you would suffice
to make you most happy
a sincere salaam, a warm hand, an honset smile
And this little you had not.

“Nay, weary not your steps
in search of the orchard
for there is no time
neither for a blessing or for a curse
neither for forgiveness nor for revenge.

“And no more, alas, does the pathway to the Cross
lead to an ascent onto the heavens
but downward to hell and a perpetual wandering
of the soul.”

In my delirious fever I kept on crying
but the crowd had no ear or heart for my words
I knew that they were awaiting
not a clay tablet but a Gospel
a sword and some constables
to ambush them with whips and maces
to drop them to their knees
before the heavy steps of the one
who will descend the dark stairway
with a sword and a Gospel.

Then I wept long and hard
and my teardrops were truths
although truth is indeed no more than a word
as if with my tears
I was recounting a desperate truth.

Ah! this crowd, seeking the horrid truth
only in legends, worships the sword
as the weapon of eternal justice
for in our time the sword is a legendary tool.

And thus is called the true martyr
only he who shields his bare chest before the sword
as though suffering, agony and martyrdom
are too ancient to happen with modern warfare.

But what of all the souls burnt in the flames of gunpowder
and what of all the souls bereft of everything
but a vague shadow of a figure
in the horrifying order of millions and millions.

Ah! this crowd seeks the horrid truth
only in legends, or else considers truth
nothing but a legend.

My words the crowd ignored
for I had said the last word about the heavens
without even mentioning the word heaven.

Ahmad Shamlu Poems
Ahmad Shamlu Poems

The Poetry That Is Life

The theme of the traditional poet
Was not of life.

In the barren expanse of his imagination
He conversed with his mistress and wine
Living in an imaginary world
He was a captive
Held by a beloved’s funny tresses.

As for others,
They held, in one hand a cup
In the other
A mistress’s tresses
While they distressed
The entire world
With the intoxicating cries
They let loose.

Since the poet’s subject
amounted to nothing
The influence of his verse
amounted to even less.

You could not use his poetry as a drill bit.

In the course of a struggle
Using the craft of poetry
You could not eliminate
The obstacles that confronted the masses

Put differently,
The poet’s existence was immaterial
His being and not being the same
You could not use his poetry as gallows.

Whereas
I have personally,
With my poems
Fought alongside “Chen Chui” the Korean

Even, at a point
Several years ago,
I strung up “Hamidi the poet”
On the gallows of my verse.

The situation with poetry
Today
Is different altogether…

Today,
Poetry is
People’s weapon
Poets are branches
from the forest of the masses
They are not
Jasmines and hyacinths
Of so and so’s hothouse.

The poet
Is not alien
To people’s common plight

He smiles with peoples’ lips
His bones
He grafts to the hopes and sufferings
Of the people.

Today’s poet
Must dress well
He must wear properly polished shoes
In the most crowded parts of town
With a poet’s inborn gift,
He must

One by one, from among the passersby,
Pick and choose his topic, rhyme and
rhythm.

“Follow me, pilgrim!
For three days now,
I have been everywhere, seeking you out.”

“Seeking me out?
I don’t understand!
Sir, you must be mistaken.
Are you taking me for someone else?”

“No, my dear fellow,
That would be impossible
I’d recognize the fresh rhythm of my poetry
in any place.”

“What did you say?
Poetic rhythm?”

“Have patience, friend…
I have always
Scoured the alley,
Looking for rhythm, words, and rhyme.

In my verses, people form the units
“Life” (i.e., the theme of the stanza),
“Words,” “rhythm,” and “poetic rhyme;”
I seek all of those among the people
I prefer this method
It enhances poetry, gives it life and soul…”

Now comes the time
When the poet
Employing poetic logic,
Must convince the passerby
To willingly become engaged.
All his efforts, otherwise, will be futile.

Well,
Now that rhythm is in place
It is time to seek out the words

Each word (as the name indicates)
Is a witty and pretty girl…

The poet must couple
His desired rhythm with suitable words
Although a tedious task, and trying,
It must be done.

There is no way out:
Mr. Rhythm and his wife, Word:
If not compatible
If not on the same wavelength,
The outcome will be most unpleasant
Like the outcome
For myself and my wife:
I was rhythm, she was word:
The theme of our poem,
The permanent coming together
Of the lips of love…

Even though the smiles of our children
(those pleasant beats)
appeared with joy in our poem
Some cold, black words
Gave it an ominous and dark turn,
It destroyed the rhythm
And the pleasant beat.

At the end,
The poem became useless and banal
And the master became tired
Of a lack of purpose!

In any event,
More is said than intended
A painful bloody blister is opened up…

Life,
We explained
Is the model
For the modern poet

Following life’s experiences
The poet
Employing the magic of poetry
Creates an image
That overlay an already existing plan

He writes poetry
That is,
He touches the wounds of the old town
Put differently,
He tells the night
Of an imminent pleasant morn.

He writes poetry
That is,
He cries out the pains of his land
That is,
With his song,
He revives the flagging spirits.

He writes poetry
That is,
He fills the cold and empty hearts with joy

That is to say,
Facing the dawn
He awakens the sleep-laden eyes.

He writes poetry
That is,
He explains the honor roll of his fellow man
He recites the victory notes of his Time…

If poetry is life
This barren talk, too,
About semantics
is absurd…

From beneath
Its darkest verses
We feel the sunny warmth
of hope and love

Kayvan has composed
The song of his life
In blood.
Vartan has composed
The clamor of his
In silence.

But, even if
The rhyme-life holds nothing
But a prolonged accent of death.
In each poem
The meaning of each death
Is life.

Ahmad Shamlu Poems
Ahmad Shamlu Poems

 

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