I tap on her tombstone and say the four customary prayers. The tap is supposed to call her, let her know I’m here. Here lies one of Iran’s well-known contemporary poetesses, Forough Farrokhzad(1934 -1967). Other artists and singers are buried in this place as well. Her short life of 32 years ended in a car accident. Still in that time she married, divorced (which caused her to lose custody of her son), and adopted a boy when she visited a leper colony for her movie. Forough lived and died for her art. The last eight years of her life she spent in a passionate love affair with a writer/filmmaker: Ebrahim Golestan. A man to whom she dedicated one of her books of poetry.
What was it like for her to love a man she could not have all to herself? Her poems speak of agonizing pain and intoxicating pleasure. Perhaps she was torn between the evanescent moments of a heart emaciated from the lover’s absence, followed by his life-giving presence. In his arms she felt ecstasy, adoration, hurt, and guilt. Emotions that inspire when awakened by true passion. From this passion she created her most beautiful words.
And how could he not be moved by his beloved, his muse, who held his heart and kept it for eight years? With her in his life, he produced award-winning movies. Theirs was a connection that trampled all the rules. Her loss contributed to his leaving all that was his and his country. Their love affair has been called “the most poetically celebrated love affair in the last several centuries of Iranian canon.” From it arose, for us, a glimpse into the perfection of human soul.
Below is one of my favorite poems by her. I am dedicating it to all who dare to experience love to its fullest depth.
My nights are painted bright with your dream, sweet love
And heavy with your fragrance is my breast.
You fill my eyes with your presence, sweet love.
Giving me more happiness than grief.
Like rain washing through the soil
You have washed my life clean.
You are the heartbeat of my burning body,
A fire blazing in the shade of my eyelashes.
You are more bountiful than the wheat fields,
More fruit-laden than the golden boughs.
Against the onslaught of darkening doubts
You are a door thrown open to the suns.
When I am with you, I fear no pain
For my only pain is a pain of happiness.
This sad heart of mine and so much light?
Sounds of life from the bottom of a grave?
Your eyes are my pastures, sweet love
The stamp of your gaze burning deep into my eyes.
If I had you within me before, sweet love
I would not take anybody else for you.
Oh it’s a dark pain, this urge of wanting,
Setting out, belittling oneself fruitlessly,
Laying one’s head on chests hiding a black heart,
Soiling one’s breast with ancient hatred,
Finding a snake in a caressing hand,
Discovering venom behind friendly smiles,
Putting coins into deceitful hands,
Getting lost in the midst of bazaars.
You are my breath of life, sweet love,
You have brought me back to life from the grave.
You have come down from the distant sky,
Like a star on two golden wings
Silencing my loneliness, sweet love,
Imbuing my body with odors of your embrace.
You are water to the dry streams of my breasts,
You are a torrent to the dry bed of my veins.
In a world so cold and as bleak,
In step with your steps, I proceed.
You are hidden under my skin
Flowing through my every cell,
Singeing my hair with your caressing hand,
Leaving my cheeks sunburned with desire.
You are, sweet love, a stranger to my dress
But so familiar with the fields of my nakedness.
O bright and eternal sunrise,
The strong sunshine of southern climes,
You are fresher than early dawn,
Fresher and better-watered than spring-tide.
This is no longer love, it is dazzlement,
A chandelier blazing amidst silence and darkness.
Ever since love was awakened in my heart,
I have become total devotion with desire.
This is no longer me, no longer me,
Oh wasted are the years I lived with “me.”
My lips are the altar of your kisses, sweet love
My eyes watching out for the arrival of your kiss.
You are the convulsions of ecstasy in my body,
Like a garment, the lines of your figure covering me.
Oh I am going to burst open like a bud,
My joy becoming tarnished for a moment with sorrow.
Oh I wish to jump to my feet
And pour down tears like a cloud
This sad heart of mine and burning incense?
Music of harp and lyre in a prayer-hall?
This empty space and such flights?
This silent night and so much song?
Your gaze is like a magic lullaby, sweet love,
A cradle for restless babies.
Your breathing is a breeze half-asleep
Washing down all my tremors of anguish;
It is hidden in the smiles of my tomorrows,
It has sunken deep into the depths of my worlds.
You have touched me with the frenzy of poetry;
Pouring fire into my songs,
kindling my heart with the fever of love,
Thus setting all my poems ablaze, sweet love.