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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
to Face with God ( Dar Barabar-e Khoda )
From my bright
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.