Published March 22, 2013 · Estimated reading time: 3 minutes · Filed under ,

من روح می فروشم (سیمین بهبهانی) (I Sell Souls (Simin Behbahani
تو را که خانه‌ی نیین است
بازی نه این است
– سعدی

You whose house is of straw and hay
Do not take fire for play

Sa’adi –

من روح می فروشم،
وز هرچه نارواتر،
در شهر خودپرستی،
سودا و سود خلقی
پرواری جسم و جان را،
گر زانکه چاره باید،
طبعی عزیز کُشتم
وانگه به سوگواری،
آیات کفر دیدم،
وانگه به خیره گفتم
در حلقه‌ی خموشان،
تا خود، خموش بودن
از «دور و کور گشتم»،
شد بوف آن غزالی
باغ دو چشم خود را
کاین خوشه‌های اشکم
شامم چه نام دارد؟
بر بام من چه بارد؟
سرد است سرد جانم،
گویی که خانمانم
گویم به خود که باری…
صد شعله بر فروزد
سعدی خموش خواهد
«تا خانه‌ات نیین است،
کالای من همین است
این نارواترین است
در چارسوق پستی
دیری‌ست کاین چنین است
پروانه‌ی امان را
این است و آخرین است
در آستان خواری
اشکم در آستین است
طعن جنون شنیدم
کاین حکم عقل و دین است
سر حلقه چون نگینم
فرمان هر نگین است
دل موج خیز خون شد
کز آهوان چین است
آباد می‌پسندم
انگور دستچین است
ژرفی که وهنماک است
برفی که سهمگین است
یخ بسته استوخانم
قطبی ترین زمین است.
گوگردِ سرخ داری
شعری که آتشین است.
این شعله را و گوید:
بازی تو را نه این است.»

I sell souls, the merchandise of my trade1
Of all things vile, this is most depraved
In the city of vanity, on the intersection of depravity
Worldy trade and profit, has for some time been this way
To indulge the body, and security ensure
This is the first and the last resort
A cherished spirit I killed in an abject state
Tears on the sleeve, my anguish relate
I saw blasphemous verses, I heard a deranged tirade
This is the order of reason and faith, gazing I bade
In the ring of the silent ringmaster, the gem I am
For silence is the commandment of every gem
The blind search, with blood the heart deluged
The owl to a gazelle transformed2
The garden of my eyes, blossoming I desire
For the clusters of my tears are but handpicked grapes
What can my night be called? It is a frightening abyss
What falls on my roof? It is burdensome snow
My body is cold, cold, my bones are bound in a frozen fold
It is as though I dwell, on the Earth’s farthest pole
To myself I have told… when red sulfur you hold3
.A fiery poem set ablaze, a hundred flames will it raise
:Sa’adi quenches this flame and says
,Until your house is of straw and hay“
”.Do not take fire for play

[1] The namesake of the poem is difficult to translate and frankly ambiguous in meaning. The poem actually uses a singular form of ‘soul’ (rooh) as opposed to ‘souls’ (rooha). My choice was between the more accurate “I sell my soul”/”I sell the soul”/”I sell a soul” (all of which are different and depend on personal interpretation of the poem in Persian), because Persian doesn’t have definite/indefinite articles and the less accurate “I sell souls”. I was very reluctant to make this choice, but creating an aesthetically pleasing translation won out over literal translation.
[2] This line, the previous and the few after were difficult for me to decipher. I would appreciate any input. Considering the previous line, I am speculating that the “owl” in this line is probably referring to the nihilist masterpiece by Sadegh Hedayat “The blind owl“. In the book the narrator confesses his thoughts to his shadow on a wall which looks “exactly like an owl”, these thoughts include the memory of girl with black eyes who the narrator is fixated by: “In her eyes, in her black eyes, I found the eternal night, the dense darkness I had been searching for”. The ‘Chinese deer’ (changed to ‘gazelle’ in the translation) refers to a deer which produced a substance in a gland under its belly used as a perfume, musk. The line may have been inspired by Mohtasham Kaashaani or Bedil Dehlavi. The former (line 4) refers to sharp black eyes that can cut the throats of Chinese deers (recalling the black eyes that the ‘owl’ is obsessed with). The latter refers to musk from hair having had origin in the blood in the belly/heart of Chinese deers.
[3] Sulfur has long been associated with fires (in the phrase ‘fire and brimstone’, brimstone refers to sulfure), while red sulfur was a therapeutic pancea/elixir/cure-all used by Middle Eastern alchemists.

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Permanent linkMarzieh Ghiasi

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