Poems from Forough Farrokhzad translated from Persian by Elizabeth Gray, Jr.

Another Birth       (Tavallodī Dīgar)

My whole being is a dark verse

that by repeating you in itself

will carry you to the dawn of eternal blossoming and growth

In this verse I sighed you

ah, in this verse

I grafted you to tree and water and fire


◊   ◊


Maybe life

is a long street in which every day a woman with a basket passes by

Maybe life

is a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch

Maybe life is a young child coming home from school


Maybe life is lighting a cigarette in the languid pause between making love and making love again

or the distracted gait of a passer-by

who lifts his hat from his head

and with a meaningless smile says to another passer-by, “Good morning”


Maybe life is that suspended moment?

in which my gaze annihilates itself in the pupils of your eyes

and in this moment there is a feeling that I will mix

with the moon’s understanding and the acceptance of darkness




In a room the size of a loneliness

my heart

the size of a love

looks for simple excuses for happiness

to the beautiful wilting of the flowers in the vase

to the sapling you planted in the garden of our house

and to the song of the canaries

who sing the size of a window



This is my lot

This is my lot

My lot

is a sky that the pulling of a curtain takes away from me

My lot is to descend an abandoned stairway

and join something rotting and in exile

My lot is a walk stained with grief in the garden of memories

and to die grieving for the voice that says to me:

“I love

your hands.”


I bury my hands in the garden

I will grow, I know, I know, I know

and swallows will lay their eggs

in the hollow of my ink-stained fingers


I hang twin red cherries

over my ears as earrings

and stick dahlia petals on my fingernails

There is an alleyway where

the boys who were in love with me

with the same tousled hair and skinny necks and spindly legs

are still thinking of the innocent smiles of a girl who was carried away one night

by the wind


There is an alleyway that my heart

has stolen from the neighborhoods of my youth


The journey of a form along the line of time

a form impregnating the barren line of time

a form conscious of an image

that returns from a feast in a mirror


And thus it is

that someone dies

and someone remains


◊   ◊



No fisherman will find a pearl in the humble gutter that pours into a pit



know a sad little fairy

who lives in an ocean

and plays her heart out softly, softly

on a pennywhistle

a sad little fairy

who dies with a kiss at night

and is born with a kiss at dawn

Sin   (Gonāh)


I sinned a sin full of pleasure

in an embrace that was warm and fiery

I sinned in arms that were hot

and vindictive and made of iron


In that dark and silent sanctuary

I looked into his eyes full of secrets

My restless heart trembled in my chest

at the demands of his hungry eyes


In that dark and silent sanctuary

I sat agitated at his side

His lips poured violent desire across my lips

I was freed from my mad heart’s grief


I whispered words of love into his ear:

I want you, O my love

I want you, O life-giving embrace

You, O my mad lover


The passion in his eyes lit a flame

Red wine danced in the cup

In the soft bed my euphoric body

trembled on his chest


I sinned a sin full of pleasure

beside a dazed and trembling body

O Lord, what do I know about what I did

in that dark and silent sanctuary

Gift     (Hedyeh)

I speak from the limit of night

I speak from the limit of darkness

and of the limit of night


If you come to my house, O kind one, bring me a lamp

and a tiny opening through which

I might look at the crowd in the happy street

The Wind Will Carry Us   (Bād Mā Rā Khāhad Bord)


Alas, in my little night

the wind has a tryst with the leaves of the trees

In my little night, there is the dread of devastation



Do you hear the gusts of darkness?

Excluded, I watch this happiness

I am addicted to my despair


Do you hear the gusts of darkness?


In the night, something is happening now

The moon is red and agitated

and above this roof that fears it will crumble at any moment

clouds like a crowd of mourners

wait for the moment to rain


A moment

then nothing

Beyond this window night shudders

and the Earth

ceases to spin

Beyond this window an unknown

is watching you and me


O you, green from head to toe

put your hands, like a burning memory, in my lovestruck hands

and entrust your lips, like a warm feeling of existence

to the caresses of my lovestruck lips

The wind will carry us with it

The wind will carry us with it

Credit: “Sin,” “The Wind Will Carry Us,” “Gift,” and “Another Birth” by Forugh Farrokhzad, translated by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr., from LET US BELIEVE IN THE BEGINNING OF THE COLD SEASON, copyright ©2022 by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. (translation). Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Forough Farrokhzad (1934–1967) was born the third of seven children in Mazandaran, north of Tehran. Drawn to reading and writing poetry as a child, she dropped out of high school to study painting and dressmaking at a technical school. At age sixteen she fell in love with her mother’s cousin; they married, moved to a provincial town, and had a son. During her marriage, she worked as a seamstress and wrote the poems of her first collection, The Captive (1955). In the fall of 1955, she divorced her husband, relinquished all rights to her son, and moved to Tehran. In the fall of 1955, she had a nervous breakdown and underwent electroshock therapy. Three more poetry collections followed: The Wall (1956), Rebellion (1958), and Another Birth (1964). She also translated the work of George Bernard Shaw and Henry Miller; lived in Rome and Germany; returned to Tehran and worked at a literary magazine and at the film studio of Ebrahīm Golestān; studied film production in England; and made a groundbreaking documentary, The House Is Black (1962), about a leper colony in north­eastern Iran. She died in a car accident in 1967. Her posthumous collection of late poems Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season was published in 1974.

Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. is the author of the poetry books Salient (New Directions, 2020) and Series | India (Four Way Books, 2015) and the translator of Wine and Prayer: Eighty Ghazals from the Diwan of Hafiz. Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season, her translations of selected poems of Forough Farrokhzad published by New Directions in 2022, was a finalist for the 2023 PEN Prize for Poetry in Translation. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry International, Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, Hyperallergic, Little Star, Talisman, The Harvard Review, The New England Review, Antaeus, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere, and she has served as Guest Editor of Epiphany and The New Haven Review. She serves on the Boards of The Beloit Poetry Journal, Kimbilio Fiction, Friends of Writers, and the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran, and from 2009-2015 served as Chair of the Board of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. She holds a B.A. and J.D. from Harvard University and an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She lives in New York City. www.etgrayjr.com.