Mahvash Sabet’s “Fire”

They set fire to all you had:
each flame transformed
into a bright anemone of blood.
They pierce you through and shot
each arrow owned by old Farhad.
But when the sweet juice stained
the ground, it flowed from Shirin’s vein.

My heart breaks to deliver this poem to you, as does my soul soar in love and admiration. But before I explain why, let me make a few notes in explanation of the poem: an anemone is a daisy-like flower of the temperate zone, available in a variety of intense colors, including crimson red. The tale of Farhad and Shirin is one one of the most celebrated love stories of Persian literature, somewhat equivalent, I think, to the Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

This is one of the incredible prison poems of Mahvash Sabet, a Bahá’í who was arrested in Iran in 2008 merely for the crime of being a member of the Bahá’í Faith. Held for nearly three years without a proper hearing, she and a number of her co-religionists, were finally convicted on a series of trumped up false charges—those usual fabrications of an evil fantasy typically thrown at the Bahá’ís in Iran—and sentenced to twenty years of imprisonment. Fire comes from the new publication, Prison Poems by Mahvash Sabet; published by George Ronald Publishing.

Prison Poems is an incredible triumph of the heart and the soul, for while it documents the sorrow, fear and desolation of false imprisonment, it also chronicles the courage, love, growth, forgiveness, dedication and sacrifice of a transcended soul. As Mahnaz Parakand, one of the human rights lawyer, who, at great risk to her own freedom, courageously defended the Bahá’ís at their trial, states in her forward to the book, “Indeed the staunchness of faith and the unfaltering humanity of Mahvash Sabet is worthy of every praise.”

If you can, please keep Mahvash in your hearts. She is gravely ill in prison, suffering from tuberculosis of the bone.

Also, please consider purchasing Mahvash Sabet’s poetry as an act of solidarity in the fight for human rights: in the US, from Amazon; in the UK, directly from the publisher.

Now you know why my heart is broken and why my soul is soaring. Thank you for visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


This English edition of Fire is ©2013 by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, who adapted the original Persian texts into English; all rights reserved.


Filed under Poetry

8 responses to “Mahvash Sabet’s “Fire”

  1. WOW, intense, the imagery of blood connecting with Mahvash’s courage to live out what she believes, at the high cost of her life. I cannot really get it – – – the injustice of an innocent woman in prison … right now … carrying the tuberculosis in her body. And yet, there will always b martyrs for their faith. I still cannot grasp it. Beauiful poem, Man. T

    • T, sorry for not responding earlier…we were on vacation and Internet connectivity was spotty when we could find it. Thank you for such a lovely response… I am not sure what breaks my heart more: the difficult circumstances of Mahvash’s life, health and incarceration or the beauty and sublimity of her poetry under such difficult circumstances!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. How heartbreaking and eye opening.

    • Coco, thank you so much. As I just explained in another comment, sorry for not responding earlier…we were on vacation and Internet connectivity was spotty when we could find it. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I confess that I am in Love with this lovely poem; the more often one reads it, the deeper it penetrates into the soul. No doubt this is the truest statement on the quality and heart of any poem!

      • Yes I agree very true. I shall now read it again. 🙂

      • Lyn and I were in upper New York state…a stone’s throw from the original Woodstock site in Bethel Woods. We did not, however go to soak up the echoes of the hippy vibes and to avoid the yellow acid. I did, however, have a curious interaction with a singular red maple leaf that will be a posted poem in a while, I hope! It was a great time…the fall was especially brilliant this year!

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