Tag Archives: transformation

Mavash Sabet’s “At Such a Time You’ll Come”

Mahvash Sabet is a Bahá’í prisoner of conscience currently serving an unjust 20 year sentence in Iran. Read more of her story here.

At Such a Time You’ll Come

I fear that time
when patience will no more be mine
when brittle hope will have been blown away,
it’s kindness gone,
when the wind will have scattered me
and my eyes will have strayed from the path–O!
if no door opens to me then, not one–
I will know for sure it is that time
when you will come again.

 

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I am amazed at the strength and constancy that this poem radiates! Especially for one who is unjustly in prison and ill, such utter resignation is like a blade of grass which bends to the storm, unlike a strong tree, which is uprooted and thrown down.

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

john

This English edition of At Such a Time You’ll Come is ©2013 by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, who adapted the original Persian text into English; all rights reserved.

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Mahvash Sabet’s “The Prayer of the Tree”

Mahvash Sabet is a Bahá’í prisoner of conscience currently serving an unjust 20 year sentence in Iran. Read more of her story here.

The Prayer of the Tree

That hapless tree that sat through all the winter months out there
naked in the snow and ice, it’s shivering branches bare,
broken, wind-torn, bleak and dreary,
bent by the changing seasons, weary,
has finally had an answer to its prayer.
See how the kind Creator full of loving care
has decked it in new garments, fresh and rare!
Have you seen how green it is at last, how finally dressed, how fair?

 

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Can one not but be amazed that anyone, sick and unjustly imprisoned for their faith, could still find the tenderness and gentleness in their heart to write such a delicate and joyous poem? Shame to the Iranian authorities for such an injustice!

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

john

This English edition of The Prayer of the Tree is ©2013 by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, who adapted the original Persian text into English; all rights reserved.

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Mahvash Sabet’s “The Imaginary Garden”

There was once a woman
green as the spring,
who planted her hands in a garden.
And another woman,
red as her heart
who plucked light from the bars of a prison.
And now here I am
with my own patch of soil,
growing a garden
in this tiny cell,
with poppies of love for each pane.

You need just one flower–
that’s all it takes–
to open the windows of sight.
A single verse
is quite enough
to illumine the eyes with light.

So I’ll tie my bags to the foot of the breeze
and soar high up to the top of the trees
in my garden that grows inside.
And I’ll spread wings to reach you
and soar high to teach you
how windows can open wide.
You don’t need much:
one poppy is all
it takes to open to love.
One verse is sufficient
to fill the eyes
with that shining beam from above.

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Mahvash Sabet is a Bahá’í prisoner of conscience currently serving an unjust 20 year sentence in Iran. This is another heart-rendering poem smuggled out of her prison and translated and published in the west. Read more of her story from my post of her poem Fire.

Mahvash is not well and languishes in prison without proper treatment. Please pray for her strength.

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.

– john

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

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Mahvash Sabet’s “Bear This in Mind”

Mahvash Sabet is a Bahá’í prisoner of conscience currently serving an unjust 20 year sentence in Iran. Read more of her story here.

Bear This in Mind

When you pass by
a heap of rotting rats
bear this in mind:
they might not all be dead.
They might just be lying there,
lying and pretending.
Because no one bothers
the dead round here.

This is, I believe, an poem from the early part of Mavash’s incarceration. Please keep her in your hearts and prayers; she is gravely ill in prison, suffering from tuberculosis of the bone.

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.

john

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

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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.

john

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

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Soaring

Do not let me remain a thrush too long,
it hurts too much to return. Such
spirit alchemy is more than magic
and such transitions beyond the ken of men.
But to soar into the heights of light,
to swoop effortlessly and true,
to leave behind the cares of earthly bounds
and with thumping heart know true joy…
this is too much for any soul.
Thank God for the mercy of the mud
which calls me down and mires me
to the ground; I fear I’d harm myself
to stay aloft, if ever I stayed too long.

After I wrote this poem, I got to thinking that I had, long (long) ago, written another poem about being transformed into a bird. Not in the sense of a spiritual metaphor, as in Soaring, but as in a real transformation where the temptation was not to turn back. I was probably reading a lot of science fiction or fantasy at the time, something I no longer do.

Anyway, I was able to search through my old notebooks and find it and clean it up a little. The opening line is a little odd and needs a few shots to get right, but it is, at least, classic iambic pentameter:

To the sky

Do not of me let me a hawk to make,
talon and beak, to rend fresh meat
and taste the sweetness therein;
lost, aye, but arrogant and replete,
to the sky screaming,
Might’s right, ’tis mete!
fleet, fierce and free…

Thank you for reading Soaring and To the sky. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed them and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. These poems and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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À Dieu

We watch, he and I,
from the cold leaky garret,
the bright snapping flashes
of the blue and red flags
broad slashes along that glad, silent rue.
‘I am not,’ he whispers, ‘a fool, but a madman,
searching for what it fells like as I see it.
And if I have taken more than I have given
than that is poor payment for the pleasure…
but still, it is all that I was given
and is what I have given back to you.’

It should be enough, I think,
and a moment later, again, it should,
but now I am not so sure—it seems
I am never sure about anything anymore.
Below me the blue and red gashes
bleed black like a cacophony of clashes
all along that sad, silent rue.
I look, I hear, I listen;
I remember, I look, I listen;
à Dieu, mon ami, à Dieu!

This is the painting referred to in the post. It is one of several Impressionistic paintings that fueled my love for that school of art in particular and painting in general.

BastilleDay

“Bastille Day” by Claude Monet. A painting of Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of 30 June 1878.

Luckily, I was able to see the original the last time I was in Paris. Surprisingly, it was not at the Monet family legacy museum, the Marmottan-Monet house. In fact, we found it quite by accident at (I think, the details are somewhat hazy now) the Orangerie Museum, a delightful spot that I highly recommend—after, of course, one has spent the obligatory time at the incredible Musee d’Orsay.

I should point out that English speaking people generally translate ‘adieu’ (the more common, modern spelling) as simply ‘goodbye’ or ‘farewell.’ In French it is much more nuanced than this. It means, literally, ‘to God’ and has a much greater sense of finalism and formality to it, and betokens death or complete separation, often as a result of staunch honor or sacrifice. In other words, ‘my fate is with God; it is in the Hands of the Almighty when next we shall meet again.’

Thank you for reading À Dieu. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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