Two Bijan Elahi poems translated by Kayvan Tahmasebian and Rebecca Ruth Gould


You, imprisoned by this simile!
Jump! Boy! Rip!

Bars, my dear, are verses.
They soar when you flee.

For an instant, you turn pale
and sober, in papery air.

The Crow’s Sonnet

Thank God! We got rid of the battle.

It is neither strange
nor fun
when they knock on the door.
You see it’s a crow that says:
Damn this forgetfulness.
Always dig and hide, always search and find one.
The worm-eaten one, shit, damn—damn this forgetfulness.

Damn this forgetfulness.
This ridiculous truth, this spiritless song
will not touch me
in any way at all.


About the translators:

Kayvan Tahmasebian ( is a poet, translator, literary critic, and the author of Isfahan’s Mold (Sadeqia dar Bayat Esfahan, 2016). His poetry has appeared in Notre Dame Review, the Hawai’i Review, Salt Hill, and Lunch Ticket, where it was a finalist for The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts in 2017. With Rebecca Ruth Gould, he is co-translator of High Tide of the Eyes: Poems by Bijan Elahi (The Operating System, 2019).

Rebecca Ruth Gould is the author of the poetry collection Cityscapes (Alien Buddha Press, 2019) and Writers and Rebels (Yale University Press, 2016). She translates from Persian, Russian, and Georgian, and has translated books such as After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems of Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and The Death of Bagrat Zakharych and other Stories by Vazha-Pshavela (Paper & Ink, 2019).

About the author

Bijan Elahi (1945-2010) was a modernist poet and a prolific translator of T.S. Eliot, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri Michaux, Friedrich Hölderlin, and many other major poets. He was both the founder and the most important representative of a poetry movement called Other Poetry (she're digar). Elahi’s style is distinguished by its surrealistic imagination, its complex metaphors, and unusual collocations of words. Elahi developed an idiosyncratic and erudite form of poetic expression that included elements of ancient Iranian mythology, Persian Sufism, and French Surrealism. Reluctant to publish book-length collections of his work, Elahi refused to enter the public spotlight while he was alive and led a reclusive existence. His posthumously published poetry and translations have exerted a major influence on the younger generation of Persian poets.

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