BIJAN ELAHI translated by REBECCA RUTH GOULD and KAYVAN TAHMASEBIAN

اما که

اما که دید سال
با چند بنفشه به دنیا آمد ؟
کی که تشنگی
. شیرین بود

 : دورم از یاد نمی‌داری
به هدر رفته جوانیم
پوستی شگرف – اما
! چسبیده به تو ، جوانی دیگر

این‌جا که بسنده بود
. چند بنفشه به پوشاندن دهانه چاه

And Who?

And who saw the year
was born with so many violets?
when thirst
was sweet.

You won’t keep me away from your memory.
I wasted my youth – lovely skin!
Meanwhile, another youth
is grafted onto you.

In this place, several violets were enough
to cover the well’s mouth.

غزل کلاغ

المنه لله که ز پیکار رهیدیم
مولوی

عجیب نیست
مسخره نیست
در که می‌زنند
ببینید کلاغیست ، بگوید
امان از این فراموشی
هی بکن قایم کن ، هی بگرد پیدا کنی یکی
آن هم این کرم‌خورده ، تف ، امان
امان از این فراموشی

امان از این فراموشی
که این حقیقت مضحک ، که این تغنی بی‌روح
یاد من نمی‌آید
. به هیچ وجه من الوجوه

The Crow’s Sonnet

Thank God! We got rid of the battle.
–Rumi

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.


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. 

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).

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.