Persian Voices: Human Beings Are Members of A Whole


Persian Voices: Human Beings Are Members of A Whole

Human beings are members of a whole

In creation of one essence and one soul

If one member is afflicted with pain

Other members uneasy will remain

If you have no sympathy for human pain

The name of human you cannot retain

—Saadi Shirazi (Abu-Muhammad Muslih al-Din bin Abdollah Shirazi)


Editor’s Note: The voice of Saadi emerges from the time of the Mongol invasion and conquests within Iran, therefore speaks to the suffering of those low and high displaced and scattered across the land much like the war-torn region of today.

Persian Voices: My Face I Hide From All Eyes


Persian Voices: My Face I Hide From All Eyes

What if the rain does not stop

Until the earth sinks into the water

like a small boat?

Without you I grope in darkness, 0 my shining eyes!

Unveiling the Other

Without you tears, sorrow, regret are my guests.

My face I hide from all eyes,

—Parvin E’tesami

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Persian Voices: She Labors Like A Man


Persian Voices: She Labors Like A Man

All she sees is but aperity

What she reads, breathes adversity;

Her back is bending, with all the load,

Her eyesight is dim in this abode;

Thus she labors like a man;

Thus she toils, the woman.

—Nima Yushij, The Soldier’s Family


Translated to English by M. Alexandrian tebyan. (2018). Nima Yushij. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Mar. 2018].


Editor’s Note: Nima Yushij is one of the leading modern writers in Iran’s literary movement called, “New Poetry” which also included Ahamad Shamlu and Sadegh Hedayat.  Nima Yushij’s themes include war, tyranny, poverty, and love.

Editor’s Note: Reza Shah built up Iran’s modern military between WWI and WWII. In addition to mandatory military service, often prisoners were sent to join the ranks as well. However, the state struggled to pay for this substantial force and it was not unheard of for the men in uniform to sell their rifles for bread.

Persian Voices: Don’t Cry


Persian Voices: Don’t Cry

Dust on my head! The child has woken up!

Go to sleep my pet; the Bogey man is coming!

Don’t cry! The ogre will come and eat you up! The cat will come and take away your kiddy!

What ails you, my pet? I am hungry [you say]? May you burst! You have eaten all this: is it too little?

Go out, dog! Pussy, puss, puss, come here! Hushaby, darling! You are my rose! Hush, hush!

“Mamma! I am ready to die with hunger!”

Don’t cry!

O dear, Mamma! My life is ready to leave me!”

Don’t cry! The pot is just on the boil!

“O my hand! See, it is as cold as ice!”

Fie, fie, my Soul! See, the breast is dry!

“Why does my head spin so?” [Because} the lice are digging holes in your head!

Akh-kh-kh! What ails you, my Soul?

Haq, haq! O my Aunt! Why are its eyes turned up to the ceiling?

Come here! Alas, see its body also has become cold!

Dust on my head! Why has its color turned so pale?

Woe is me! My child is gone from my hands!

Alas, alas! To me there remain but sighs and grief! Alas, alas!

—Charand Parand, Sur-IIsrafil, 27 Feb 1908


Partly Based on the Manuscript Work of Mírzá Muhammad ʻAlí Khán , Tarbiyat and By: Edward Granville Brown. The Press and Poetry of Modern Persia: Partly Based on the Manuscript Work of Mírzá Muhammad ʻAlí Khán . Page 249-250. London: Cambridge University Press , 1914. Print.


Editor’s Note: The writer of the poem likens the inexperienced constitutionalists of the time who are unable to immediately remedy the sufferings of the Persian people to a new mother incompetent to care for her infant.


The other Translation:

Oh, Bother! The child has woken up!

Go to sleep, pet-the boogeyman’s coming!

Don’t cry, or the ogre will come and eat you up!

The cat will take away your bunny!

Boohoo, boohoo-What is it, sweetie? -I’m hungry!

May you burst! All that food you ate isn’t enough!

Get out, dog! Nice kitty, here, kitty, kitty!

Hushaby, darling, my flower, hush, hush!

Don’t cry; the pot’s just coming to a boil.

But see, my hand is as cold as ice!

Tsk, tsk, pet; my milk is all gone.

Why is my head spinning so?

The lice are digging holes in your scalp.

Akh-kh-kh…Darling, what’s the matter with you?

(Convulsive sobs)

God help me! Why are his eyes rolled up toward the ceiling?

Oh come and look, his body is cold as well!

Why, oh woe, has he gone so pale?

Oh, woe! My child has slipped away! Alas, alas!

And I am left with only sighs and sorrow.

Persian Voices: Usurped Rights


Persian Voices: Usurped Rights

Now that, thanks be to God (bihamdallah), laws, equality, and justice work in Iran, and the return of people’s usurped rights has become common. Akram al Dawlah who took her older brother to the judiciary to claim her and her younger brother’s shares of their father’s inheritance which the older brother had usurped.

—Letter to Iran i-Naw Newspaper


Afsaneh, Najmabadi. Women with Mustaches and Men Without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity. Page 227. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2005. Print.

Persian Voices: Men Are in Charge of Women


Persian Voices: Men Are in Charge of Women

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So, righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.


Editor’s Note: The speaker refers to the Iranian constitution during debates on the rights of women: Article 4 chapter 2. Persons under age or under religious/legal guardianship (that-I qaymumiyat-i Sharia) were excluded from the electorate.

Persian Voices: Moonlight


Persian Voices: Moonlight

Standing before the village

a single man

knapsack on his back, hand on the knocker, murmurs

Worry over this lot

ruins sleep in my tearful eyes.


Marcello, Di Cintio. “Moonlight” by Nima Yushij, Translated by Iraj Bashari. “Poets and Pahlevans: A Journey into the Heart of Iran”. Toronto: Vintage Canada Edition, a division of Random House of Cana Limited, 2007. Page 294. Print.


Editor’s Note: Nima Yushij is one of the first modernist poets in Iran writing in the genre known as New Poetry.

بر دم دهکده مردی تنها

کوله بارش بردوش

:دست او بر در، می گوید با خود

غم این خفته ی چند

.خواب در چشم ترم می شکند


می تراود مهتاب ، نیما یوشیج

Persian Voices: Ready to Serve


Persian Voices: Ready to Serve

Mr. [Sepahdar A’zam], our task is to move to Tehran? Ready to serve.

—Telegraph from Tabriz, Bakhtiari tribes Community (Sa’adat Community)


Kermani, Nezam al Islam. (1979). Tarikh-e Bidari Iranian (History of Iranian Awakening). Tehran: Entesharat Bonyad Farhang Iran, Agah and Lowh.

Persian Voices: Warning Mohammad Ali Shah


Persian Voices: Warning Mohammad Ali Shah

Warning. His Imperial Majesty [Mohammad Ali Shah] has apparently forgotten that…he was not born by his mother possessed of crown and signet-ring, nor does he hold in his hand a warrant of absolute sovereignty from the unseen world of the spirits. He should remember that his sovereignty depends only on the acceptance or rejection of the people. The people that have elected him are also able to elect another in his place.

—Revolutionary Proclamation


Edwards G., Brown. The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909. Page 169. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910. Print.

Ervand, Abrahamian.1982. Iran Between Two Revolutions. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 50. Print.


Editor’s Note: Revolutionaries from the Ottoman Empire, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan came to Iran to participate in the revolutionary events beginning in 1905. Among them were the Young-Turks. After the 1908 bombing of parliament in June, Iranian constitutionalists provided reinforcements for the Young-Turk Revolution in July. This gave the Iranian constitutionalists a base in the Ottoman Empire to fight the continued civil war in Iran. Sentiments about Persian kingship and opposition can be traced to Iran’s ancient history.

Persian Voices: Ali Akbar Dehkhoda


Persian Voices: Ali Akbar Dehkhoda

The total and ultimate authority of the guardian (vali) over the possessions and deeds of the minor are valid whilst the child has not reached a mature age. But when [the child] reaches that stage, as the immutable laws of the world and the firm commands of the religions attest, these rights (ekhtiyarat) revert to the one who has matured. This is such a natural matter that not even the most conniving minister, the most powerful and valiant warrior, or the most magnificent and forceful king cannot prevent it from happening.

—Treatise, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, 1907-1908


An Iranian Modernist Project: Ali Akbar Dehkhoda’s Writings in the Constitutional Period Iran’s

H.E. Chehabi/Vanessa Martin (eds.): Iran’s Constitutional Revolution Popular Politics, Cultural Transformations, and Transnational Connections. Page 198