A Moon-Lit Night: a poem by Ahmad Shamlu

Translated by Sheida Dayani

On a Moon-Lit Night

On a moon-lit night

Moon is in my dream

It takes me with it

Alley to alley,

Into the vineyards

Into the plum trees.

Valley to valley

Meadow to meadow

Behind the thickets

Where a night fairy

Fearing and trembling

Steps into the spring;

Her unruly hair

She begins combing…

On a moon-lit night

Moon is in my dream

It takes me to the

End of that valley

Where at night, the sole

Weeping willow tree

With her grace and charm

Stretches out her hand

So that drips a star

Like a raining drop,

Hanging from her branch

Instead of her crop…

On a moon-lit night

Moon is in my dream

It takes me with it

Out of the prison

Like a little moth

Into the dark night.

It takes me where the

Martyrs of the town

With lanterns of blood *

In the squares and streets

Cry until the dawn:

“Hey! Mr. Uncle!

Mr. vengeful man!

Are you drunk or dry?!

Wakened or asleep?!”

We are drunk and not

Martyrs of our town!

Asleep and awake

Martyrs of our town!

In the end one night

Moon will be rising

Over that mountain

Over the valley

And into the square,

Passing happily.

One night moon will come…

One night moon will come…


* In Persian literary and mystic traditions, butterflies and moths are in love with light, flames, and candles. They find their way to the source of light, and wander around it until they catch fire. Here, Shamlou indicates that the blood lanterns of the martyrs are the emancipating light that stimulate sacrifice.

Image: Shamlou (1925-2000). Image from Wikipedia]

[Translated from the Persian by Sheida Dayani]

Posted on Jadaliyya

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