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January 21, 2005

A poem by Saif-e Farqani (see Persian text), written in the 13th century A.D., during the Mongolian invasion that swept through much of present day Iran. Translated from the Persian by Ali Zarrin.

Not only will death pass through your world,
But your splendor too shall pass.

The owl of misfortune bringing ruin
Will perch on your palace too.

The autumn wind of adversity
Will wither your gardens and orchards.

The gasp of death choking both rich and poor
Will rattle in your throat too.

Oh you who wield blades like javelins to oppress!
The sharpness of your spears too shall dull.

Neither the great men of yore, nor their justice lasted.
Thus so, the injustice of your cruel acts will pass.

Our lions roared but are now extinct.
The barking of your dogs will surely cease.

Dust settles after horse and rider gallop by.
The dust of your jackasses too shall pass.

The wind of time that snuffs out all candles
Will likewise extinguish your lanterns.

So many caravans have passed through this caravanserai--
Inevitably, your caravan too shall pass.

You boast of your good fortune and bright star
The influence of your constellation too shall pass.

Your turn came to you by way of noble men.
The time of your dishonorable rule will pass.

Their time lasted but a couple of days.
A few more days and your time too shall pass.

With patience we shield ourselves from your arrows of tyranny
Until the tautness of your bow shall fail.

Oh you, who leaves the sheep in the care of a wolf--
Your wolfish shepherd too shall pass.

The knight of annihilation who check mates the King
Will also capture the pawns

Copyright 2005 Ali Zarrin

* Translated from the selected poems of Saif-e Farqani [Gozideh-ye Asha’re Saif-e Farqani], edited by Abu al-qasem Radfar, Amir Kabir Publications, Tehran, 1365. Pp. 25-26.

Ali Zarrin immigrated to the USA in 1970 and is a bilingual Iranian-American poet, writer, critic and translator whose works have been anthologized and published in books and publications all of which can be ordered from his website His long poem in English Book of I, a dialogue with America, will soon be published by City Lights of San Francisco. See Features in

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