A Word with Majesty
After we whipped the sea in a foreign land,
our children wept every night
for a piece of bread.
What glories did you bring, Xerexes,
beyond a silk coffin?
What glories other than a golden tomb?
Three thousand years of a blood bath!
Three thousand years of wild poppies
grown in the desert,
three thousand years of the sound of a harp
coming from an unknown cave or a grave!
Who taught us to write poetry
with our blood?
Hafez understood Khayyam well.
His wine is pouring from the same jug
that was once filled
with blood shed by the Tartars,
and takes its daily fill from Nishapur.
When Mazdak spoke of equality
he must have known
we have the same blood color.
After we lit the first fire
to burn forever,
since we endeared the sun,
and took water for mirror,
our hearts have gone ablaze.
Copyright 1996 by Ali Zarrin
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