M.A. Sepanlou

translated by Ghazal Mosadeq


Let’s go through the bridge to the nights
Let’s go through the nights to a lamp
Even if sleet wipes out the routes
Even if snow sits on where the downtrodden sleep
left behind the other side of railways
is a springtime
Behind every window a candle
behind every drape a Venus

In the roaring gorge of the terra firma hails
news from the heart of earth – roaring existence –
and bewildered he is worried about the proportion of waters
and like free energies, hammer-like
pulses in our veins

Soil is like the palm of the hand
obvious, luminous
The soil pushes back its mysteries

I know the creep of snakes in the reed bed
and I know the journey of ants towards spring
I know in such a valley, full of tents and lights
quiet and cunning, a panther is standing
and the horses have their muzzles in the wind’s way
the point of calamity displayed in the eye
other galaxies came to existence
things I can’t see are in genesis
like the confluence of our hearts and a train
we don’t know its source
but it comes to our heartstation

A bread at the back of a bakery
A moon behind the plant
A child, awake
staring at the night
at the end
of the curfew

Mohammad Ali Sepanlou (1940-2015), also known as ‘the poet of Tehran’, was one of the most prominent modern poets of Iran. He was also a literary historian, literary critic and translator. He was the first to translate Guillaume Apollinaire for Persian readers. He was also the translator of Camus, Sartre and Yiannis Ritsos, among other writers. Sepanlou was awarded the French Legion of Honour and the Max Jakob Memorial Award for his scholarly and literary achievements.

Ghazal Mosadeq is a poet, writer and translator living in London, UK.  She worked with Sepanlou on the translation of this piece before his death.