Ahmad Shamlou

Ahmad Shamlou
    A poem by Ahmad Shamlou

    Once upon a time,

    Three Fairies sat
    Naked at sunset
    Under the blue dome of sky

    "Boo-hoo," cried the Fairies
    and their tears were like rain from Spring clouds

    Their hair was as long as rope
    and as dark as night
    It may have been even longer than rope
    and it may have been even darker than night

    Before them, upon the horizon
    Was a city of enslaved boys
    Behind them, black and cold
    sat the old fabled Castle (where they used to live)

    They listened; and from the city they heard
    the sounds of chains clinking
    While from behind them in the castle
    came the nightly moans

    Hey, aren't you Fairies hungry?
    Aren't you Fairies thirsty? or tired?
    Why is it that you Fairies are crying?

    The Fairies said nothing
    and "Boo-hoo," they continued to cry
    and their tears were like rain from Spring clouds

    Dear Fairies, why are you crying?
    You fairies must be afraid of something.
    Are you worried that it may snow?
    Are you scared that it may rain?
    Do you fear that the wolf may come and eat you?
    Or do you think that the Devil himself
    is coming to eat you?

    You Fairies must be afraid of something.
    Why don't you come to our City?
    Listen! Can't you hear the sound
    of our City's chains clinking

    Hey, look you Fairies!
    Look how tall I am
    Watch my white horse
    with its honey-colored mane and it's honey-colored tail
    which runs as swift as the wind
    See the veins and muscles ripple hard as iron
    in his legs and in his neck
    Watch our horse's nose as he puts it in the air!

    Our city is celebrating tonight
    For the Devil's house has been overthrown
    The country people are our guests tonight
    Venturing from their homes

    They are coming, "Dom" "Dom" "Dom"
    They are drumming "Pom" "Pom" "Pom"
    They are laughing, "Ha" "Ha" "Ha"
    They are singing:
          "The City is ours!"
          "We are happy!" --- the Devil complains
          "The world is ours" --- the Devil howls
          "Whiteness is king! --- the Devil moans
          "Darkness is ashamed" --- the Devil groans

    Listen Fairies, the long night is ending
    and the heavy doors of the castle are fastened.

    If you can wake earlier and mount my horse
    Together we can arrive in the City
    If you can wake earlier and listen
    you will hear the wonderful chains rattle and clink
    Yes, the expensive chains
    chain to chain and link by link
    loosening and dropping from the people's wrists
    The chains are worn out! They shatter!
    If you are a Devil you will be miserable this night.

    There is no place for Devils to run now
    For them, the forests will be barren
    For them, the jungles will be desert
    It is different here in our City
    Oh Fairies! You have no idea
    how things have changed!

    The Castle doors are open
    the slave-holders and the Devils are ashamed
    the slaves are being freed
    The dungeons are being transformed
    And now he who has been imprisoned and tortured
    is given balm
    The sharp straws have become soft rugs

    Yes, the slaves are becoming free
    So many, Free!
    Free to consider revenge
    With sickles and hoes
    They become a flood,
    a flood of slaves
    a flood of anger, Whoosh!
    The slaves are becoming free
    So many, Free!
    Free to consider revenge
    With sickles and hoes
    They become a roaring fire
    And how beautiful are fireworks
    in the heart of the night!
    How wonderful the firelightis!

    Finally the night-fires dwindle and sunrise comes
    Not much remains of the night
    Now the slaves are ready to pick up torches
    and beat the soul of the night with them
    and finish off the Devil's darkness

    They are ready; ready to bring him into courtyard,
    ready to redicule and taunt him.
    It is time to take each other's hands
    and dance around the loser

    So, what are you crying about Fairies?
    Stop your whining!

    But the Fairies didn't answer
    They only continued to weep
    and their tears were like rain from Spring clouds

    At the longest night of Winter
    When we all used to sit around the Korsi (1)
    eating sunflower seeds
    While listening to the rain
    and its sound in the gutter

    Our Nanny used to tell us stories
    About striped fairies
    The story of a yellow Fairy and a green Fairy
    The story of the patient stone
    The story of a goat on the roof and
    the story of the daughter of the King of the Fairies!

    You are those same Fairies!!
    You have come to our world!!

    But here in our world
    You only sad and depressed
    You act like our world is empty
    You act like our world is absured
    You act like our world is nothing but pain

    It is true
    Our world is no Fairy-tale
    with secret messages and happy endings
    Our world is open-ended
    And like it or not
    Our world has thorns
    Its deserts have snakes
    Whoever is a real part of our world
    knows these things deeply in their heart

    Now what was wrong with your world, Fairies?
    Who told you to leave your tall sweet castle?
    Why did you come to our unique but difficult world?

    The Fairies said nothing
    And still they wept
    And their tears were like rains from Spring clouds

    I patted the Fairies on their backs
    I wanted to send them back to their world
    But then they started to scream

    They were magical and they began to fly about.
    They became old, they became tears,
    They became young, they became laughter,
    They became master and slave,
    They became fruit, they became seed,
    They became both hope and despair,
    They became a bad omen

    These magic tricks did not affect me
    I watched their games
    But I was not influenced by them
    Their jinxed star did not sway me
    And when they saw I did not turn into a stone
    by any of their sorcery, they changed
    One of them became a bottle of wine
    One of them became a sea of water
    And one of them became a mountain
    rising up into the sky

    I drank the wine
    I swam the sea
    I climbed the mountain

    There was singing and dancing
    in the City beyond the mountain

    "Ha-Ha-Ha" we are happy!
    No more slavery! We are free!
    We destroyed injustice
    We held freedom as our Mecca.
    Since the City stood firm,
    Since the living became ours,
    We'll be happy forever!
    We'll be free forever!
    We have achieved our goal!
    We have reached our home!

    This is the end of our tale!
    This is the end of our jail!

    Translated by Mahvash Shahegh &
    Dan Newsome

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.