Persian Poetry: Journey

A Monthly Column

By Mehdi Bagheri



I miss you, oh dear

Whenever I leave for someplace

For the journey, I took

Your memories and the loneliness


I left for a journey to treat my heart

Leaving is not the remedy while you are here

I left your court to appease my heart

I vainly travelled while you are its haven


With a modest sonnet, I utter your love

But what’s the upshot? Apart from grief and reprove

I, sleepless and awake, yearning to see you

Remember my heartbeat? Oh, emanation of virtue


My whole life’s been bitter; for the lonesome agony

I’ll either come to you or you will come to me


By Fatemeh Salehi

Translated by Mehdi Bagheri


After ten months of living in and travelling around Iran,  just a few days before I pack my bags and head back to South Africa, I read through a lot of poetry. “Journey” by an Iranian contemporary female poet, really touched my heart.

As a person who has boarded aeroplanes quite a lot of times, to travel and migrate from one continent to another, since the early years of childhood, journeys were something neither good nor bad. The mixed feelings about what you strive to achieve and all your emotional belongings that you leave behind is part of what makes you want to go on a journey and what makes you dislike it.

What one leaves behind can be memories, loved ones, belongings, family and so on. We are most satisfied when we earn something for letting go of something less valuable. However, emotions and feelings can hardly fit in this category, at least, for most of us. This poem portrays this argument in a stylistic manner.

The poet starts off by showing purity in her love as she implies that the two things she takes with her to a journey are loneliness and the memories. These subjects are nothing but emotions that have no material value but in fact are more valuable than any other worldly material in poet’s eyes.

In the second part, she tells her reasons for leaving but utters her remorse in a clear tone. She confesses that the reason she left was to please herself but she regrets doing so as she comes to realise that nothing but her loved one can heal her heart. In a deliberate way, she calls her love “haven”, wherein Persian literature is referred to any safe place that a person wishes to remain in, at times of disarray.

In the third part, the poet in a rhetoric way asks if her love can still remember her heartbeat. This is an artful indication of reminding her loved one, about how close their bodies used to be next to each other, that they felt their heartbeats. By calling her love, the emanation of virtue, she then raises that love to the paramount of beauties in a lover’s eyes.

In the last part, the poet describes her whole life as bitter because of one reason. That reason is being or at least feeling lonely. In the last line, she calls on herself to go to her love or vice versa for that is what justifies a journey. In other words, if you feel so close to someone and you truly love him or her, go on a journey to get closer to them even if you go thousands of miles away.