Excerpts from Classic Persian Poems and Middle Eastern Poetry. Selections from Raba’a, Firdausi’s “Shahnama”, Laili and Majnun by Nizami Ganjavi, Iraj Mirza and more.


At last I was recaptured by his love
     Resisting had no effect
Love is like an ocean without a shore
     How can one swim there, oh wise one?
Love must be taken right to the end
     Many unsuitable things must be accepted
Ugliness must be seen as if it were good
     Poison must be taken as if it were sugar
I was disobedient and did not understand:
     The harder you pull, the tighter the rope

Rustam and Tahmina, from Firdausi’s Shahnama

Behind the curtain there was a face like a moon
     Like the shining sun, full of colour and scent
Rustam spoke to her, asked her name:
     ‘What are you seeking in the darkness of night? What is your desire?’
‘Tahmina is my name’ was how she replied.
     ‘Sorrow has cut my heart in two.
Daughter of the king of Samangan am I, and
     From the stock of lepards and panthers.
There is none so royal in the whole world as me –
     Beneath the wheel of the firmament there are very few like me.
No man has ever seen me byond the curtain
     No man has ever heard my voice.’

Persian Poetry and poems

Gurgani, Vis and Ramin

Around Vis Ramin put his arm
     Like a golden necklace around a tall fair cypress.
If they were seen from Paradise
     No one would have been more beautiful
The bed full of flowers and precious stones
     The pillows full of musk and amber
Lips upon lips, and face turned to face
     Playful like a ball in a field
The closeness, holding the beloved,
     Turned their two bodies into one –
If rain had fallen on these two fair bodies
     A raindrop would not have moistened their chests.

From Laili and Majnun by Nizami Ganjavi

Love came and ransacked the house
     And raised the sword of recklessness
It gave them sorrow and stole their hearts
     Giving their hearts to each other
They lost their tranquillity.
     They fell prey to gossip
Their cover was torn in every way
     Their secret heard in every alleyway.

Classic Persian Poems and poetry

From Laili and Majnun by Nizami Ganjavi

When Majnun arrived at the tent
     Drunkenly he began to sing
Speaking the name of Laili and being stoned
     He danced merrily as the stones rained on him.

Iraj Mirza

If you wish, I shall put my fingers together
     And form a stirrup with my two palms
So you can put your foot in my hands
     And warm yourself in my heart
Or put the soles of your feet on my shoulders
     And slip down into my arms.
Softly and lightly, let me embrace you
     So I can spread you like grass on the ground.

Middle Eastern classic poetry and poems

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