My Country, I Will Build You Again
To the lady of Persian story telling, Simin Daneshvar
* Or Azm-e Ramim, Qoranic reference to the day of resurrection, when God will reconstitute human beings from their rotten bones (Surah 36:78, Ya Seen trans.
My country, I will build you again,
if need be with bricks made of my life.
I will build columns to support your roof,
if need be, with my bones.
Once more I’ll breath the perfume
of flowers loved by your youth.
Once more I will wash the blood stains
on your body with my flowing tears.
Once more, the darkness will leave this house,
and I will paint my poems blue
with the color of our sky.
And in his generosity the resurrector of old bones*
will grant me the splendor of your mountains.
Old I may be, but I can still learn,
given another chance.
I will begin a second youth alongside my progeny.
I will recount the hadith of Love of Homeland**
with such passion as to bring life to every word.
The fire still burns in my breast
of the love for my people.
My poems may be drenched in blood
But you shall make me strong.
I will build you again with my life,
however meager my means.
** Refers to a Hadith (a Tradition” or account of the Prophet, his companions or the Imams) known as hob-ol-vatan, or Love of country/homeland, in which the Prophet is reported to have said, hob-ol-vatan min-al iman or Love of country/homelands is from faith.trans.
Translator: Farzaneh Milani
Born and raised in Teheran, Iran, Farzaneh Milani attended French primary and secondary schools. She earned her BA in French Literature in 1970 from California State University at Hayward. Transferring to the University of California in Los Angeles, she completed her graduate studies in Comparative Literature in 1979. Her dissertation, Forugh Farrokhzad: A Feminist Perspective, was a critical study of the poetry of a pioneering Iranian woman poet. Milani taught Persian Language and Literature at UCLA for four years before coming to the University of Virginia in 1986. Past president of the Association of Middle Eastern Women Studies in America, Milani was the recipient of Alumni Teaching Award in 1998. She is the author of Words, Not Swords: Iranian women writers and the Freedom of Movement, Veils and Words: The Emerging Voice of Iranian Women Writers, and A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems of Simin Behbahani (edited and translated with Kaveh Safa). She has served as the guest editor of Nimeye Digar, IranNameh, and Journal of Iranian Studies.