One of Iran’s greatest poets, Simin Behbahani, died today at 87. She was fierce, called a ‘lioness’ by Iranians. I saw her at the forefront of demonstrations for women’s rights at the One Million Signatures gatherings in the mid-2000s – always with her bright red lipstick. Especially in the last decades, her poems chronicled Iranian life, its social and political predicaments. She was a voice that people turned to. Her words will live forever. For Persian speakers, Iran Nameh had a great special edition on her a couple of years ago:
Here one of her most celebrated poems of late:
My Country, I Will Build You Again
My country, I will build you again,
If need be, with bricks made from my life.
I will build columns to support your roof,
If need be, with my bones.
I will inhale again the perfume of flowers
Favored by your youth.
I will wash again the blood off your body
With torrents of my tears.
Once more, the darkness will leave this house.
I will paint my poems blue with the color of our sky.
The resurrector of “old bones” will grant me in his bounty
a mountains splendor in his testing grounds.
Old I may be, but given the chance, I will learn.
I will begin a second youth alongside my progeny.
I will recite the Hadith of love and country
With such fervor as to make each word bear life.
There still burns a fire in my breast
to keep undiminished the warmth of kinship
I feel for my people.
Once more you will grant me strength,
though my poems have settled in blood.
Once more I will build you with my life,
though it be beyond my means.