My Blossomed Potted Plant

by Jennifer Saparzadeh

Image still from  Armenian Diaspora , courtesy of Araz Farra.

Image still from Armenian Diaspora, courtesy of Araz Farra.

In Farsi there is one word for both ‘song’ and ‘poem’: Sher. Songs are not of less significance than poems, and like folk music throughout the world, Persian songs are the people’s poems. Sung in homes, at times of celebration and sorrow—they are a means to collectively experiencing emotions—passed down from one generation to the next, and through the Persian diaspora, passed around the world.

Simin Ghanem's album, Gholake Cheshat ( قلك چشات, translation: the treasure within your eyes to be unlocked) was released in 1976, three years before the Islamic Revolution. The period following saw hundreds of thousands of people emigrating from Iran. In that change, the relationship to the music changed;  informed in one sense by the schism people experienced in leaving, oftentimes never to return, and informed in another sense by the changes taking place in Iran itself.

The 1979 Islamic Revolution set to law prohibitions which exist until today, women were no longer allowed to sing publicly, acts of celebration and public dancing were criminalized, and Simin Ghanem herself disappeared from the public eye for 20 years. For those that remained, a mythology formed, which grows and persists with the first-generation children they bore. Simin Ghanem’s most famous song “Gole Goldoon” has been sung as a lullaby to children, on long car rides, in showers, and reverberates like a sad echo from home to home, from here to there. While it is a song of lost love, it has become a symbol of a lost home, “my blossomed potted plant/ my moonlit balcony / from you I am alone / fish out of its home.”

Upon translating these lyrics I was reminded of The Book of Songs from the Bible. The Book of Songs, or Song of Solomon, was once set to music, but all that is left are the lyrics. While the words in themselves have great value, I feel certain that there is significance in the music we cannot know. The same applies to the lyrics of Simin Ghanem’s songs; while the words in themselves are significant; the music they are set to is of equal importance. I urge readers of these translations to listen to the music, in order to understand the full impact of these songs.

The translations were done with the music in mind, and “Gole Goldoon” in particular, closely follows the rhyme and meter of the Farsi.

داب‭ ‬رد‭ ‬ھتسکش‭ ‬نم‭ ‬ھنودلگ‭ ‬
لگ‭ ‬دایرف‭ ‬هدرکن‭ ‬ملد‭ ‬ات
‭ ‬ایب‭ ‬وت‭ ‬ھگید‭ ‬وب‭ ‬بش‭ ‬لگ
‭ ‬هدیمن‭ ‬وب‭ ‬بش‭ ‬ور‭ ‬وب‭ ‬بش
‭ ‬لگ‭ ‬یک‭ ‬هدیچ‭ ‬ھخاش‭ ‬زا
‭ ‬نومسآ‭ ‬ی‭ ‬ھشوگ‭ ‬نومک
‭ ‬نیگنر‭ ‬رپ‭ ‬یکیرات‭ ‬لثم‭ ‬نم
‭ ‬باتھم‭ ‬لثم‭ ‬وت‭ ‬رس‭ ‬زا‭ ‬داب‬
ھگا‭ ‬هرذگن‭ ‬وت‭ ‬فلز‭ ‬

مشیم‭ ‬شمگ‭ ‬مریم‭ ‬نم
‭ ‬باوخ‭ ‬لگنج‭ ‬وت‭ ‬نم
‭ ‬نودلگ‭ ‬لگ‭ ‬نوویا
‭ ‬هام‭ ‬نم‭ ‬مدش‭ ‬اھنت
‭ ‬وت‭ ‬زا‭ ‬بآ‭ ‬زا‭ ‬یھام
‭ ‬وچ‭ ‬

وزرآ‭ ‬رھ‭ ‬لگ‭ ‬وب
‭ ‬و‭ ‬گنر‭ ‬زا‭ ‬ھتفر
‭ ‬ھنوخدور‭ ‬مدش‭ ‬نم
‭ ‬بادرم‭ ‬ھی‭ ‬ملد

‭ ‬ھشیم‭ ‬یربا‭ ‬نومسآ
‭ ‬دیشروخ‭ ‬لگ‭ ‬اما
‭ ‬دیب‭ ‬یاھ‭ ‬ھخاش
‭ ‬ور‭ ‬هریگیم‭ ‬شلد‭ ‬

ھشیم‭ ‬یباتھم‭ ‬هرد
‭ ‬باتھم‭ ‬لگ‭ ‬اما‭ ‬بآ
‭ ‬یاھ‭ ‬ھکرب‭ ‬زا‭ ‬
هریمن‭ ‬لااب

‭ ‬یدیم‭ ‬نوکت‭ ‬تسد‭ ‬ھک
‭ ‬وت‭ ‬دیم‭ ‬نوج‭ ‬هراتس
‭ ‬ھب‭ ‬ى‭ ‬غاب‭ ‬لگ‭ ‬زا
‭ ‬لگ‭ ‬ھفکشیم

دایم‭ ‬مھ‭ ‬تامشچ‭ ‬یتقو
‭ ‬دایم‭ ‬مک‭ ‬هراتس‭ ‬ود‭ ‬
غاد‭ ‬زا‭ ‬قیاقش
‭ ‬هزوسیم‭ ‬نم‭ ‬نودلگ‭ ‬
لگ‭ ‬نم‭ ‬نوویا‭ ‬هام
‭ ‬مدش‭ ‬اھنت‭ ‬وت‭ ‬زا‭ ‬بآ‭ ‬
زا‭ ‬یھام‭ ‬وچ‭ ‬وزرآ‭ ‬رھ
‭ ‬لگ‭ ‬وب‭ ‬و‭ ‬گنر‭ ‬زا
‭ ‬ھتفر‭ ‬ھنوخدور‭ ‬مدش
‭ ‬نم‭ ‬بادرم‭ ‬ھی‭ ‬ملد‭ ‬

my blossomed potted plant
from the wind has 
broke you come, come
back so that my heart 
doesn’t moan 

flower that gives night 
scent doesn’t scent at 
night who the night scent 
flower picked off of its 

the corner of the sky
is with rainbows
alight I am like the 
darkness you are
the moon glow 

If the wind from your 
head doesn’t reach to 
your hair I will go and 
get lost in the jungle of 

my blossomed potted 
plant my moonlit 
balcony from you I am 
alone fish out of its 

the flower of all 
hope lost color and 
odor I became a 
river my heart is a 

The sky becomes 
cloudy but flower of the 
sun on the willow tree 
drum is sad and heart 
struck / the valley 
becomes moonlit but 
flower of the moon upon 
the mountain bourn 
cannot venture up 

with a wave of your hand 
you give existence to the 
stars blossoming flowers in 

when your eyelids get heavy 
two less stars are in the skies 
even the shaghayegh* burns 

my blossomed potted 
plant my moonlit 
balcony from you I am
a lone fish out of its 

the flower of all 
hope lost color and 
odour I became a 
river my heart is a 

gole goldoone man 6 
shekasteh dar bad 5
to biya ta delam 6 
nakardeh faryad 5 

gole shab boo bide 6 
shab boo nebideh 5 
qui gole shab boo ro 6 
as shakheh chideh 5 

goosheyeh asemoon 6 
poreh ranginkamoon 6 
man mesleh tariky 6 
to mesleh mahtab 5 

age bad as sareh 6 
zolfeh to nagzare 6 
man miram gom misham 6 
to jangaleh chab 5 

gole goldooneman 6 
maheh hayvoon et man 6 
az to tanha shodam 6 
cho mahi as ab 5

gole har arezoo 6 
afteh az rang o boo 6 
man shodam root chooneh 6
delam be mored ab 5 

asemoon abro misheh 6 
amah goleh chorshid 6 
roo shakhehayeh bid 6 
delesh migireh 5 
dareh mahtahby misheh 7 
amah gole mahtab 6 
az berkehayeh ab 6 
bala nemireh 5 

to ke dast tekoon midy 7 
be setareh joon midy 7 
misthopej gol as goleh bah) 8 

vchty cheshm maham miyan 7 
do setareh kam miyan 7 
misoozeh shaghayegh as dag 8 

gole goldooneman 6 
maheh hayvoon et man 6 
az to tanha shodam 6
cho mahi as ab 5 

gole har arezoo 6 
rafteh az rang o boo 6
man shodam root chooneh 6
delam be mored ab 5 

Jennifer Saparzadeh is a filmmaker and musician working with Farsi through translation and documentation of Persian folk music. She has translated the poems of Hamid Mosadegh, Hila Sedighi, and Forough Farrohkzad; as well as translating Persian folks songs that are used in times of celebration and sorrow in her family home. Her films have showed in such venues as the Edinburgh International Film Festival, International San Francisco Film Festival, and the MOCA, Los Angeles.