Beyond the Ellipses: Poems by Emran Salahi

Photo (c) Kian Amani

A towering figure in modern Persian satire, Emran Salahi (1947–2006) was an equally adept writer of serious Persian poetry, which he composed in various forms, from the ghazal, to blank and free verse and the haiku. He wrote numerous collections of fine poetry, mostly in Persian but also in Azeri Turkish. Many of his writings mirror the social and political milieu in Iran during the decades before and after the 1979 revolution and, while his satire revolved around sociopolitical themes, he maintained a personal tone in almost all of his poems. As he himself put it, “I write satire for people and poetry for myself.” Still, in his poems, Salahi often subtly fused an individual response with a direct social and political intent, using metaphorical language to avoid censorship. The following poems, selected from the collection Beyond the Ellipses (Tehran: Sales, 2006) and translated by Dr Mostafa Abedinifard for the first time, were written over the span of a decade, from the early post-revolutionary era to shortly before Salahi’s death. Mostafa Abedinifard is Assistant Professor without Review of Persian Literary Culture and Civilization at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is currently working on two monographs, titled Satiric Modernity: Humor, Affect, and Nationalism in Iran and Men, Boys, and Manhood in Modern Iranian Literature, Culture, and Film. He has published articles in Asian Cinema, The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, Social Semiotics, de genere: Journal of Literary, Postcolonial and Gender Studies, Iran Nameh: A Quarterly of Iranian Studies, Literary Criticism (Tehran), Mahoor Music Quarterly (Tehran), and elsewhere.



Not only us, but water, too,
Is burning with thirst, burning with yearning.
Beside the laughing water,
Is weeping.


What a wakeful scent this autumn!
An untimely breeze is singing a song;
In a bloomed flower,
Love is in raptures.


In silence,
Our hands
A dozen languages.


We are hidden
Like a complex theme in a line;
Like two forbidden names
Beyond the ellipses.
Tehran, 1365/1986

The Cloud

Filled with past memories,
Filled with “The Flower Garden,”*
Filled with a small train that vanished behind the smoke,
Filled with autumn leaves, with winter,
Filled with burnt trees,
Filled with Father’s abrupt leaving—
A cloud passing
Over the “Garden Alleyway.”**
— Tabriz, 1366/1987

Beyond the Ellipses

What a garden!
What chandelier grapes! What radiant oranges!
What a sweet-smelling alleyway!
What flowers pouring out of windows!
What a boat on waves!
Filled with love’s turbulence!
Abstinence has pulled apart its dress–
What a fragrance!
Tehran, 1370/1991


Look and see if yesterday, too,
These leaves were this green,
If you saw these dandelions here,
If your looks picked this bunch from the branch.
See whether yesterday, too,
The stone was the very same,
The grass the same grass
And the earth the same earth.
— Tehran, 1370/1991

Between Two Doors

I was shivering behind a door.
With dazzling eyes and teeth,
The darkness, the wolf and the cold
Were approaching.
I was seated between two doorways—
Like an old pain in a joint.
You arrived:
Closed one door to the blizzard
And opened the other
To sunshine and the jungle.
— Tehran, 1371/1992


With its knotted muzzle, a gun shoots peace and quiet.
Not far off,
Naked angels
Fly all the way
To blue eyes
And to your smile.
Take a photo of me
Beside these free angels.
— Stockholm, 2000


* A renowned public park in Tabriz.

** A famous neighbourhood in Tabriz.

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