Project Description

Jaleh Esfahani


Jaleh Esfahani was born in Esfahan, Iran. Jaleh finished Behesht Aeen high school in Esfahan and then worked for a few years. In 1945, she moved to Tehran where she was accepted at the Faculty of Literature, Tehran University. Shortly afterwards, she married Shams Badi, a young army officer. In 1946 she was the only female poet to attend the first Iranian congress of poets and writers in Tehran. After the persecution of Jaleh’s husband for his political views, the couple settled in Baku, Azerbaijan where Jaleh learnt Russian and Azeri and got a BA from Azerbaijan State University. She got her PhD in Persian literature from Lamanosov University, Moscow. From 1960, she worked at Maxim Gorky International Academy of Literature until she left Russia for Iran in 1980. In the turmoil of the revolution she left Iran for London when she currently lives.

‘Jaleh has been the most active female poet in the history of Persian literature’. She has published more than twenty volumes of poetry, most of which have been translated into Russian, Azeri and other Central Asian languages. Her work has also been translated into Czech, Kurdish and Arabic. Apart from writing poetry, Jaleh has translated the works of Azeri poets into Persian.

Zendeh Rood
Portrait of the World
If I Had a Thousand Pens
The Unbeatable Alborz
Oh, the Shorteh Breeze
Every flower has a Scent: translation of Russian and other ex-Soviet poetry into Persian
The Cry of Silence
Songs of the Forest
Whisper of the flight
Wave in Wave
The Shadow of Years: autobiography
Splendour of Silence
One of Jaleh’s dramatic pieces had been made into an opera and performed in Tajikistan.
She has also conducted literary research.

Where are you from?

Where are you from?
You ask,
I am a gypsy, a wanderer,
born of pain and affliction.

Look at the map of the world,
voyage across in a glance.
Doubtless you will not find a land,
where my fellow county-man
has not drifted.

I am the mystified soul
of a sleep-walker,
who at the full moon, strolls across the cliffs
of endless desires
at the foot of reality.

Where are you form?
You ask.
I am from the land of
wealth and misery,
the green skirt of
the Alborz mountains *,
the majestic shores of
Zendeh Rood
the citadel of Persepolis.

Where are you from?
You ask.
I am from the land of love, poetry, sun.
Home of battles, sufferings, hopes
and trenches of Revolution.

My eyes are burning
with a thirsty hope
Now, do you know
where I am from?

* Alborz mountains are a range of mountains separating the green north from dry central parts.