Project Description

Shadab Vajdi


Shadab Vajdi was born in Shiraz, Iran in 1937. She studied Persian literature as well as Social Sciences a the University of Tehran. In 1976, she obtained her Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies). While in Iran, she taught Persian literature. In Britain she worked as a producer and broadcaster for the BBC World Service (Persian Section). Since 1992 she has been a part-time lecturer in Persian Language and Literature at the University of London (SOAS). Shadab Vajdi has been a poet since childhood and her poems have been published in Persian, English, German and Swedish. In English, a collection of her works was published in 1992 by Forest Books under the title Closed Circuit. She also has non-poetic publications. Her Persian translations of Paul Harrison’s Inside the Third World and Judy Shapiro’s Return to China were published in Tehran in the 1990s.

To the memory of the thirst of the southern mountain slopes
(Translated from Farsi by Lotfali Khonji)

I can hear the rain
I can hear the rain
It has been raining all night,
and my heart has been singing all night
in the memory of the great salt desert
thirsty as ever for every drop of rain
in memory of southern mountain slopes
in memory of droughts and their heart-breaking remoteness
in memory of the innocence of the familiar soil, so close to my heart.

It has been raining all night
the whole town is filled with the melody of rain
my whole memory is submerged in your distant voice
the tiniest particle of your soil
is my dearest jewel.

I can hear the rain
Behold! Here, in memory of your soil
I rain in unison with bountiful clouds
rise in loving hope of greener springtimes
moments of budding are the dearest ones
and the springtime yields
springs of uniform, clear water.
Rise in loving hope of greener springtimes
your springtime will be mine too.
A Heart Blows in Every Storm

It is a woman’s singing, blowing with the wind.
The disturbed, scattered rain of her voice
plays the worn out nocturnal strings
and washes the dust of exhaustion
off the town’s back alleys.

It is a woman’s singing, blowing with the wind.
The fiery heat of her melodies
touches the shy faces of tulips, turning them red hot.
The fiery heat of her melodies
touches the spirit of elated wheat ears,
making them ever more ecstatic.

Oh, my endless melody!
For how long will you remain the companion of the spirit of the storm
in the green rebellion of the forest
and with the struggle of everlasting rivers
curling around mountains like autumn clouds?
For how long
will you set pace along the isolation of the wandering road?

What is this spot on the blackness of nocturnal clouds?
It is the shadow cast by my heart.
It is the shadow of my heart
crawling on its chest
along the streets wet with tear drops.
O, passers by! O, love-sick creatures,
tread more carefully, more slowly.

All along difficult mountain passes
and in the vastness of deserts bearing famine
there is a heart blowing in every storm, murmuring:
“Where am I? Who am I?
I am an agitated wanderer
in the storm-bearing waters of the ocean;
I am no wave;
I am a mere colourless drop”

Behold how your songs
mingle with the lovers’ blood tonight.
Behold how amidst galaxies
planets move swiftly and with disharmony.
A pain tears the town asunder
and a town throbs with exhaustion
awaiting the explosion of the moments of
patience and silence.

It is a woman’s singing, blowing with the wind.
And on the wire of her voice
settle a flock of sea-gulls.