To the Children of Prison and Exile


A poem by Dr. Majid Naficy

Editor’s Note Iran Press Watch is deeply grateful to have received this poem from Dr. Naficy for publication at this site.  The poem was composed on February 15, 1986 and an English version of it was first published in Dr. Naficy’s anthology, Muddy Shoes (Beyond Baroque Books, 1999) and then in an anthology After Shocks: The poetry of Recovery (Sante Lucia Books 2008) edited by Tom Lombardo.  Dr. Naficy’s seminal essay, “Baha’is Need Justice”, was previously translated and published by Iran Press Watch.

To the Children of Prison and Exile

by Majid Naficy

After the silence of firing squads

Still it burns in our hearts

And we carry their corpses

On our broken backs.

I want to turn this death into life.

How many companions,

Who in these years of defeat and execution

Created life from an embryo?

I am talking about the children of prison and exile:

Cheshmeh, Roza, and Sulmaz.(1)

I want to turn this death into life

That like a jug of water

Becomes filled with the freshness of Cheshmeh,

And like a red rose

Blooms from the lips of Roza,

And like the word “sulmaz”

Becomes evergreen.

I will sift, grind, and soften this death,

Until the children of prison and exile

Mold it into play dough.

I am calling you,

O newborns of years of pain,

The crocodiles in your painting

Have no teeth,

Because the names of their friends

Never crossed their lips.

I want to turn this death into a poem,

That can be read like magic

When the corpse of a butterfly

Carried by ants

Makes you remember the dead ones.

I want to turn this death into life.
1. These names respectively mean: “spring”, “rose” and “everlasting”.


2 Responses

  1. sb

    May 13, 2009 12:40 pm

    Dear Mr. Naficy,

    Thank -you for this, your poem is elegaic and full of heart.
    As the great poet Dylan Thomas said:

    “Though they go mad they shall be sane,
    Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
    Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
    And death shall have no dominion . . .”


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