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Zhaleh Esfahani

Zhaleh Esfahani

We are truly sorry to have to announce that the much loved and well-known poet Zhaleh Esfahani passed away on Thursday 29th November 2007.

Zhaleh, the irreplaceable poet of 'hope and freedom' will always live in the hearts and minds of all generations who love the Iranian culture and poetry. Her absence is felt by so many across many countries, both in the East and the West.


Brief background on Zhaleh Esfahani with one of her poems
from the book Modern Persian Poetry
by Mahmud Kianush.


Zhaleh Esfahani, also known as "Zhaleh Soltani" and "Zhaleh"; was born in 1921, in Esfahan, Iran. She left Iran in 1947 and lived in the former Soviet Union until her return to Iran in 1979, after the Revolution. She lived in London until her death on 29th November 2007.

Poetical Works :

  • Wild Flowers [Golha-ye Khod-ru, 1945];
  • The Living River [Zendeh Rud, the name of a river in Esfahan, 1965, Moscow];
  • The Blue Ship [Kashti-ye Kabud, 1972, Tajikistan];
  • The Image of the World [Naghsh-e Jahan, 1980, Moscow];
  • The Invincible Elburz [Alborz-e Bi-shekast, 1983, London];
  • O the Favourable Wind! [Ey Bad-e Shorteh!, 1983, London];
  • If I had a Thousand Pens [Agar Hezar Ghalam Midashtam, 1991];
  • The Cry of Silence [Khorush-e Khamushi, 1992, Stockholm];
  • Song of the Forest [Sorud-e Jangal, 1994, London];
  • The Melody of Flight [Tarran-nom-e Parvaz, 1996, London];
  • Waves on Waves [Moje Dar Moje, 1997, Tehran];
  • She also wrote Persian translations of a selection of foreign poets and critical works on Malek-Osh-Sho'ara Bahar and Nima Yushij.



"I wish I were like you,"

Said the forest

to the roaring river,

"Always travelling,

always sightseeing;

Rushing towards the pure domain

of the sea,

The kingdom of water;


The passionate, vigorous spirit

of life,

The liquid turquoise of light

With eternal flow ..."


"But what am I?

Only a captive,

chained to the earth.

In silence I grow old,

In silence I wither and die,

And before long

nothing will remain of me

But a handful of ashes."


"O forest, half-asleep, half-awake",

Cried the river,

"I wish I were you,

Enjoying a seclusion

of living emerald,

And illuminated by moonlit nights;

Being a mirror

reflecting the beauties

of Spring;

A shaded rendezvous for lovers."


"Your destiny, a new life

every year;

My life, running away from myself

all the time;

Running. running, running

in bewilderment;

And what is my gain

Of all this meaningless journey?

Ah ... never having a moment of calm

and rest!"


"No one can ever know

what the other feels;

Who does care to ask

about a passer-by

If he really existed

or was only a shadow?"


Now a passer-by

Aimlessly walking in the shade

Comes to ask himself,

"Who am I? a river? a forest?

Or both?

River and forest?

River and forest!"


"Modern Persian Poetry"
(An anthology in English)

Modern Persian poetry
Click to purchase the book.


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Copyright shall at all times remain vested in the Author. No part of the work shall be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the Author's express written consent.

Copyright© 1998 K. Kianush, Art Arena