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#6 2012
3 min read

The ICORN-relay: Sedigheh Vasmaghi

In April the Swedish city of Uppsala received a new ICORN writer: the Iranian lawyer and poet Sedigheh Vasmaghi. After the election in 2009, she took part of the protest movement. She published poems and articles where she took a strong stand against all fundamentalism. The harassments and threats towards her increased. When an arrest warrant was issued, she had no choice but to leave her country. Here you can read three of her poems.

Credits Text: Sedigheh Vasmaghi Translation from Swedish: Linda Schenck September 27 2012

I have seen a moon sprout

Who has seen a gallows sprouting a green leaf

new life greening on a wooden tinder post?

I swear on the green head of the hanged man

that gallows posts can grow, be transformed into greening

plane trees.

Who has seen in darkest night a moon sprout,

a star, a moon, sprout from a wizened gallows post?

I swear on the green head of the hanged man

I have seen it, I have!

I have seen a moon sprout

A sun, a star put forth shoots

wherever a martyr’s blood is spilled

a tulip shoots forth from the hard stone.

I have seen the monster broken

like crushed glass, broken

fall under the feet of silence

the heartless monster wither and fade.

I have seen violets at midwinter

raise their heads from the snowdrift

and whisper to green-minded friends

soon you’ll sense spring in the dust of the road!


Just think of all the freedom I have

Silence, exile or prison

just think that I’m free

to make my choice among them!

Think of all the freedom I have!

And the older I get

the greedier I seem to be

when it comes to freedom!

Lots of crossroads ahead

Which road shall I choose

to attain my heart’s desire?

Where are you, lights of my longing?

What are you, lights of my longing?

The black walls of silence

the tall stony cliffs of exile

the iron bars of prison

keep us apart!

But all this distance

I will overcome!

With power higher than walls

propelling me

with conviction firmer than cliffs

and the courage to force

the bars of my prison,

to bend

I will!

I will overcome these obstacles!

Keep silent? How could I keep silent

when the words buried inside me

keep popping out?

For that’s what words do:

wherever they are planted they thrive!

In the innards of the walls of silence

in the heart of the cliffs of exile

in the core of prison bars.

They can even grow green

in the skulls of the prison guards

and in petrified chests of the interrogators!

I will overcome all that distance

to attain my desires.

I will see to it that

all the distance is greened

I know what my desires stand for

I know they are worth

any sacrifice I must make.


When the stars die down

When the stars die down

sunrise is near!

I feel the fresh smell of morning

the scent of life

like the smell of hot bread

I hear

the footsteps of morning approach

the call of the sparrows

the song of the swallows’ wings.

Has the earth’s orbit changed?

Tonight the stars have died so early.

The devotees of night

are still walking their nocturnal alleys

They don’t know how late it is.

They don’t know that

when the stars fade

sunrise is near, very near!

The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an association of cities around the world dedicated to the value of Freedom of Expression. Writers have consistently been targets of politically motivated threats and persecution, and the network believes it is necessary for the international community to formulate and implement an appropriate response. Each ICORN city focuses on one writer at a time, each writer representing the countless others in hiding, in prison or silenced forever.

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