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Poems by Farhad Shakely

The poet Farhad Shakely (1951) was born in the province of Kirkuk, in southern Kurdistan. Shakely was an active opponent of Saddam Hussein's regime. He joined the Kurdish liberation movement as Peshmarga in 1974-75. In 1975 he left Iraq to later end up in Sweden.

His poetry has been translated into several languages, including Arabic, Persian, English and Italian. Shakely has published around 30 books, among them there are eight collections of poems and 4 books on the history of Kurdish literature and ideas. What characterizes Shakely's poetry is his special language, the characteristics of which are immediately recognizable to those who read him in Kurdish.

Credits Poems: Farhad Shakely Translation by Farhad Shakely Photo: Muhammad Umar April 06 2023


This language,
your love will not fit into it.
Its letters,
its words
and its lines,
are all deprived of the grace of your boundless beauty.
No melody takes wing from the strings of any letter!
The bird of longing does not alight on the topmost branch of the words;
the sentences are only buds,
they do not become leaves, or flowers.
This language
refines neither love nor anger.
It neither dries a soul off, in the rain,
nor does it peel a secret.
I have not seen this language, even once, screaming;
I have not heard it, one day, squawking out.

When I want to express a heart’s grief,
this language does not allow me
to build a grave for a fancy.
When I intend to keep a secret in the heart,
it disgraces me in distant cities and countries.
This language does not know what weeping is; no, it does not!
It does not know how to cry!
It does not know how to live!
It does not know how to die!


How can this heart of mine
not turn into a dictionary of flame
with the glittering of a single letter of your name?
Not to turn into the ash of the alphabet
and the disturbed sea of language?
I gaze with an eye of fear and imploring
into the emptiness of this Universe
that is a forest of secrets from end to end;
I look for a leaf that can reveal the green history of the heart.
I look around; I do not spot a glimmer
that can show me the borders between darkness and light,
and can with a spark light up this extinguished lamp.

I see you in an ember,
where you are heat, redness and flame.
In the winter blizzard, you are a white word,
and in the woods, in the jungle and in the forest,
a green melody.

I hang up my soul like a dirty and worn out rag
on a rusty nail
and abandon it,
maybe, with the help of a tempest, hail and gale,
with the help of the hot wind and the peak summer heat,
it goes back on the road of the good old days.

Send an ember, one night, to see in my dream,
so that my days catch fire!

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