Your hand plays with your hair.
Your hair plays across your face.
Your eyes are two bewitching rubies,
rubies my heart longs to play with.

The next picture has you sat beside me,
two children playing 'ghosts'.
Sometimes our hands grip.
Sometimes our arms touch.

In the next picture, you say to yourself,
'Perhaps we weren't ever meant to play together'.
But I say, 'It wasn't us, it was god,
playing with our destiny'.

Next: two birds in two cages, playing with seeds.
Children in a game of hide and seek,
people playing 'house'.

And next, when you're taken away
everything dies: life, its bustle, playing.

In the next, when you're with me again,
rivers want to play with valleys,
perfumes want to play with colours.
My eyes want to follow you like a playful gazelle.

In the next picture, your fingers run through your hair.
Your hair plays across your face.

Translation notes

We ran up against a problem in the first stanza of this poem: Hamid's literal says, 'there are two magic cups in your face' and, in Persian, it's quite usual to use a glass, cup, chalice, as a metaphor for the eyes - because they contain something intoxicating (forbidden alcohol). Of course, in English, it sounds wrong to compare eyes to a vessel, so we substituted, 'rubies' (for their wine-colour).

In the fourth stanza there's an idea that children playing games, such as hide and seek, become adults 'playing' at marriage. The original refers to playing 'mothers and fathers', but the English game is always called 'house'.


1 Hameed anjum

very nice site for poets

Thanks a lot

2 Andrew

I think the author’s visual of ‘cups’ should be maintained in the first stanza.  ‘Rubies’ does not do the author’s original intention justice.  I think the lines would maintain their identity more if they went something like this:


Your hand plays with your hair.
Your hair plays across your face.
Your eyes are two bewitching cups,
cups my heart longs to sip from (or, drink/quench from).


Part of what gives non-English poems and writings their appeal to me is their different language.  I wouldn’t alter the unique description/metaphor if it can be nurtured into understanding.

3 Chitra

Well, after having read this poem i feel those 2 people are personifications of life and its dreams. Life here is enthralled by the beauty of its dreams and is constantly trying to realise it. But as in the 3rd stanza “GOd is playing with our destiny”.

So i feel this poem is about the helplessness of man in the arms of God/fate as he is constantly tossed about by the ups and downs of life.

This is just my humble reading…coz after all  there are multiple readings to a text! smile

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