I Sit on the Pier


The idea of anyone sitting on a beach fully clothed wearing freshly-polished shoes is so alien in English that, after much discussion, we had to move the scenario to a pier, where formal dress is much more plausible. We also had difficulties with that final verb because the idea is that freedom is being address in the last couplet. For us, 'kiss' inevitably conjures up the idea of the man kissing her; whereas it's possible to imagine the 'embrace' of freedom.

In the original Farsi, none of these poems has a title. Because of the way our website is set up, we've had to use the first line as the title for each of them.

Sarah Maguire, Workshop Facilitator

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Mriganka Sekhar Ganguly



its great


The subtlety of the original poem is in its indirect references to where the poem is located, i.e. in a country where public displays of affection are forbidden, as are craving personal freedom; also where the long coastline could offer some privacy to courting couples.
The piers in Iran, when they function as social space, are usually very crowded, and suitable for families rather than couples, especially unmarried ones, but a walk on the beach is much more common, and more secluded. The man is obviously dressed in his best, even though it is unsuitable footwear for the sandy beach.  And it is risky for him to kiss her, no matter how much she might desire it. And her desire for the freedom to kiss spontaneously in a public space is as strong as for the kiss itself. Would that he could kiss her there and then…
The beauty of the poem is in the juxtaposing of these images and playing with words and social conventions.  It is important not to omit the word “hot” from the final English translation because the Persian word also means ‘smouldering’, which in most languages alludes to passion, to lust and also to simmering rage. 
The final translation is lovely but has diminished the visceral intensity of the original, which as I see it is a snapshot of unspoken desires for both the abstract longing for freedom as well as for desiring a lustful kiss.

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