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Join Modern Poetry in Translation at Oxford Translation Day on Saturday 13th June 2015 for a discussion and reading by Iranian poet Ziba Karbassi and her translator, poet Stephen Watts.

They say patience can turn a stone into a jewel
– Hafez

It didn’t turn into a jewel
It isn’t a jewel, not at all
It never will be

It was a stone: patience
A stone through & through

The split through my forehead
The gash across my face
The blood oozing down behind my ear
Well, patience

And he with his whip
A woman with hair on the soles of her feet
Hair sprouting from the soles of a beaten woman
Have patience

And he with his sharp nails
That rip and slash skin to pieces
And he who swallows & swallows

Always he carries his toothbrush with him
Because butterfly wings get stuck in his teeth
Patience, hey patience

And she has no hugs
Has no smiles
Knows nothing of dancing
Is hopeless at kissing

Always stashing love under the table
Such a proper pretty-pretty such a true lady
So sure she knows how to hold herself
See how she bears patience

And always she’s begging: beat me! (Oh Yes)
And when she’s been beaten: again, again! (Oh Yes)
Such a gamine for a pretty game! (Oh Yes)

And handfuls
Handfuls of stones
She’d throw at me
Throw at you
Oh she bears herself so well

If you’re beautiful she’ll say: you brute!
If tall, then it’s: o how short!
Strange lady
A knot made of patience

It didn’t become a jewel
Not at all, no way
But a live tortioned knot
That of a sudden snap-died
Of its own high fever
& feverishly died
Of patience

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About the translation:
Ziba Karbassi
Stephen Watts
Original language:
2015 Number 1 - SOLD OUT - Scorched Glass

About the author

Original poet

Ziba Karbassi

One of the rising stars of Iranian poetry, Ziba Karbassi was born in 1974 in Tabriz, Iran. She left Iran in 1989 and now lives...

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Stephen Watts


Stephen Watts

STEPHEN WATTS is a poet, translator and long-time contributor to MPT. He has recently co-translated Golan Haji’s A Tree Whose...

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