Sa'eb Tabrizi, Translated by Rebecca Ruth Gould & Kayvan Tahmasebian

I hear God’s promise of forgiveness

Sa’eb Tabrizi (1592-1676)

I hear God’s promise of forgiveness in the boiling wine.
From the rubab, I hear the clang of Paradise’s gate.

This is the difference between the way we hear:
for you the sound of closing is for me the door’s opening.

Why shouldn’t I be the rug at the threshold of the tavern,
when it smells to me like celebration?

I hear the rose-colored wine running in the streets of my veins:
one hundred times more lucid than the water’s song.

I see lucidly the veiled brides of imagination.
I hear the gazelle’s footfall in my dreams.

I hear unveiled the song that makes the gallows’ rope 
bleed in everything I see.

I hear eagle-Gabriel trumpeting love hour by hour
from the cracks of my anxious heart.

Has moonlight returned from its walk 
around the beloved’s cheeks, giving it the jasmine’s scent?

Have you arrived from the companion of heated hearts,
radiating the scent from your garments of burning flesh?

What raw words, Saeb, come from such black hearts!
who feel warmth from that sun, who feel protected by that sun.

هو‌الغفور ز جوش شراب می‌شنوم 
صریر باب بهشت از رباب می‌شنوم
تفاوت است میان شنیدن من و تو
تو بستن در و من فتح باب می‌شنوم
بر آستان خرابات چون نباشم فرش؟
که بوی زنده‌دلی زان تراب می‌شنوم
دویدن می گل‌رنگ را به کوچه رگ
به صد رسایی آواز آب می‌شنوم
صفای پردگیان خیال می‌بینم
صدا ی پای غزالان خواب می‌شنوم
ترانه‌ای که سر دار از آن شود رنگین
به هر چه می‌نگرم بی‌حجاب می‌شنوم
صدای شهپر جبریل عشق هر ساعت
ز رخنه دل پر اضطراب می‌شنوم
مگر ز سیر بنا‌گوش یار می‌آید؟
که بوی یاسمن از ماهتاب می‌شنوم.
مگر ز صحبت دل‌های گرم می‌آیی
که از لباس تو بوی کباب می‌شنوم
چه حرف‌های خنک صائب از سیاه‌دلان
به پشتگرمی آن آفتاب می‌شنوم

As a migrant from Iran to India during the Mughal period, Sa'eb Tabrizi (1592-1676) used his fascination with Indian poetics to introduce new metaphors into the Persian lexicon.

Rebecca Ruth Gould ( is the author of the poetry collection Cityscapes (2019) and the award-winning monograph Writers & Rebels (2016). She has translated many books from Persian and Georgian, including After Tomorrow the Days Disappear (2016) and, with Kayvan Tahmasebian, High Tide of the Eyes (2019). A Pushcart Prize nominee, she was awarded the Creative Writing New Zealand Flash Fiction Competition prize in 2019.

Kayvan Tahmasebian ( is a poet, translator, literary critic, and the author of Isfahan's Mold (2016) and Lecture on Fear and Other Poems (2019). His poetry was a finalist for The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts in 2017. With Rebecca Ruth Gould, he is co-translator of High Tide of the Eyes: Poems by Bijan Elahi (The Operating System, 2019) and House Arrest: Poems by Hasan Alizadeh (Arc Publications, 2022).