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Contemporary Persian Haiku PDF Print E-mail

by Massih Talebian


About 45 years ago, an Iranian poet and painter, Mr. Sohrab Sepehri, visited Japan to take a painting course. He became familiar with haiku at that time, and translated about ten Japanese haiku into the Persian (Iranian) language. Thinking of haiku as a short poem, but lacking an understanding of the genre, he was unable to ascertain the spirit of the haiku form.

On his return to Iran, and influenced by haiku, Sepehri, like the Western Imagists in the 1920’s adopted a haiku-like style. Many Iranian critics believe that his best poems were written after this trip. He also wrote long poems in which imagery became the central core allowing him to express his feelings via the use of concrete images.

Twenty-eight years ago, another famous Iranian poet, Ahmad Shamloo, in cooperation with the Zen and Buddhist text translator, E.Pashayi, translated part of Volume I, Haiku and Volume I, History of Haiku by R.H. Blyth, which is the first Persian book to officially introduce Japanese haiku to the Iranians, featuring haiku composed by Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki and the ten disciples of Basho.

Following the R.H. Blyth translations, it took another 10 years before Iranian poets started to write short poems emulating the haiku form, but most of these short poems, like Sepehri’s, lacked the “poetic spirit,” which Matsuo Basho believed to be the main feature of a haiku.

By the Internet infrastructure, Iranian poets had the chance to look at the international haiku movement, and as a result, there are a lot of haiku enthusiasts in Iran. Many have their own weblogs, and some are published.

The purpose of this short paper is to introduce you to some of the Persian contemporary haiku-like short poems, sorted chronologically, covering the past two decades.

Persian to English translations are mine, and I tried to convey the main images and each poem’s individual poetic spirit in the English versions.


Mr. Sirus Nozari

نظر به صنوبر می کردم


آن سوی آسمان می گذشت

looked through the pines
passed beyond the sky


Mr. Ghodsi Ghazi-noor

دیدار ما

چون آب و ماه ، چه دور !

چه در هم


our date,
as the sea and the moon . . .
how far, how hazy


Mr. Yarta Yaran

میان گندمزار

زنی نشسته است

سر به زانو ، زار زار

among the wheat fields
a woman sits, head on her
knees, lamenting


Mr. Abbas Kiyarostami (the famous Iranian photographer, poet and movie director)


چه کسی تعیین کرد

برگ سبز توت را

برای قوت کرم ابریشم

who assigned
the green berry leaves as
silkworm nurture?


Mr. Seyed Ali Salehi (a famous contemporary poet and the author of Thousand and One Haiku)

همه رفته اند

جز زنی کنار مزار

یکی پروانه

no one but
a woman by the grave . . .
a butterfly


Mr. Kaveh Goharin

هیچ درختی تنها نیست

وقتی که پروانه ای

مهمان برگ ها است

no lonely tree
when a butterfly
sits on a leaf


Mr. Seyed Ali Mirafzali

شب مثل پتوی مُرده سربازی

از پنجره

نیمدار و نَمدار گذشت

night passed
as the dead soldier’s wrap . . .
through the worn window


Mr. Sirus Rumi


چه سخت التیام می یابد

زخم دلم

oh, donna
how hardness heals
my heart wounds


Mrs. Fariba Arabnia

تنگِ غروب

محکوم به تنهایی

تک درخت خشک

deep sunset . . .
destined to loneliness,
a barren tree


Mr. Majid Jamshidi

نم نم باران

سیلی بود

برای مورچه ها

spring mist . . .
a raging flood
for ants


Mr. Reza Rezanejad Shirazi


در سپیده دم طلوع می کند

لاله عباسی من در غروب

sunrise . . .
my marvel of Peru blooms
at sunset


Mr. Mahmoud Falaki

نوروز امسال

دیوار اطاقم را

به رنگ چشم های تو خواهم کرد

this new year,
I paint my room walls . . .
your eye color


Mrs. Katayun Amuzgar

شامگاهان باز

هندوانه می شمارد

مترسک بیکار

at night again,
counting the watermelons . . .
idle scarecrow


Mr. Hossein Mostafapour

چه سینه سرخ هایی

که ترساندم

به شوق سبز شدنت


so many robins
that I have frightened . . .
you sprout

کجا رفت

بادی که مرا جاگذاشت

اولین روز بهار؟


the mountain, me and
my shadow


Mr. Reza Arabi

شامگاه کوهستانی

چراغ های شهری دور

روشن می شوند

mountain dusk
a distant town’s lights
turn on


Mr. Ehsan Porsa

چشمانت را که می بندی

بوسه را

به خط بریل می نویسم

in Braille . . .
kisses as you close
your eyes


Mr. Reza Ashofteh

ردای نارنجی بودا

چه نورانی است

زیر نور ماه

Buddha’s orange cloak . . .
How luminous it glitters
Under the moon ligh


Mrs. Samaneh Hosseini                   

                                                                                                                        کجا رفت

بادی که مرا جاگذاشت

اولین روز بهار؟


where does it go
the passing by breeze
first day of spring?


Mr. Mehdi Ghanbari:

گورهای خالی

از باران لبریز شدند

روستای شلوغ

empty graves
filled by the rain, this
first day of spring


Mrs. Fereshteh Panahi

بوی اطلسی

از تراس همسایه‌ای

سرسنگین بامن   

petunia scent
through the neighbor’s terrace . . .
sulky with me


Mr. Abbas Hossein-Nejad (Graduate in Japanese language andliterature at Tehran Unviversity)


شکوفه داده درخت

در عمق زمستان

سینه سرخی!

blooming trees
deep in the winter
a robin


Mr. Mohammad Hoghughi

نه او کنار دریا است

نه دریا کنار اوست

او فقط شاعر است


she is neither
by the sea nor the sea by her . . .
she’s just a poet


Mr. Massih Talebian

روی نیلوفر بنفش

تور تارهای عنکبوت

یکی دو بال مگس هم

a morning glory
covered with spider’s web
one or two fly wings too

دهکده پیدا نیست

اما آنسوتر قلهء برف پوش

سرخ نارنجی است

snow covered peak . . .
Beyond the invisible village
orangish red




Massih Talebian holds a Master degree in Electronics engineering, and is currently the manager of an instrumentation engineering company in Iran. He's interested in poetry, especially in haiku aesthetics. Talebian has published essays on Basho's aesthetics in Iranian poetry journals, and is currently writing a Persian book on haiku theories and aesthetics.