18 Jun 2009

In turbulent times, a hidden message for Iran

In times of stress I always like to read poetry, so I’ve been turning to the Poem of the Day in the Tehran Times, the English language daily here.

This is a paper which carefully toes the government line and favours not-so-subtle and sometimes bizarre unstated comparisons – there was a front page story today about the aftermath of the European Parliament elections in Britain, in the light of the far-right BNP winning two seats, entitled Living in a Pressure Cooker.

Anyway, I think the person who does the poetry section is trying to tell us something about the current situation. Here are his choices for the last three days.

Now, while thou hast the power of utterance,
Speak, O brother, with grace and kindness
Because tomorrow, when the messenger of death arrives,
Thou wilt of necessity restrain thy tongue.


Beware of the smoke of internal wounds
Because at last an internal wound will break out.
Forbear to uproot one heart as long as thou canst
Because one sigh may uproot a world.


Hafez, thy praise alone my comrades sing;
Hasten to us, thou that art sorrowing!
A robe of honour and a harnessed steed
I send to thee.


Ah – whatever a government does to try to stop people speaking their minds, there are always ways…