Hasan Alizadeh

Translated by Rebecca Ruth Gould & Kayvan Tahmasebian

Old Testament, New Testament

Perhaps in Isfahan

or another city like Isfahan

a woman—

the most beautiful woman in the world—

a coin in my hand


The coin


away & following the coin

—in a hall

long & narrow—

I ran & again that woman—


the most beautiful woman in the world—

in an empty shabestan—

dark golden blue—

took the coin

and put it again in my hand,

which fell.
& I ran again

from the empty shabestan

to the yard,

to the light golden blue

where she—the same woman—

turned & put in my hand again

that coin

which did not fall anymore—

that antique incomparable lovely coin.
I wake up

in Isfahan

with that coin in my hand.

I’m a mean beggar.

A blind hunchback

in the city of cities,

the city of a thousand mirrors & a blue bird.

Here by Sheikh Lotfullah Mosque,

regretting our lady’s manifestation.

Matthew 9:24

That little girl who’s dreaming of you

& listens to your voice when you speak to her

wakes up & you wake up.
The room is dark.

A cold



for an instant on your left hand

& the hand


on pins & needles

& when you get up


air trembles

& until you turn on the lamp

the feather’s coldness is still in the air.



You go to her room


you change your mind & return.

For a moment

you’re in doubt if she has a room

& return

to open the door

& see

she sleeps:

the little girl who’s dreaming of you.

John 12:24


I didn’t love you

& nor the smell of your hands

in the snow.

was Bethlehem Church

& its pine trees

crowning the sky.

Suddenly I was next to you

& our hands touched.
You don’t call from afar anymore …

This insignificant golden grain …
I’m in Isfahan & twenty-two again

without a care for the black umbrella forgotten on the bus.
Rain pecks at your fingertips.


Nights when you fall in love with her again,

when the seabird is gone.
A chair,

unpleasantly the colour of bones,

in the broken solitude of the terrace

at the moment when the party fell silent

for the hail-fellow-well-met parrot who boasted of impossible things.
The lover, withdrawn, a bit confused,

in a corner, on this terrace

overlooking the bright city of night.
When they’re gone.

Notwithstanding his spare output, with only two volumes of poetry Diary of House Arrest (Rūznama-yi tabʿīd, 2003) and Blue Bicycle (Ducharkha-yi ābī, 2015), Hasan Alizadeh (b. 1947, Mashhad, Iran) has left a poetic signature on modern Persian poetry distinguished by lyricism and colloquialism. Alizadeh embarked on a literary career initially as a short story writer, and cultivated his writing talents alongside the notable Iranian novelists Reza Daneshvar and Ghazaleh Alizadeh in the literary circle that developed in their hometown of Mashhad. Since the early 1990s, Alizadeh has focused mostly on poetry. In Alizadeh’s poems, a labyrinthine memory, structured by the intricate architecture of old Iranian bazaars and mosques, continually revises itself in spontaneous narrations of love and death. 

Rebecca Ruth Gould (tr.) has translated books such as After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems of Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and The Death of Bagrat Zakharych and Other Stories by Vazha-Pshavela (Paper & Ink, 2019).

Kayvan Tahmasebian (tr.) is a poet, translator, literary critic, and the author of Isfahan’s Mold (Sadeqia dar Bayat Esfahan, 2016). With Rebecca Ruth Gould, he is co-translator of High Tide of the Eyes: Poems by Bijan Elahi (The Operating System, 2019).