• The Banquet
    Translated by Iraj Kaboli
    and Khashayar Shahriari

     

  • After the epic of Siah-Kal

    Narrator:

    But

    a curved dagger

    alone

    lies on a dish
    across a lush feast table.

    Host:

    My Lords! My Lords!
    Please,
    treat my home as your own!

    Narrator:

    Into the guests' chalices
    the slaves pour poison
    from ancient decanters.
    Their smiles tulips and lies.
    With their aprons stretched out
    they demand
    reward
    for offering death with ease.
    The dead are laid
    upon far off shelves,
    the living in chests.
    Around the lush table
    we stare at the bloodless faces
    of our fellow-guests:
    Oh, wonder!
    Who
    are we?–
    We're neither dead
    laid on the far off shelves,
    nor alive
    in the chests.
    Only the bloody
    oorway
    and the blood-stained carpet
    bear witness that,
    barefooted,
    we've walked upon a path of swords.

    Contenders:

    … to sit at the table?
    The women are gilded
    with a sickly yellow slime!

    Jester:

    The garden without cherubs
    is an incomplete beauty!

    Mocking laughter.

    Vagabond:

    Hastens forward, and hastens past.

    The bailiffs are saints.
    The bailiffs are saints.
    The bailiffs are saints.
    The bailiffs are sain–

    Cut with the sound of a bullet.
    Long silence.
    Mourners' drums and cymbals from far off.
    Footsteps of slowly-moving mourners,
    against the background of the eulogist's oration.
    Now and then the drums and cymabals are faintly heard.

    Eulogist:

    In an epic tone.

    See him off with a sweet tune
    for
    Satan was the Archangel
    close and intimate.

    "No!",

    he shouted heedlessly,
    altough his wings were his immortality,
    although he knew that the cry
    was the hopeless scream
    of a broken-winged falling bird.
    He was not downcast
    nor ashamed of himself,
    and did not pass in the cool shade:
    his way was through the sun
    even though blazing
    and tasting of blood.
    His head he kept high and proud;
    although
    he who keeps his head low
    is immune
    to the dark curse of the gallows.

    Narrator:

    With the same tone.

    "You will deny",

    they said,

    "the song of the quail
    and the murmur of the water
    singing in freedom."

    Vagabond:

    This seemingly-minute,

    however,

    is the great truth of the world.
    And the greatness of every sun
    to the feeble-sighted seem

    like an asteroid,

    and the moon

    like the paperish clipping

    of a baby's fingernail;
    and the ritual silver coin put in the baby's palm.
    The moon,
    the tiny fingernail,
    and the silver farthing of deception!
    But those who accept
    deny themselves.
    This is not the crown to be snatched from between two lions,
    it's a kiss on the crown of the sun
    and demands your life
    together with your bone-ashes.

    Eulogist:

    The women

    brought forth their loves,

    their frames fevered
    with the heat of acceptance and nurturing;
    desire flaming up
    from their waistlines.
    And consummate beauty
    was of chastity a cloak
    on their nudity.

    Women in Love:

    Aside, lamenting

    The root

    the deepest root

    calls aloud from the heart of the earth:

    "The scent of the farthest flower bud

    must turn into honey!"

    Eulogist:

    Mothers,

    In their search for you,

    have revived forgotten loves,
    for

    your spilt blood

    was a noble experience.

    Mothers:

    The root

    the deepest root

    calls aloud from the heart of the earth:

    "The scent of the farthest flower bud
    must turn into honey!"

    Oh, children!
    Warm little children of earth,

    who are killed innocent

    to open up the chambers of Heaven
    unto your parents!-
    We're seeing those chambers

    right now on earth,

    not in the quivering mirage of a deceptive heaven,
    with walls of steel
    and shade of stone
    under shadow-casting trees
    whose green scent is the reminder of your blood
    running

    in the roots of a deep faith.

    Eulogist:

    Men are descending the green footpaths,
    with love on their figures
    inevitable like moss on a rock;
    and wounds upon their breasts.
    Their eyes affection and hate,
    their teeth

    in a smile of determination

    are the hanging curved dagger of the moon
    in the bandit night.
    From the grim density

    into the darkness

    they bore a cold tunnel
    (where beech and maple have grown in vain
    and growing is a task
    fulfilled by the yawning soil
    even though the sun
    with her shining blade

    every morning cuts

    a seedling's umbilical cord,

    in an era when honour

    is an astounding rarity

    that disturbs the quiescence of the dead
    not the repose of the living.)

    Orator:

    Oh, message fabricators, messengers!
    What need is there
    to imitate the saints
    by sitting against the back-drop of a setting sun
    in such a slow-passing day
    and putting your head
    in the sun's golden platter?
    What need is there
    to sit in a way
    so that the sun's halo be seen

    around your face?

    That concealed-visible dagger
    has already proclaimed
    the "rightfulness" of this "divine" mission!

    The four-beat rhythm of a drum from far away
    It suddenly stops.
    A long heavy silence.

    Narrator:

    The Demon

    is sternly posing

    upon an enormous pedestal of stone
    with the spittle of a satisfied sneer

    running down his chin.

    Envoys

    from sea to sea, all over the land

    knock on every door in search
    and criers announce:

    Far and near doors are knocked on.

    Criers:

    In changing numbers and from various distances.

    "Virgins
    worthy of the Lord!
    Virgins worthy
    of the Lord!"

    Jester:

    Aside

    For the garden of decay
    is a prized legacy!
    The garden of decay.
    The garden of decay.The garden of decay…

    Narrator:

    But

    a shuddering question

    whirls around you:

    Contenders:

    They have testified
    that you've perceived
    the time's boundless extent
    in the four-syllabled cycle of the year;
    you've testified
    that you've seen
    the God's secret

    in human shape

    and perpetuity

    in love.

    Would the Spring smile
    in the bitter scent of the burning leaves
    when the sun is spelt
    in the fluffy snow spangle?

    Jester:

    Yes,

    but just a sneer.

    The bailiffs are saints!
    The bailiffs
    are saints!

    Contenders:

    …And the absolute truth of the world, now
    is nothing but these two blood-dripping cynical eyes.

    One Contender:

    These two watchful eyes

    in this head

    lurking behind glass and stone
    observing you.

    Jester:

    I know!
    And if I trusted the truthfulness of my eyes
    I would have known long before
    that the image mirrored in the clarity of the sky
    is nothing but my own distant image.

    Orator:

    You must keep silent
    if your message is nothing

    but lies

    But

    if you have the chance to moan

    in freedom

    then thunder out the message
    and power it with your life.

     

    Translated by Iraj Kaboli
    and Khashayar Shahriari