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World Poems

A Selection of Poems


Of Birds and Men


1995 - 1997


Mahmud Kianush

Feather Bar


Copyright shall at all times remain vested in the Author. No part of the work shall be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the Author's express written consent.


A sincere and surprising illustration of those rare moments of revelation when the suppressed self, having found freedom to rise above the inhuman forces of the time, reunites with nature in enlightening glimpses of the forgotten truth, and birds here are symbolic images of these momentary visions.


When it Comes
Flutter On
Love in Bosnia
Mystery of the Void
In Her Black Eyes
Faces and Feathers



It comes to me,

Not from the desert

Of the forgotten dreams,

Nor from the winter

Of the dead memories.


It comes to me

Like a sudden desire

For living free,

With no dreams,

No memories.


It is not a note

From the joyful heart

Of a passing bird,

Nor a momentary vision

Of a childhood love.


And when it comes,

I feel as vast

As the whole Universe,

Yet as light as a bubble

Of happiness.


And when it is gone

I write again.


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flutter on,

And keep the Sun shining

With love,

And the Earth alive

With green smiles.


All the stars serenely throb

In peaceful blue dreams

To the rosy rhythm

Of your fiery wings.



flutter on,

And give the air

The smell of jasmine

And the taste of honey:


You are the miracle bird,


From the memory

Of the Sun's Womb

In the heart of the Earth.



flutter on,

my heart.


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Soon the chicks will fly,

And will no more remember their mother,

Who will no more remember her chicks.


A grace or a curse,

I can never forget

Whatever has happened on Earth,

Not even the loneliness of God

Before the creation of Man,

Let alone the Bosnian girl

Who hanged herself today

On the kindest branch of a tree

On her way to Despair

Out of the cruel, treacherous Hope.


I wonder whether

It was before

Or after being raped

By a lost soldier,

When on Death she bestowed

Her whole virgin Love!


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The higher a bird can fly,

The sharper are its eyes by nature:

And by nature it is

That no bird does ever lose

The sight of the Earth;

And if it does,

Even I would cry:


" O wretched bird,

Have you been possessed

By the spirit of a man

Himself already lost

In the mystery of the void? "


Under my feet lies the Earth,

With my roots firmly set

In its nourishing heart;

And yet,

I see it only when,


with my eyes beyond the stars,

I stumble

on its solid,




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In her black eyes,

Which were shining

With a gentle smile

At a delightful vision,

I began to see

A happy small boy,

His head full of fairy tales,

Returning home

Through the green fields

In the gathering darkness

Of an early summer evening.


The carefree boy

Was murmuring a song

In which a nightingale

Told a silent red rose

Of his burning love.


The carefree boy

Was also striking

Two cool, flinty cobbles

Against each other,

And smiling with delight

At the galaxies of sparks.


Then the gentle smile left

The girl's black eyes;

Her beautiful face

Suddenly grew dark

With a glare of disgust.


She was a young, proud hawk,

Deceived in her hunt

By an old, fleshless pigeon,

Rotten and nauseating

Long before the blow of death.


She turned her eyes away,

As if saying to herself:

" How I hate

The ugliness of lust

In the dying eyes

Of decrepit, old men! "


In the sandstorm of her disgust

I began to see

An old dying vulture,

Abandoned by his flock

To rot away in anguish,

And be spat upon

By hungry, laughing hyenas.


The happy small boy

Stopped singing,

And threw away the flinty cobbles.

In a sudden gust

of freezing wind

He lost hope,

And sinking deep in his sorrow,

Began to cry.


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They are what they are:

The mirror images

of one another;

Exact imitations

of one idea;

All taken out

Of one and the same mould;

Neither ugly,

Nor beautiful;

Aesthetic comparison

Is not possible:

They are kingfishers.







or hawks,

They have no faces,

For they are seen and loved,

Or seen and hated,

By their feathers,

Or their voices,

Not by the features

Of their faces,

Nor by the image

Of their souls

In the mirror of their eyes.


But Shirin Khanum,

My poor neighbour's daughter,

Now thirty-nine,

And still a virgin,

Is only seen

by her face;


For that reason,

Found ugly and rejected

By all men.


Yes, she is so ugly

That if she was not poor,

A master plastic surgeon

Perhaps could,

at his best,

Make her face bearable,

But yet not attractive enough

To raise any desire

In a compassionate man's heart.



My neighbour's ugly daughter,

Shirin the Spinster,

Still bears in her ovary

As many healthy eggs as those

Which give any kingfisher

All the pride of motherhood.


Her thighs are still firm,

With such vigour of passion

As those that can fascinate the best seeds

At the highest peak

Of any young man's pleasure.


Her breasts are still full,

With such charming shapes

That can give the hands of old dying men

The ecstasy of the stroking art

To write the finest ghazals

On their sphere of bliss;

And with such rich hidden springs of milk

That can suckle,

Up to weaning time,

The healthiest triplets of love.


But men are not like birds:

They have faces,

And a face must be beautiful

To be desirable and loved.


Among the birds

The male must be

Beautiful and strong,

And the female

Healthy and fertile;

While among men

Wealth and position

Can beautify

The ugly face of any male;

And yet,

it is the female

Who cannot win

In the contest of mating,

If she will not enter the scene

With the naked beauty of her face.


Perhaps, Shirin,

My neighbour's daughter,

Who is a spinster,

And thirty-nine years old,

And still a virgin,


when she turns away

From the honesty of her mirror,

She looks out of the window,

and says,

With a burning sigh of sorrow:

" I wish I was a bird! "

"Of Birds and Men"
(A book of poems in Persian)

Of Birds and Men
Click to purchase the book.



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Copyright © 1998 K. Kianush, Art Arena