Abdulla Goran
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Abdulla Goran, (1904-1962) was a Kurdish poet. He undoubtedly brought about a revolution in Kurdish poetry, and is also called the father of modern Kurdish literature. At this time Kurdish poetry was loaded with hundreds of years of foreign heritage, especially Arabic. Goran cleared his poetry of this influence and gave it a form, rhythm, language and content which was based on Kurdish reality and Kurdish culture, nature and folkloric traditions. The Arabic meter ('urûz), much used in all Muslim Oriental poetry, was exchanged for patterns from old Kurdish folk songs, and the vocabulary was purified of Arabic and other languages.

Born Abdulla Sulaeiman in Halabja in 1904, he studied in Kirkuk. When his father and elder brother died, he left school and worked as a teacher for several years in the Hawraman region. In the 1940s when the Allies established a Radio Station in Jaffa, Goran served as Kurdish staff member. Active in the Iraqi Communist Party he was arrested and tortured many times during the period of the monarchy. Untill 1954, he was editor for the jounal Jîn (Life). In early 1959, he gained the position as editor in chief for the journal Shafaq (dawn, later changing name to Bayan). He was appointed a lecturer at the Department of Kurdish language and literature at the University of Baghdad in autumn 1960. As a member of the Iraqi Committee of peace and solidarity he often traveled to the former Soviet Union. He became ill with cancer and died in Kurdistan on November 18, 1962.

The dominant themes in Goran's poetry are his ideal of freedom and his love for Kurdistan, for women and for nature. His way of depicting nature is unique within Kurdish literature. Here and through other aspects Goran reveals a familiarity with the leading European modernist poets.

Goran went through three different periods in his literary career. This is evident in both the content and the form of his poetry. First he went through a classic period following the footsteps of his predecessors. Then he went into a romantic period, where women and nature were the most dominant themes. He started to transform traditional patterns of poetry. Characteristically Goran often sees the woman in Nature and Nature in the woman as in the poem Beauty and the woman. In his mature years, Goran turned to free verse as a means of expressing his political commitment to his people's fight for freedom and the working class struggle. He exposed, in his subtle and innovative poetry, gender discrimination against women, specially honor killing. He strongly condemned honor killing in one of his poems, Berde-nûsêk (A Tomb-Stone).

Throughout the last years of his writing, however, one will observe how a progressively stronger political tendency in the end overshadows and weakens the aesthethic aspects of Goran's poetry.

Goran published his poems, articles and translations in majority of the Kurdish journals and newspapers between early 1930's and until his death. During his lifetime, two collections of his poetry were published, "Paradise & Memory" and Firmêsk û Huner (Tears & Art) in 1950.

Tears and Art (Firmêsk û Huner), 1950. Translated in Swedish by B. Amin , F. Shakely and L. Bäckström as Tarar och konst, Stockholm, 1986.
Paradise and Memory (Beheştî Yadigar), 1950.
Dîwanî Goran, Collection of Poems, Edited by M. M. Karim, Baghdad , 1980


In the night, traveling memories like a nightly gentle breeze
Raise the feast of sorrow in my emotional soul;

The silent world is like a still and deep sea
On which my groan gushes burning melodies!

The curtain of darkness has fallen down in folds over the earth
Even I do not see a picture of the tears of wakefulness!...

The black whirlpool of despair swings around my heart,
Unless you come to help me Syrius, beaming star!

Perhaps you, Sirius, the smile of the lips of the dawn,
Perhaps you can alleviate the pains of the restless heart!

A gleam of your eye reaches my unlucky soul
It makes my heavy head intoxicated with comfort until the next night!

Then, magnificent star! beaming and shining Sirius,
When you rise, wash with your kiss-curl the weeping eyes of the night!
Translated by Farhad Shakely


At the evening: in the sky of sunset (west),
A star twinkles: bright and beautiful.
Its surroundings are a blue sea and alone
It stares at the evening on the world.
There is in its ray something of light-brown eyes,
And in its tremble the smile of rosy lips.
Like that flower a beautiful woman fixes on her locks,
Any eye that looks at it, does not become sated (replete) with ...
I am also one of those who watch it,
I admire this evening beauty;
On a hill I stand right opposite to it,
My drunken look becomes full of its smile!
It gets dark ... other stars one after another
They throw away their veils in the face of the world ...
But now, quietly, it slides (glides) downwards,
And reaches the edge dimly.
The thirsty lips of horizon suck it like a drop.
Oh, what a pity, setting's death kills it.
This star and its sad story
In what soul doesn't it awake dejection?
Translated by Farhad Shakely


As much as I try, I can't fit the imagination with which I'm intoxicated
Into the frame of my poetry.
Analysis of my conscience and speech of my tongue,
Why are they so far from each other? I don't know.
I wished that the conscience would be open like a scroll,
So that the world that is more beautiful
Than spring would appear.
So that longing, hope and dreaming
Would be visible, more sparkling than the stars of the blue vault (sky)
So that the meaning of the sea's stillness would appear
When a soft wind touches its surface quietly.
So that would appear that world the poetry of which
Is tearless and weeps more than tears.
When the mirror of the face does smile
It shines with a ray that is brighter than the sun ...
But, what a pity that those poems,
Are birds that don't leave the nests.
They warble (twitter) and sing inside,
And never pass a pen over a paper.
Translated by Farhad Shakely


I have seen stars in the sky
I have gathered flowers in spring's garden
At nightfall trees have wet my face
I have seen dusk fall on many horizons
The rainbow after drenching rain
Is arched into the sun
The New Year's sun in March, May's and June's moon
Have come and gone in their days and nights
The stream's torment and silver foam
A thousand lights in their distances
Ripe red and yellow fruit of the garden
Birds' song and chatter in upland forest
Beautiful music has risen often
From throat of flute or from strings of violin
All this is wonder and beauty
Throwing its light on the way of existence
But nature without the smile of my love
Is all void of light
Is without tune when the wind
Bears not her voice to excite me;
What star, what wild rose is as red
As her cheeks, her nipples and lips;
What stain of blackness stills as in her eyes
Black as her lashes, brows or her loose hair?
What height as beautiful as she grown tall
What glow as light as in her eyes?
What yearning in a stayed and pent up heart
As magical as that of love.
Translated by Hanne Bramness


Azhdahak! Your prison is a fortress
With walls of concrete and gates of steel.
Azhdahak! Your prison is on fire and the exits are closed
Men's chains weighted so that they are fixed where they are
Irons around men's hands and feet burning strength from their bodies

The place smells of your mind's venom
Your evil which devises new ways to punish any who think
Your hangmen and vigilantes are good at getting drunk
Drinking the bloods of prisoners

Azhdahak! Whose black spirit lives in terror of the thoughts of other
You feed men's brains to your snakes
Young lives in your chains and bound to their death
Are waiting their sudden and violent end
Wait on their hangings

Thoughts, energy, hope and longing
Strangled with their breath
Or rotting in chains

Azhdahak! Who never stops working
Feeding your infernal vipers with young brains

Sustaining their greed
With arrest, hanging and murder
Then one the blood unlawfully wasted
Ideas you thought to have stifled
Will burn in the furnace
Of Kawa's veins inciting fury

The sledge hammer bearers will rise
At once over their dead sons
And raze your prison
The your men who died behind walls
Will be pride of Kurdistan
Our people shall know their names and their deeds
They shall be cut on the plinth of the nation.

To the false gods of fascism 1953 Sulaimani
Translated by Hanne Bramness


"To the angel of music."

Your pallid face cast down
Dervish with your flute in your hands
I waited to hear your music
Exiled and despondent from its beginning to end
I figured you a statue above an age of disappointment
And a nest also
Of the nightingale's sadness
Yes, it is clear that the artist's worth among simple people
Is as a remade moon in a clouded pond
To a master like you
A nation that knows itself
Gives the throne of wealth and the crown of homage
You whose flute magic
Persuades the spirit of song
To dance and shed tears in the dawn;
Dervish, my brother, you have no home and you wander for bread
Touching misers for a pittance impotent and tasting poison
Flute energy smothered in the ears of the ignorant
And this your death
What can we do with the desolation of the immortal?
Who flourishes among stones seeds of flowers carried by the wind
Whose patronage would you now enjoy
Had not Nature bound your life to these times?
You learnt nothing of school or teachers
You taught your own lips the flute's art
Rhyming of song
The slow and the quick
Skill making dreams captive
My Kurdish ear is bruised
With foreign songs and sailing
I ask, Dervish Abdulla, I ask
In the name of Lawik, Ay-ay and Hayran
Fill my ears with ripples of our country's songs;
You who know my spirit better than Beethoven
Dervish, pour your sorrow on mine.
Translated by Hanne Bramness


It is woman whose beauty's manifestation makes love soar,
It is woman, who strengthens the dancing imagination,
Woman generates love and woman pets love,
It is woman who causes the strings of life's fiddle to vibrate!

If you make heart's wide sky void of woman
Novelties' manifestation will disappear,
Darkness will spread its wings over the empty sky,
Light's smile will disappear from the star of your hope.

It is woman who is the gem on the crown of respect,
With the sharp points of love and passion's diamond lancet,
Her sacred writings are scratched in my heart
With the miraculous magic of woman my imaginative power
Is full of revelation.

If a vivacious woman does not manifest like a fairy,
With beauty's arms and wings, in the corner of my memory,
How can precious things become a source of my poetry
On the surface of the earth, in heart of heavens?

Translated by Farhad Shakely

A Tour in Hawraman

A mountain mass, wild and defiant,
Has gathered blue heaven in its embrace;
The mantle of its peak is brilliant white snow,
Dark with forest are its silent dales.
Waters imprisoned in their tunnels
Flow on, nor cease their windings round the hills;
The roar and hiss of foam, the shrill song of the brook:
Lullabies for grief in the solitude of night.
The narrow footpath, feeling its way from tunnel to tunnel,
Throws the wayfarer into anxiety without end;
On the track rocky stairways, on the side great boulders,
That heaven has not yet sent rolling down.
Now up hill, now down hill,
The bitter and sweet of the wayfarer’s world.