Abdulla Goran


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.

Life 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.

Works 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.

Bibliography 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 (Behe?tî 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.

Awene The most admired Independent Kurdish Newspaper from the heart of Kurdistan.

Khatuzeen Center For Kurdish Women’s Issues

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