Different worlds a comparaison of love poems by Dorothy Livesay (Canada, 1909-96) and by Forugh Farrokhzad (Iran, 1935-67)
Roostaee, Amir Hossein
The focus of this study is to compare works by the Canadian poet Dorothy Livesay (1909-1996) and by the Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad (1935-1967). Although Farrokhzad and Livesay were from different generations, their love poems emerged around the same time. Farrokhzad published her poems between 1955 and 1965, and Livesay's collection of love poemsThe Unquiet Bed was published in 1967. There are interesting similarities between the use of voice and theme in their love poems.The speakers in the poems try to keep their individuality and are looking for freedom in love, but often see love as disappointing. My discussion highlights Livesay's"The Touching,"The Taming," and"Consideration" as well as Farrokhzad's"The Sin,"Love Song," and"My Beloved." I also refer to many of their other love poems, discuss their biographies and map out their respective cultural contexts, all of which reflect different worlds. A comparison of Farrokhzad's and Livesay's personal lives shows that Livesay's father and her mother, who were both journalists, helped her to improve and publish her writings while Farrokhzad's parents discouraged their daughter from composing and publishing poems. Livesay was a highly educated woman who lived and studied in different countries, but Farrokhzad did not have access to advanced academic studies. Neither had happy marriages and both left their marriages in search of more freedom. Through their love poems, Farrokhzad and Livesay questioned the patriarchal conventions of their respective societies and tried to express their need for freedom and individuality as women. One of the most important differences between Iranian and Canadian societies was that Iranian society was deeply affected by conventional Islamic ideologies. Farrokhzad's love poems resisted these Islamic ideologies and, as a result, her works were ignored for years. Again, at the time Livesay publishedThe Unquiet Bed (1967), there were some similarities between gender constructions in Iran and Canada, for example, the importance of marriage and the confinement of women to the private sphere, but to a very different degree. Since Livesay lived in a society that was being greatly affected by the feminist revolution in the 1960's, the feminism in her love poems was better received. As this research is done in English, translated versions of Farrokhzad's poems are used. A translated poem never conveys the exact meaning of the original poem.The translator of a poem should be a poet herself or himself. What he or she should do is to read and understand the original poem and reproduce a new poem in the target language. This research discusses some interesting images in Farrokhzad's love poems. As a native speaker of Farsi, I explain the real intention of these images to see if translated versions could convey a similar meaning. I also consider the challenges when translating poetry from Farsi to English and the effects of reading Iranian poetry that has been mediated by translation. An important approach to Farrokhzad's and Livesay's works is to analyze their poems in terms of feminist ideologies. There is a great difference between Iranian and Canadian feminist ideologies. Feminist thought in Iran is based on Islamic ideologies.The question is if Islamic feminism can defend women's rights against men or not. Farrokhzad was one of the anti-Islamic feminists who opposed Islamic rule in her poems. Canadian feminist ideologies, however, are divided into liberal, Marxist, radical, and French schools, and are most often based on secular ideologies. This thesis examines the critical reception of poetry by both poets in the context of different schools of feminist thought in Canada and Iran. Livesay traveled to Zambia later in life and one of the love poems she wrote after that called"The Taming" comments ironically on women's submission to a dominant male lover.The comparison of poems by two authors from different worlds shows how their love poems, their feminist voice, and their themes of freedom, independence, and disappointment in love are rooted in the cultural context of their lives.