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Táhirih (1814 or 1817 – August 16–27, 1852), a famous Baha’i  poet, was probably best remembered for unveiling herself in an assemblage of men during the Conference of Badasht.  The unveiling caused a great deal of controversy and the Báb named her Táhirih (meaning “the Pure One”) to show his support for her. She was soon arrested and placed under house arrest in Tehran. A few years later in mid-1852 she was executed in secret on account of her Bábí Faith. As a prominent Bábí (she was the seventeenth disciple or “Letter of the Living” of the Báb) she is highly regarded by Baha’is, and often mentioned in Baha’i literatureas an example of courage in the struggle for women’s rights. Her date of birth is uncertain, as birth records were destroyed at her execution.

Her poems were translated by the various authors found in this volume[1]


1.  The Song of Tahira[2]Translated by: Arthur J. Arberry

If ever confronting face to face my glance should alight on you

I will describe to you my sorrow for you in minutest detail.

That I may behold your cheek, like the zephyr I have visited

house by house, door by door, lane by lane, street by street.

Through separation from you my heart’s blood is flowing from my eyes

river by river, sea by sea, fountain by fountain, stream by stream.

My sorrowful heart wove your love into the fabric of my soul

thread by thread, thrum by thrum, warp by warp, woof by woof

Tahira repaired to her own heart, and saw none but you

page by page, fold by fold, veil by veil, curtain by curtain.


2.  Translated by: Masudu’l Hasan

O Beloved, if I am admitted to your presence

I will tell Thee in detail of the grief that I suffer because of Thy separation,

In order to get a glimpse of your face, I am moving like zephyr

From door to door, and street to street

Because of Thy separation the blood of my heart flows as tears

­From my eyes, like fountains, streams and rivers

Your love is woven into the fabric of my soul;

Thread by thread, warp by warp, and woof by woof,

In the book of my heart, there is nought but you

In every word, every sentence, and every page.


3.  Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

I would explain all my grief

Dot by dot, point by point

If heart to heart we talk

And face to face we meet.

To catch a glimpse of thee

I am wandering like a breeze

From house to house, door to door

Place to place, street to street.

In separation from thee

The blood of my heart gushes out of my eyes

In torrent after torrent, river after river

Wave after wave, stream after stream.

This afflicted heart of mine

Has woven your love

To the stuff of life

Strand by strand, thread to thread.


4.  Translated by Mohammad Ishaque:

If I happen to see thee before me face to face, I shall tell you of my pangs in minute details;

To see thy face, like unto Zephyr I passed from house to house, door to door, street to street, lane to lane;

The circuit of thy tiny mouth and thy cheeks with down of ambergris (are luxuriant) with buds, roses, tulips and fragrance,

On account of thy separation, my heart’s blood flows forth from my eyes (like) many a Tigris, many a sea, many a brooklet, many a stream,

The dejected heart hath knit thy love on the web of life thread by thread, ­fibre by fibre, warp by warp, woof by woof;

Tahirah entered her heart and found nothing save thee (searching) page by page, fold by fold, screen by screen, layer by layer.


5.  The Effulgence of Thy Face … Translated by Edward Granville Browne:[3]

The effulgence of thy face flashed forth and the rays of thy visage arose on high;

Then speak the word, “Am I not your Lord? “and “Thou art, Thou art!” we will all reply.[4]

The trumpet call “Am I not?” to greet how loud the drums of affliction[5] beat.

All the gates of my heart there tramp the feet and camp the hosts of calamity.

That fair moon’s love is enough, I trow, for me, for he laughed at the hail[6] of woe,

And triumphant cried, as he sunk below, “The Martyr of Karbala am I[7]

When he heard my death-dirge drear, for me he prepared, and arranged my gear for me;

He advanced to mourn at my bier for me, and o’er me wept right bitterly.

What harm if thou wilt the fire of amaze should’st set my Sinai-heart ablaze,

Which thou first mad’st fast in a hundred ways but to shake and shatter so ruthlessly?

To convene the guests to his feast of love all night from the angel host above

Peals forth this summons ineffable, “Hail, sorrow-stricken fraternity!”

Can a scale of the fish of amaze like thee aspire to enquire of Beings Sea?

Sit mute like Tahira, hearkening to the whale of “No” and its ceaseless sigh.[8]


6.  The Morn of Guidance — Translated by Susan Stiles Maneck and Farzad Nakhai

Truly the morn of Guidance commands the breeze to begin

All the world has been illuminated; every horizon; every people ,

No more sits the Shaykh in the seat of hypocrisy

No more becomes the mosque a shop dispensing holiness

The tie of the turban will be cut at its source

No Shaykh will remain, neither glitter nor secrecy

The world will be free from superstition and vain imaginings

The people free from deception and temptation

Tyranny is destined for the arm of justice

Ignorance will be defeated by perception

The carpet of justice will be outspread to everywhere

And the seeds of friendship and unity will be spread throughout

The false commands eradicated from the earth

The principle of opposition changed to that of unity.


7.  Awaiting Your Blessing — Translated by Susan Stiles Maneck and Farzad Nakhai:

In the path of your love, 0 Idol, I am enamored with torment

How long will you ignore me, I am grief-stricken

My face veiled, my hair torn out

I have separated myself from all creation

You are the light, you are the veil, you are the moon, you are the horizon . . .


8.  Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

In pursuit of your love, 0 darling,

Enamored of afflictions, I am

Why do you shun me so?

Weary of your separation, I am.

You’ve veiled your face

You’ve disheveled your hair

You’ve abandoned people

Just as secluded, I am.

You’re the milk and you’re the honey

You’re the tree and you’re the fruit

You are the sun and you are the moon

A speck, an iota, I am.

You’re the palm and you’re the date

You are the nectar-lipped beloved

A distinguished master, you, dear love,

An insolent slave, I am.

You are the Mecca and you are the One

You’re the temple and you’re the shrine

You’re the beloved, the honored one

The miserable lover, I am.

“Come to me!”

Love said alluringly

“Free of pride and pretense,

Manifestation of the One, I am.”

Tahereh is but floating dust at your feet

Drunk by the wine of your face.

Awaiting your blessing

A confessing sinner, I am.


9.  In the Land of Your Love — Translated by Susan Stiles Maneck and Farzad Nakhai:

In the land of your love I remain, finding no favor from anyone

See what a stranger I am, Thou who art King of the land?

Is it a sin, 0 Idol, that my every breath breathes the mystery of your love?

Separate me, kill me, take me unjustly

The time of patience has ended, how long should I stand separation?

When every piece of my being, like a hollow reed, tells a sad tale

Reason cannot apprehend you, souls die of your thought

All the door of existence are nothing, you are ultimate

When the zephyr passes by bringing news of their destruction

Making pale the faces and the eyes weep, what would be your loss?

You step to my bed in the morning out of compassion, I fly with both wings and hands

When you rescue one from this place, you will take her to the placeless place

Then I will let go of the soul of the world, for you are the creator of all souls.


10.  Yearning Love — Translated by Edward Granville Browne:[9]

The thralls of yearning love constrain the bonds of pain and calamity.

These broken-hearted lovers of thine to yield their lives in their zeal for thee.[10]

Though with sword in hand my Darling stand with intent to slay though I sinless be,

If it pleases him, this tyrant’s whim, I am well content with his tyranny.

As in sleep I lay at the break of day that cruel charmer came to me,

And in the grace of his form and face the dawn of the morn I seem to see.

The musk of Cathay might perfume gain from the scent of those fragrant tresses rain.

While his eyes demolish a faith in vain attacked by the pagans of Tartary.[11]

With you, who condemn both love and wine[12] for the hermit’s cell and the zealot’s shrine,

What can I do, for our Faith divine you hold as a thing of infamy?

The tangled curls of thy darling’s hair, and thy saddle and steed are thy only care;

In thy heart the Absolute hath no share, nor thought of the poor man’s poverty.

Sikandars[13] pomp and display be thine, the Qalandars[14] habit and way be mine;

That, if it please thee, I resign, while this, though bad, is enough for me

Pass from the station of “I” and “We” and choose for thy home nonentity,

For when thou has done the like of this, thou shall reach the supreme  Felicity.


11.  Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

Kingdom, wealth, and power for thee

Beggary, exile, and loss for me

If the former be good, it’s thine

If the latter is hard, it’s mine.


12.  Translated by Masudu’l Hasan:

You are fond of power and empire;

I am fond of faith and poverty;

If power and empire are to be preferred

Be blessed with them.

And if the way of the Dervish is to be deprecated

I don’t mind the punishment.


13.  A Beauty Mark … Translated by Susan Stiles Maneck and Farzad Nakhai:

At the corner of the lip, a single beauty mark and two black tresses,

Alas, for the bird of the heart, a single grain and two snares

A constable, a shaykh and I;  the talk is of love.

How can I reply to them; one boiled and two raw?

From the face and the locks of the Idol my days are as nights.

Alas, for my days; day is one, night two …


14.  Should I Unveil?  — Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

Should I unveil my scented hair

I’ll captivate every gazelle

Should I line my narcissus eyes

I’ll destroy the whole world with desire

To see my face, every dawn

Heaven lifts its golden mirror

Should I chance to pass the church one day

I’ll convert all Christian girls


15.  Arise — Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

O slumbering one, the beloved has arrived, arise!

Brush off the dust of sleep and self, arise!

Behold the good will has arrived,

Come not before him with tears, arise!

The mender of concerns has come to you,

O heavy-hearted one, arise!

O one afflicted by separation,

Behold the good tidings of the beloved’s union, arise!

O you withered by autumn,

Now spring has come, arise!

Behold the New Year brings a fresh life,

O withered corps of yesteryear, up from your tomb, arise!


18.  If Anyone Walks In My Path — Translated by Edward Grandville Browne:[15]

If anyone walks in my path I will cry to him that he may be warned

That whoever becomes my lover shall not escape from sorrow and affliction

If anyone obeys me not and does not grasp the cord of my protection[16]

I will drive him far from my sanctuary, I will cast him in wrath to the winds of “NO”[17]

I am Eternal from the Everlasting World; I am the One from the Realms of the Limitless;

I am come [to seek for] the people of the Spirit, and towards me do they advance.[18]



[1] Tahirih in History, Edited by Sabir Afaqi, published by Kalimat Press, 2004, p. 257-264.

[2] Tahireh did not give titles to her poems. For easier identification, each poem here has been given an arbitrary title taken from the text of a translation.

[3] Browne’s footnotes are taken from his publication of this poem in E.G. Browne’s comp., Materials for the Study of the Bábí Religion, (Cambridge University Press, 1918), p. 249

[4] See Qur’an vii, 171. The meaning is, “If you claim to be God, we will all accept your claim.”-E.G.B.

[5] There is a play on the word bala, which means “yea” and also “affliction” – E.G.B.

[6] Salá, which I have translated “hail,” means a general invitation or summons. –E.G.B.

[7] ie. the Imám Husayn, of whom several of the Bábí leaders claimed to be the “Return”. – E.G.B.

[8] ie. Thou art a mere tiny scale on the smallest fish on the Ocean of Being, and even the Leviathans of that Ocean can but proclaim their own insignificance and non-existence. –E.G.B.

[9] Browne’s footnotes are taken from his publication of this poem in E.G. Browne’s comp., Materials for the Study of the Bábí Religion, (Cambridge University Press, 1918), p. 249

[10] This poem is presumably addressed to the Báb.-E.G.B.

[11] i. e. the religion of Islam, which, having survived the terrible Tartar invasion of the thirteenth century, fell before the Báb.-E.G.B.

[12] “Love and wine” are to be understood here in a mystical sense. – E. G. B

[13] Alexander the Great.-KG.B.

[14] A Qalandar is a kind of darwish or religious mendicant.-E.G.B.

[15] Though not included among the poems quoted in this volume, the following fragment was translated by Browne and is worth including here.  He attributed the poem only doubtfully to Tahirih, however.

[16] Or Saintship, for Wilayat has both meanings. Amongst the Arabs, he who would seek the protection of some great Shaykh or Amir catches hold of one of the cords of his tent, crying Ana dakhiluk! “I place myself under thy protection!”—E.G.B.

[17] Not-Being, or Negation, or Annihilation.-E.G.B.

[18] The Arabic words with which this line concludes are, as is too often with the Bábís, hopelessly ungrammatical.-E.G.B.


For more information on this poet, please see: