Simin Behbahani, Renowned Iranian Poetess
Simin Khalili, better known as Simin Behbahani (20 July 1927-19 August 2014) is one of the most prominent contemporary Iranian poets, lyricist, and social activists.
During her lifetime, Behbahani wrote more than 600 sonnets that were published in twenty books. She was twice nominated for the Nobel prize in literature (in 1999 and 2000) and received many literary awards for her work. In Iran, she was referred to as “the face of sonnet” because of her innovative and creative poetry work.
Many of Behbahani’s poems became lyrics of popular songs performed by famous Iranian signers.
Simin Behbahani, a law graduate, was in education profession for thirty years (from 1951 to 1981). An advocate for human rights and democracy, she participated in protest movements many times, including in the gatherings of mothers of executed political prisoners.
Behbahani was attacked by the Iranian government agents and thugs and was injured in one of these gatherings in March 2007.
“I shall build you again, my homeland”
Simin Behbahani composed the very popular poem “Rebuilding the Homeland” three years after the Iranian revolution of 1979, on the last days of March 1982. It is one of the very popular poems and songs in the Iranian culture.
Behbahani describes how that poem was composed: “The years were bad; the executions on the roofs and then the court injustices and prosecutions in the name of Islam. My heart was devastated. I was alone at home. There was a small table in the kitchen, and I grabbed a piece of paper and with pen in my hand, and a thousand sorrows in my heart. I sat. I felt poetry in my blood. I saw the devastation and wondered what could be done? The homeland was crushed and destroyed. I got up. I drank a cup of tea and thought of my wishes. I did not have anyone to talk to. I had seen Simin Daneshvar  a few days earlier, but she was equally hurt and devastated. It felt as if she was there and was talking to me. Or she was crying. Suddenly, I decided to think about a hopeful future. I saw some light. I thought if even I were dead, I could get up and destroy the evil and wrote, ‘My homeland, I shall build you again.’ I asked myself, ‘With what?’ And my heart said, `With my own bones.’ And that’s how the poem was started. I dedicated the song to Simin Daneshvar because she too always thought of our homeland and felt sorry for it.”
The translation of this poem by Simin Behbahani reads as the following:
I shall build you again, my homeland
I shall build you again, my homeland,
Although with bricks of my soul
I shall put columns under your roof,
Although with my bones
I shall again tell beautiful stories about you,
As desired by your young generation
I shall again wash away the blood on you,
With a torrent of my flowing tears
Although dead for a hundred years,
I shall stand at my grave
To rip out the heart of the devil
With my loud roar
Although I am old, still
If there were a chance to learn,
I shall restart my youth,
Along my own young.
 Simin Daneshvar was an Iranian academic, novelist, and fiction writer. She is sometimes referred to as the first major Iranian woman novelist.