Saturday, September 22, 2012

Garden Images in the Media - Part 5: Gol Bī Goldūn by Googoosh (1974)

If one studies Persian - as I have been doing for the past year as part of my graduate studies - one will sooner or later encounter Googoosh, the ultimate all-time star of Persian-language pop music and Iranian celebrity par excellence, at least if one goes by the veneration accorded to her by large parts of the Iranian diaspora. Among her many golden oldies is a lovely song titled Gol Bī Goldūn or "Flower Without Vase/Flowerpot" whose lyrics, while ultimately about failed love and betrayal, are structured entirely around horticultural imagery. The relationship between the heartbroken 'I' and the former lover to whom she (or he? - Persian has no grammatical gender, so it is really just the gender of the singer that suggests a feminine voice here) speaks is imagined as that of the lowly, utilitarian flowerpot to the glamorous flower that temporarily takes up residence within it.

می گفتی بی تو ہیچم
با من بمان ہمیشہ
 نباشی من می میرم
گل بی گلدان نمی شود

چہ اشتباہی کردم
حرف تو باور کردم

یک روز سرد پائیز
گلدان تو شکستی
مثل عروس گلہا
تو گلخانہ نشستی

بہار می آید دوبارہ
باز ہم ترا می آورند
مثل گل زینتی
تو  گلخانہ می کارند

باز ہم بہ گلدانت می گوئی
با من بمان ہمیشہ
می گوئی کہ بی تو می میرم
گل بی گلدان نمی شود

چہ اشتباہی می کند
حرف تو  باور می کند

While in transcribing the lyrics in Persian script I followed standard orthography as far as I have been taught, in the transliteration I have tried to reflect the colloquial pronunciation Googoosh uses in singing them; letters elided entirely are in parentheses:

Mī goftī bī to hīcham
Bā man bemūn hamīshe
Nabāshī man mī mīram
Gol bī goldūn nemī she
Che eshtebāhī kardam
Harf-e to bāvar kardam

Yek rūz-e sard-e pāīz
Goldūn-e to shekastī
Mesl-e ‘arūs-e golhā
To golkhūne neshastī

Bahār mī (ā)yad dobāre
Bāz ham toro mī (ā)ran(d)
Mesl-e gol-e zīnatī
To golkhūne mī kāran(d)

Bāz ham be goldūnet mī gūī
Bā man bemūn hamīshe
Mī gūī ke bī to mī mīram
Gol bī goldūn nemī she

Che eshtebāhī mī kone
Harf-e to bāvar mī kone

And here, finally, is my translation of the whole thing:

You were saying, “Without you I am nothing.
Stay with me forever,
If you are not around I will die
Flower without flowerpot, it cannot be.”

What a mistake I made;
I believed your talk.

One cold fall day
You broke your flowerpot;
Like the bride of flowers
You sat down in the greenhouse.

Spring will come again,
They will bring you again,
Like some ornamental flower
They cultivate you in the greenhouse.

Again you will say to your flowerpot,
“Stay with me forever,”
You will say that “without you I will die;
Flower without flowerpot, it cannot be.”

What a mistake he/she will make,
 He/she will believe your talk.


  1. Wonderful! I enjoyed this cultural perspective on love and gardening.


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