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PERSIAN LITERATURE is a body of poetic and other literary works created principally, but not exclusively, in Iran. Beyond the present political boundaries of Iran proper, Afghanistan, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, and Turkey have been home to a rich body of literary work written in Persian.

In the context of Iran’s full and multifaceted participation in and contributions to what has been called “the Islamic civilization,” Persian literature constitutes a rich, diversified, and autonomous aesthetic event to which the Iranian, or more accurately Persian-speaking, literati and their historical audiences have actively contributed. In its language and rhetoric, aesthetic and disposition, sensibilities and imagination, this literature is not, to any significant degree, reducible to fundamental tenets and doctrines of Islam. Although the majority of Persian poets and literati have been born to families and raised in environments in one way or another identifiable as “Islamic,” their universe of imagination and literary production constitutes a reality sui generis, a space of aesthetic experience irreducible to any particular religious worldview. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Manichaeism, Mazdakism, and all the major and minor sectarian divisions within Islam have invariably contributed to the Persian literary imagination. And yet the totality of that imagination is principally an aesthetic phenomenon irreducible to any one of its religious or nonreligious informants.

Perhaps the single most significant aspect of the Persian literary imagination, as it was delivered in a colorful panorama of formal styles and aesthetic sensibilities, is the noncanonical nature of its language. As it gradually developed after the Arab invasion of the early seventh century, modern Persian (as distinct from Pahlavi, or middle Persian, and Avestan, or old Persian) was a language in which no sacred text was believed to have been revealed. As opposed to Hebrew and Arabic, in which the Bible and the Qur’an were revealed, Persian remained a constitutionally vernacular or, more accurately, secular language. The memories of the sacred language of the Avesta and the exegetical language of Pahlavi having been surpassed and superseded by the absolutist hegemony of the Arabic Qur’an, Persian language occupied a noncanonical space in which secular events could occur beyond the doctrinal inhibitions of the sacred Arabic of the Qur’an. It is crucial to remember that there were syncretic religious movements immediately after the Arab invasion, such as Khurramiyah and Bih-Afridiyah, that had occasional rhetorical claims to the revelation of a “Persian Qur’an” (see Sadighi, 1938, et passim; Amoretti, 1975, pp. 489-490; Shahrastani, 1979, vol. 1, p. 397). But with the political demise of such movements, the idea of a “Persian Qur’an” never materialized. The Arabic Qur’an remained the canonical text of all sacred imagination for Muslim Iranians who fully and productively participated in that imagination. The phrase “Persian Qur’an” is later used by `Abd al-Rahmam Jam! (d. 1492), who called Jalal alDin Rumi’s Masnavi “the Qur’an in Persian,” meaning that Rumi’s text has the sacred sanctity of the Qur’an expressed in Persian. Such hyperbolic expressions notwithstanding, the historical fact has always been that Persian remained a noncanonical language in which the literary imagination could be let loose.

The Persian literary imagination has been acted out in a conjunction of multiple sacred imaginings both domestic and foreign to Iranian communities. Zoroastrian, Manichaean, Mithraic, Mazdakian, Hindu, Buddhist, Judaic, Christian, Islamic, and a host of other less politically successful religions have emerged or arrived in historical succession and left indelible marks on Persian literary culture. But the very fact of their multiplicity, that they have come in succession and, in hostility or mutual tolerance, have coexisted together, has prevented any one of them from exercising absolutist, hegemonic power over the Persian literary imagination. Extensive scholarship (Mu`in, 1959; Melikian-Chirvani, 1974, 1984 in particular) has established that Zoroastrian, Manichaean, and Buddhist imageries entered the aesthetic parlance of the Persian literary imagination and endured, even flourished, well into the Islamic period. Even within the Islamic context, sectarianized doctrinal differences continued to divide the active and passive loyalties of Persian literati throughout the ages. Whereas up until the fifteenth century the majority of Persian poets and literati could be identified as Sunnis, after the establishment of the Safavids (1501-1732), Shiism became at least the nominal faith of many poets and writers. Having theological/antitheological, philosophical/antiphilosophical, or so-called Sfifi/anti-Sufi predilections further added to the divisive orientations that loosened the active absolutism of any one particular ideological force over the Persian literary imagination. As for the oral and literary sources of this imagination, Iranian, Indian, Chinese, Arabic, and Turkish material converged to create a multicultural literary universe that went beyond the confines of any particular politics. The world was home to the Persian poet as he or she sat to wonder on the nature and purpose of being.

The first textual evidence of a literary tradition in Iran is the royal inscriptions of the Achaemenid kings, Darius I (522-486 BCE) and Xerxes, his son, in particular. Inscribed in old Persian, these royal texts indicate a proud, self-confident, assertive, and theocentric imagination: “A Great God is Ahura Mazda,” reads one, “who created the earth, who created the sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Darius the King” (quoted in Yarshater, 1988, pp. 5-6). Although theocentric, this royal self-conception is clearly conscious of an individual existence: “Says Darius the King, by the favor of Ahura Mazda I am such a man who is friend to right. I am not a friend to wrong. It is not my wish that the weak man should have wrong done to him by the mighty; nor is it my wish that the mighty man should have wrong done to him by the weak” (Ibid., p. 6). In these inscriptions, the king as narrator extends his authority from the supreme deity, Ahura Mazda, and then acts as an individual full of moral and ethical convictions. With an authority extended from God, Darius the king is the man, the lawgiver, the monarch, the chronicler, and the historian of the Achaemenid’s glorious deeds. In an inscription, Darius gives a rather full, boastful account of how he overthrew Gaumata, a magian who had pretended to be the slain brother of Cambyses, Smardis. Darius’s account is swift, concise, not devoid of narrative elegance.

From the royal inscriptions of the Achaemenids to Zoroaster’s own hymns, the Gathas, there lies a vast arena of imaginative oral traditions that are distilled and barely visible through the Avestan prism. This oral tradition was perpetuated by Iranian minstrels, or gosans who carried forward a fantastic tradition of narrative songs. As storyteller/magicians, gosans had a central social function in ancient, particularly Parthian and Arsacid, communities (see Boyce, 1957). They sang songs, told stories, recited poems, delivered satires, mourned and celebrated on occasions, and carried forward a rich and rewarding tradition of songs and tales, legends and myths, stories and anecdotes (for a discussion of the Avestan literature, see Dale Bishop’s article in Yarshater, 1988, chap. 2).

In the Avesta, the Gathas and the pre-Zoroastrian hymns Zoroaster remembered later, the Yashts, are the first, most comprehensive poetic narrative we have which remain principally subservient to the Zoroastrian sacred imagination. Gods, deities, and heroes, as well as their metahistorical relations to worldly being are the subjects of these sacred narratives in which the poetic plays a vital role. But the same poetic urge that partially subserved the sacred imagination of the Avesta was forcefully at work in the muscular epic narrative of ancient Iranians. As evident through the prism of the Avestan Yashts, a flourishing oral tradition had given epic proportions to legendary rivalries between the Iranian house of Kayaniyan and its perpetual enemies, the

Turanians. Not until the time of Firdawsi (d. about 1025) do we have textual evidence of this effervescent oral tradition, which must have been active and widespread during the composition of the Yashts. Iranian minstrels must have transmitted various versions of these epics from generation to generation. Under the patronage of Parthians and the Arsacids (247 BCE-226 CE), this minstrel tradition was given enough political momentum to permit the extension of a folkloric narrative into a royal lexicon of cultural legitimacy. It has been suggested (Yarshater, 1988, pp. 10-11) that the overwhelming, and politically successful, Eastern (Zoroastrian) tradition overshadowed the receding memory of the legends and histories of the Persians and the Medes, and that by the time of the Sassanians (224-651 CE) only the Kayaniyan legends had been constituted as the legitimizing force at the disposal of courtly scribes.

The Sassanian emperors were the direct beneficiaries of both the sacred and the secular imagination that had informed much of the earlier Iranian communities. Certainly by the time of the composition of Khwaday-namag (The Book of Lords) during the reign of Khusraw II (590-628 CE), the renarration of already ancient legends and stories had assumed legitimizing status. Khwaddynamag represents the earliest extant fictive renarration of a legendary history that puts the poetic occasion at the service of ideological legitimation of the state apparatus. As the first man/king, Gayomarth, in this narrative, presides over the creation and succession of the rendition of much older stories. As “the most important literary heritage of ancient Iran” (Yarshater, 1988, p. 1o), Khwaddy-namag is a compendium of moral and philosophical injunctions as delivered through the Persian poetic imagination. As such, however, it is as much a distant memory of pre-Sassanian legends and stories as it is an immediate mirror of the moral and political imperatives of the Sassanian monarchy. As a supreme example of storytelling, Khwaday-namag preserves some of the rhetorical features that have endured through subsequent variations in the epic genre.

The absence of textual evidence has permitted suggestions that pre-Islamic Persian literature lacked any significant secular literature. “This judgment,” Ehsan Yarshater has suggested, “ignores two basic facts: that the secular literature of Iran prior to Islam was essentially oral, and that much of the early New Persian literature was in fact only a new recension or direct rendering of Middle Persian and Parthian creations” (1988, p. io). As an example, Fakhr al-Din As’ad al-Gurgani’s (d. about 1063) eleventh-century modern Persian renditions of the love story Vis and Rdmin is our textual link to the Parthian version of the story available to al-Gurgani in middle Persian and Georgian. As an adventurous love story, Vis and Rdmin reads in marked contrast to Darakht-i asurig, which, extant in middle Persian, provides one of the earliest examples of didactic dialogics in Persian poetry, in this case between a tree and a goat. Among an overwhelming body of religious verses that Manichaean and Zoroastrian priests produced in Parthian and Pahlavi, Aydagar-i zariran and Drakht-i asurig are among the few textual examples of a secular literary imagination. Indirectly, however, we know of a more elaborate secular literature. What in later sources is identified as Fahlav iyat refers to an elaborate body of beautiful poetic traditions–Surud, Chakdmah, and Tardnah among them-with which even the later Persian poets, whose prosody was considerably arabicized, were familiar.

The Persian literature produced after the Arab invasion of the seventh century was thus both textually and orally heir to a substantial body of literature that, whether in direct (written or oral) tradition or in continuation of literary imagination, persisted well into the later periods. As it gradually emerged as a noncanonical language, Persian evolved into a literary language of monumental imagination. Always under the shadow of Arabic, modern Persian carried within its slanted relation of power to Arabic the debilitating memory of the decisive Battle of Qadisiyah (June 637) in which the Persians were defeated by the newly Muslim Arabs. In a remarkable division of creative imagination, the Persian scientific and philosophical writings were produced primarily, but not exclusively, in Arabic, while their literary output continued to flourish in Persian. Arabic then became the paternal language of the hegemonic theology, jurisprudence, philosophy, and science, while the maternal Persian, the language of mothers’ lullabies and wandering singers, songwriters, and storytellers, constituted the subversive literary imagination of a secular and poetic conception of being.

As Iraq (Baghdad in particular) emerged as the cultural capital of the Arabic west, Khurasan (Nishapur in particular) emerged as the cultural capital of the Persian east. From the central heartland of Khurasan, Persian literature spread as far east as the Indian subcontinent, as far west as the Balkans, as far north as China, and as far south as the Persian Gulf. Contemporary Iranians, Afghans, Tajiks, Indians, Pakistanis, Turks, and Arabs have almost as equal a claim on the literary history of Persian as they have on Arabic and Turkish. Relations of power, the changing features of royal patronage, revolutions, wars, invasions, and conquests have had much more to do with literary productions than anything ethnic, racial, or linguistic. For Turkish warlords, in particular, Persian literature became the chief ideological legitimizer of their rule. As an apparatus of political legitimation, production of Persian literature functioned as one of the principal ideological forces at the disposal of the Ghaznavids (977-1186), the Seljuks (1038-1194), and even the Ottomans (1281-1924). As a courtly artifact, Persian poetry was equally present and instrumental in India, particularly during the reign of the Mughals (1526-1858). Exacerbated by the coming to power of the Shi’i Safavids (1501-1722), who, having substituted Shiism as the state ideology, had no particular need, penchant, time, or taste for Persian poetry, Persian and Indian poets found India a more congenial place than Iran. The result of this historical displacement is that any history of Persian literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ought to be traced to India rather than Iran. Whether self-consciously or not, dynasties that considered themselves Turkish, Persian, or Indian throughout the medieval period adopted the political apparatus of Persian poetry to fulfill the major ideological task of state legitimation in a space adjacent to other, principally Islamic modes and modalities of legitimacy.

The roots of Persian poetic imagination in the ideological apparatus of the Persian court is evident in the first, most successful form of its historical record, that is, the panegyrics (see Meisami, 1987). As it emerged in Khurasan between the tenth and twelfth centuries, Persian court poetry put itself at the disposal of the Samanids (819-1005) and the Ghaznavids, who consciously fashioned themselves after the enduring memories of the Sassanians. As Rudaki (d. 940), Farrukhi (d. 1037), and Manuchihri (d. 1040), among scores of others, marked the particular characteristics of Persian panegyric poetry, marks of chivalry and warfare, as symbolics of banquets and feasts, found their way into the operative repertoire of Persian aesthetics (for a full discussion of the prominent features of court poetry, see Jerome E. Clinton’s article in Yarshater, 1988, chap. 4). But perhaps the most striking aspect of this poetry, best exemplified by Rudaki’s pictorial representations of nature, Farrukhi’s penchant for exquisite physical details, and Manuchihri’s festive celebration of nature and particularly his joyous description of wine and wine drinking, is its worldly imagination, which has an unmitigated, direct, and spontaneous contact with the physicality of being. Thus, although Persian panegyrics developed into a highly stylized courtly form, its imageries and historical consciousness represent a wide spectrum of aesthetic and material sensibilities.

Rooted in the same political necessity, as well as in Persian folkloric traditions, is the epic poetry that comes to its fullest and aesthetically most sustained manifestation in Firdawsi’s Shahndmah. Composed in some fifty thousand couplets over a period of thirty years, Shahnamah is a singular heroic narrative of a people’s mythical, legendary, and historical memories. In Shahnamah, Firdawsi brings the diverse and scattered memories of a people he deliberately identifies as “Iranians” into the sustained imaginative force of a single poetic event. Shahnamah is self-consciously heroic, from its metrics to its diction. Firdawsi’s epic narrative describes the heroic deeds of Rustam, the treacheries of Zahhak, the innocence of Siyavush, the bedeviling attraction of Sudabah, the tragedies of Suhrab and Isfandyar, the love stories of Bizhan and Manizhah, Zal and Rfidabah. What holds these stories together is Firdawsi’s self-conscious presence, his periodic interruptions of the epic narrative to dwell on the nature of human beings and their destiny, his unfailing moral gaze at the glories and atrocities of human existence. Firdawsi tells old stories with an unmistakably moral verve that operates in the towering imagination of a self-confident poet, fully conscious of his epic narrative (for two excellent essays on Shahnamah, see the articles by William L. Hanaway and Amin Banani in Yarshater, 1988, chaps. 5 and 6, respectively; for a good translation of a story from Shahndmah, see Firdawsi, 1933)

If epic poetry appealed to the heroic aspirations of both the changing monarchies and of folkloric traditions at large, a particular aspect of it, the romantic, catered to finer sensibilities of love and adventure. By the time Nizam! (d. 1209) composed his famous Khamsah, the Persian romantic tradition was already rich and diversified. Written about 105o, Gurgani’s Vis and Ramin borrowed from pre-Islamic Iranian themes and constructed the first and most successful example of this genre. Vis and Rdmin of Gurgani is one of the most brilliant examples of Persian narrative poetry, one in which preIslamic stories are resuscitated with powerful poetic imagination. The origin of Vis and Ramin has been traced back to the Sassanian (226-652) or even Arsacid (250 BCE-224 CE) period. Gurgani reports that he found

the Pahlavi version of this story in Isfahan and, following the orders of Abu al-Fath Muz, affar al-Nishapuri, rewrote it in poetic Persian with particular attention to the dramatic rhetoric of storytelling (for a comprehensive essay on Vis and Ramin, see M. J. Mahjoub’s introduction to his critical edition of the text, Gurgani, 1959; for an excellent prose translation, see Gurgani, 1972). In producing his version, Gurgani took advantage of both written and oral accounts of the story, but he embellished and delivered it with particular attention to the details of dramatic delivery, a trademark of Persian narrative poetry. Adopting a number of Pahlavi words in his poetic rendition, Gurgani produces a clear narrative with a stunning simplicity as its moving energy. Despite the brilliance of its poetic composition, Vis and Ramin experienced a period of eclipse when its uncompromising celebration of physical love offended Islamic sensibilities. Nevertheless, Vis and Ramin had a profound impact on subsequent Persian romances, not least on the master of Persian romantic narrative, Nizarrn.

Nizami’s brilliant achievement in Khamsah (Quintet), however, brought the Persian romantic tradition to a height comparable to Firdawsi’s achievement in epic poetry. In a masterful construction of a dramatic narrative, Nizaml, always personally present in his tales, constructs a literary humanism resting on nothing but the dramatic movement of his own power of storytelling. Khamsah consists of five narratives, each evolving around a thematic treatment of love and adventure. As evident in such stories as “Khusraw and Shirin” and “Layl! and Majnfin,” Nizami took full advantage of dramatic techniques to develop a particularly haunting narrative of love and adventure (for an excellent introduction to Nizami’s poetry, see Peter Chelkowski’s article in Yarshater, 1988, chap. 1o; J. C. Biirgel’s article in the same volume, chap. 9, is a comprehensive introduction to the genre).

The romantic genre thus brought to full fruition by Nizam! soon unfolded into a rich tradition to which such gifted poets as Amir Khusraw Dihlav! (d. 1325), Khwaju Kirmani (d. 1352), and `Abd al-Rahman Jam! (d. 1492) added dimension and brilliance, qualities never to reach the height of the master of the genre, Niz am! himself.

Whereas both the epic and the romantic genres demanded longer attention spans, the brevity of lyrical poetry tested the power of the Persian poets for the economy of their wording. From its origins in amorous occasions in the panegyric, epic, and romantic poetries, lyrical poetry emerged and found its most successful and enduring form in Persian ghazal. Ghazal became the functional equivalent of musical sonatas in Persian poetry. With sustained and implacable economy of wording, masters of Persian lyrics, principally Sa’di (d. 1292) and Hafiz (d. 1390), shed all extrapoetic functions of poetry and created perhaps the most artistically successful experience in the whole spectrum of Persian literature. Ghazal is the aesthetic challenge of brevity, the formal occasion of poetic mastery, a short space where the mosaics of words, sensibilities, and imageries demand the best in aesthetic creativity that a poet can command.

Although the origins of ghazal go back to such masterful practitioners as Sand’! (d. 1130) and Nizami (d. 1209), it is with Sa`di (d. 1292) that the miniaturesque composition of lyrics comes to its most brilliant fruition. Sa’dis ghazals are the very picture of beauty and subtlety. Rarely has a Persian poet had such a perfect, almost magical, command over words, with flawless harmony in their sound effects. The sheer musicality of Sa’di’s ghazals defies all description. His ghazals read and sound like a Chopinesque nocturne: crisp, clear, concise, brevity the very soul of their amorous movements. Sa’dis works portray a human, physical, perfectly tangible love that registers with unfailing impact. The whole spectrum of Persian poetic repertoire, having come to perfection by the thirteenth century, is at the disposal of Sa’di. Never after Sa’di did classical Persian ghazal benefit from the ingenious powers of such a word magician. Sa’di’s lyrical humanism is arguably the zenith of Persian poetry and all its worldly possibilities (for a discussion of Persian lyric poetry, see Heshmat Moayyad’s article in Yarshater, 1988, chap. 7).

Neither the romantic nor the lyrical possibilities of Persian poetry escaped the attention of Persian mystics. Devoted to a particular doctrinal reading of the Qur’an and of the Muhammadan message, the Persian Sufis joined their Arab, Turkish, and Indian brethren in a massive mystification of the physical world. Finalized in the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud (the Unity of Being), the Sufis collectively engaged in a radical mystification of both literature and love. Persian lyrical poetry in particular proved most appropriate for such a grand act of mystification. Three successive poets, Sand’! (d. 1130), `Attar (d. about 1220), and Rum! (d. 1273), are chiefly recognized as the master-builders of Persian mystical poetry.

With Saud’i we witness the decline of the court as the great patron of Persian poetry and the rise of religious sentiments to substitute the physical beauties that principally informed Persian poetry’s imaginative repertoire. The substantial mystification of Sand’! by later Sufis is not borne out by the actual presence of religious sensibilities in his poetry. Sana’i professed that his worldly poetics did not in any significant way promote his station in life, and that consequently he decided to devote his talent to religious poetry. He blamed his contemporaries, a vague reference to his liaisons with the Ghaznavid court, for not having appreciated his poetry. He seems to have felt particularly humiliated by submitting his poetic gift to the brute taste of his patrons. He was the master of the world of words, he thought, and yet a servile slave to his brute masters. As a result, he informs us, he abandons worldly poetry and turns his attention to religious matters. But the conversion is not so dramatic as to abandon poetry altogether. He simply decides to attend to religious matters poetically. “My poetry shall be a commentary on Religion and Law / The only reasonable path for a poet is this.” Despite his Shi’i sentiment, Sand’! equally praised the first three caliphs, indicating a less than zealous religiosity (see Safa, vol. 2, p. 560 for a discussion). Nevertheless, later Sufis took full advantage of this “conversion” and fabricated fantastic stories about it, turning Sana’i into a fullfledged Sufi. As a poet, however, Sana’i remained singularly attached to religious matters, a fact best represented not only in his poetry but also in his pilgrimage to Mecca, which he undertook from Khurasan (for further details, see De Bruijn, 1983).

After his Mecca pilgrimage, a friend of Sanai, a man named Khvdjah `Amid Ahmad ibn Mas’ud, provided him with a home and daily sustenance and asked Sana’i to collect his own poems and prepare a divan (collection of poetry). Sana’i spent the rest of his life in this house in Ghaznin and compiled his collected works, including his masterpiece Hadiqat al-hagiqah. Sana’i’s divan, masterfully edited in more than thirteen thousand verses by Mudarris Radavi, is a compendium of his secular and religious sensibilities. His mada’ih, (panegyric praises) demonstrate Sand’i’s mastery of the genre and are clear indications of a boastful awareness of his poetic gifts. Hadiqat al-hagiqah va shari’at al-tariqah (also known as Ilahi-namah) is by far the most significant work of Sana’i which he composed between 1129 and 1130 in ten thousand verses. Sand’! dedicated this masnavi couplet to the Ghaznavid warlord Bahramshah (r. 1118-1152). Hadiqat begins with conventional salutations to God, the Prophet, and his companions, and then proceeds to poetic discourses on reason, knowledge, wisdom, and love. In his original version, something must have been in Sana’i’s Hadiqat that caused the anger of contemporary religious authorities. He sent a copy of it to a prominent religious authority, Burhan al-Din Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Ndsir al-Ghaznavi, in Baghdad and asked him to issue an edict in its support. In his letter, composed in the form of a poem, Sand’! went so far as to identify Hadiqat as “the Qur’an in Persian,” a phrase that has been used for other texts as well, particularly by Jam! in reference to Rumi’s Masnavi. Immediately after the death of Sand’!, there was no complete version of Hadiqah extant. Muhammad ibn `All al-Raffa’, a Sufi as judged by his introduction, prepared an edition of the text.

Karnamah -yi Balkh,   another masnavi of Sana’i thought to be the earliest poetic composition, is in an entirely worldly and humorous mode. Composed for the Ghaznavid ruler Mas`ud ibn Ibrahim, Karnamah -yi Balkh is full of praises for the nobility and poetic dialogues with his contemporary poets. Sayr al-`ibad ild alMa`ad, Tariq al-tahqiq, and `Ishq-namah are three other of Sand’I’s masnavis.

`Attar’s Mantiq al-Tayr, among his numerous other masnavis, has been persistently read as a mystical allegory, foretelling Rumi’s masnavi to be composed later in the same century. `Attar’s story of a group of birds persuaded by the hoopoe (Hudhud) to look for a King is a simple didactic narrative. Thirty of the many birds thus persuaded to look for their King finally make it to their destination, where they meet Simurgh (the “thirtybird,” or simply a reflection of the thirty birds). (For a brilliant translation of this poem, see `Attar, 1984.)

Sand’i and `Attar’s experimentation with didactic masnavi narrative for suggestion of mystical allegories ultimately reached Rum-1, in whose hands Persian mystical poetry achieves its height and most prolific potentials. Rumi’s Masnavi, dubbed “the Qur’an in Persian” by Jam!, is the highest achievement and the metalogical conclusion of Persian mystical poetry. Rum! took equal advantage of Persian ghazal lyricism and supplanted his mystical love where the physical love of Sa’di was. With slight poetic modifications in conceptual and aesthetic sensibilities, Rumi gave full expression to a mystical narrative that postulated an all-loving God presiding over the worldly manifestation of his omnipresence. Man in Rumi’s narrative became a Man-God potentially endowed with the realization of all divine attributes. Rumi’s became a passionate quest inward, toward the realization of God within (for the English translation of Rfimi’s Masnavi, see Rumi, 1925-1940).

After Rum-1 the colossal mystification of Persian lyrical and romantic poetry was so pervasive and powerful that not until the advent of modernity in the wake of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911 did an alternative universe of poetic imagination have a literary space to emerge. The only exception to that massive mystification in premodern Persian poetry is in the lyrical poetry of Hafiz and a whole new universe of aesthetic sensibilities that he created.

With Hafiz (d. 1390), Persian lyrical poetry reached a new height, the refreshing space of a whole new poetic thinking. Hafiz’s poetic narrative, the physical beauty of his verses, is above and beyond anything achieved before or after in Persian lyrics (for a sample of his poems, see Hafiz, 1897). In Hafiz’s poetry dwells an unrelenting engagement with the physical presence of life, with the stunning irreducibility of being. He comes after both Sa’di and Rumi, and in a remarkable way weds the worldliness of one to the passionate intensity of the other. Hafiz’s ghazals defy the temptations of Rumi’s mysticism, confront the world directly, and shift Sa’dis worldliness to a new, aesthetically more compelling, engagement with being. The overriding sentiments of Hafiz’s lyricism is the pivotal primacy of physical love necessitated by an existentially ironic and paradoxical conception of being. The two crosscutting senses of paradox and irony give Hafiz’s conception of love a critical sense of urgency:

Seize the moment, you and I here together, Once The short trip over, and we shall never meet again.

And as for the promises of knowledge and wisdom to mediate any conception of being:

Thank God, just like us, no faith no fidelity

Was in he who was called the wise, the trustworthy!

Testing the power of brevity in Persian poets even more vigorously than ghazal was ruba’i or du-bayti (quatrains). Baba Tahir-i `Uryan (d. about 1o63) was the indubitable master of a stunningly beautiful, yet irreducibly simple, genre of quatrains most probably first comprised in Lori dialect and then modified by later scribes to literary Persian (Safa, vol. 2, p. 386).

A farmer was once waiting in a pasture, Crying sadly while to his tulips he attended. “Alas,” he said, as he planted his flowers, “That we should plant and leave them unattended.”

Baba Tahir’s imageries are drawn from daily observations, to which a twist of unexpected poetic significance is given. Reading and understanding Baba Tahir requires no grand leap of faith. He addresses simple but compelling realities that can immediately register with his readers. A feeling of the simultaneous beauty and brutality of life abounds in his poetry (for a translation of Baba Tahir’s poetry, see Baba Tahir, 1902).

In `Umar Khayyam’s (d. about 1129) quatrains, however, Persian literature finally recognized one of its greatest potentials: an autonomous poetic voice radically subversive of all metaphysics, of all unexamined sacred assumptions (the most deservedly famous translation of Khayyam is that of Edward FitzGerald; see Khayyam, 1859). The prevalence of historical references to Khayyam in Persian primary sources make the Orientalist assumption that prior to FitzGerald’s translation, Khayyam was not significantly recognized or appreciated highly dubitable. Equally challenging that assumption is the still widespread presence of oral traditions of Khayyamesque quatrains. In the Persian and Arabic primary sources (e.g., Nizami `Arudi’s Chahar maqalah or alQifti’s Akhbdr al-hukamd’) Khayyam is widely reported in association with quite a number of his prominent potential contemporaries. Ibn Sina (Avicenna, d. 1036), Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 11 I I ), Hasan alSabbah (d. 1124), and Nizami al-hulk (d. 1092) are among historical characters associated, in fiction or in fact, with `Umar Khayyam. Whether identified as a philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, or poet, Khayyam was widely known, loved, and respected by his contemporaries. This wide contemporary recognition is crucial to an understanding of the centrality of `Umar Khayyam in the Persian literary imagination.

`Umar Khayyam’s poems, marked principally by a frightful recognition of the fragile beauty of life, reject all intermediaries of human existential understanding. In these quatrains Khayyam confronts and celebrates reality-always with a fearful embracement that trembles with life and anxiety-without a moment of neglectful blinking. Khayyam’s quatrains are as compelling, simple, and unadumbrated:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse-and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness

And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

as they are matter-of-factly subversive of all the metaphysics of the sacred:

You are a compound of the elements four, The seven planets rule your fevered life. Drink wine, for I have said a thousand times That you will not return: once gone, you’re gone.

In marked contrast to Khayyam’s constitutional doubt is Nasir-i Khusraw’s (AH 394-481/1003-1088 CE) propagational poetry, which he put fully at the disposal of his Isma`ili faith. Nasir-i Khusraw, as one of the most significant figures in Iranian intellectual history, had a profound effect on Persian poetic imagination. As an Isma’ili da’i (propagandist) he put his immense poetic power at the full service of his faith. In such philosophical treatises as Jami` al-hikmatayn, Zdd al-musafirin, and Khvdn va ikhvdn, Nasir-i Khusraw expounded protoNeoplatonic ideas in the Persian philosophical tradition. In his Safar-namah he demonstrated an uncanny capability for critical social observations. But it was chiefly in his poetry that he is observed as a staunch ethicist fully aware, proud even, of his poetic powers. Much of Nasir-i Khusraw’s poetry is also autobiographical, in the sense that he gives a full and detailed account of his moral and intellectual dilemmas at various stages of his life. Although he ultimately put his poetic gift fully in the service of the Isma’ili cause, Nasir-i Khusraw leaves a detailed trace of his doubts and uncertainties prior to his conversion to Isma’ilism. His poetry in fact gives a rather full account of all sectarian, juridical, theological, philosophical, and even interreligious divisions that divided his contemporaries (for a sample of his poetry, see Schimmel, 1993)

By the end of the thirteenth century, classical Persian poetry reached its zenith. `Abd al-Rahman Jam! is universally recognized as the last master practitioner of the classical style of practically all genres, with the exception of the epic (for a sample of his poetry, see Jami, 1956). During the Safavid period, Shiism functioned as the operative state ideology, and as a result the royal patronage of poetry considerably declined. Persian poetic imagination flourished in India and at the Mughal (1568-1858) court. Not until the middle of the eighteenth century did the Persian literary imagination take partial advantage of the Safavid demise and begin to reassert itself. With the decline of the Safavid in the mideighteenth century and the rise of the intervening dynasties of the Afshars (1736-1795) and the Zands (1750-1794), the Shi`i ideological grip began to loosen. Nadir Shah Afshar (r. 1736-1747), in particular, weakened Shiism considerably when he contemplated its effective doctrinal elimination by reducing it to the fifth school of Islamic law (see Arjomand, 1984). The socalled Literary Revival (Bazgasht-i Adabi) in the eighteenth century, and the relative prominence that such poets as Hatif-i Isfahani (d. 1783) found in that move-ment, was a substantial response to the decline of Persian literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This revival, however, could not and did not do much to put the Persian literary imagination on a new plane. Age-old imageries and sensibilities began to be resuscitated in the service of new dynasties. The Qajars (1796-1925) succeeded the Zands as the penultimate variation on the theme of Persian monarchy. With very few exceptions, Qajar monarchs were deeply corrupt despots, overpowering against their own defenseless subjects, weaklings and servile in front of their powerful external adversaries. The so-called literary revival could only serve outdated and repleted imageries full of empty praises for deeply corrupt kings. Even the spontaneous zeal of the Babi movement, led by Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi (d. 1849), which produced a brilliant poet in one of its radical exponents, Tahirah Qurrat al-`Ayn (d. 1851), could not for long save Persian poetic imagination from futile redundancy. What Persian literature needed, and received, were two major political and poetic revolutions.

The Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911 was the festive birth of Iran as a nation of self-conscious citizens mobilized to define their inalienable rights. The Constitutional poetry in particular became the tumultuous birth channel of the dominant ideas of nation and nationalization (see Aryanpur, 1978). The occasion of the Constitutional Revolution, in which the absolutist monarchy of the Qajars was forced to accept the central political authority of a national assembly (majlis), gave full, colorful, and enduring expressions to hopes, fears, and aspirations of a nation in the making. In the hands of these revolutionary poets, Persian poetic narratives were recast into the formative mold of a whole new aesthetic self-conception. Persian language in effect was liberated from old and tired repetition of outdated sensibilities. Iraj Mirza’s (d. 1925) brutal satire, `Arif’s (d. 1933) stunningly beautiful lyricism, Parvin I’tisami’s (19071941) quiet anger, and Farrukhi Yazdi’s (d. 1939) radical socialism gave fresh and invigorating blood to Persian poetry.

The revolutionary effervescent created by the poetry of the Constitutional period continued well into the 1920s and 1930s. But the political momentum that the revolution had given to the Persian poetic imagination was not internal and strong enough to shed the shackles of tired, old formalities forever. Toward that end a revolution was needed from within the poetic imagination itself, a radical rethinking of the poetic act that would match the revolution without.

If the poetry of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911 gave birth to the Iranian “nation,” the Nimaic revolution in Persian poetics was commensurate with the birth of the Persian “individual.” Nima Yushij (1897-196o), the indisputable founding father of “New” Persian poetic imagination (shi’r-i naw), gave full theoretical and poetic expression to a whole new universe of creative imagination in Persian poetry. There is no historical comparison to what Nima did in Persian poetics in the millennium-old history of Persian poetry. Through a sustained theoretical and practical rethinking of the very act of poetic imagination, Nima revolutionized Persian poetry to the marrow of its bones and opened a vast spectrum of creative reconception of poetic being. Against tremendous odds, antagonized by generations of hostile and mediocre contemporaries, Nima singlehandedly made a monumental case for a radical rethinking in the very constitutional configuration of sensibilities that make a particular narrative “poetic.”

Nima radically questioned the very validity of all hegemonic prosodies and persuasively argued for what he considered the innate, “natural” musicality of the poetic narrative itself as it emerges from the creative imagination of the poet. Nima argued that the hegemonic dictation of no extrapoetic prosody should hamper that innate force and presence of the poetic narrative. Futile attempts have been made to trace the aesthetic origins of the Nimaic revolution to vague and conventional references to “The West.” The fact, however, is that in his major theoretical manifesto, Arzish-i ihsasat dar zindagiyi hunarmand (The Significances of Sensibilities in the Life of [an] Artist), Nima makes as many references to Russian, French, and German poets and theorists as he does to classical Persian and Arab prosodists. His argument, theoretical as indeed the very reading of his poetic narrative, is sui generis. Undoubtedly Nima’s knowledge of his contemporary Russian and French poetics was as much a part of his radical rethinking of the Persian poetics as his knowledge of his own classical heritage. But no amount of historical or geographical genealogy or archeology can account for the unprecedented individuality of his poetic revolution. Nima changed the landscape and the topology of Persian poetic imagination, the very terms and thrusts of its worldly engagements.

Nima had to suffer the consequences of his poetic genius. With few but crucial exceptions, his contemporaries had no taste or patience for his radical reconfiguration of Persian poetics. Powerful and influential neoclassicists vehemently opposed him. But a group of young but extremely talented poets picked up where he had left off. Chief among these young followers is Ahmad Shamlu (b. 1925), who pushed the Nimaic poetics to even fresher, physically more tangible, edges. The radical physicality of Shamlu’s poetry, and ultimately his unbelievably daring experimentations with the full potentialities of Persian language, his poetico-politics, gave a supremely elegant twist to every possibility of poetic materialism available in Persian. In his hand, and through the effervescent force of his creative imagination, Persian poetic drive was pushed to exhilarating edges of radical narrativity. In his poetry, all extrapoetic realities dissolve and rise obediently to meet the poetic.

Another major voice in the Nimaic movement was the most eloquent feminine voice in the entire history of Persian poetry: Furfigh Farrukhzad (1935-1967). No woman had hitherto dared to subvert so much so publicly in such a short span of time. Furfigh’s decidedly feminine voice settled a millennium-old account of suffocating silence imposed on the Iranian woman in her relentlessly patriarchal society. Furugh’s naked, exquisite, beautiful, and daring subversion of Persian cultural taboos was so radical that it would take generations of her readers to map out the range of physical sensibilities with which she dared to experiment (see Hillmann, 1987).

Mahdi Akhavan-i Salis (1928-1990) was yet another forceful poetic voice that successfully and convincingly combined the best and the most eloquent potentialities of the Khurasani poetic tradition with an unflinching political commitment to radical reutilization of the Persian poetic. The result was a nuanced and barely noticeable balance between a poetic narrative that had nothing but its own story to tell and a relentless engagement with the political. Akhavan’s poetry is a nostalgic reading of a glorious past that may or may not have been there and yet was narratively put there to make the present read a particularly powerful song. His poetry then became the conscience of a whole generation of poetic politics: a poetry that took zest and momentum from life, a politics that was embedded in the humanizing force of poetry.

In the same category of the master lyricists of the “New” Persian poetic imagination is Suhrab Sipihri (1928-1980), who gave momentous, elegant, and stunningly beautiful expression to a radical physicality in his poetry. A painter-poet, Sipihri utilized almost identical strokes of simple, articulate, and deceptively naive staccatos to create sheer astonishment at the awesome physicality of the mere act of living, of the forceful, absolutist, conception of existence.

In many respects a follower of Akhavan in poetic diction and sentiment is Isma’il Khu’i (b. 1938) who, from an early romantic beginning, grew to fruition in the post-Islamic Revolution period as a poet of massive rhetorical skills put squarely in the service of a severe, almost debilitating, anticlerical sentiment. KhfiTs poetry in the 1980s emerged as the most articulate voice of Iranian diaspora in total disillusion with the consequences of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1978-198o).

Two unusually gifted poets-Ahmad Riga Ahmadi (b. 1940) and Manuchihr Yakta’i (b. 1921)-took the Nimaic revolution in poetic narrative to yet another direction. Fuller experimentations with the aesthetic possibilities of the poetic narrative became paramount in Ahmadi’s poetry. Having lived most of his adult life in New York, Manuchihr Yakta`i, yet another painter-poet in the Nimaic tradition, has been in a state of almost obsession with narrative experimentation. Coming to him from a distance, as it were, has made the poetic narrative of Nima something of a linguistic fable for Yakta’i, folding and unfolding itself in self-descriptive directions.

Closer to popular taste but with no particularly significant connection to these phenomenal revolutions in Persian poetics were a number of poets, such as Faridun Mushiti (b. 1926), Faridun Tavallull (b. 1919), Hushang Ibtihaj (H. I. Sayah, b. 1927), Simin Bihbahani (b. 1927), Nadir Nadirpur (b. 1929), and Manuchihr Shaybani (b. 1923). At times virtuoso performers of pictoral and mental imageries, these poets had no particularly powerful connection to their time and space and spoke mostly of outdated and even irrelevant sentimentalities. The effective shock of the Islamic Revolution had a considerable impact on some of these poets-for example, Hushang Ibtihaj and Simin Bihbahani-but not to such a degree as to cause a drastic, qualitative change in their poetic diction or the narrative force of their creative imagination.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran subjected Persian poetry to a major political shock. The leading poets of the early 1970s, whose level and mode of discourse was established by the political-poetic power of Ahmad Shamlu, fully participated in the course of the revolution so far as they thought it a monumental, secular event. In the wake of the revolution, Shamlu, moved to London and published Iranshahr, a journal that took full political and intellectual account of the event. After the success of the revolution and the commencement of its islamization, Shamlu, moved back to Iran and started a new journal, Jum`ah, to which the leading secular intellectuals contributed.

With the successful islamization of the revolution, Persian poetic imagination went into a major period of hiatus characterized by effective neoclassical islamization (characterized by Tahirah Saffarzadah), silent secular commitment (represented by Ahmad Shamlu), and radical exilic defiance (best voiced in the most recent poems of Isma’il Khu’i).

In the meantime, a new generation of Iranian poets are coming of age and fruition-some inside Iran, others in exile. This generation is too young to remember with any degree of intensity the particular package of sensibility carried for long by the no longer so “New” poetry. The rising spirit that informs and animates this generation is bilingual to the soul of its apparition.

Modern Persian fiction received its greatest narrative and aesthetic impetus from Muhammad `All Jamalzadah (b. 1892) and Sadiq Hidayat (1903-1951). With such works as Yaki bud, Yaki nabud, and Sar-va tah yik karbas, Jamalzadah successfully brought earlier attempts at a simplified prose to an effective and promising conclusion. He built on decades of revolutionary, simplified prose from the Constitutional period and rescued the suffocating Persian prose from the shallow formalism of the Qajar period. While Jamalzadah’s simple, effective, colorful colloquialism provided ample opportunity for Persian prose to cultivate expressions of diverse social types and groupings, Hedayat took that prose and drove it into the darkest and most unexplored corners of Iranian communal and individual sensibilities. Hidayat’s The Blind Owl is the first and the most successful attempt to reach for and achieve a literary narrative in frightful tune with irreducible (at times even ahistorical) anxieties of being. Publication of The Blind Owl in the early 1940s was followed by other novellas and short stories, chief among them Hajji aqa (1945). Although many prominent writers-for example, Buzurg `Alavi (b. 1904), Sadiq Chfibak (b. 1916), Mahmfid I’timadzadah (b. 1915), and Jalal Al-i Ahmad (1923-1969)~-followed Hidayat’s socially conscious fiction, no other author matched, let alone surpassed, him in his existential insights in The Blind Owl. The only exception to this assertion is perhaps the brilliant achievements of Ibrahim Gulistan (b. 1922), who took up and developed a particularly compelling aspect of Hidayat’s legacy, namely, an unswerving penchant for the primacy of the aesthetic narrative. In such brilliant staccatos as “Az rfizgar-i raftah hikayat” and “Jui va divar-i tishnah,” Gulistan created and sustained flawless sketches of a descriptive self-signification that always surpassed the traces of its own acts of significations. What exactly these highly stylized, flawlessly crafted, descriptions “meant” or “signified” almost fades under the dazzling brilliance of the aesthetic act of narrativity itself.

Standing exactly at the opposite side of Gulistan is Ali Ahmad, who took Hidayat’s social realism and carried it to thinly fictionalized political mainfestos. Infinitely more effective as an essayist and an engage intellectual, Al-i Ahmad’s perhaps most successful fiction was Nun va al-qalam (translated as By the Pen), in which he borrowed from traditional narratives to depict a revolutionary society in the wake of a popular uprising.

In the same generation, and somewhere between Gulistan’s aesthetic narrativity and Al-i Ahmad’s excessive realism, is Sadiq Chfibak, one of the most prolific writers. In such works as Tanqsir and Antari kih lutiash murdah bud, Chfibak paid critical attention to the narrative realism of his art. Having been born and bred in southern Iran, Chfibak was chiefly responsible for introducing a whole new repertoire of southern sensibilities to modernist Persian fiction, a trend that was then successfully pursued by Ahmad Mahmfid in such works as Hamsayah ha and Zd’in dar zir-i baran.

The more aesthetically serious work that commenced with Hidayat and continued with Gulistan was subsequently picked up by perhaps the most brilliant contemporary writer, Hushang Gulshiri (b. 1938). Gulshiri’s Prince Ihtijab reads in the same vein as Hidayat’s The Blind Owl and Gulistan’s “Az rfizgar-i raftah hikayat.” Manipulating the tormented consciousness of a Qajar prince, Gulshiri masterfully re-creates in Prince Ihtijab the social and psychological malaise of a whole cycle of corruption and decay. Love and loyalty, power and seduction, corruption and decay, are the undercurrents of a narrative labyrinth that weaves its own story around itself.

Simin Danishvar (b. 1921), Shahrnfish Parsipfir (b. 1946), Munirfi Ravanipur, and Mahshid Amirshahi (b.1940) are the four leading women writers who have contributed massively to a strong, pronounced, and articulate feminine consciousness in modern Persian fiction (for a detailed study, see Milani, 1992). Danishvar’s Savashun became the most widely read fiction in the entire history of the genre. Shahrnush Parsipur’s Tuba’ va ma’na -yi shab and Zanan bi-dun-i Mardan explored deeply into the labyrinth of a feminine consciousness in history and politics. Ravanipur’s Ahl-i Gharg opened a whole new vista of southern mythical sensibilities in Persian fiction. In this respect, Ravanipur’s fiction sided itself with a tradition that claimed Sadiq Chfibak and Ahmad Mahmud among its founding members. Amirshahi’s Dar Hagar became a sensitive chronicle of a deep frustration with the religious and antisecular turns that the Iranian Revolution of 1979 took.

Publication of Mahmud Dawlatabadi’s ten-volume epic Klidar in the late 1970s must be considered a major event in the history of Persian fiction. Centered around a fictionalized version of a local hero in Khurasan, Klidar is a majestic narrative of legendary proportions. Dawlatabadi constructs a full-bodied epic in which love and adventure, atrocity and nobility are woven together and led toward a uniquely enobling tragedy.

From such local traditions as romance literature, shahnamah-khvdni, ta`ziyah, ru-hawzi, siyah-bazi, khayalbazi, `arusak bad, and khaymah shah bazf, in conjunction with widespread exposure to other theatrical traditions in the Arab world, India, Central Asia, China, Turkey, and eastern and western Europe, a thriving Persian drama emerged in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the wake of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911, drama took center stage in the Persian creative imagination. Mirza Fath `Ali Akhundzadah (18121878) and Mirza Malkom Khan (d. 1908) were the forerunners of social realism and political satire in Persian drama. Translations from Russian, French, and English plays increased dramatically after World War II; and such talented actors as `Abd al-Husayn Nushin gave institutional recognition to the genre. But a major culmination of Persian drama is to be seen in the 1960s and 1970s, when leading playwrights such as Ghulam Husayn Sa’idi (1935-1985) (“Gawhar-i Murad” was his nom de plume), Akbar Radi, Bahram Bayza’i (b. 1938), and ‘Abbas Na’lbandiyan, among many others, took full advantage of drama to address prevailing social and political issues. Sa’idi in particular, explored the deepest corners of anxiety (he was a trained psychologist) in local characters and cultures beyond the reach of

Tehran-based cafe intellectuals. Bahram Bayza’i very soon linked his interest in theater to a brilliant directorial career in cinema and created a whole spectrum of dramatic and visual sensibilities entirely his own. Another playwright/director of considerable talent is Parviz Sayyad (b. 1937), who successfully bridged a widening gap between premodern and modern, as well as between popular and avant-garde art (see Dabashi, 1992).

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 and its immediate islamization by the victorious faction introduced the combined forces of a triple imperative in the Persian literary imagination: the first formed by those who opted for an exilic life over the militant censorship of a theocracy; and the second shaped by those who ideologically, or as a matter of principle, chose not to oppose the political formation of a theocracy; and the third grouped by those secular intellectuals who preferred to stay inside Iran. Isma`ili Khu’i and Ghulam Husayn Sa’idi are prime examples of Iranian literati who left their country and chose the bitter tongue of expatriate intellectuals. Tahirah Saffarzadah and Shams Al-i Ahmad (the brother of Jalal Al-i Ahmad) are among those members of the literati who wholeheartedly celebrated the Islamic Revolution, remained in Iran, and continued to be productive in the new political environment. But not all who have remained inside Iran advocate or even accept the radical islamization of the literary imagination. Ahmad Shamlu, Ahmad Riza Ahmad-1, Hushang Gulshiri, Mahmud Dawlatabadi, Simin Danishvar, Shahrnush Parsipur, and Bahram Bayza’i, among scores of other poets, novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers, continue to produce in active or tacit celebration of an autonomous creative imagination. In the meantime, the younger generation of poets, novelists, dramatists, and critics are charting their own separate ways into the future. Inside Iran the radical implications of an Islamic revolution have stirred up the deepest emotions and anxieties. A flood of literary and visual outputs marks the younger generation’s creative response to a groundbreaking revolution, to unfathomable sacrifices during the eight-year war with Iraq (1980-1988), and to the continued anxieties of a collective imagination still not at peace with itself. Iranians live in exile in all parts of the world, and whatever the language of their hostculture, they try to teach their children Persian, and these children are growing up to express the particular configuration of their history and identity in Persian and in the language of their adopted culture. Young poets, such as Ru’ya Hakkakiyan, `All Zarrin, and Ramin Ahmadi (all outside their homeland) and Qasim AhaninJan, Ahmad `Ali-put, Mihri Muradi, Bizhan Jalali, Zuhrah Khaligi, and `Ali Mu’mini, among scores of others (all inside Iran), are the emerging signs, the dancing rays of a rising sun, whose full, shimmering proportion and colorful disposition, its nature and orientation, are not yet in full view.

[See also Devotional Poetry; Iran.]

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HAMID DABASHI

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/persian-literature/
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