Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Poetry From Iran

Early in my college years, I corresponded briefly with an American woman my age who was living in Iran because her father worked there. If I recall correctly, the letters had to go through a general "APO" address first, and then on to Tehran. Not many years thereafter came the overthrow of the Shah and then what was known as "the hostage crisis." I was teaching in Germany when the hostages were released and flown to an air force base near Wiesbaden, across the Rhine from Mainz, where I was living.

Now it seems another revolution in Iran may be under way, although speculation seems to be outstripping knowledge, to say the least. And you know you are in a post-modern era when Twitter.com becomes a main conduit of information. Away from the television and radio, I found my thoughts turning to the poets in Iran. There must be thousand and thousands of them, and the Persian tradition of poetry is rich vast. The famous poet Rumi, who was apparently known as Jelaluddin Balkhi, was Persian, although he was born in Afghanistan, not in the region now known as the Islamic Republic of Iran. From The Essential Rumi, edited by Coleman Barks, I learned that Rumi's birthday is September 30, 1207. Eight-hundred years (plus) later, Rumi's poetry is as popular as ever, as well it should be.

At this moment, some of the poets must be out in the streets, some must be in rooms writing in response to events, and many must be engaged in both activities.

Here is a link to a nice site for Iranian poetry:

http://www.iranian.com

/Arts/poetry.html


On it I found a fine poem called "Four Things To Know" (great title) by a poet named Sasan Seifikar. I'll provide the opening in lines. For all four things to know, please visit the site. (Poets in Iran, be well.)



from Four things to know

Inspired by a poem from Attar

by Sasan Seifikar

If I had to reduce everything I know to four things
I would choose the following empowering insights
The first is this: do not worry about your stomach or money
But be concerned for your mind and heart, before it is too late
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