Iranian/Persian literature & literaies of ages

Parsi or better known today as

Farsi (ironically called that because there is no letter P in the Arabic language!!! go figure!!!) is a huge language and through the vast landscape of its history has come up with some writers who were each in their own era pioneers of literature and philosophy.

Introducing these giants as they are considered in Iran to the outside world is what a lot of people have undertaken and still not succeeded. Therefore I dont think that my version will make any difference except maybe to make me feel a little better about myself for trying. Conveying the ambience that a poem induces to its readers in another language is always a futile effort. its just something that is never going to work but it is often done with good intentions and at least conveys the words of the poet to a wider audience even though its soul is always lost in the transition.

So I will have nothing to do with translation or transliteration of literature here but will focus more on introducing the the giants of Persian literature. once you know their names , the chronology of their lives and their work you can use that great tool of all “google” and find all you need to know about them should you wish to do So. I shall follow a chronological order For this post and I have naturally used excerpt from Wikipedia and other websites.



Ferdowsi was born in the province of Khorasan in a village near Tous, near Iran’s 2nd largest city of Mashhad in 935 AD and died in his home town in 1025 AD. His great epic The a title=”Shahname” href=”” target=”_blank”>Shahnameh (The Epic of Kings), to which he devoted most of his adult life, was originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival of Persian cultural traditions after the Arab conquest of the seventh century. During Ferdowsi’s lifetime this dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznavid Turks, and there are various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest shown by the new ruler of Khorasan, Mahmoud of Ghaznavi, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. Ferdowsi is said to have died around 1020 AD in poverty and embittered by royal neglect, though confident of his and his poem’s ultimate fame.

Ferdowsi is not only loved universally in Iran because of his work Shah-naameh that happens to ba a complete story of an extraordinary man and his struggles to rid Iran of evil  which in true essence his thoughts were the Arabs rule of Iran as he saw it and their perpetual efforts to destroy all ancient literature in a bid to destroy the Parsi language. So his work Shahname is considered the saviour of Parsi as his book revived the language upto 80%. there is still some 20% arabic incorporated in Parsi but hopefully someday another great Iranian will sort that out too. In some ways Ferdowsi could be hailed as the cause of the existstance Iran in todays world.

The Shahnameh or The Epic of Kings is one of the definite classics of the world. It tells hero tales of ancient Persia. The contents and the poet’s style in describing the events takes the readers back to the ancient times and makes he/she sense and feel the events. Ferdowsi worked for thirty years to finish this masterpiece.
Ferdowsi is considered as the greatest Persian poet, author of the Shahnameh (“The Epic of Kings”), the Persian national epic, to which he gave its final and enduring form, although he based his poem mainly on an earlier prose version. For nearly a thousand years the Persians have continued to read and to listen to recitations from his masterwork in which the Persian national epic found its final and enduring form. It is the history of Iran’s glorious past, preserved for all time in sonorous and majestic verse. Though written about 1,000 years ago, this work is as intelligible to the average, modern Iranian as the King James version of the Bible is to a modern English-speaker. The language, based as the poem is on a Pahlavi original, is pure Persian with only the slightest admixture of Arabic.

Ferdowsi was a dehqan (landowner), deriving a comfortable income from his estates. He had only one child, a daughter, and it was to provide her with a dowry that he set his hand to the task that was to occupy him for more than 30 years.

The Shahnameh, a poem of nearly 60,000 couplets, is based mainly on a prose work of the same name compiled in the poet’s early manhood in his native Tus. This prose Shahnameh was in turn and for the most part the translation of a Pahlavi (Middle Persian) work, the Khvatay-namak, a history of the kings of Persia from mythical times down to the reign of Khosrow II (590-628 CE), but it also contained additional material continuing the story to the overthrow of the Sasanians by the Arabs in the middle of the 7th century A.D. The first to undertake the versification of this chronicle of pre-Islamic and legendary Persia was Daqiqi, a poet at the court of the Samanids, who came to a violent end after completing only 1,000 verses. These verses, which deal with the rise of the prophet Zoroaster, were afterward incorporated by Ferdowsi, with due acknowledgements, in his own poem.

Here is a picture of his tomb in tous .



Omar Khayam


Khayyām Nīshāpūrī

(1048–1131; was a Persianpolymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and Islamic theology.

Born in Neyshapur, at a young age he moved to Samarkand (now a city in todays Afghanistan) and obtained his education there. Afterwards he moved to Bukhara and became established as one of the major mathematicians and astronomers of the medieval period. He is the author of one of the most important treatises on algebra written before modern times, the Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra, which includes a geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle.He  also contributed to a calendar reform.

His significance as a philosopher and teacher, and his few remaining philosophical works, have not received the same attention as his scientific and poetic writings.

Some referred to him as “the philosopher of the world”. Many sources have testified that he taught for decades the philosophy of Avicenna (known as Ebne Sina in Iran) in Nishapur where Khayyám was born and buried and where his mausoleum today remains a masterpiece of Iranian architecture visited by many people every year

Outside Iran and Persian speaking countries, Khayám has had an impact on literature and societies through the translation of his works and popularization by other scholars. The greatest such impact was in English-speaking countries; the English scholar

Thomas Hyde (1636–1703) was the first non-Persian to study him. The most influential of all was Edward FitzGerald (1809–83), who made Khayyám the most famous poet of the East in the West through his celebrated translation and adaptations of Khayyám’s rather small number of quatrains (Persian: رباعیات‎ rubāʿiyāt) in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Omar Khayyám died in 1131 and is buried in the Khayyam Garden at the mausoleum of Imamzadeh Mahruq in Nishapur. In 1963 the mausoleum of Omar Khayyam was constructed on the site by Hooshang Seyhoun.







Sa’ady, A native of  the city of Shiraz in the Pars Province of Iran , was born 1190 and died 1283.  His father died when he was an infant. Saadi experienced a youth of poverty and hardship, and left his native town at a young age for Baghdad to pursue a better education. As a young man he was inducted to study at the famous an-Nizzāmīya center of knowledge (1195–1226), where he excelled in Islamic Sciences, law, governance, history, Arabic literature and theology.

Although Saadi was born and died in Shiraz, during his life he traveled extensively. He is said to have traveled for thirty years throughout the Islamic world. Iran has filled the centuries with some of the world’s finest poets, but Iranians consider Saadi to be one of the greatest.
Historians often divide his life into three parts. His first twenty-five years were spent studying in various countries, going to university at Baghdad. During the next thirty years he traveled widely, east to India and as far west as Syria. He made his pilgrimage to Mecca fourteen times. Finally, Saadi returned to Shiraz where he devoted himself to writing and to teaching.

Saadi’s two best known works are the Bustan (the Garden), composed entirely in verse, and the Gulistan (the Rose Garden), in both prose and verse. He was particularly known for the wry wit he injected into his poems.
Saadi is probably the first Persian poet to have been translated into European languages. A German version of the Gulistan appeared in 1654.

Saadi’s tomb can be seen in the town of Shiraz. Lines from Saadi’s poems are still commonly used in conversations by Iranians today.




 Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī Molavi

Known also as Molavi or Molana or Rumi  (the Persian Sufi poet and Mystic ) was born in the Persian village of Wakhsh now in Todays Tajikstan in 1207 AD and died in 1273. His father  Baha’u-’d-Din,  decided to leave the province of Balkh when Mevlana was about 5. The family traveled to Baghdad, to Mecca on pilgrimage, and to Damascus. They eventually settled at Konya (which is in present day Turkey). In Konya, Molana lived the rest of his life and he died Konya where his Shrine is.

Molana’ literature is mostly in poem form and is mostly attributed to Darwishism, sufism and spiritualty, some consider his work to be philosophy in poem. New Persian language. A Persian literary renaissance (in the 8th/9th century) started in regions of Sistan, Khorāsān and Transoxiana and by the 10th/11th century, it reinforced the Persian language as the preferred literary and cultural language in the Persian Islamic world. Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His original works are widely read in their original language across the Persian-speaking world. Translations of his works are very popular in other countries. His poetry has influenced Persian literature as well as Urdu, Punjabi and other Pakistani languages written in Perso/Arabic script e.g. Pashto and Sindhi. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described as the “most popular poet in America.”

molanas shrine in Konya








Khwāja Shamsu d-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī

(Persian: خواجه شمس‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی‎), known by his pen name Hāfez who was born and died in Shiraz in Iran(1325/1326–1389/1390), was a Persian lyric poet. His collected works composed of series of Persian poetry (Divan) are to be found in the homes of most Persian speakers in Iran and Afghanistan, as well as elsewhere in the world, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-fourteenth century Persian writing more than any other author.

His ghazals are the beloved, faith, and exposing hypocrisy. His influence in the lives of Iranians can be found in “Hafez readings” (fāl-e hāfez, Persian: فال حافظ‎), frequent use of his poems in Persian traditional music, visual art and Persian calligraphy. His tomb in Shiraz is visited often. Adaptations, imitations and translations of Hafez’ poems exist in all major languages. Despite his profound effect on Persian life and culture and his enduring popularity and influence, few details of his life are known. Accounts of his early life rely upon traditional anecdotes.

Hafez in modern day is the most read poems amongst Iranians even though his terms of poetry are not the easiest to comprehend even amongst educated Iranians. However the complexity of his writings are out weighed buy the sweetness of his poem and sense of satisfaction it conveys to the reader.


Attempting to explain this may be a bit foolish of me but here it goes;

Hafez’s poems concentrate mostly on correctness and apeal to ones sense of good conscience, Fal e Hafez is a culture amongst Iranians that has pupose of fortune telling. you first make wish, then you hold the Divan Hafez (his book) closed in hand, you run your fingernails along the pages without looking at the book and you open the page, you follow the poem you have opened to its beginning and you read it to the end and by the interpertation of the poem you acertain whether Hafez say your wish will come true or not.

Hafezieh – Shiraz

His mausoleum, Hāfezieh, is located in the Musalla Gardens of Shiraz






Contemprary Iranian Authors and Poets.


Nimā Yushij

(November 12, 1896 – January 6, 1960) also called Nimā , born Ali Esfandiāri in the village Yush in the Province of Mazandaran, was a contemporary Tabarian and Persianpoet who started the she’r-e no (“new poetry”)  a trend in Iran. He is considered as the father of modern Persian poetry. He died of pneumonia in Shemiran, in the northern part of Tehran and was buried in his native village of Yush, Nur County, Mazandaran, as he had willed.

Nima’s early education took place in a

maktab. He was a truant student and the mullah (teacher) often had to seek him out in the streets, drag him to school, and punish him. At the age of twelve, Nima was taken to Tehran and registered at the St. Louis School. The atmosphere at the Roman Catholic school did not change Nima’s ways, but the instructions of a thoughtful teacher did. Nezam Vafa, a major poet himself, took the budding poet under his wing and nurtured his poetic talent.


In general, Nima manipulated rhythm and rhyme and allowed the length of the line to be determined by the depth of the thought being expressed rather than by the conventional Persian meters that had dictated the length of a bayt (verse) since the early days of Persian poetry. Furthermore, he emphasized current issues, especially nuances of oppression and suffering, at the expense of the beloved’s moon face or the ever-growing conflict between the lovers.


The venues in which Nima published his works are noteworthy. In the early years when the presses were controlled by the powers that be, Nima’s poetry, deemed below the established norm, was not allowed publication. For this reason, many of Nima’s early poems did not reach the public until the late 1930s. After the fall of Reza Shah, Nima became a member of the editorial board of the “Music” magazine. Working with Sadeq Hedayat, he published many of his poems in that magazine. Only on two occasions he published his works at his own expense: “The Pale Story” and “The Soldier’s Family.”

Nima changed the landscape of Persian poetry by pioneeing the so called new poem and brought persian literature out of the medieval period and landed it right in the middle of the 19th century. more to the point he proved that you dont necessarily need big fanciful and complex language to produce quality literature and also not all poems need to have perfect ryhmes, he opened the way for  authors that would follow his example,



Sadeq Hedayat



Was born on February 17, 1903, Tehran —and died on 4 April 1951, in Paris, France) was Iran’s foremost modern writer of prose fiction and short stories.

Hedayat was born to a northern Iranian aristocratic family in Tehran and was educated at Collège Saint-Louis (French catholic school) and Dar ol-Fonoon (1914–1916). In 1925, he was among a select few students who travelled to Europe to continue their studies. There, he initially went on to study engineering in Belgium, after a year he gave this up to study architecture in France. While there, he gave up architecture to pursue dentistry. In this period he became acquainted with Therese, a Parisian with whom he had a love affair. In 1927 Hedayat attempted suicide by throwing himself into the river Marne, however he was rescued by a fishing boat. After four years in France and Belgium, he finally surrendered his scholarship and returned home in the summer of 1930 without receiving a degree. In Iran he held various jobs for short periods.

Hedayat subsequently devoted his whole life to studying Western literature and to learning and investigating Iranian history and folklore. The works of

Rainer Maria Rilke, Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, Anton Chekhov and Guy de Maupassant intrigued him the most. During his short literary life span, Hedayat published a substantial number of short stories and novelettes, two historical dramas, a play, a travelogue, and a collection of satirical parodies and sketches. His writings also include numerous literary criticisms, studies in Persian folklore, and many translations from Middle Persian and French. He is credited with having brought Persian language and literature into the mainstream of international contemporary writing. There is no doubt that Hedayat was the most modern of all modern writers in Iran. Yet, for Hedayat, modernity was not just a question of scientific rationality or a pure imitation of European values.

In his later years, feeling the socio-political problems of the time, Hedayat started attacking the two major causes of Iran’s decimation, the monarchy and the clergy, and through his stories he tried to impute the deafness and blindness of the nation to the abuses of these two major powers. Feeling alienated by everyone around him, especially by his peers, Hedayat’s last published work, The Message of Kafka, bespeaks melancholy, desperation and a sense of doom experienced only by those subjected to discrimination and repression.

Hedayat travelled and stayed in India from 1937 until 1939. In Bombay he completed and published his most enduring work, The Blind Owl, whose writing he started as early as 1930 in Paris. The book was praised by many including Henry Miller and André Breton. It has been called “one of the most important literary works in the Persian language”.

At the end of 1950, Hedayat left Iran for Paris. There, on 4 April 1951, he committed suicide by gassing himself in a small rented apartment on 37 Rue Championnet. He had plugged all the gaps in the windows and door with cotton and, so it wouldn’t burden anyone, he had placed the money (a hundred thousand francs) for his shroud and burial in his side wallet in plain view. He was buried at the division 85 of Père Lachaise Cemetery. His funeral was attended by a number of intimate friends and close acquaintances, both Iranian and Frenchmen.

Sadegh was in my opinion a lost soul, but just an ordinary lost soul, a brilliant mind, a highly inteligent lost soul. In his year he made the aquaintence of many acclaimed authors of french speaking world and rumour has it that he befriended Jean Paul Satre.

I would suggest the Blind Owl  (boofe Koor) in parsi to anyone who like dark fictional stories possibley about the visions and memois of a pencil case maker who is eternally high on opium.



Sohrab Sepehri

October 7, 1928 – April 21, 1980) was a notable modern Persian poet and a painter.

He was born in Kashan in Isfahan province. He is considered to be one of the five most famous modern Persian (Iranian) poets who have practised “New Poetry” (a kind of poetry that often has neither meter nor rhyme). Other practitioners of this form were Nima Youshij, Ahmad Shamlou, Mehdi Akhavan-Sales, and Forough Farrokhzad.

Sohrab Sepehri was also one of Iran’s foremost modernist painters.

Sepehri died in Pars hospital in Tehran of leukemia. His poetry is full of humanity and concern for human values. He loved nature and refers to it frequently. The poetry of Sohrab Sepehri bears great resemblance to that of E.E. Cummings.

Well-versed in Buddhism, mysticism and Western traditions, he mingled the Western concepts with Eastern ones, thereby creating a kind of poetry unsurpassed in the history of Persian literature. To him, new forms were new means to express his thoughts and feelings. His poetry has been translated into many languages including

English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Arabic, Turkish and Russian

Sohrab was one of the first in long line of simple poetry writer (simple in comparison to Fredowsi, Hafez, Saadi and molana) that have come along in the Parsi history, he also was an acclaimed painter, a some what of an enigma of an author,


Ahmad Shamlou

Also known as A Bamdad was born December 12, 1925 in Tehran and died due to ill health in July 24, 2000) was a Persian poet, writer, and journalist. Shamlou is arguably the most influential poet of modern Iran. His initial poetry was influenced by and in the tradition of Nima Youshij. Shamlou’s poetry is complex, yet his imagery, which contributes significantly to the intensity of his poems, is simple. As the base, he uses the traditional imagery familiar to his Iranian audience through the works of Persian masters like Hafiz and Omar Khayyám. For infrastructure and impact, he uses a kind of everyday imagery in which personified oxymoronic elements are spiked with an unreal combination of the abstract and the concrete thus far unprecedented in Persian poetry, which distressed some of the admirers of more traditional poetry

Ahmad Shamlou was born to an army family.  His father Haydar was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and during his childhood he moved to Tehran with family. Kowkab also came from an immigrant family. In the manner of many children who grow up in families with military parents, he received his early education in various towns, including Khash and Zahedan in the southeast of Iran. he was jailed several times for parttaking in the Todeh party(a communist Party)after the fall of Mossadeq

Ahmad Shamlou was married three times. In 1947, he married Ashraf Isslamiya (d. 1978) and together they had three sons and a daughter: Siavash Shamlou, (1948–2009), Sirous Shamlou, Saman Shamlou, Saghi Shamlou. They divorced in 1957 after several years of conflict and long separation. His second marriage to Tusi Hayeri Mazandarani (d. 1992) who was fourteen years older than Shamlou, ended in divorce in 1963 after four years of marriage. He met Aida Sarkisian in the spring of 1962 and they were married two years later in 1964. Aida came from an Armenian-Iranian family who lived in the same neighborhood as Shamlou. Her Christian family objected to the marriage on the basis of the Islamic background of Shamlou’s family. Moreover, Shamlou was older, and had been divorced twice.[6] She became an instrumental figure in Shamlou’s life and they remained together until his death in 2000. Her name appears in many of his later poems. She currently lives in Karaj.

Following the footsteps of the likes of Nima Yushij and Sohrab Sepehri Ahmad became much more successful than his heros both in terms of volume of work he produced and in tems of popularity amongst his countrymen. He is much loved in Iran and indeed elsewhere since his work has been translated into numerable other language, even in this era his poems are plastered allover youtube.



Hamid Mosadegh

Born in January 31, 1940, Shahreza, Isfahan, Iran – 28 November 1998, Tehran, Iran) was a contemporary Iranian poet, author and lawyer.

He was born in Shahrida, one of the Isfahan’s towns, and was grown up in Isfahan. Young Mosaddegh completed primary and secondary education in Isfahan. Manochehr Badiee, Houshang Golshiri, Mohammad Hoqouqi (Hoghoughi) and Bahram Sadeghi were Mosaddegh’s friends in high school. He established Saeb Literary Association in Isfahan in young age.

He went to Tehran in 1960, and got his Bachelor’s degree from University of Tehran, and his Masters degree in Economy. In 1966, he left Iran for continuing education in England. In 1972, he got his Administrative Law degree from National University and became an assistant professor at University of Tehran and Kerman University, teaching several courses in Research Methods. From 1981, he began teaching law, especially Cooperative Law, becoming a faculty member of Law School of University of Tehran and Allameh Tabatabaie University. He was a lawyer of Iranian Administration of Justice, member of the Bar Association and editor in chief of Journal of Association. Besides working as a lawyer, he continued writing poems and publishing some of them.

His career as a lawyer was strongly affected by his life as a poet and his political concerns. Most of his defendants were other Iranian authors and artists, such as Simin Behbahani, another famous Iranian poet.

His most famous book is a collection of his poems during 70s, called “Abi, khakestari, siah” (Blue, Gray, and Black). This collection is not just romantic, but also social and political, revealing the emotions, hopes and dreams of Iranian youth during 70s.

In 1972, he married Laleh Mosaddegh (Khoshknaabi). They have two daughters: Ghazal and Taraneh.

In the words of critics one of the distinctive features of his poems is simplicity, fluency and sincerity. As Simin Behbahani argued: “Mosaddegh associated (Iranian’s) humanistic goals with poetry.” Hamid Mosaddegh was close to the heart of Iranian people and his poems are understandable and easy to connect with for people of various ages and classes.

In 1998, he died at Day Hospital in Tehran because of medical complications after a heart attack. He is buried in “Ghate’ye Honarmandan” in Tehran.

On his tombstone it has been written: “Remember us, whom in all life’s night, Prowl for searching twilight. Remember us kindly and by heart.” The words are from one of his last poems in “Shir-e-Sorkh”, which talks mostly with Iranian youth, giving them hope for a better future, asking them to remember those who worked for the better future in the country but did not make it to see the coming bright days.

Amongst the new contemprary artists Hamid is my favourit by far, his sweet poems seem some how to convey a nostalgic tone about a poverts striken child hood that explains the complexes of modern man and consumerism fever. He had Communistic and socialistic Ideas and that way often the undertone of his poems and because of that in Shahs era his books were banned, Im not sure in todays Iran under the Mullahs his books are allowed or not.


 Forough Farokhzad

Forugh was born in Tehran to career military officer Colonel Mohammad Bagher Farrokhzad and his wife Touran Vaziri-Tabar in 1935. She attended school until the ninth grade, then was taught painting and sewing at a girl’s school for the manual arts. At age sixteen she was married to Parviz Shapour, an acclaimed satirist. Farrokhzad continued her education with classes in painting and sewing and moved with her husband to Ahvaz. A year later, she bore her only child, a son named Kāmyār (subject of A Poem for You).

Within two years, in 1954, Farrokhzad and her husband divorced; Parviz won custody of the child. She moved back to Tehran to write poetry and published her first volume, entitled The Captive, in 1955.

Farrokhzad, a female divorcée writing controversial poetry with a strong feminine voice, became the focus of much negative attention and open disapproval. In 1958 she spent nine months in Europe and met film-maker and writer Ebrahim Golestan, who reinforced her own inclinations to express herself and live independently. She published two more volumes, The Wall and The Rebellion before traveling to Tabriz to make a film about Iranians affected by leprosy. This 1962 documentary film titled The House is Black won several international awards. During the twelve days of shooting, she became attached to Hossein Mansouri, the child of two lepers. She adopted the boy and brought him to live at her mother’s house.

In 1963 she published Another Birth. Her poetry was now mature and sophisticated, and a profound change from previous modern Iranian poetic conventions.

At 4:30PM on February 13, 1967, Farrokhzad died in a car accident at age thirty-two. In order to avoid hitting a school bus, she swerved her Jeep, which hit a stone wall; she died before reaching the hospital. Her poem Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season was published posthumously, and is considered by some to be the best-structured modern poem in Persian.

Farrokhzad’s poetry was banned for more than a decade after the Islamic Revolution. A brief literary biography of Forough, Michael Hillmann’s A lonely woman: Forough Farrokhzad and her poetry, was published in 1987. Also about her is a chapter in Farzaneh Milani’s work Veils and words: the emerging voices of Iranian women writers (1992).

Forough further revolutionised the literary lanscape of Iran with her romantic but rich peoms that have been the favourite of the people of Iran wether her work was banned or not in the country.

Foroughs brother Ferydoun Farokhzad in Shah’s era made living as a TV show man but turned a political activist after the Islamic revolution and a voice for Gay Iranian men as he was gay himself, he was sadly assassinated by the Islamic extremists link to the Iranian government in Bonn Germany in 1992. his head was said to have been severed and placed on his chest as he was found.