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Parvin Etesami


A star in the heaven of Persian poetry          Mohammad Rohani

The story of destiny is madness

and it's not luck

to fall from the roof and say

it was fate

Acting is the best wing in the heaven

of knowledge

in the land of existence, art is

the best wealth

Search although your will  is

superior to thought

thrive although your path leads to the

dragon's mouth

 Parvin Etesami, the most famous Iranian female poet, was born on 17 March 1906 in Tabriz. At an early age she came with her father Etesamolmolk to Tehran and settled there. Because of the literary personality of Etesamolmolk, his house was frequented by figures such Sayyed Nasrollah Taqavi, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, and Bahar. With his command of French and Arabic, Etesamolmolk had access to books and journals which were at that time published in Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, the Caucuses, and Europe. Parvin grew up under the supervision of his father and in a literary and scholarly environment, reached intellectual maturity and familiarized with the thoughts of the elite of her time's literature. She learned Persian and Arabic from her father and studied at Tehran's American Girls School. She graduated from there in 1923 at the age of 18 and taught there for awhile. Ten years later at the age of 28, she married. Her husband, a cousin of his father and a police officer, took her to Kermanshah four months after the marriage. However, after 2.5 months of staying with him, Parvin returned to his father's house and in summer of 1935 she officially divorced as a result of her husband's addiction to drugs and corruption.

Parvin's collection of poems (divan) was first published in 1935. By then she was a renowned poet and had been writing poetry for 20 years. Literary figures were familiar with her poems that were printed in the second column of Bahar journal published by her father. In the winter of the next year, the ministry of education awarded her with a scientific medal. In summer of 1936 she was employed as a librarian at the ministry. 

Parvin's Characteristics

Our understanding of Parvin's individual and personal features and the events of her life is surprisingly limited despite poet. Among the authentic sources close to the time of her death is a small book of essays and poems published on her first anniversary in summer of 1944 in Tehran. From reports by people who knew Parvin and had friendship or acquaintance with her it turns out that she was a demure, short-spoken, benevolent, magnanimous woman, combining honesty, straightforwardness, modesty, purity of nature, thought and chastity with reclusion and disregard for attending gatherings. Her divan is almost devoid of personal and social events and incidents. Except for a poem in mourning for her father, a piece for her own gravestone, and the poem "twig of wish" written for her graduation ceremony in spring of 1924, and a couple of other works, there is nothing in her poems to help understand the personality of the poet.

the fact that she was a contemporary What can be understood from the concepts and themes of Parvin's poems about her temperaments and emotions is her deep affection for her father, her ample potential and passion to learn, purity and chastity, fighting tyranny and oppression and sympathy and support for the meek, and the downtrodden. After her demise no official ceremony was held, and only for her anniversary there was a memorial service in spring 1942 held by her friends and acquaintances, in which they reacted to the neglect she received during the despotic rule of the time. Najaf-born Iranian scholar Sayyed Mohammad Jamal Hashemi read out an Arabic poem in the anniversary. The poem was published in several Arab journals, showing Parvin's fame abroad.

Parvin's Poetry

What distinguishes Parvin's poetry is its concept and meaning. Her divan is full of divine and spiritual truth, lofty humane concepts, advice to reason, blame for arrogance and unfairness, lament about poverty, discrimination, class distinction, and sympathy for the poor and the oppressed. The soft color shed by the shining of mysticism and philosophy the concepts envisaged by the poet is not so harsh as to annoy the reader's eyes; it rather gives her poems brilliance. The combination of the emotional, mystic and moral tendencies in her poems makes them very pleasant.

The number of poems in which Parvin harshly criticizes kings and mentions the oppression of the rich and the powerful, and the pains and hardships of the disinherited is amazing. In "our lightening is the oppression of the rich"; she deplores oppression; in "o, meek" she calls on the deprived to revolt against oppressors; in "the wretched" she depicts poverty, and in "the old woman's lament" she questions the political legitimacy of the government.

The political hue of Parvin's poetry is so obvious that some critics have called her poetry one of "politics and morality" and have said that "eloquence of poetical rhetoric and firmness of a political message and the unshakable awe of morality" have come together in her poems. Parvin's courage and free spirit is all the more accentuated when one remembers that she composed such poems under the despotic rule of Reza Shah.

And here are two poems from Parvin:

Play of Life

while cooking, a lentil turned away From 'a pea and said, who's that? The pea smiled and said, not so fast Cause there are atot like me and you Whatever is to be cooked will be cooked What's the difference if it's a lentil or a pea?

You suppose that other than you, Whatever in this pot is worthless My endeavors have got an end to them Your efforts are also attaining a goal Whoever the worker, he's respected Everyone is somebody in his town Time flies, behold Life is like a caravan without a bell Every wing aspires to fly Be it a falcon's or a fly's Except the truth whatever is said Is but a noise, a play and a whim What can be done, in this sea We struggle as long as breath remains Neither you have a superior power Nor have I remorse to relief Every being will be put a load on Without being asked it's a horse or a mule Be it a peacock or a sparrow In the end it will end up in a cage

The Flower's Life

At dawn in the flower garden A bud smiled arrogantly at a flower Saying, you hag! It's a joyous day It's the season of youth in the garden One shouldn't be sad in the meadow Be colorless among all these colors The air of the meadow is exhilarating Like the morning light in spring You should also be ready for growth Be like me in complexion and freshness

If we were both planted by the same gardener

Why am I beautiful and you ugly?

Enlighten the grass with your light And don't disregard your value. The flower said, No flower Will remain fresh and smiling forever I too had color and scent once I had freshness, I had beauty The world has always plundered this garden

Today is my turn, tomorrow yours Since the bud will but a moment be a flower

What's the difference of sorrow and joy?

It's my time to leave the turf A withered flower will not blossom again

You be merry with the fresh-faced Cause it's my time to take my leave Don't pour your derision unjustly on me

For no one can tie the hands of fate The plundering world will defeat you The wind of events will overthrow you Every fresh leave grown on every branch

Will be ruined by a wind or a date Better for the flower to be alive a few days

Cause more than that, it will not be valued

Better to give out during life Be a beautiful flower and stay for a moment

Sweet-scented flowers have many admirers

But when beauty goes, no scent will remain

Time passed for the weary ones Go wake up the newly born Anyone who was fed milk be the world Will become old in his prime Since the world fills this goblet It should be drank, be it sherbet or blood

In the book from which my name was eradicated

A new page was opened for you I'm not sad about this withering For the life of flower is but one moment.


Source: HOMA magazine No:31


  If aren't being done contemplation, will be thought out instead of you

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