"Shahriar" symbol of Iranian poetry

Tehran, Sept 17, IRNA - Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Behjat-Tabrizi (1906-1988), known by his pen name Shahriar, was born in Tabriz, Iran and is best known for his straightforward language and easy-to-understand poetry.

Shahriar was the first Iranian Azarbaijani poet to compose significant works in the Azari language. He published his first book of poems in 1929. His poetry was mainly influenced by Hafez, a famous Persian poet.

His most famous Azari language poem "Heidar-Baba" has so far been translated into 90 languages.

September 18 marks the demise anniversary of the great Iranian poet and is observed in Iran as "Day of Persian Poetry and Literature." 

Shahriar was the son of Sayyed Esmayeel, known as Mir Āqā (d. 1934), a calligrapher and erudite man. His childhood years coincided with the social and political unrest of the Constitutional Revolution that had prompted the family to relocate to rural areas as a preemptive security measure. Thus, Shahriar’s education began at a Maktab (the traditional elementary school) and then continued at the Talebiyeh School in Tabriz. He also studied Arabic literature and French with a private tutor. His school years in Tabriz brought him into contact with friends, classmates, and teachers.

Shahriar came to Tehran in 1921 and continued his studies at the Dar ul-Fonoun high school and began studying medicine after graduating from Dar ul-Fonoun in 1924. But he fell in love, left his studies about a year before receiving his M.D. degree, and went to Khorasan. He returned to Tehran in 1935 and started working in the Agricultural Bank of Iran.

Shahriar published his first book of poems in 1929, with prefaces by Mohammad Taghi Bahar, Saeid Nafisi, and Pejman Bakhtiari. His poems are mainly influenced by Hafez. His most famous poem, “Heydar Babaya Salam”, is considered to be among the best modern poems in the Azari language and has been made into a few plays.

Following his mother’s death in 1953, Shahriar returned to Tabriz and continued to live there for the rest of his life. 

Shahriar wrote many various forms of verse, including lyrics, quatrains, couplets, odes, and elegies. His works have also been turned into music by renowned Iranian musicians such as Rouhollah Khaleqi.

Shahriar was also a talented calligrapher and played the sitar. He passed away on September 18, 1988, and the day was named as Iran's National Day of Persian Literature and Poetry.

According to Khamenei.ir, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei believes that Shahriar was a prominent poet and his verses showed his wisdom.

"Shahriar is one of the eternal personalities of Persian poetry," he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei noted that although Shahriyar's poems were at a high level in terms of Persian literary standards, they were understandable even to the ordinary people. He added that mystic concepts and aphorisms constituted another special feature of Shahriyar's poems.

Further in his statements, the Leader of the Islamic Republic described Shahriyar as a sincere, humble, upright, high-principled, and pious personality who was never willing to put his poetry at the service of those wielding power and authority in society. He also referred to Shahriyar's love for and devotion to the holy Prophet of Islam and his household (peace and greetings be upon them).

"Shahriyar's poems about Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali-ibn-Abi Taleb (peace be upon him) and also about Master of the Martyrs Imam Hussein-ibn-Ali (PBUH) clearly indicate this love and devotion. Besides, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Shahriyar composed some poems about the revolution and also in praise of the Basijis, who made great self-sacrifice in the course of the Sacred Defense, without any expectations," Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out. 

Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Abbas Salehi believes that Shahriyar is one of the shining stars which serve as the abstract of Islamic and Iranian insight, as well as a bridge between yesterday and today's poetry.

"Symbols and signs of culture and civilization are spiritual identity card of the nations who have safeguarded a valuable and immense heritage from generation to generation to pass it on to the current generation," he said.

He further noted that Shahriyar represents the rich and genuine art of Iran who has been able to gain a spiritual and artistic miracle by combining freedom and religion and composing poems in Persian and Turkic languages.

Shahriyar is known not only in Iran but also worldwide, as the theme of his poetry is wisdom and knowledge, he said, describing him as one of the forerunners of the development of poetry.

Following a period of hospitalization in Tabriz, Shahriyar was transferred to a hospital in Tehran, where he passed away September 18, 1988. He was buried in the Poets’ Graveyard (Maqbaratoshoara) of Tabriz.

His house has been transformed into a museum where its items bring back nostalgic memories.

Compiled by Amin Mohammadzadegan Khoyi

Edited by Hamid Shamlou


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