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CLASSICAL PERSIAN POETRY AND POETS: THE TIMURID AND TĂœRKMEN PERIODS

A One-Day Workshop at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter March 30, 2013 Convenor: Dr. Leonard Lewisohn, Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies


Programme 9:00-9:30

Coffee and Registration

9:30-10:00

Welcoming and Opening Remarks DR LEONARD LEWISOHN (IAIS, University of Exeter)

10:00-11:00

Chair: Dr Leonard Lewisohn DR HOSSEIN ELAHI GHOMSHEI (Independent Scholar, Former Director of the National Library of Iran) Keynote Address: Denizens of the Realm of Gold: A Sojourn among some Immortal Mediæval Persian Poets (Sa‘di, Hafiz, Jami…)

11:00-12:00

DR MAJDODDIN KEYVANI (Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia, Tehran, Iran) New Research & Publications on Classical Persian Literature and Poetry in Iran: the Last 35 Years

12:00-1:00

Lunch

1:00-2:00

Chair: Dr Ali Asghar Seyed-Gohrab DR LEONARD LEWISOHN The Major Significance of Minor Persian Poets of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

2:00-3:00

PROF ALIREZA KORANGY (University of Virginia) Yayan: The Fifteenth Century, the Proto-thematic and the Proto-rhetorical ‘Split Second’ before the Maktab-i Vuqu‘


3:00-3:30

Coffee/tea

3:30-4:30

Chair: Dr Majdoddin Keyvani DR EVE FEUILLIBOIS-PIERUNEK (CRNS, INALCO, University of Paris III) Jami’s Ghazals and Quatrains: Matching Persian Mystical poetry and Akbarian Doctrine

4:30-5:30

DR ALI ASGHAR SEYED-GHORAB (University of Leiden) Persian Poetry in the Safina-ye Tabriz (1321): The Works of Jalal al-Din Atiqi and Homam al-Din Tabrizi

5:30-5:45

Concluding Remarks: Dr Leonard Lewisohn

8:15-10:00

Workshop Dinner (by invitation only)


Abstracts and Biographies of Speakers Keynote Address Denizens of the Realm of Gold: A Sojourn among some Immortal Mediæval Persian Poets (Sa‘di, Hafiz, Jami…) Dr Husayn Ilahi Ghomshei In this lecture I will concentrate on the following four themes in Persian poetry of the period: (1) the Unity of Being; (2) the Ethics of Sufism; (3) anti-clericalism; and (4) beauty worship (jamal-parasti) and the religion of love (madhhab-e ishq). I will open the workshop with a general introduction on how these themes are applicable to each of the major poets of the period and show how the wines of their inspiration have been served up in different goblets, relished as savoury nibbles and exhibited in a lovely variety of seasons. I will largely focus on the best and most loved poems of Sa‘di, Hafiz and Jami so as to illustrate the progression of ideas in general, and the above four themes in particular, and thus prepare the way for the other contributors to the workshop to enter into more detailed discussions on individual poets or themes. Dr Husayn Ilahi Ghomshei has been a household name in Iran since the early 1980s where, due to his wide-ranging literary versatility, phenomenal powers of memory and in-depth understanding of English, Persian and Arabic literature—in particular Islamic philosophy (falsafa, hikmat), theosophy (‘irfan), Sufism (tasawwuf) and Persian classical poetry—he is widely sought after as a speaker on literature, Islamic philosophy, Persian poetry and mysticism. He lectures regularly in Central Asia, India, Australia, Europe and North America. A former Director of the National Library of Iran (1981-82),


he studied Arabic Literature, Grammar, Logic, Theosophy, Jurisprudence, and Kalam at Tehran Seminary School (1958-68), receiving his BA in Islamic Theology and Philosophy in 1961 and his Ph.D. in Islamic Theology and Philosophy in 1965 from Tehran University. His numerous publications include Majmu‘ah-i Maqalat (Collected Essays and Translations) (1987), Guzida-yi Fihi ma Fihi (Selections from the The Discourses of Rumi, with introduction and commentary) (1988), Divan-i Hafez (An Edition of Hafiz’s Collected Poems with an introduction) (1989), and Guzida-yi Mantiq al-tayr of ‘Attar (Selections from the Conference of the Birds) (1994) with an introduction and commentary. He is also the author of a best-selling anthology of English literature in Persian translation: In the Realm of Gold: 365 Days with English Literature (2007) as well as the author/ editor of several books comprising large selections from the works of the world’s great poets and thinkers. His most recent work: In the Company of the Qur’an (2011) has sold more than 20,000 copies in Iran.


New Research & Publications on Classical Persian Literature and Poetry in Iran: the Last Thirty-five Years Dr Majdoddin Keyvani Despite certain political as well as religious restrictions during recent decades in Iran, scholarly studies on classical Persian Literature and poetry, regardless of the quality and depth of scholarship, has definitely been on the rise. Thanks to a lively and flourishing publishing industry and the marked increase in the number of publishers, scholars of Persian Literature have found it far easier than before to get the results of their research printed. The enormous increase in the number of new universities along with the creation of new MA and Ph.D. courses devoted to Persian Literature has constituted an effective factor in the composition of theses by graduate students, quite a few of which deal with aspects of classical Persian Literature, and many of which eventually find their way into print. In addition to this, the establishment of such institutes such as the Written Heritage Research Centre, ‘Book City’, the Institute for Humanities, etc., and the foundation of various large encyclopaedia projects dedicated to the study of Persian Literature, culture and language within the past thirty odd years as well as the expansion and further thriving of the previously set-up scientific centres in Tehran and some provinces have all to a greater or lesser extent contributed to the flourishing of studies of Classical Persian literature in contemporary Iran. In this presentation I give an overview of these trends as well as an analysis of recent research in the scholarly study of and publications on Persian Literature over the past thirty-five years in Iran.


Dr Majdoddin Keyvani obtained his Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Wales. During the 1970s he taught linguistics, language skills, English texts on Persian literature, Sufism, and theory and practice of translation at various universities in Iran. Among other academic positions, he served as head of the department of foreign languages at the University for Teachers Education (UTE) in Tehran (1973-74) and as the first President of the Teacher Training College, Zahedan, Iran (1974-79). More recently (2009-10), he was full-time Assistant Editor of the Encyclopedia Iranica in New York. Since 1989 he has been a member of the Scientific Council of the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia, Tehran. He has published more than three hundred articles and reviews in various journals including Journal of Literature & Humanities, UTE; Motarjem; Great Islamic Encyclopaedia; Daneshnama-ye zaban u adab-e farsi, Daneshname-ye jahan-e Islam; and Gozaresh-e Mirath. He has also translated 20 books on Persian Sufi literature and Sufism from English into Persian by authors such as A. Ravan-Farhadi, Carl Ernst, M. Aminrazavi, H. Mason, L. Lewisohn, L. Ridgeon, and B. Radtke. For his recent translation from Persian into English of A.H. Zarrinkub’s Step by Step up to Union with God: the Life, Thought and Spiritual Journey of Jalal al-Din Rumi (2009) he was awarded Iran’s ‘Book of the Year’ prize.


The Major Significance of Minor Persian Poets of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries Dr Leonard Lewisohn The study of Persian Literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries has been largely dominated by the two major poets of the period: Hafiz (d. 791/1389) and Jami (d. 898/1492). The monumental stature and miraculous achievement of the verse of these two figures has largely eclipsed other important poets whose work is phenomenal in their own right. There were seven extremely important Persian poets, aside from Hafiz, who flourished during the fourteenth century, namely: Baha al-Din Sultan Walad (d. 712/1312), Nizari Quhistani (645/1247–721/1321), Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (d. 725/1325), Mahmud Shabistari (687/1288—d. after 737/1337), Khwaju Kirmani (d. 742/1342), ‘Ubayd Zakani (d. 773/1371) and Kamal Khujandi (d. 803/1400). Likewise, in the fifteenth century, aside from Jami, there were seven highly significant poets who graced that age, namely: Muhammad Shirin Maghribi (d. 810/1408), Shah Ni‘matullah Wali (d. 835/1431), Adhari Tusi (d. 1461), Shah Da’i Shirazi (d. 1464-5), Mir ‘Ali Shir Nava’i (d. 906/1501) and Muhammad Lahiji (d. 913/1507). The other major poet of the period, namely Baba Fighani, died at the end of the second decade of the sixteenth century in 925/1519, so his work can be accounted as largely belonging to the previous century. In addition to these important fifteen poets, there are some twenty other poets of lesser fame and importance, practically none of whom have been subjected to any sustained study by any Western scholars. This presentation aims to re-evaluate the significance of the so-called minor poets of the Timurid and Türkmen period and reassess their contribution to the canon of Persian Classical Literature.


Dr Leonard Lewisohn is Senior Lecturer in Persian and Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow in Classical Persian and Sufi Literature at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter, where he currently teaches Persian language, Sufism, the history of Iran, as well as courses on Persian texts and Persian poetry in translation. He specializes in translation of Persian Sufi poetic and prose texts. He is the author of Beyond Faith and Infidelity: The Sufi Poetry and Teachings of Mahmud Shabistari (1995), and the editor of three volumes entitled The Heritage of Sufism, vol. 1: The Legacy of Mediæval Persian Sufism, vol. 2: Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi, vol. 3 (with David Morgan): Late Classical Persianate Sufism: the Safavid and Mughal Period (1999) — covering a millennium of Islamic history. He is also editor (with Christopher Shackle) of The Art of Spiritual Flight: Farid al-Din ‘Attar and the Persian Sufi Tradition (London: I.B. Tauris 2006), co-translator with Robert Bly of The Angels Knocking on the Tavern Door: Thirty Poems of Hafiz (New York: HarperCollins 2008), and editor of Hafiz and the Religion of Love in Classical Persian Poetry (London: I.B. Tauris 2010). He is editor of the Mawlana Rumi Review, an annual journal devoted to Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273), currently in its fourth volume. Dr Lewisohn has contributed articles to the Encyclopedia of Love in World Religions, Encyclopedia of Islam, Encyclopædia Iranica, Encyclopædia of Philosophy (2nd Edition), Encyclopædia of Religion (2nd Edition), Iran Nameh, Iranian Studies, African Affairs, Islamic Culture, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society and the Temenos Academy Review.


Yayan: The Fifteenth Century, the Proto-thematic and the Proto-rhetorical ‘Split Second’ Before Maktab-e Vuqu’ Dr Alireza Korangy Maktab-e Vuqu’, the Realists’ School, can be pondered as one of the most opaque moments in the history of Persian literature, ironically, and precisely because its poets shunned the thematic enigma encountered in the poetry of Sufi masters such as ‘Attar, Rumi, Iraqi and others in their treatment of love and lover-beloved relationship — those who are considered the canons of poetical adage. This correspondence aims to highlight the thematic morphology that takes place at the brink of this ‘post-rationalized’ poetic school by putting under the microscope the poetry of some of the betterknown poets of late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and tracing their influences to the poets of ‘Maktab-e Vuqu’.’ The poetics and the regurgitations therein, in this literary movement, can be traced to several different epochs, as they are an amalgamation of different mannerisms, although schizophrenically so. However, the epitome of the bawdy, erotic, and very physical world the poets of this literary circle subscribed to was predominantly an offspring of fifteenth-century romantic epicureanism and an emulation of a lover-beloved relationship of the eleventh century panegyric poet who might have spoken of lovers’ gregarious moods. This was an antithesis to the thematic nomenclature of the Persian ghazal or any poem defining the parameters of love up to that point. It is quite an astounding phenomenon that the Maktab-e Vuqu’ was followed by the Sabk-e Hindi (Indian Style), with its resurrection of enigma, ambiguity, and a return to twelfth-century Persian verse — an odd succession indeed. Maktab-e Vuqu’ was a renegade schism in the realm of Persian poetics and Persian mannerism, however, as will be put forth, and as had been the case for centuries prior, and many


styles that preceded it, it was simply a reassessment of all that was proto-‘Maktab-i Vuqu’.’ Dr Alireza Korangy is a tenure-track Professor of Classical Arabic and Classical Persian philology and literatures and a researcher in contemporary Iranian linguistics, specifically Sorani Kurdish and Gilaki, at the University of Virginia. His first book, Development of the Ghazal and Khaqani (Harrassowitz Verlag, 2013), is a study on the development of the Ghazal poetry with focus on the role of the enigmatic poet Khaqani Shirvani. This monograph also treats Arabic rhetoric and its influences on the Persian counterpart under the rubric of Ghazal studies. His upcoming book (Martyrdom in Iran: The History of Martyrs in Classical and Modern Persian Literature – I.B. Tauris) treats the literature of martyrdom and the history of literary martyrs in Iran. His work on an Iranian linguistic discourse/grammar is due out in the summer of 2014. His other works in progress include several edited volumes on subjects ranging from mannerisms and metaphor in Persian and Indo-Persian literatures to the idea of the beloved as a linguistic, social, religious and a philosophical canon in Middle Eastern literatures. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University under the supervision of Prof Wheeler Thackston, Prof Wolfhart P. Heinrichs, and Prof Ahmad Mahdavi Damghani.


Persian Poetry in the Safina-ye Tabriz (1321): the Works of Jalal al-Din Atiqi and Homam al-Din Tabrizi Dr Ali-Asghar Seyed-Gohrab The literary works in the fourteenth-century miscellaneous manuscript Safina-ye Tabriz represent a literary canon of Persian literature. The collection contains a wide range of literary genres, several Divans, selections from famous romances by Nezami Ganjavi, collections of quatrains, mystical treatises and several debate poems. A special volume entitled The Treasury of Tabriz: The Great IlKhanid Compendium (Amsterdam 2007) edited by myself and S. McGlinn, was recently published, dedicated to exploring the huge significance of this unique manuscript. Its copyist, Abu’l-Majd Tabrizi, also included in his miscellany works of his teachers such as Jalal alDin ‘Atiqi and Amin al-Din Hajj Bulah. Thanks to the recent publication of a facsimile edition (2002) of the Safina, Jalal al-Din ‘Atiqi’s and his works have received more attention. His Divan of poetry has been recently discovered and published in Tehran (2009). We now also know that Amin al-Din Hajj Bulah was in all probability the spiritual teacher of both two major Persian poets: Mahmud Shabistari and Nizari Quhistani. During this workshop I will focus my attention on the literary works in this miscellany in general, and in particular on ‘Atiqi’s and Homam al-Din Tabrizi’s works, examining how the compiler made a personal canon of Persian poetry, discussing the scribe’s choice of material, the order in which literary works are arranged, and the compiler’s predilection for a specific genre or literary form. I will also try to show how and why this treasury is helpful in expanding the horizons of our understanding of Persian poetry in the late Mongol and early Timurid period.


Dr. Ali Asghar Seyed-Ghorab is the chairman of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Leiden University. He was born in Tehran and has lived in the Netherlands since 1986. He studied English language and literature at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, and Persian language and culture at Leiden University. He completed his Ph.D. at Leiden University, specializing in Persian literature and mysticism. He has been the recipient of several research grants and awards. With his research team he is currently working on the project Of Poetry and Politics: Classical Poetic Concepts in New Politics of Twentieth Century Iran, examining the use of classical Persian poetry as a political instrument in modern Iran. His research analyses the role of poetry in justification of violence, the combatant cult of martyrdom as an icon of national identity, and the mystic poetry of Ayatollah Khomeini. He has published several books and articles on various aspects of Iranian culture, including Courtly Riddles: Enigmatic Embellishments in Early Persian Poetry (2008); The Essence of Modernity: A Study of Mirza Yusof Khan Mostashar ad-Dowla Tabrizi’s Treatise on Law (Yak Kalima), (2007), (together with S. McGlinn); The Treasury of Tabriz: the Great Il-Khanid Compendium, (2007) (together with S. McGlinn); Layli and Majnun: Love, Madness and Mystic Longing in Nizami’s Epic Romance, (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2003); The Mirror of Meanings (Mir’at al-Ma‘ani), translated with an introduction and glossary (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 2002); Conflict and Development in Iranian Film, ed. A.A. Seyed-Gohrab & K. Talattof, (Leiden: LUP, 2013). He has also published several volumes of Dutch translations on modern Persian poetry and prose (two volumes on Sohrab Sepehri, and works on Forugh Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlu, Nader Naderpur, Shahrnush Parsipur and Hushang Golshiri).


Jami’s Ghazals and Quatrains: Matching Persian Mystical Poetry and Akbarian Doctrine Dr Eve Feuillibois Sufi, scholar, poet, often presented as the last great classical Persian writer, Nur al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami (1414-1492) wrote a prolific amount of poetry and prose in both Persian and Arabic. He turned his hand to every genre of Persian poetry and authored numerous treatises on a wide range of topics, mainly in religious sciences and literature. In my presentation, I will focus on the two following matters: Jami’s mystical love poetry, especially in his ghazals and quatrains; and the role he played in the matching of wahdat al-wojud with Persian Sufism. Jami’s Diwan, collected in 1491, is divided into three sections: Fatihat al-shabab (“Opening of Youth”), Wasitat al-‘iqd (“Middle of the Necklace”), and Khatimat al-hayat (“The End of Life”). The bulk of the volume consists of about a thousand ghazals, but it also includes poems in all the shorter forms (qasida, tarji‘- and tarkib-band, qet‘a, and roba‘i, short mathnawi). I will focus on mystical and religious themes, and especially Jami’s use of classical Persian erotic and bacchanalian imagery. One of the most characteristic features of Jami’s work is his constant reference to the literary past. In his ghazals, for example, Jami responded to poems by Sa‘di, Amir Khosrow, Kamal Khojandi, and Hafiz in the same rhyme and meter, sticking close to the theme and images of the models. He cared about the formal qualities of poetry, fluency and elegance of diction, and immediate comprehensibility, but he rarely went beyond the standard images and metaphors of the tradition. On the other hand, Jami’s work represents the fullest summation of the long history of


the integration of the Sufi theosophy of Ibn al-‘Arabi with the Persian literary tradition. Jami joined to his Naqshbandi affiliation a devotion to the teachings and legacy of Ibn al-‘Arabi, in whom he saw the supreme exponent of gnostic wisdom for the Arabs, just as Jalal-al-Din Rumi had been for the Persians. He wrote commentaries on his major works, and also more attractive treatises, like the Lawa’ih (Illuminations), the Lawami‘ (Gleams, on the celebrated wine poem of Ibn al-Farid, or the Ashi‘at al-lama‘at (Rays from the Flashes, commenting on Fakhr al-Din ‘Iraqi’s Lama‘at). However, I will here focus on a less known and studied work: Jami’s Sharh-e ruba‘iyat, a commentary on his own quatrains, imitating Ibn ‘Arabi’s Tarjuman alashwaq. Forty-eight mystical quatrains are here followed by an average of one page of prose commentary. Both thematic and vocabulary (including imagery) greatly vary from the ones used in the Diwan, being illustrations of the most important ideas of Ibn ‘Arabi. It is within this poetry commentary that Jami tries his best to conciliate wahdat al-wujud with Persian poetical mysticism. I will thus try to present comprehensively the different topoi developed in Jami’s Diwan and their link with the choice of a particular form, with particular insistence on the ghazal and the quatrain. Then I will examine the Sharh-e ruba‘iyat, putting emphasis on the specific thematic elements developed in those quatrains and the way the prose commentary goes on explaining and discussing the ideas briefly touched upon in the poems. And finally, I will compare these different uses of poetry for conveying mystical doctrines and experiences.


Dr. Eve Feuilebois-Pierunek is a specialist on classical Persian literature and Sufism. She did her doctoral dissertation (1999) on the poetry of Fakhr al-Din ‘Iraqi at the University of Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle, before which she spent three years in Tehran, Iran (199396) on a scholarship from the French Institute of Iranian Studies. Her publications include: Pensée mystique et expression poétique en littérature persane médiévale: Fakhr al-din ‘Erâqi (m. 1289), un auteur à la croisée des Voies célestes (Paris/Téhéran: IFRI/Peeters 2002; Bibliothèque iranienne, 54); Les derviches tourneurs, doctrine, histoire et pratiques (with Alberto Fabio Ambrosio and Thierry Zarcone, Paris, Cerf 2006, Patrimoines, Islam); (ed) Epopées du monde. Pour un panorama (presque) général (Paris, Classiques Garnier 2001); (ed.) Théâtres d’Asie et d’Orient: traditions, rencontres, métissages (Bruxelles, P.I.E. Peter Lang 2012). Since 1999 she has been the Assistant Professor of Persian Studies at the University of Paris III, and an active research staff member of the “Monde iranien” Department of CNRS, Paris III, INALCO.


Classical Persian Poetry and Poets  

This workshop organized by Dr. Leonard Lewisohn at the University of Exeter that aims to provide a comprehensive survey of the life, works a...