Page last updated on 2017 March 18
I have had a longstanding interest in poetry, particularly the works of classical Persian poets. I enjoy the works of many poets, both ancient and contemporary, I believe that each brings forth a unique world view and contributes fresh structures and formats. My favorite medieval Persian poets/philosophers include Sa'adi (1184-1283+), Mowlavi (aka Rumi, 1207-1273), and Hafez (1315-1390). Among Twentieth-Century Persian poets, I appreciate the works of Malek o-sho'ara Bahar (1889-1957), Parvin E'tasami (1907-1941), and Mohammad-Hossein Shariar (1906-1988).
My own style of Persian poetry is varied, but I particularly enjoy composing poems for momentous occasions, with initial letters of verses or half-verses spelling a particular message. This feature is evident in my annual Norooz poems, some of which appear on this page. More examples of poems written on other topics, or for other occasions, will be added in future.
Mowlavi: "If your thought is a rose, you are a rose garden; and if it is a thistle, you are fuel for the fire."
Sa'adi: "The children of Adam are limbs of one body, having been created of the same essence. When a limb is afflicted with pain, other limbs become restless as well. Anyone who feels no pain at the sufferings of others, is not fit to be called human." (shown in the calligraphic image above)
Each year for more than a decade, I have composed a cheerful poem to celebrate Norooz, along with its gifts of renewal and hope, and the Persian new year. A sampling of these poems follows the image below.
Norooz coincides with the first day of spring, which is also the start of the Persian calendar year. It has a special place among traditional observances in Iran and other Persian communities. Nature's renewal with the arrival of spring makes this holiday an occasion for joy and optimism, themes reflected in the poems that follow. Paying courtesy visits to members of one's extended family and spending time with loved ones are among Norooz rituals that have survived for thousands of years in the face of adversities and efforts of certain groups to obliterate festivals and other symbols of pre-Islamic Iran. (Read more about Norooz)
Note: There is an ongoing debate in the Persian community about the proper English spelling for Norooz. I have tended to use this simple and clean spelling in recent years. Others include: Nowrooz, Nowruz, Noruz.
For 2017, I decided to challenge myself further by having the initials in quarter-verses ("nim-mesra'e") also be part of the message. Reading downward, from right to left, the initials spell "NOROOZ | SAAL-E NO | BAR HAMEH | MOBAARAK" (Persian for "Happy Norooz and New Year to All").
The following Persian poem, composed for Norooz 1395 (spring 2016), contains "Saal-e No Mobaarak" ("Happy New Year") in the initial letters highlighted in its right margin. A rough English translation follows.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Oleaster, vinegar, sumac, and seeds sprouting into green
Love, caress, pleasantness, joy, have all entered the scene
From flowery twigs, the nightingale sings bright and bold
Odes and songs are on people's lips, be they young or old
The spring wind spreads jasmine's fragrance everywhere
Leaves and buds are aplenty, they emerge here and there
Image of nature in spring, is like an angel's warm glory
Rainbow-toned in colors, splendored like a fabulous story
In this spring and New Year, may your holidays be bright
Clear spite away, embrace an affection that's out of sight
— Behrooz Parhami, Norooz/Spring 2016
The Persian poem on the right below, composed for Norooz 1394 (spring 2015), contains "Pirooz Norooz" (Winsome/Triumphant Norooz) in the initial letters highlighted in its right margin. Here is an English translation:
Let's put winter to bed, spring is about to rise
The fields are all bejeweled, they seem like paradise
Brighter is our daytime, from the buoyant rays of sun
Moonshine makes our evening full of earnest fun
Gentle breeze and raindrops supply much needed lift
To greenery and flowers, they offer a precious gift
Prancing with delight, dancing too, you must
Follow the nightingale, sing with blissful lust
Lushness, fortune, and joy, are slated to arrive
If your heart's wide open, therein love will thrive
This poem was published in iranian.com on March 17, 2015.
The Persian poem on the left below, composed for Norooz 1393 (spring 2014), hides "Norooz khojasteh" (Auspicious Norooz) in the initial letters. The poem was published in iranian.com on March 20, 2014.
The Persian poem on the right below, composed for Norooz 1392 (spring 2013), contains "Norooz mobaarak" (Happy Norooz) in the initial letters highlighted in its right margin. Here is an English translation:
The sweetbriar's in the garden, so is the breeze of spring
Multiplied joy's what our festive celebrations bring
Gentle raindrops fall, as the cold winter cowers
The new year follows on the heels of greenery and flowers
Paleness, pain, and hurt, get erased from our faces
Mother Earth's cheeks turn rosy from the fire's embraces
May the arrival of spring bring you joy and affection
And may your fortune be far-flung in every direction
The festival of Norooz is our forbearers' precious gift
May your mouth be sweet, and your spirit a fragrant wift
The Persian poem on the left below, composed for Norooz 1390 (spring 2011), hides "Iran, Norooz" in the initial letters highlighted in its right margin. The poem appeared in iranian.com on March 15, 2011.
The Persian poem on the right below, composed for Norooz 1389 (spring 2010), hides "Saal-e no mobaarak" (Happy new year) in the initial letters highlighted in its right margin. The poem, which follows the mood and form of a verse by Mowlavi (reproduced at the very beginning), describes nature's beauty at the onset of spring and the many gifts it brings to us humans. The poem appeared in iranian.com as a blog post on March 17, 2010.
The Persian poem on the left below, written for Norooz 1388 (spring 2009) carries the message "Saal-e no mobaarak" (Happy new year) in the initial letters highlighted in its right margin. The poem was published in iranian.com on March 20, 2009.
The poem on the right below, celebrating Norooz 1387 (spring 2008), follows the mood and form of a popular couplet by Mowlavi. Mowlavi's couplet is reproduced at the beginning of the image. Professor Parhami's poem, entitled "My Norooz," hides the message "Behrooz P" in its half-verse initials.
The Persian poem on the left below was written for Norooz 1386 (spring 2007). It spells out "Shaad baad Noroozat" (May your Norooz be joyous) with the initials of its half-verses. The names of B. Parhmi's three children (Sepehr, Sepand, and Sepideh) also appear in the poem.
The Persian poem on the right below, was written for Norooz 1384 (spring 2005). Its initials spell out the message "Hamisheh Norooz" (Norooz, forever).
The Persian poem on the left below, which was written on the occasion of Norooz 1383 (spring 2004), spells out "Behrooz Parhami" with its initials.
The Persian poem on the right below was written to celebrate Norooz 1382 (spring 2003). Its initials spell out the message "Behrooz Norooz" (Prosperous Norooz).
The poem on the left below was written to celebrate Norooz 1381 (spring 2002). Its half-verse initials spell out the message "Norooz mobaarak" (Auspicious Norooz). It was published in iranian.com on March 14, 2002.
Poems on various topics will be posted to this section in due course.
Here is the first example: a response to a poem appearing on a banner in Tehran, entitled "Khaaharam, ey Dokhtar-e Iran-Zameen" (My Sister, Oh Daughter of the Land of Iran!), that instructed women on how to behave and what styles/colors of clothes to wear. The banner poetry offended my senses of liberty, fairness, and justice, especailly since I was reading The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran (Arzoo Osanloo, Princeton Univ. Press, 2009) at the time. A review of the said book appears in my Blog & Books Web page; see the entry for 2010/03/10. This response poem appeared in iranian.com on February 17, 2010, where you can also see the original banner-poem.
The poem on the right is entitled "The Unfound Soulmate." This piece, which had been in the works for a long time, was finally completed on April 23, 2010. It contains a kind of wish list of highly desirable features in an as yet unfound soulmate.
More poems to come.