Baba Taher

Baba Taher

Baba Taher, (var. Baba Tahir, in Persian: بابا طاهر) was an 11th century Persian poet and mystic.


Baba Taher is known as one of the most revered and respectable early poets in Persian literature. Most of his life is clouded in mystery. He probably lived in Hamadan, the capital city of the Hamedan Province in Iran. He was known by the name of Baba Taher-e Oryan (The Naked), which suggests that he may have been a wandering dervish. Legend tells that the poet, an illiterate woodcutter, attended lectures at a religious school, where he was not welcomed by his fellow-students. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. One source indicates that he died in 1019. If this is accurate, it would make Baba Taher a contemporary of Ferdowsi and Pour Sina (Avicenna) and an immediate precursor of Omar Khayyam. Another source reports that he lived between 1000 and 1055, which is most unlikely. Reliable research notes speculate that Baba Taher lived for seventy-five years. Rahat al-sodur of Ravandi (completed 603/1206), describes a meeting between Baba Taher, and the Saljuq conqueror Togrel (pp. 98-99). According to L. P. Elwell-Sutton: "He could be described as the first great poet of Sufi love in Persian literature. In the last two decades his do-bayt^s have often been put to music".


Baba Taher poems are recited to the present day all over Iran accompanied with setar (in Persian: Seh Tar), three stringed viol or lute. The quatrains of Baba Taher are also written in local languages such as Mazandarani. They say Pahlaviat to these kinds of poems and they are very ancient. Baba Taher songs were originally read in Pahlavi and Kurdish languages, as well as Luri and Hamadani dialects, taking their present form in the course of time. The quatrains of Baba Taher have a more amorous and mystical connotation rather than philosophical. Baba Taher's poems are of the "do-bayti" style, a form of Persian quatrains, which some scholars regard as having affinities with Middle Persian verses. [Encyclopedia Iranica, [ Baba Taher] , L. P. Elwell-Sutton] . Classical Persian Music is based on Persian Poetry and Baba Taher's poems are the weight that carries a major portion of this music. Baba Tahers poetry is the basis for Dastgahe Shoor and in particular Gooshe of Dashtestani, Choopani and Deylaman.


Attributed to him is a work by the name Kalemat-e qesaar, a collection of nearly 400 aphorisms in Arabic, which has been the subject of commentaries, one allegedly by Ayn-al-Qozμat Hamadani. [Encyclopedia Iranica, [ Baba Taher] , L. P. Elwell-Sutton] . An example of such a saying is one where Baba Taher ties knowledge with gnosis: "Knowledge is the guide to gnosis, and when gnosis has come the vision of knowledge lapses and there remain only the movements of knowledge to gnosis”; “knowledge is the crown of the gnostic, and gnosis is the crown of knowledge”; whoever witnesses what is decreed by God remains motionless and powerless."

Sample Poetry

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

خداوندا که بوشم با که بوشم

مژه پر اشک خونین تا که بوشم

همم کز در برانن سو ته آیم

تو کم از در برانی واکه بوشم


"Lord! who am I, and of what company?

"How long shall tears of blood thus blind mine eyes?

"When other refuge fails I'll turn to Thee,

"And if Thou failest me, whither shall I go?

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

مو آن بحرم که در ظرف آمدستم

مو آن نقطه که در حرف آمدستم

بهر الفی الف قدی بر آیه

الف قدم که در الف آمدستم


"I am that sea and have come into a bowl;

"I am that dot and have come into a letter;

"in every thousand one straight-as-an-alef (alef-qadd) appears;

"I am that straight one, for I came in a thousand

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

دلم از درد ته دائم غمینه

به بالین خشتم و بستر زمینه

همین جرمم که مو ته دوست دیرم

ز هر کت دوست دیره حال آینه؟


"Grieving for thee my heart is ever sad,"

"A brick my pillow, and my couch the earth:"

"My only sin is loving thee too well:"

"Surely not all thy lovers suffer so?"

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

مگر شیر و پلنگی ای دل ای دل

به مو دایم بجنگی ای دل ای دل

اگر دستم فتی خونت وریژم

بوینم تا چه رنگی ای دل ای دل


"Art thou a lion or leapoard, O Heart, O Heart,"

"That thou warres ever with me, O Heart, O Heart?"

"Fall thou into my hands; I'll spill thy blood,"

"To see what colour it is, O Heart, O Heart!"

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

هزارت دل بغارت برده ویشه

هزارانت جگر خون کرده ویشه

هزاران داغ ویش از ویشم اشمر

هنی نشمرده از اشمرده ویشه


"More than a thousand hearts has thou laid waste,"

"More than a thousand suffer grief for thee,"

"More than a thousand wounds of thine I've counted,"

"Yet the uncounted still are more than these."

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

سیه بختم که بختم سرنگون بی

توه روژم که روژم واژگون بی

شدم خار و خس کوه محبت

ز دست دل که یارب غرق خون بی


"Black is my lot, my fortune's overtuned,"

"Ruined are my fortunes, for my luck is brought low";

"A thorn, a thistle I, on the Mountain of Love,"

"For my heart's sake. Drown it in blood, O Lord!"

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

نگارینا دل و جونم ته دیری

همه پیدا و پنهونم ته دیری

ندونم مو که این درد از که دیرم

همی ذونم که در مونم ته دیری


"My Beautiful! thou hast my heart and soul,"

"Thou hast mine inner and mine outer self;"

"I know not why I am so very sad,"

"I only know that thou hold'st the remedy."

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

دلی نازک بسان شیشه ام بی

اگر آهی کشم اندیشه ام بی

سرشکم گر بوه خونین عجب نیست

مو آن دارم که در خون ریشه ام بی


"My heart is dainty as a drinking cup,

"I fear for it whene'er I have a sigh;"

"It is not strange my tears are as blood,"

"I am a tree whose roots set in blood."

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

مسلسل زلف بر رو ریته دیری

گل و سنبل بهم آویته دیری

پریشان چون کری اون تار زلفون

به هر تاری دوی آویته دیری


"Thy tangled Curls are scattered o'er thy face,

"Mingling the Roses with the Hyacinths;"

"But part asunder those entangled strand

"On ever hair thou'lt find there hangs a heart. (Translation by: E. Heron-Allen)

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

دلا راه تو پر خار و خسک بی

گذرگاه تو بر اوج فلک بی

گر از دستت بر آیو پوست از تن

بیفکن تا که بارت کمترک بی


"Briar and thorn beset thy way, o Heart

"Beyond the Dome of Heaven is thy road;

"If thou art able, then thy very skin

"Cast off from thee, and lighten thus thy load

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

ز دست دیده و دل هر دو فریاد

که هرچه دیده وینه دل کنه یاد

بسازم خنجری نیشش ز پولاد

زنم بردیده تا دل گرده آزاد


"Beneath the tyranny of eyes and heart I cry,

"For, all the eyes see, the heart stores up:

"I'll fashin me a pointed sword of steel,

"Put out mine eyes, and so set free my heart

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

دلت ای سنگدل بر ما نسوجه

عجب نبود اگر خارا نسوجه

بسوجم تا بسوجونم دلت را

در آتش چوب تر تنها نسوجه


"O heart of Stone, Thou burnest not for me,

"That stone burns not, is not, indeed, so strange

"But I will burn till I inflame thy heart.

"For fresh-cut logs are difficult to burn alone.

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

بی ته اشکم ز مژگان تر آیو

بی ته نخل امیدم بی بر آیو

بی ته در کنج تنها شو و روز

نشینم که تا عمرم بر سر آیو


"When thou’rt away, mine eyes o’erflow with tears,

"Barren the Tree of Hope when thou’rt away:

"Without thee, night and day, in a solitary corner,

"I sit, till life itself come to an end.

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

به گلشن بی تو گل هرگز مرویا

وگر رویا کسش هرگز مبویا

بی شادی بی تو هرکس لو گشایه

لوش از خون دل هرگز مشویا


"Without-Thee in the Garden, Lord, may no rose bloom,

"Or, blooming, may none taste its sweet perfume,

"So, should my heart expand when Thou art not nigh,

"T were vain! my heart's grief naught could turn to joy

Original Fahlavi/Persian:

چو مو یک سو ته دل پروانه ای نه

جهان را همچو مو دیوانه ای نه

همه مارون و مورون لانه دیرن

من بیچاره را ویرانه-ای نه


"What blundering Moth in all the World like me?

"What madman like me in the Universe?

"The very Serpents and the Ants have nests,

"But I -- poor wretch - no ruin shelters me.


His tomb is located near the northern entrance of the city of Hamadan in Western Iran, in a park, surrounded by flowers and winding paths. The structure consists of twelve external pillars surrounding a central tower. It was reconstructed in 1970.

ee also

*List of Persian poets and authors



* Encyclopedia Iranica, [ Baba Taher] , L. P. Elwell-Sutton
*: By Manouchehr Saadat Noury
* E.G. Browne. "Literary History of Persia". (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
* Jan Rypka, "History of Iranian Literature". Reidel Publishing Company. ASIN B-000-6BXVT-K

External links

* [ poems by Baba Tahir (Persian)]

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