Mehdi Akhavan-Sales
Mehdi Akhavān Sāles
Born Mehdi Akhavān Sāles
1928
Mashhad, Iran
Died 1990
Tehran, Iran
Occupation Poet

Mehdi Akhavān-Sāles (مهدی اخوان ثالث), or Akhavān-Sāless (1928, Mashhad, Iran — 1990, Tehran, Iran), pen name M. Omid (م. امید, Hope) was a prominent Iranian poet. He is one of the pioneers of Free Verse (New Style Poetry) in Persian language.

Contents

Life

Akhavan Sales was born in 1928 in Mashhad, Iran. He gave up an interest in music to appease his father. When the government of prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh was toppled, he was imprisoned along with other political activists. His daughter Laleh, was born while he was in prison.

After his release from prison in 1957, he started to work in radio, and soon after was transferred to Khouzestan to work in TV. Later on, he taught literature on radio and TV and at the university. After the 1979 Iranian Revolution he was granted membership to the Iranian Academy of Artists and Writers. In 1981 he was forced to retire from government service without pay. In 1990, following an invitation from the cultural organization in Germany, he traveled abroad for the first time. Few months after his return, he died at Mehr Hospital in Tehran. He is buried on the grounds of the mausoleum of Ferdowsi in Tus.

Poetry

Grave of Mehdi Akhavan-Sales in Tous, near Mashhad

Although Akhavan Sales's poetic career began as early as 1942, he did not acquire the degree of recognition, necessary for breaking into the literary circles of his time until the publication of his third volume of poetry in 1956. Called "Zemestan" (Winter), this volume boosted Sales's career and placed him among the top runners for the mantle of Nima Yushij. In fact, for many circles, Nader Naderpour and Akhavan Sales were equally recognized as worthy successors of the Bard of Mazandaran. The fact that like Nima they both had started as traditionalists and had worked their way into new realms of New Poetry through individual initiative itself deserved praise for singular effort.

Akhavan's forte, like the bard of Tus, Ferdowsi, is epic; more precisely, he chooses themes of epical proportion and expresses them with the same zeal that Ferdowsi uses in the Shahnameh. The difference is that they write for two diametrically different audiences. Akhavan Sales need not engage his poetry in gavel by gavel battles of Iranian and Turanian chiefs. Rather, he can focus on the theme and illustrating aspects of it with diverse, often far-fetched similes, metaphors, and symbols.

Finally, Sales's language is complex. While translating his verse, one cannot ignore the impact of the internal rhyme, the interconnection of seemingly disparate images, and the ubiquitous presence of the theme. Sales's "Winter," is a good example for understanding the depth of his conviction as well as the dexterity and the finesse that distinguish his compositions.

The translation of one of his most famous poems Winter (Zemestan in Persian) is provided below.

Reign of Winter[1]

Translation: Maryam Dilmaghani


And if you ever greet them

they will not pause one instant

to greet you back.

Heads are hanging sternly lowly.


And if you salute the passing friends

They will not raise their heads

They will not move their gaze

to even glance at your face.

The sight is lost in an opaque, thick haze.

No sign of the stars: They no longer blaze!

The eyes see no more-but one step ahead;

We pass silent and sombre with our tumbling tread.

To a passing man, it is your hand that you lend

Only hesitantly he extends his to you, Alas My Friend!

The air is bitter cold and cruel, the route is a dead-end!

You exhale and your breath turns into a dark blur,

raising insolently a wall in front of your eye.

If this is your own breath then what could you expect

from your friends –of far-away or close-by?

O My Honest Saviour!

O My Old Virtuous Companion!

I hail you with reverence and respect!

Welcome me back!

Open me your door!

It is me, it’s me: Your visitor of all nights!

It is me, it’s me: The sorrowful errant!

It is me: The discarded, The beaten stone!

It is me: The injury to Creation; The song out of tune!

Recall? Not the black, not the white: The colourless buffoon!

Come and open me the door!

I am freezing; open the door before!

O Counterpart! O Generous Host!

Your usual guest is trembling in the icy outside!

And if you have ever heard a sound:

It is not raining and in this lane there is not even a soul!

The noise is from the encounter of my teeth

with this overwhelming cold.

Tonight I am here to reimburse you in mass!

I am here to go clear in front of a wine-glass!

Do not say “It’s late; it’s almost the crack of dawn!”

The sky is deceitful with its blushed fawn!

This red is not from the rays of light;

The red is the imprint of this cold’s shameless clout!

The pendant of the bosom of the heavens, Sun,-dead or afoot-

is buried, obscured, beneath the weight of a nine-storey vault!

O Counterpart! O Generous Host!

Pour wine into the glass to light up this bitter exile:

You see? In this winter days and nights are equal.

And if you ever greet them

they will not pause one instant

to greet you back.

The air is heavy, the doors are closed,

Heads hang lowly, and hands are cloaked.

Your breath turns to a dark shadow,

Hearts are fading away under the sway of sorrow.

The trees are naked, like frozen, forsaken bones,

Earth is desolate, Sky is falling down.

Moon and Sun are lost behind Loads of Litter:

It is, indeed,

The Reign of Winter.

Works

Poetry

  • Organ (Arghanoon ارغنون, 1951)
  • Winter (Zemestān زمستان, 1956) (A reading of the Zemestān poem by the poet himself can be listened to here.)
  • The Ending of Shahnameh (Ākhare Shāhnāmeh, آخر شاهنامه, 1959)
  • From This Avesta (Az In Avestā, 1965, از اين اوستا)
  • The Hunting Poems (Manzoomeye Shekār, 1966)
  • Autumn in Prison (Pāeez dar Zendān, 1969)
  • Love Lyrics and Azure (Aasheghānehā va Kabood, عاشقانه ها و کبود, 1969)
  • Best Hope (Behtarin Omid, 1969)
  • Selected Poems (Ghozideh-ye Ash-ār, 1970)
  • In the Autumn's Small Yard in Prison (Dar Hayāte Koochak Pāeez dar Zendān, در حياط کوچک پاييز در زندان, 1976)
  • Hell, but Cold (Duzakh Amma Sard, 1978)
  • Life Says: Still We Must Live (Zendegi Migooyad Amma Bāz Bayad Zist, زندگي مي گويد: اما بايد زيست, 1978)
  • O You Ancient Land, I Love Thee (Torā Ay Kohan Boom o Bar Doost Dāram, تو را اي کهن بوم و بر دوست دارم, 1989)

Other Books

  • I Saw Susa (Shush-rā Didam, 1972)
  • They Say That Ferdowsi (Guyand Ki Ferdowsi, 1976)
  • An Ancient Tree and the Forest (Derakhti pir va jangal, درخت پير و جنگل, 1977)
  • And Now a New Spring (Inak Bahar-i Digar, 1978)
  • Fight on, O Hero (Bejang, Ey Pahlavān, 1978)
  • Nima Yushij's Innovations and Aesthetics (Bed'athā va Badāye'i Nimā Yushij, بدعت ها و بدايع نيما يوشيج, 1979)
  • Nima Yushij's Bequest (Atā va Laqā-i Nimā Yushij, عطا و لقاي نيما يوشيج, 1983)

References

Internal Links

Winter (poem)

External links

The poem: (in Persian)

از ظلمت رميده خبر مى دهد سحر
شب رفت و با سپيده خبر مى دهد سحر
در چاه بيم، اميد به ماه نديده داشت
و اينك ز مهر ديده خبر مى دهد سحر
از اختر شبان، رمه شب رميد و رفت
وزرفته و رميده خبر مى دهد سحر
زنگار خورد جوشن شب را به نوش خند
از تيغ آب ديده خبر مى دهد سحر
باز از حريق بيشه خاكسترين فلق
آتش به جان خريده خبر مى دهد سحر
از غمز و ناز انجم و از رمز و راز شب
بس ديده و شنيده خبر مى دهدسحر
بس شد شهيد پرده شب ها، شهابها
و آن پرده ها دريده خبر مى دهد سحر
آه، آن پريده رنگ كه بود و چه شد كز او
رنگش زرخ پريده خبر مى دهد سحر
چاووش خوان قافله روشنان، اميد!
از ظلمت رميده خبر مى دهد سحر



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