Is Behbahani’s Poetry for All Seasons?

There is little doubt that today Simin Behbahani is at the pinnacle of her fame and perhaps the most popular and beloved of living Iranian poets. Perhaps no other poet in Iranian history has been as popular during her or his life. Longevity in historical memory, however, is more than mere passing fame of a poet. Clearly, there are literary criteria by which the beauty and linguistic flourishes of a poem and the imaginative power of its creator may be assessed.

In reviewing only one of Behbahani’s poems, “Be emza-ye del” [My Heart’s Signature], one can sense the presence of long lasting qualities. In the poem, her fear and anxiety over the impending damage to one of Iran’s oldest historical monuments is not describe in simple and uni-dimensional images or allegories. She does not simply bemoans a possible catastrophe but sees all the calamities that have befallen her home land in all ages. She highlights the eternal battle between light and darkness, survival and death. It is not only about her home land and the destiny of its people; it bewails the misfortunes afflicting humanity at all times. By all measures, the author concludes, it is quite likely that Simin Behbahani will forever remain embedded in the collective literary memory of the Iranian people.

Shokuh Mirzadegi
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