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Project 6060 – Lesson 52

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Persian Poetry and Prose
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Poésie persane et prose
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Poesía y prosa persa
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شعر و نثر فارسی
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    Lesson 52

    Persian Poetry and Prose



    Persian literature is usually divided into the two main types of verse (poetry) and prose. Of course verse and poetry are slightly different, but we are going to overlook that here.

    In poetry, the poet arranges his/her words in a special order to give them rhythm and rhyme, but in prose the writer brings discourse without rhythm and rhyme so that it is usually freer, more dispersed, and without a particular order.

    Iranians also had poetry before Islam but since Islam much of this poetry has disappeared. Of the ancient pre-Islamic literature, only parts of the Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrians, has remained. After the victory of Islam in Iran, the Persian language, which was used for writing, fell out of use and Arabic was the dominant language for two centuries and no special literary works were written in Persian, but the (colloquial) form of the language; i.e. the ‘Dari’ form, was used informally amongst the people and became widespread in these two centuries. The spoken language gradually came under the influence of Arabic and the Arabic script came to be used for writing and, as a result, after this period, with a struggle by the Iranians, the Persian language spread in written form and, as a result, Persian literature found a new form. Actually, most of the literature of that time was in the form of poetry.

    In various periods of history, poets and writers have sometimes had the protection of the king and sometimes, some of the kings would give orders to ruin libraries and burn books and writers and poets would either escape or be killed. These days, for example, only a few poetry lines, “beyts” exist from the first post-Islamic poets, even though many works of Iranian writers and poets in the further centuries post-Islam still remain, of which the most famous are the works of Ferdowsi, Khayyam, Nezami, Mowlavi, Sa’di, and Hafez.

    In terms of form and structure, poetry can be divided into different categories including ballad, sonnet, masnavi, and quatrain. Every two hemistiches of a poem are called a ‘beyt’ and, as an example, quatrains have four hemistiches, i.e. two beyts, but sonnets have from 5 to 14 beyts, of which all have the same rhyme and rhythm, and the first hemistich of the poem has the same rhythm as all sonnets. The subject matter of poetry can also be romantic, mystical, epic, educational etcetera.

    The method of expressing themes in poetry changes over time, but there exist similar characteristics in the works of some poets from various periods and it is possible for the poetry of somebody who lived a thousand years ago to have similarities with the character of the poetry of a poet who spoke a poem one hundred years ago.

    In general, poets use similar styles and formats for composing poetry in each era, which can be more or less grouped according to subject, choice of words and difficulty of language. Although poetry can be classified on the basis of various viewpoints, the most common and normal categorisation of styles is on the basis of eras. From this perspective, the works of poets are categorised into four different styles. These four styles are:

    1. The Khorasani style, by which poets from the Khorasan region first spoke their poetry. It mainly takes the form of a ballad and its words and language are simple and clear, and there are few Arabic words in it. In this style, a poet mainly describes nature or tells of the victories of princes and kings.
    2. The Iraqi style, which mainly takes sonnet form and its language, despite being clear, is sometimes complex, containing similes and creative and flowing expressions. Most of the time, poems in the Iraqi style were used for expressing romantic, mystical, and moral themes.
    3. The Indian style, which they also call the Esfahani style, and which expresses romantic and humanitarian themes using fine and precise expressions and similes and combines language that is sometimes difficult and with spoken language.
    4. The Return style, in which era some of the poets let go of the Indian style and turned to the Khorasani style to compose ballads, and to the Iraqi style to compose sonnets.

    Since the last century, there have been changes in the poetry of some poets because of the familiarisation of Iran with European poetry and world literature, as well as the start of the constitutional movement and revolution and social and political developments in Iran and a new style has appeared, which they call ‘new’ poetry. In new poetry, rhyme, rhythm and equivalence of beyts have little importance and because of this, it can’t be called ‘verse’.

    Persian prose has also changed over time since Islam. At first, Persian prose was easy, clear, and without difficult Arabic words, but gradually, many Arabic words entered Persian writings and the willingness of some writers in complex writing, made Persian prose more and more difficult, but since about two hundred years ago, after hundreds of years, Persian prose regained its simplicity and simple writing gradually spread and journalistic prose appeared.

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    Leçon 52

    Poésie persane et prose



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    Lección 52

    Poesía y prosa persa



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    Translation of Dialogue

    Maryam: What style of poetry do you like most?
    Bahman: The Khorasani style.
    Maryam: Why the Khorasani style?
    Bahman: ‘Cause it’s easier and it has fewer Arabic words.
    Maryam: Are you familiar with European literature too?
    Bahman: Not much. What about you?
    Maryam: I’ve read the works of some English writers and poets.
    Bahman: In my opinion, European literature has had an effect on Iranian literature.
    Maryam: That’s right, especially in story writing.

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    Traduction de Dialogue

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    Traducción de Diálogo

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واژِه نامه
Glossary Lesson 52

pronunciation lesson42 b3daddfb

Alphabet; Shapes & Sequences
Click on image to see all 32 letters and their order and different shapes in Persian alphabet
Alphabet; Formes et Séquences
Clique sur l’image pour voir les 32 lettres, leurs ordres et différentes formes en alphabet persan
Alfabeto; Formas y Secuencias
Haga clic en la imagen para ver todas las 32 letras y sus diferentes formas en el alfabeto persa
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