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  • Date :
  • 9/12/2011

Abul-Qasem Aref Qazvini  

part 1

aref qazvini

(ca. 1300-1352/1882-1934), poet, musician, and singer during and after the Constitutional Revolution

i. Life and Poetry

He composed many poems about Iran and was called a national poet. Along with his powerful poetry, he also wrote lyrics for numerous songs and played music. He was a revolutionary during the Iranian Constitutional Revolution and made many political and pro-revolutionary songs. He moved to Hamedan later in his life and died there in January 1934 at the age of 52.

Aref was born in Qazvin, where he studied Persian language and grammar and also some music. His father Molla Hadi earned his dislike by forcing him to go in for pa-menbari in order to learn rawza-khani (martyrdom-recitation) and join the ranks of the mollas. About 1316/1898 he went to Tehran, where thanks to the ”‌beauty of his voice,”‌‌ he was introduced to some of the capital’s leading men, including Mirza Ali-Asgar Khan Amin-al-soltan, Atabak-e Azam; later he came to the attention of Mozaffar-al-din Sah, who had him enrolled in the ranks of the royal valets (farrashan-e kalwat); he found this distasteful and finally managed to obtain release. In private life, Aref became ”‌a rogue, an arak-drinker, and a profligate,”‌‌ a condition aggravated by the failure of his marriage. His ras utterances led to a takfir (excommunication from Islam) being issued against him. In his last years he became withdrawn and suspicious and was described by some who met him as ill-natured and hot-tempered. A bronchial disorder which finally prevented him from singing added to his despair. Despite his fame and the success of his concerts, which yielded a substantial income, he spent most of his life, and especially his last years, in such misery that he longed for an early death.

Aref ”‌devoted his art to the people”‌‌ (Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima II, p. 357) and used poetry as an effective means of expressing political ideas and stirring emotions. A whole-hearted supporter of the constitutionalists, he left Iran for Turkey with other militants in 1334/1916 and stayed at Istanbul for some time.

 A single qasida is all that survives from before this journey. A few years later he joined Colonel Mohammad-Taqi Khan Pesyan who had rebelled in Khorasan (1339-40/1921). When Pesyan died in a clas with Zafaranlu Kurds, he mourned his death in several poems including a famous tasnif. He also supported Sardar-e Sepah, the future Reza Sah, in his call for abolising the monarchy and the establisment of a republican state. His poetry totals about 150 in the gazal, tasnif, qeta, and masnawi forms. A fine calligrapher, he studied and copied the poetry of Sadi and Hafez. He sometimes wrote melodious verses in a literary style, but, elsewhere he introduced slang that accorded well with the subject and mood; thus Malek-al-Shoara Bahar described him as a ”‌poet of the common people.”‌‌ His most important and impressive works are his tasnifat (song lyrics), which he composed in response to political events of the day and sang to large and enthusiastic audiences. The tasnif had sunk to banality in wording and content, but he was able to impart a poetic quality to it. He had little knowledge of formal music but possessed an extraordinarily keen ear; he was both a good judge of music and an original composer. Despite his boasts of mastery, he owed his fame mainly to the mood of the time and the revolutionary content of his poems. His autobiography and some letters are preserved. He eventually went, or according to one source was banised, to Hamadan where he spent his remaining years in solitude and poverty. He died on 1 Bahman 1312 إ ./21 January 1934 and was buried in the courtyard of the Ebn Sina mausoleum.

Other Links:

Edward Fitzgerald (part 2)

Edward Fitzgerald (part 3)

Edward Fitzgerald (part 4)


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