Bayazid Bastami

Bayazid Bastami (804-874), also known as Abu Yazid Bistami or Tayfur Abu Yazid al-Bustami, was a Persian Sufi poet born in Bastam. Bayazid’s grandfather was a Zoroastrian who converted to Islam. His grandfather had three sons, Adam, Tayfur and ‘Ali. All of them were ascetics. Abayazid was born to Tayfur. Not much is known of his childhood, but Bayazid spent most of his time in isolation in his house and the mosque.

Bayazid led a life of asceticism and renounced all worldly pleasures in order to be one with the Absolute. Bayazid became known as the first “intoxicated” Sufi. According to his peers he was both a devout moslem and a dangerous heretic. His belief in the ancient Persian idea of “unity of existence” angered the Islamic clerics in his town: “Whoever dissolves himself in God and grasps the truth he himself becomes the truth as he will become the representative of God in himself and thus finds himself within himself.” Or, “Moses desired to see God; I do not desire to see God; he desires to see me”.

Bayazid is regarded as one of the most influential mystics poets and a leading teacher of Sufism in post-Islamic Iran. Nothing has survived from his written work but references to him and his work exist in many later writings. Sufi poets such as Attar and Shams considered him a great teacher. Mohammad Ghazali (1058-1111), one of the most famous Sufi thinkers, also refers repeatedly to his debt to Bastami. The tomb of Bayazid is in Bastam near Shahroud.


 Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki (858 – 941), was a Persian poet, and the first great literary genius of the Modern Persian, who composed poems in the “new” post-Islamic Persian language. Rudaki is thus considered as the founder of Persian classical literature. He is also said to have been the founder of the divan form (the typical form of the complete collection of a poet’s lyrical compositions in an alphabetical order of the rhymes, which all Persian poets use even today.

He was born in Rudak (Panjrud), a village located in Panjakent, Tajikistan. Even though most of his biographers assert that he was completely blind, some early biographers are silent about this or do not mention him as being born blind. His accurate knowledge and description of colors, as evident in his poetry, renders this assertion very doubtful.

He was the court poet to the Samanid ruler Nasr II (914–943) in Bokhara, although he eventually fell out of favour with the court after a reaction against the Ismaili sect to which it is said Rudaki belonged. Rudaki was imprisoned and tortured. Rudaki went back home where he was born and died shortly after that in poverty. He was buried there.

Mansur Hallaj

Mansur Hallaj, full name Abū al-Mughīth Husayn Mansūr al-Hallāj (858 – 922) was a Persian mystic, revolutionary writer and pious teacher of Sufism most famous for his self-proclaimed divinity, his poetry and for his execution for heresy at the orders of the Abbasid Calipha.

He was born in Toor in the Fars Province, was from a recently converted moslem family, and a Reader of the Quran. He learnt about Sufism in his youth and joined the movement. He was in contact with many of the protest movements of his time, especially Gharmatian (a radical wing of the Ismaili movement). They were mostly Iranians with Mazdaki ideas. He became a friend to Zakaria Razi the famous scientist and secular philosopher of the time and under his influence dropped out of Sufism.

Many consider him as the first Iranian thinker who set the foundations for fighting theocracy in post-Islamic Iran. His alleged crime of saying “ana al hagh” (“God is me”) was nothing more than the ancient Persian belief that god is in all of us. He was brutally executed in Baghdad after a long trial. Many later Iranian poets have devoted poems to him. Hafez says of him aprovingly: “That friend whose head made the gallows grow, his crime was making secrets glow!

Abu-Mansur Daghighi

Abu Mansur Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Daqiqi Tusi (935/942 – 976/980), was an early Persian poet from Tus in Iran. He was a Zoroastrian convert to Islam and a court poet to Nuh II of the Samanid dynasty.

Daqiqi was a representative of the shu’ubiyah movement, which expressed the striving for independence from the Islamic caliphate by means of the glorification of native traditions and customs. He attempted to write in Persian an epic history of Iran which begun by the history of Zarathushtra and Gashtasb. He thus wrote the first versified version of the Shahnameh in New Persian. He was assassinated before he could finish it.

Only a few fragments of Daqiqi’s lyric verse remain. A large number of couplets by him (probably about a 1000 lines) were included in the epic Shahname (Book of Kings) by the Persian epic poet Ferdosi. Some scholars speculate that he wrote more, but the content was too controversial to be included in Shahname and later lost. Daqiqi’s poetry is distinguished by its picturesque quality and abundance of metaphors.

Shahid Balkhi

Abul Hasan Shahid ibn Hussain Jahudanaki Balkhi also known as Shahid Balkhi (died 935 AD) was a Persian theologian, philosopher, poet and sufi. He was a close student of the famous Persian poet Rudaki who wrote a touching elegy on the death of his favourite student. He was born in Balkh and was contemporary to Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi. He also had contacts with Zakaria Razi, the well-known Persian polymath. He wrote poems both in Persian and Arabic languages. It is also known that he was a great calligrapher.

He was living in the Samanid era so he spent most of his life in the court of Samanids and has eulogised king Nasr Ibn Ahmad Samani and his minister “Abu Abdullah Jeyhani” in his poems. Although more a Sufi than a poet, he was one of the first poets to write in Persian in the Islamic era and like Rudaki was well recieved by other poets. Rudaki, Daghighi, Manuchehri, Khaghani and Farrokhi Sistani have all written about him.

He died in Balkh, Khorasan. Only about a 100 lines of his poetry has survived.


Hakim Abolghasem Firdos Tusi more commonly transliterated as Ferdosi or Ferdowsi (940–1020) is a highly revered Persian poet. He is best known for his literary epic Shahnamehe, the national epic of Iran and related societies. Ferdosi devoted most of his life to witing it. Shahnameh was originally drafted for the Samanid rulers who were responsible for the revival of the Persian cultural traditions after the Arab invasion. Ferdosi would live to see the Samanids conquered by the Ghaznavids. The new ruler Mahmud of Ghaznavi would lack the same interest in Ferdosi’s work as that shown by the Samanids, resulting in him losing favor with the royal court. Ferdosi died in 1020 in poverty though confident that the work that he had created would last the test of time.

Written at the end of the 10th century, Shahnameh is concerned with pre-Islamic Iran, through its fictional protagonist, Rostam, a Persian hero and legend who is a greater-than-life figure (akin to Hercules) living for more than five hundred years, undergoing seven trials of strength, battling foes of man, beast, and dragon, and serving more than five Persian monarchies. Ferdosi’s Rostam is an epitome of bravery, heroism, and loyalty to the Persian throne. Rostam however is more than just a legend and a hero, in that he is constantly on the edge, and always resolute to assert that he is “his own man” able to define his own destiny and make his own choices, regardless of needs of others even those of the kings he so faithfully serves.

Farrokhi Sistani

Abul Hasan Ali ibn Julugh Farrukhi Sistani (died 1037) was a royal poet of Ghaznavids. As an ethnic Persian, he was one of the brightest masters of the panegyric school of poetry in the court of Mahmud of Ghazni.

He started his career by writing a ghasideh called ‘With a Caravan of Fine Robes’ and presented it to Asa’ad Chaghani, the vizier of Saffarid king of Sistan. This poem was so beautiful and masterful that Farrokhi was admitted to the court. The next day when the king went to his ranch to brand his new young horses, the vizier described to Farrukhi the setting of branding of horses. Farrokhi went home and based on the descriptions and without seeing the actual scene, wrote a new poem called ‘Branding Place’. The next morning he went back to the vizier and recited the poem. Vizier was so impressed that immediately took Farrokhi to the king. When this poem was recited to the king, he was so impressed that he gave 40 young horses to Farrokhi as gift.

Farrokhi was also a master in music and could play barbat and had a nice voice and could sing too. He later moved to the court of Ghaznavids, first Mahmud and then his son, Masud. Farrokhi’s divan of 9000 verses survived.

Abu Saeed AbolKheyr

Abu Saeed Abolkheyr or Abū-Sa’īd Abul-Khayr (967 – 1049), was a famous Persian Sufi who contributed extensively to the evolution of Sufi tradition. The majority of what is known from his life comes from the book Asrar al-Tohid written by Mohammad Ibn Monavvar, one of his grandsons, 130 years after his death. The book, which is an important early Sufi writing in Persian, presents a record of his life in the form of anecdotes and contains a collection of his words.

During his life his fame spread throughout the Islamic world, even to Spain. He was the first Sufi writer to widely use ordinary love poems as a way of expressing and illuminating mysticism, and as such he played a major role in the formation of Persian Sufi poetry. Also at his time the Islamic legitimacy of Sufi dance was a matter of debate among the scholars and some clerics attempted to try him and his followers on charges of un-Islamic innovations, dancing and use of poetry in public sermons, but they failed to do so because of his popularity.

Abū-Sa’īd and Ibn Sina, the Persian physician and philosopher, corresponded with one another. The first meeting is described as three days of private conversation, at the end of which Abū-Sa’īd said to his followers that everything that he could see, Ibn Sina knew, and in turn Avicenna said that everything he knew Abū-Sa’īd could see.

Rabeeh Balkhi

Rābi’a bint Ka’b al-Quzdārī, popularly known as Rabe’eh Balkhī, is a semi-legendary figure of Persian literature and was possibly the first poetess in the history of New Persian poetry. References to her can be found in the poetry of Rudaki and Attar. The longest narration of Rabia’s life and poetry is in the poem of the Elāhi-nāma (Book of the Divine) by the 12th-century Sufi poet, Farid al-Din ʿAttār.

Her biography has been primarily recorded by Zāhir ud-Dīn ‘Awfī and renarrated by Nūr ad-Dīn Djāmī. The exact dates of her birth and death are unknown, but it is reported that she was a native of Balkh in Khorāsān (now in Afghanistan). Some evidence indicates that she lived during the same period as Rūdakī, the court poet to the Samanid Emir Naṣr II (914-943).

She is said to have been descended from a royal family, her father Ka’b al-Quzdārī, a chieftain at the Samanid court, reportedly descended from Arab immigrants who had settled in eastern Persia during the time of Abu Muslim. She was one of the first poets who wrote in modern Persian, and she is, along with Mahsatī Ganjavi, among the very few female writers of medieval Persia to be recorded in history by name.

Manuchehri Damghani

Abu Najm Ahmad ibn Ahmad ibn Qaus Manuchehri aka Manuchehri Damghani, was a royal poet of the 11th century in Persia. He was from Damghan in Iran and he is said to be the first to use the form of “musammat” in Persian poetry and has the best ones too. He traveled to Tabarestan and was admitted to the court of King Manuchehr Ghabus of Ziyarid dynasty and that’s where he got his pen name.

After the death of Manucher Ghabus he went to Rey and from there he found his way to the court of Ghaznavids. He became a royal poet in the court of Sultan Shihab ud-Dawlah Mas’ud I of Ghaznavi son of Mahmud of Ghaznavi.

His poetry was mostly about nature. He also knew Arabic and is said to have had extensive knowledge of astronomy and music too. In his poetry references to these subkects are abundant. He has left behind a divan. He died in 1040 AD. His works were extensively studied by A. de Biberstein-Kazimirski in 1886.

Naser Khosro

Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Naser Khosro (1004 – 1088) was a Persian poet, philosopher, Islamic scholar and traveler. He is one of the great poets and writers in Persian literature. Safarname, an account of his travels, being his most famous work possesses a special value among books of travel, since it contains the most authentic account of the state of the Muslim world in the middle of the 11th century. He was well versed in all the branches of natural science, in medicine, mathematics, astronomy and astrology, in Greek philosophy and the writings of al-Kindi, al-Farabi and Ibn Sina; and the interpretation of the Qur’an. He had studied Arabic, Turkish, Greek, the vernacular languages of India and Sindh, and perhaps even Hebrew.

At Cairo, he became thoroughly imbued with the Shi’a Isma’ili doctrines of the Fatimids, and their introduction into his native country was henceforth the sole object of his life. He was raised to the position of dā‘ī “missionary” and appointed as the Hujjat-i Khorasan, though the hostility he encountered in the propagation of these new religious ideas after his return to Greater Khorasan in 1052 and Sunnite fanaticism compelled him at last to flee. After many wanderings he found refuge in Yamgan (about 1060) in the mountains of Badakhshan, where he spent as a hermit the last decades of his life, and gathered round him a considerable number of devoted adherents, who handed down his doctrines to succeeding generations.

Baba Taher

Baba Taher (Baba Taher Oryan) was an 11th century poet in Persian literature and a mystic thinker. Baba Tahir is known as one of the most revered and respectable early poets in Iranian literature. Most of his life is clouded in mystery. He was born and lived in Hamadan and 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 Ferdosi and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and an immediate precursor of Omar Khayyam.

Baba Tahir poems are recited to the present day all over Iran. Baba Tahir’s poems are of the do-bayti style, a form of Persian quatrains, which some scholars regard as having affinities with Middle Persian verses. Classical Persian Music is based on Persian literature and Baba Tahir’s poems are the weight that carries a major portion of this music. Baba Tahir’s poetry is the basis for Dastgahe Shoor and in particular the Gooshe s of Dashtestani, Choopani and Deylaman. Attributed to him is also a work by the name Kalemat-e qesaar (catch phrases), a collection of nearly 400 aphorisms in Arabic,

His tomb, designed by Mohsen Foroughi, is located near the northern entrance of the city of Hamadan in Western Iran.

Ghatran Tabrizi

Abū-Mansūr Qatrān-i Tabrīzī (1009–1072), was a royal Persian poet. He was born in Sahar near Tabriz and was the most famous panegyrist of his time in Iran. He would identify his ancestry from Gilan and from the Dehqan class. His work has aroused the interest of historians, for in many cases Qatran has perpetuated the names of members of regional dynasties in Azerbayjan and the Caucasus region that would have otherwise fallen in oblivion.

Qatran’s poetry follows in the wake of the poets of Khorasan and makes an unforced use of the rhetorical embellishment. He is one of the first poets after Farrokhi to try his hand at the Ghasidehi (ode) form. Qatran’s ghasidehs on the earthquake of Tabriz in 1042 has been much praised and is regarded as a true masterpiece .

In his Persian divan of 3000 to 10000 couplets, Qatran praises some 30 patrons. He is not to be confused with another Persian author: Qatran of Tirmidh, who wrote the Qaus-nama one hundred years later.

Khajeh Abdollah Ansari

Abu Ismaïl Abdullah ibn Abi-Mansour Mohammad or Khajeh Abdollah Ansari of Herat (1006–1088), also known as Pir-e Herat (sage of Herat) was a famous Persian Sufi who lived in the 11th century in Herat. One of the outstanding figures in Khorasan in the 11th century: a commentator of the Ghoran, traditionalist, polemicist, and spiritual master, known for his oratory and poetic talents in both Arabic and Persian.

He practiced the Hanbali fiqh, one of the four Sunni schools of law or jurisprudence. His shrine, built during the Timurid Dynasty, is a popular pilgrimage site.

He wrote several books on Islamic mysticism and philosophy in Persian and Arabic. His most famous work is “Munajat Namah” (literally ‘Litanies or dialogues with God’), which is considered a masterpiece of Persian literature. After his death, his students and disciples compiled his teachings about the Tafsir of Quran, and named it “Kashful Asrar”. This is the best and lengthiest Sufi Tafsir of Quran, being published several times in 10 volumes.

Masud Sa’d Salman

Mas’ud-i Sa’d-i Salmān was an 11th century Persian poet of the Ghaznavid empire who is known as the prisoner poet. He was born in 1046 in Lahore to wealthy parents from Hamadan, and his father Sa’d bin Salman was a great Persian ambassador who was sent to India by the Ghaznavids. Masud was born there and he was highly learned in astrology, calligraphy, and Persian and Arabic literature (he also knew the Indian languages).

In 1085, he was thrown into prison. He was released in 1096, when he returned to Lahore continued political changes resulted in another prison stay of 8 years. Most of his best poems were written in prison. He is therefore also known as the prison poet. His poems are beautiful and melancholic. Most of his works are written in the ghasideh form but he also has many quatrians. During one of his prison stays, he wrote the Tristia, a celebrated work of Persian poetry. He was in touch with some of the Persian Poets of the time, including Sanaii.


Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā’ī Ghaznavi was a Persian Sufi poet who lived in Ghazna, in what is now Afghanistan during the 11/12th century. He was connected with the court of the Ghaznavid Bahram-shah who ruled 1118-1152. It is said that once when accompanying Bahramshah on a military expedition to India, Sanai met the Sufi teacher Lai-khur. Sanai quit Bahramshah’s service as a court poet even though he was promised wealth and the king’s daughter in marriage if he remained.

He wrote an enormous quantity of mystical verse, of which The Walled Garden of Truth or The Hadiqat al Haqiqa is his master work and the first Persian mystical epic of Sufism. Dedicated to Bahram Shah, the work expresses the poet’s ideas on God, love, philosophy and reason. Sanai taught that lust, greed and emotional excitement stood between humankind and divine knowledge. Love and a social conscience are for him the foundation of religion; mankind is asleep, living in a desolate world. To Sanai common religion was only habit and ritual. For close to 900 years. Sanai’s poetry had a tremendous influence upon Persian literature. He is considered the first poet to use the qhasidah (ode), ghazal (lyric), and the masnavi (rhymed couplet) to express the philosophical, mystical and ethical ideas of Sufism. Rumi acknowledged Sanai and Attar as his two primary inspirations, saying, “Attar is the soul and Sanai its two eyes, I came after Sanai and Attar.”


Omar Khayyám (1048–1131) was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, and music. Born in Nishapur, at a young age he moved to Samarkand and obtained his education there, afterwards he moved to Bukhara and became established as one of the major mathematicians and astronomers of the medieval period. He is the author of one of the most important treatises on algebra credited with a geometric method for solving cubic equations. He also contributed to a reform of the Persian calendar.

His significance as a philosopher and teacher, and his few remaining philosophical works, have not received the same attention as his scientific and poetic writings. Many sources have testified that he taught for decades the philosophy of Ibn Sina in Nishapur. He is buried there.

Outside Iran and Persian speaking countries, Khayyám has had a major impact through the translation of his quatrains (rubaiyat) and popularization by other scholars. The most influential of all was Edward FitzGerald (1809–83) who made Khayyám the most famous poet of the East in the West through his celebrated translation of Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

Mahsati Ganjavi

Mahsati Ganjavi (1089 – 1159) was a 12th century Persian poet. As an eminent poet, she was composer of quatrains (ruba’is). Originated from Ganja (Azarbayejan), she was said to have associated with both Omar Khayyam and Nezami.

She was a poet laureate to the courts of Sultan Muhammad I (1118-1131) and his uncle Sultan Sanjar (1131-1157). Her alleged free way of living and her verses have stamped her as a Persian Madame Sans-Gêne. Her purported love affairs are recounted in the works of Jauhari of Bukhara.

No details about her life are documented except that she was highly esteemed at the court of sultan Sanjar. It is also known that Mahsati was persecuted for her courageous poetry condemning religious obscurantism, fanaticism, and dogmas.

Her only works that have come down to us are philosophical and love quatrains, glorifying the joy of living and the fullness of love. Approximately 60 quatrains of her are found in the Nozhat al-Majales. A monument to her was erected in Ganja in 1980.


Nezami Ganjavi whose formal name was Niẓām ad-Dīn Abū Muḥammad Ilyās ibn-Yūsuf ibn-Zakkī, is considered the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature, who brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic. His heritage is widely appreciated and shared by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Tajikistan. He was born in Ganjeh, Azarbayejan.

Because Nezami was not a court poet, he does not appear in the annals of the dyansties. Tazkerehs, which are the compilations of literary memoirs that include maxims of the great poets along with biographical information and commentary of styles, refer to him briefly. Much of this material in these Tazkerehs are based on legends, ancedotes, and hearsays. Consequently, few facts are known about Nezami’s life, the only source being his own work, which does not provide much information on his personal life.

Nezami’s favorite pastime was reading Ferdosi’s Shahnameh. Nezami advises the son of the Shirvanshah to read the Shahnameh and to remember the meaningful sayings of the wise. Nezami has used the Shahnameh as a source in his three epics of “Haft Paykar”, “Khosro and Shirin” and “Eskandar-nameh”.

Khaghani Shirvani

Khāqāni or Khāghāni (1121 – 1190) was a Persian poet. He was born in the historical region known as Shirvan, under the Shirvanshah (a vassal of the Seljuq empire) and died in Tabriz, Iran. Khaqani (real name, Afzaladdin Badil ibn Ali Nadjar) was born into the family of a carpenter. In his youth, Khaghani wrote under the pen-name Haqai’qi (“Seeker”). After he had been invited to the court of the Shirvanshah, he assumed the pen-name of Khaghani.

He soon fled the life of a court poet and set off on a journey about the Middle East. His travels gave him material for his famous poem Tohfat-ul Iraqein (A Gift from the Two Iraqs), the two Iraqs being ‘Persian Iraq’ (western Iran) and ‘Arabic Iraq’  (Mesopotamia). This book also supplies us with a good deal of material for his own biography. He also wrote the famous Ode to the Portals at Mada’in beautifully painting his sorrow and impression of the remains of the ancient Persian Palace at Madaen. On return home, Shah Akhsitan gave order for his imprisonment. It was in prison that Khaqani wrote one of his most powerful anti-feudal poems called Habsiyye (Prison Poem). Upon release he moved with his family to Tabriz where fate dealt with him one tragic blow after another: first his young son died, then his daughter and then his wife. Khaqani composed moving elegies for all three most of which have survived and are included in his divan. Khagani died in Tabriz and is buried at the Poet’s Cemetery in Surkhab Neighbourhood of Tabriz.


Anvari (1126–1189), full name Awhad ad-Din ‘Ali ibn Mohammad Khavarani was one of the greatest Persian poets. He was born in Abivard of (now in Turkmenistan) and died in Khurasanian Balkh, now in Afghanistan, and studied science and literature at the collegiate institute in Toon (now Ferdows, Iran), becoming a famous astronomer as well as a poet. His references to musical terms in his poetry reval also an expertise in music too.

His surviving divan of poems contain some 15,000 lines. Anvari’s poems were translated into English in 1789, and Cambridge History of Iran calls him “one of the greatest figures in Persian literature”. Despite their beauty, his poems often required much help with interpretation, as they were often complex and difficult to understand.


Abū Hamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (1145-1221); better known by his pen-names Farīd ud-Dīn Attār, was a Persian mystic poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nīshāpūr who had an abiding influence on Persian poetry and Sufism. Information about Attar’s life is rare. He is mentioned by only two of his contemporaries, `Awfi and Tusi. However, all sources confirm that he was from Neyshapur, a major city of medieval Khorasan (now located in the northeast of Iran), and according to `Awfi, he was a poet of the Seljuq period. It seems that he was not well known as a poet in his own lifetime, except at his home town, and his greatness as a mystic, a poet, and a master of narrative was not discovered until the 15th century.

Attar was the son of a prosperous chemist, receiving an excellent education in various fields. He practiced the profession of pharmacy and personally attended to a very large number of customers. Eventually, he abandoned his pharmacy store and traveled widely – to Baghdad, Basra, Kufa, Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Khwarizm, Turkistan, and India, meeting with Sufi Sheykhs – and returned home promoting Sufi ideas. His talent for perception of deeper meanings behind outward appearances enables him to turn details of everyday life into illustrations of his thoughts. He possessed an inexhaustible fund of thematic and verbal inspirations which is reflected in all his poetry. He himself says when he composed his poems, more ideas came into his mind than he could possibly use.

Afzal al-Din Kashani

Afzal al-Din Kashani, Baba Afzal, was a Persian poet and philosopher. Several dates have been suggested for his death, with the best estimate being around 1213-1214. The information on his life is scanty and few. His writing portray a disdain for officials of his time and he is said to have once been imprisoned by the local governor on trumped-up charges of practicing sorcery. His tomb located in the village Maraq, northwest of Kashan, is still a place of pilgrimage.

His influence on later thinkers has not been investigated however his works which are clearly and beautifully written were probably a source of inspirtation for philosophical writings in both Arabic and Persian. For his part, he follows the philosophical and logical terminology of Avicenna while most his works evoke a visionary aura in spite of their philosophical and logical exactitude. Besides his poetry, 54 works of prose in varying length have survived.

Around 500 quatrains are ascribed to him. Some of the themes include warnings about the futility of involvement with the things of the corporeal world, the correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm, and self-knowledge as the goal of human existence.


Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī better known by his pen-name as Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but widely quoted in western sources. He is recognized for the quality of his writings, and for the depth of his social and moral thoughts.

A native of Shiraz, his father died when he was an infant. Saadi experienced a youth of poverty and hardship, and left his native town at a young age for Baghdad to pursue a better education. As a young man he was inducted to study at the famous an-Nizzāmīya center of knowledge (1195–1226), where he excelled in Islamic Sciences, law, governance, history, Arabic literature and theology. Saadi witnessed first-hand accounts of Baghdad’s destruction by Mongol Ilkhanate invaders led by Holaku Khan in 1258. He was later captured by Crusaders at Acre where he spent 7 years as a slave digging trenches.

When he reappeared in his native Shiraz he was an elderly man. Saadi was not only welcomed to the city but was respected highly by the ruler. In response, Saadi took his nom de plume from the name of the local prince, Sa’d ibn Zangi and wrote a number of poems in praise of the ruling house. The remainder of Saadi’s life seems to have been spent in Shiraz.

Shams Tabrizi

Mohammad Ibn Ali Malekdad Tabrizi, known as Shams Al Din (Shams Tabrizi) is a renouned Persian Sufi poet. He is credited with being the spiritual mentor of Molavi (Rumi). He studied with masters Shams Khoyee (or Khonjee), pir Sajasi and Sale Baf. From his works it is clear he has also been influenced by a number of great thinkers of his time. He himself mentions, Shahab Hariveh, Fakhr Razi, Ohad Al Din Kermani and Ibn Arabi. Not much is known about his life until Maghalate Shams (Shams Articles) was discovered. The oldest documents we had before were written by Soltan Valad (son of Molavi) and Sepahsalar an old friend of Molavi who says “no living soul knew much about Shams, he hid his fame and always covered himself in a shroud of secrets”.

Shams’s entery to Konya and his meeting with Molavi is one of those legendary stories of Iranian culture. The effect of Shams was such that Molavi, a well respected theologian was turned into a distressed person in love. This mysterious old man made the son of the chief clerics to turn away from his teaching duties and join a circle of mystic dance, sama. The peers and followers of Molavi at the theological school become enemies of Shams and the animosities become so public that Shams is forced to leave town. On Molavi’s insistence and the promise of peace by the enmies he is invited back to Konya, but soon the enmities resume. One night sitting in Molavi’s residence he is called to the door. After this he disappears. And from here on the story is not clear. Did they just murder him and throw him in a well nearby (which is the most likely event and the more accepted version today) or did he really disappear. There is no evidence to prove that any of his reputed musoleums in Turkey, Iran or Pkistan have actually anything to do with Shams.

The famous Divan Shams, allegedly written by Molavi after Shams’s disappearance was published 70 years after the death of Molavi. There is no proof that the more than 3000 ghazals in this Divan were written by Molavi or indeed written by one person. At least 5 different styles of poetry can be detected in this collection. Indeed some of the poetry (given their philosophical content) probably belongs to Shams himself.

Owhad-al-din Kermani

Sheikh Owhad-al-din Hamed abu-al Fakhr Kermani born in Bardsir, Kerman (probably 1173) was a mystic poet. At the age of 16 he migrated to Baghdad and studied and later taught there; until he dropped everything and became a wanderring sufi. He lived in what is now Turkey for many years but returned to Baghdad ans is burried there.

He was influenced by the ideas of Ibn Arabi. He joined the followers of Shams al-din Sajjasi (also one of the teachers of Shams Tabrizi). It is said he was a contemporary of Shams Tabriz and had met him in Damsqus. From all accounts, however, the two had entirely opposing views.

There are over 2000 of his quatrains (robaiiyat) that have survived.


Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī, also known as Rūmī and popularly known as Mowlānā or more commonly as Molavi (1207–1273), was a 13th-century Persian poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rūmī is a descriptive name meaning “the Roman” since he lived most of his life in an area called Rūm (present-day Turkey) because it was once ruled by the Eastern Roman Empire.

He was born in Balkh, at that time part of the province of Khorasan. His father decided to migrate westwards for fear of the impending Mogul invasion. Rumi’s family traveled west, first performing the Hajj and eventually settling in the Anatolian city Konya (capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum), as a result of the insistent invitation of ‘Alā’ ud-Dīn Key-Qobād, ruler of Anatolia who wanted Rumi’s father Bahā ud-Dīn Walad to head the theological school in Konya, A position which after his father’s death was occupied by Rumi. This was where he lived most of his life, and where he composed one of the crowning glories of Persian literature, Masnavi, on which he spent the last 15 years of his life and which has profoundly affected the Persian culture and beyond. A book in which even today people find messages of peace and liberation in its stories. Molavi himself said: “I did not write Masnavi so that you place it on the mantelpiece but so that you stand on it to rise higher. It is the ladder to the truth but not one to be taken on shoulders wandering from city to city.”

Rumi’s life was completely changed after his famous meeting with a mystic, Shams Tabrizi on 15 November 1244. After a few weeks with Shams, Rumi was transformed from an accomplished Islamic theologian, teacher and jurist into an ascetic. Shams had travelled throughout the Middle East searching and praying for someone who could “endure my company”. Shams was at first forced to leave Konya and then eventually murdered on his return to Konya by those who wanted to end this friendship with Rumi. On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again.

Rumi’s love for, and his bereavement at the disappearance of Shams found their expression in an outpouring of lyric poems. It is said Masnavi and Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi were written in this period. Although the latter published many years after the death of Rumi probably contains many poems from Shams himself or added later by others. Rumi’s works were written in the Persian language but occasionally he also used Turkish, Arabic, and Greek in his verse. Molavi was part of a new Persian literary renaissance which started in Khorāsān and by the 10th century it reinforced the Persian language as the preferred literary and cultural language in the Persian Islamic world.

Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi

Fakhr al-dīn Ibrahīm (June 10, 1213 – 1289) is one of the great Sufi writers and poets. He was born in Hamadan but during his lifetime he spent many years in Multan, (present day Pakistan) as well as Konya and Toqat (in present day Turkey).

Iraqi was highly educated in both theology and literary disciplines and not only knew Islamic theology but also Persian and Arabic literature. By the time he was seventeen Iraqi begun to teach others. Soon after he began teaching he met a group of wandering dervishes and decided to join them. The group traveled to Multan where he would eventually be in the service of Shaykh Baha’uddin Zakariyya’ Multan who was the head of the Suhrawardi Order.

Iraqi travelled and stayed in Konya too where he met with Molavi. He eventually ended up in Damascus where he would eventually died. Lama’at (or Divine Flashes) is the best known of ‘Iraqi’s writings and was written during his time in what is now present day Turkey. It is in the ‘language of love’ genre within Sufi writings and it takes an interesting view on how one should view the world. Unlike others before him Iraqi viewed the world as a mirror which reflected the Absolute and not as a “veil” which must be lifted.

Awhadi Maraghai

Awhaduddin Awhadi Maragheie (also written Ohadi) (1271–1338) was a Persian poet from the city Maragha in Iran. He is usually surnamed Maraghei, but also mentioned as Awhadi Esfahani because his father came from Isfahan and he himself spent part of his life there. He first chose the pen-name Ṣāfī, but changed it to Awhadi after becoming a devotee of the school of the famous mystic Shaikh Auhaduddin Kermani.

Ohadi has a divan of 8000 verses which consists of the Persian poetic forms Ghasides, Ghazals, Tarji’bands and Quatrains. The Qasidas are in praise of Abu Said and his Vizir, Ghiyath al-Din, the son of Rashid al-Din Fazzlah. His other poems play on various themes including mysticism, ethnics and religious subjects.

In addition to his divan, he has left two important Persian works in Mathnavi. The Dah-nama or Manteq al-Oshaaq consists of 600 verses and was completed in 1307 for Wajih Al-din Yusef, the grandson of the famous Nasir al-Din Tusi. His most important and well known work was the Masnavi Jam-i Jam also called Jam-e-Jahanbin (“The mirror of the universe”). He is burried in Maraghe.

Amir Khosrow Dehlavi

Ab’ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn Khusrow (1253-1325 CE) better known as Amīr Khosrow was a musician, scholar and poet. He was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent. A Sufi mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, Amīr Khusrow was not only a notable poet but also a prolific and seminal musician. He wrote poetry primarily in Persian, but also in Hindavi.

He is regarded as the “father of qawwali” (the devotional music of the Sufis in the Indian subcontinent). He is also credited with enriching Hindustani classical music by introducing Persian and Arabic elements in it, and was the originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music. The invention of the tabla is also traditionally attributed to Amīr Khusrow.

Amir Khusrow was prolific in tender lyrics as in highly involved prose and could easily emulate all styles of Persian poetry which had developed in medieval Persia, from Khāqānī’s forceful qasidas to Nizami’s khamsa. He used only 11 metrical schemes with 35 distinct divisions. The verse forms he has written in include Ghazal, Masnavi, Qata, Rubai, Do-Beyti and Tarjiband. His contribution to the development of the ghazal, is particularly significant.

Khwaju Kermani

Khwaju Kermani was a famous Persian poet and Sufi mystic born in Kerman in 1290. He was associated with the Persian sufi master Sheykh Abu Esshagh Kazeruni, the founder of the Morshediyyeh order. He is also know as Nakhlband.

When he was young, he visited Egypt, Syria, Jerusalem and Iraq. He also performed the Hajj in Mecca. One purpose of his travels is said to have been education and meeting with scholars of other lands. He composed one of his best known works, Homāy o Homāyun in Baghdad. Returning to Persian lands in 1335, he strove to find a position as a court poet by dedicating poems to the rulers of his time, such as the Il-Khanid and the Mozaffarid rulers.

He was a prolific writer and much of his work has survived (amlost all in Persian). His ideas are said to have had a major influence on Hafez. He was given the title of khallagh-ol ma’ani (creator of meaning). He passed away around 1349-52 in Shiraz, Iran, and his tomb in Shiraz is a popular tourist attraction today.

Mahmud Shabistari

Mahmūd Shabestarī (1288 – 1340) is a celebrated Persian Sufi poets of the 14th century. He was born in the town of Shabestar near Tabriz. He became deeply versed in the symbolic terminology of Ibn Arabi.

His most famous work is a mystic text called The Secret Rose Garden (Gulshan-e Rāz) written about 1311 in rhyming couplets. This work was written in response to seventeen queries concerning Sufi metaphysics posed to “the Sufi literati of Tabriz” by Rukh Al Din Amir Husayn Harawi. It was also the main reference used by François Bernier when explaining Sufism to his European friends in the 17th century.

Other works include The Book of Felicity (Sa’adat-nāme) and The Truth of Certainty about the Knowledge of the Lord of the Worlds (Ḥaqq al-yaqīn fi ma’rifat rabb al-‘alamīn). The former is regarded as a relatively unknown poetic masterpiece written in khafif meter, while the later is his only remaining work of prose.

Seyf Farghani

Molānā sayf-edin Muhammad Farghānī (Known as Seyf Farghaani) was a 13th-14th century Persian poet and sufi. He was born in Farghāneh a city in Transoxiana and was burried in Aqsara.

Obeyd Zakani

Nezam od-Din Ubeydollah Zâkâni was a Persian poet and satirist of the 14th century from the city of Qazvin. He studied in Shiraz, Iran under the best masters of his day, but eventually moved back to his native town of Qazvin. He however preferred Shiraz to Qazvin, as he was a court poet in Shiraz for Shah Abu Ishaq, where a young Hafez was present as well.

His work is noted for its satire and obscene verses, often political or bawdy, and often cited in debates involving homosexual practices. He wrote the Resaleh-ye Delgosha, as well as Akhlaq al-Ashraf (“Ethics of the Aristocracy”) and the famous humorous fable Masnavi Mush-O-Gorbeh (Mouse and Cat), which was a political satire. His non-satirical serious classical verses have also been regarded as very well written, in league with the other great works of Persian literature.

He is one of the most remarkable poets, satirists and social critics of Iran (Persia), whose works have not received proper attention in the past. His books are translated into Russian, Danish, Italian, English, and German.

Emad Faghih Kermani

Emad Faghih Kermani is a Sufi poet a contemporary of Hafez and noted by him. His father was a well known Sufi thinker in kerman and had built a khaneghah there. After his death, Emad took over the running of the khaneghah.

He started writing poetry from an early age and was considered a very skilful poet and well received at the court of mozaffarids. Of his works, in addition to his divan of poems, 5 masnavis have also survived. He died in Kerman and was burried there.


Khwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šhīrāzī, known by his pen name Hāfez (1325 – 1389) was a Persian lyric poet. His collection of ghazals are to be found in the homes of most Iranians, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-Fourteenth Century Persian writing more than any other author.

Themes of his ghazals are the beloved, faith, and exposing hypocrisy. His influence in the lives of Iranians can be found in Hafez-readings, frequent use of his poems in Persian traditional music, visual art  and Persian calligraphy. His tomb in Shiraz is a masterpiece of Iranian architecture and visited often. Adaptations, imitations and translations of Hafez’ poems exist in all major languages.

The question of whether his work is to be interpreted literally, mystically or both, has been a source of concern and contention to scholars. This confusion stems from the fact that, early in Persian literary history, the poetic vocabulary was used by mystics who believed that the divine could be better approached in poetry than in prose and that the specifically Persian as opposed to official Islamic beliefs and value systems could best be hidden in poetry. In composing poems of mystic content, they imbued every ordinary word and image with mystical undertones, thereby causing mysticism and lyricism to essentially converge into a single tradition.

Shah Nimatullah Wali

Shah Nimatullah Wali or Ne’matollah Wali, was an Islamic scholar and a Sufi poet from the 14th and 15th centuries. Descended from the Ismaili Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail, Ni’matullah was the Qutb of a Sufi order after his master Sheikh Abd-Allah Yafae. Today there is a Sufi order Nimatullahi that considers him its founder.

Born in Aleppo, Syria, he travelled widely through the Muslim world, learning the philosophies of many masters, but not at first finding a personal teacher he could dedicate himself to. During this time, Ni’matullah also studied the writings of the great Sufi philosopher and mystic Ibn al-‘ Arabi. Ni’matullah met Abdollah Yafe’i in Mecca and subsequently became his disciple. He studied intensely with his teacher for seven years until, spiritually transformed, he was sent out for a second round of travels, this time as a realized teacher.

Ni’matullah temporarily resided near Samarkand, along the great Central Asian Silk Road. It was here that he met the conqueror Tamerlane, but to avoid conflict with the worldly ruler, he soon left and eventually settled in the Persian region of Kerman. His poetry belongs to this period. He has a left a Persian Language Diwan (poetry). His shrine is in nearby Mahan.

Abu Ashagh Atameh

Abu Ashaghe Atameh was a poet famous for his writings on cooking and food. Thus his name Atameh. He was a contemporary of Shah Nimatullah Wali and met him several times. He was born in Shiraz and is burried there. His divan has survived.


Alī ‘Imādu d-Dīn Nasīmī, often known as Nesimi, born probably in 1369 was an Azerbaijani poet. Known mostly by his pen name of Nesîmî. He composed one divan in Azerbaijani, one in Persian, and a number of poems in Arabic. He is considered one of the greatest Turkic mystical poets of the late 14th and early 15th centuries and one of the most prominent early divan masters in Turkic literary history.

Very little is known for certain about Nesîmî’s life, including his real name. Nasîmî’s birthplace, like his real name, is wrapped in mystery too: it is believed he was born in a province called Nasîm located either near Aleppo in modern-day Syria (or Iraq).

From his poetry, it’s evident that Nasîmî was an adherent of the Ḥurūfī movement, which was founded by Nasîmî’s teacher Fażlullāh Astarābādī of Astarābād, who was condemned for heresy and executed in Alinja near Nakhchivan. Nasîmî became one of the most influential advocates of the Ḥurūfī doctrine and the movement’s ideas were spread to a large extent through his poetry.

Around 1417, as a direct result of his beliefs — which were considered blasphemous by the religious authorities — Nasîmî was seized and, according to most accounts, skinned alive in Aleppo.


Nur ad-Din Abd ar-Rahman Jami Jāmī (born August 18, 1414 -November 17, 1492), is known for his achievements as a scholar, mystic, writer, composer of numerous lyrics and idylls, historian, and one of the greatest Persian and Sufi poets of the 15th century. Jami was primarily a outstanding poet-theologian of the school of Ibn Arabī and a prominent Sũfī. He was recognized for his eloquent tongue and ready at repartee who analyzed the idea of the metaphysics of mercy. Among his famous poetical works are: Haft Awrang, Tuhfat al-Ahrar, Layla wa -Majnun, Fatihat al-Shabab, Lawa’ih, Al-Durrah al-Fakhirah.

Jami was born in Kharjerd in central Khorasan. Originally his father had come from Dasht, a small town in the district of Isfahan and Jami’s early pen name was Dashti. A few years after his birth, his family migrated to the cultural city of Herat where he was able to study Peripateticism, mathematics, Arabic literature, natural sciences, language, logic, rhetoric and Islamic philosophy at the Nizamiyyah University of Herat. While in Herat, Jami was a central role and function of the Timurid court, involved in the politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and Persian culture. He later went to Samarkand, the most important center of scientific studies in the Muslim world and completed his studies there. He was a follower of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order. He also embarked on a pilgrimage that greatly enhanced his reputation and further solidified his importance through the Persian world.


Nizām-al-Din ʿAlī-Shīr Herawī (9 February 1441 – 3 January 1501) was a politician, mystic, linguist, painter, and poet of Uyghur origin who was born and lived in Herat. He is generally known by his pen name Navā’ī (meaning “melodic” or “melody maker”). Because of his distinguished Chagatai poetry, he is considered by many throughout the Turkic-speaking world to be the founder of early Turkic literature.

Mīr Alī Shīr was born in 1441 in Herat, which is now in northwestern Afghanistan. He belonged to the Chagatai amir class of the Timurid elite. His father died while Mīr Alī Shīr was young, and the ruler of Khorasan, Babur Ibn-Baysunkur, adopted guardianship of the young man. He was subsequently educated in Mashhad, Herat, and Samarkand.

Under the pen name Navā’i, Mīr Alī Shīr was among the key writers who revolutionized the literary use of the Turkic languages. Navā’ī himself wrote primarily in the Chagatai language and produced 30 works over a period of 30 years, during which Chagatai became accepted as a prestigious and well-respected literary language. Navā’i also wrote in Persian (under the pen name Fāni), and to a much lesser degree in Arabic and Hindi.

Mohtasham Kashani

Kamāl-al-Din Mohtasham Kāšāni (1528–1588) was a Persian poet of Safavid’s period. He is mainly known by his elegy on martyrdom of Imam Hossein and his family. he was a follower of the shiite school of “voghoo” and one of the most well known of shiite poets. He was born in Kashan and is burried there.

Sheikh Bahaii

Bahāʾ al‐Dīn Muḥammad ibn Ḥusayn al‐Āmilī (also known as Shaykh‐i Bahāʾī), (1547 – 1621) was a scholar, philosopher, architect, mathematician, astronomer and a poet in 16th-century Iran. He was born in Baalbek, Lebanon. He lived in Jabal Amel in a village called Jaba. Jabal Amel had always been one of the main Shiite centers of west Asia. Even today various Shiite groups live there. They have played an important role in establishing Shiism in Iran, especially from 13th century onwards. The Baha’i (Bahaei) progeny was among those well-known Shiite families. He immigrated in his childhood to Safavid Iran with his father. He is considered one of the main co-founders of Isfahan School of Islamic Philosophy. In later years he became one of the teachers of Mulla Sadra.

He wrote over 88 books in different topics mostly in Persian but also in Arabic. His works include Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, as well as designing the construction of the Manar Jonban, also known as the two shaking minarets, situated on either side of the mausoleum of Amoo Abdollah Garladani in the west of Isfahan. Shaykh Baha’ al-Din was also an adept of mysticism. During his travels he dressed like a Dervish and frequented Sufi circles He also appears in the chain of both the Nurbakhshi and Ni’matullāhī Sufi orders. His Persian poetry is also replete with mystical allusions and symbols. He is buried in Imam Reza’s shrine in Mashad in Iran.

Vahshi Bafghi

Kamal al-din (or Shams al-Din Mohammad) known by his pen name Vahshi Bafghi was a Persian poet of the Safavid period. Vahshi was born in the agricultural town of Bafq, southeast of Yazd. Vahshi was educated in the town of Yazd before moving to Kashan which was a center of literary activity in the Safavid period. He worked as a school teacher before his poetry attracted the attention of the regional governors. From then on his career was one of serving the courts of various regional governors as well as Safavid Rulers.

Vahshi’s, Farhad and Shirin, a Persian folklore and romantic story of Sassanid Iran is written in the meter of the Persian poet Nizami’s romantic epic Farhad and Shirin. Although the work was left unfinished at the time of Vahshi’s death, with the introduction and barely 500 verses of the story completed, it has been recognized as one of the poets most famous masterpieces.

Vahshi according to one account was said to have died in 1583 at the age of 52 in Yazd. He was buried in this city.

Mir Razi Artimani

Mir Razi Artimani was a famous Safavid poet and mysticborn in Artiman, Tusarkan. He died there and his tomb is still a place of pilgrimage. The famous saghi nameh is his work. He was a student of Mir Morshed Broojerdi.

Saeb Tabrizi

Ṣāʾeb Tabrizi, (Mīrzā Muḥammad ʿalī Ṣāeb, 1601/02-1677) also called Saeib Isfahani was a Persian poet and one of the greatest masters of a form of classical Persian lyric poetry characterized by rhymed couplets, known as the ghazal. In addition to his Persian works, Ṣāʾeb Tabrīzī also wrote poems in his native Azeri.

Ṣaeb was born and educated in the city of Eṣfahān and in about 1626 he traveled to India, where he was received into the court of Shāh Jahān. He stayed for a time in Kabul and in Kashmir, returning home after several years abroad. After his return, Shāh ʿAbbas II, bestowed upon him the title King of Poets.

Ṣaeb’s reputation is based primarily on some 300,000 couplets, including his epic poem Qandahār-nāma (“The Campaign Against Qandahār”). His verses reveal an elegant wit, a gift for the aphorism and the proverb, and a keen appreciation of philosophical and intellectual exercise.

Bidel Dehlavi

Mawlānā Abul-Ma’āni Mirzā Abdul-Qādir Bidel, also known as Bīdel Dehlavī (1642–1720), was a famous Persian poet and Sufi born in an area of Kabul province in today’s Afghanistan whose parents migrated to India. He mostly wrote Ghazal and Rubayee (quatrain) in Persian and is the author of 16 books of poetry (contain nearly 147,000 verses and include several masnavis). He is considered as one of the prominent poets of Indian School of Poetry in Persian literature, and owns his unique style in it.

Possibly as a result of being brought up in such a mixed religious environment, Bidel had considerably more tolerant views than his poetic contemporaries. He preferred free thought to accepting the established beliefs of his time, siding with the common people and rejecting the clergy who he often saw as corrupt.

Since late 18th century his poetry gradually lost its position among Iranians while it has been much welcomed in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. Bidel came back to prominence in Iran in 1980s. Literary critics Mohammad-Reza Shafiei-Kadkani and Shams Langrudi were instrumental in Bidel’s re-emergence in Iran.


Mirzā Abbās Bastāmi (1798-1857) known by his pen name Foroughi was a Persian poet of Qajar dynasty era. He was born in Karbala, when his family were in the journey of Karbala. He later came to Sari city of Māzandarān with his family and later moved to Tehran. He lived for a period in Bastām and has been called Bastāmi since then. Most of his poems were in ghazal form and he was considered as one of the sufi poets. Around 5000 lines of his poetry has survived

Hatef Esfehani

Seyyed Ahmad Hatef Esfehani was a famous Iranian poet of the 18th century. He was born in Isfahan and most likely he died there in 1783. Hatef’s date of birth is unknown. Hatef was contemporary to at least seven rulers of Iran. He studied mathematics, medicine, philosophy, literature, and foreign languages (Turkish and Arabic). Hatef was an expert in the composition of ode. Ode is the poem of complex structure and exalted by lyrical or rhapsodic mood on some stated theme. Another line of his profession was in the writing of Tarji-e-Band. When the linking verse is recurrent, the poem is called a Tarji-e-band (literally: Return-Tie). But when the linking verse is varied, the poem is called a Tarkib-band (literally: Composite-Tie). He was also skillful in the composition of Purposeful Poem (Ghassideh), Elegy (Soognameh), Quatrains (Rubaiyat) and Fragments (Ghata’at). But his reputation lied in his excellent poems of mystical nature.

Hatef has been considered as one of the great Iranian mystic poets who taught many peoples about the higher aspects of the human existence and the journey of the soul. Hatef’s poems are smooth, clear and flowing and free of ambiguities. He followed Saadi and Hafez especially in the composition of his odes. Due to his excellent odes, Hatef is also very well known in many parts of Europe and particularly in Italy.


Táhirih or Qurratu’l-`Ayn are both titles of Fatemeh Baraghani (1814 or 1817 – August 16–27, 1852), an influential poet and theologian of the Bábí Faith in Iran. Her life, influence and execution made her a key figure of the religion. The daughter of Muhammad-Salih Baraghani, she was born into one of the most prominent families of her time. As a young girl she was educated privately by her father, Mulla Muhammad Salih Baraghani, and showed herself a proficient writer.

In 1844 aged about 27, she became acquainted with the teachings of the Báb and accepted his religious claims. She soon won renown and infamy for her zealous teachings of his faith and “fearless devotion”. Subsequently exiled back to Iran, Táhirih taught her faith at almost every opportunity. The Persian clergy grew resentful of her and endeavoured to have her imprisoned and stopped.

Táhirih was probably best remembered for unveiling herself in an assemblage of men during the Conference of Badasht. The unveiling caused a great deal of controversy and the Báb named her Táhirih (meaning “the Pure One”) to show his support for her. She was soon arrested and placed under house arrest in Tehran. A few years later in mid-1852 she was executed in secret on account of her Bábí faith.

Muhammad Iqbal

Sir Muhammad Iqbal (November 9, 1877 – April 21, 1938) was a poet and philosopher born in Sialkot, British India (now in Pakistan), whose poetry in Urdu and Persian is considered to be among the greatest of the modern era.

After studying in England and Germany, Iqbal established a law practice, but concentrated primarily on writing scholarly works on politics, economics, history, philosophy and religion. He is best known for his poetic works, including Asrar-e-Khudi—which brought a knighthood— Rumuz-e-Bekhudi, and the Bang-e-Dara, with its enduring patriotic song Tarana-e-Hind. In Afghanistan and Iran, where he is known as Iqbāl-e Lāhorī, he is highly regarded for his Persian works.

Iqbal was a strong proponent of the political and spiritual revival of Islamic civilization across the world, but specifically in India; a series of famous lectures he delivered to this effect were published as The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. He is officially recognised as the “national poet” in Pakistan. The anniversary of his birth on November 9 is a holiday in Pakistan.

Farrokhi Yazdi

Mirza Mohammad Farrokhi Yazdi (1887–1939) was a Persian poet and a senior politician of the Reza Shah era. Born in Yazd to Ebrahim Yazdi, he had to leave school for work due to poverty at an early age. Yet by the age of 16, he had already started writing poetry.

He became active during the Persian Constitutional Revolution and was imprisoned because of his writings. He was vehemently opposed to the infamous 1919 Anglo-Persian Agreement. In prison, he protested that “He whose only offence is love of the motherland, no creed would condemn to a dark cell…”

In 1921, he published the political newspaper “Toufan” (storm), winning fame for his poetry and constant attacks against Reza Pahlavi in his editorials. He continued with his journalism and political activities and was associated with a number of other radical journals. He was elected to the 7th Majles from Yazd and was one of only two members of parliament who opposed Reza Shah.

He was forced to leave Tehran and go into hiding eventually ending in exile in Germany. On his return to Iran under the promise that he would not be harmed he was harassed and finally, in 1939, arrested and imprisoned at Tehran’s Qasr prison. He was murdered in jail. His grave is still not known.


Mohammad-Taqí Bahār (November 6, 1884, Mashhad, Iran — April 22 , 1951, Tehran, Iran), widely known as Malek o-Sho’arā (literally: “the king of poets” – an Iranian version of poet lauriate), is a renowned Iranian poet and scholar, who was also a politician, journalist, historian and a Pprofessor of Literature. Although he was a 20th century poet, his poems are fairly traditional and strongly nationalistic in character.

At 18, he lost his father and started to work as a Muslim preacher and clergy. It was during this time that he composed a long ode and sent it to Mozzafar-al-Din Shah who became so deeply impressed by this ode that he immediately appointed Bahār as his chief court poet and by Royal Decree conferred on him, at the age of 19 (1903), the title of Malek o-Sho’arā.

At the onset of the Constitutional Revolution of Iran (1906–1911), Bahār joined the revolutionary movement for establishing the parliamentary system of democracy in Iran. Bahār became an active member of the Mashhad branch of Anjoman-e Sa’ādat (Society for Prosperity) that campaigned for establishment of Parliament of Iran (Majles). During the rule of the last Shah he also served briefly as the Minister of Culture and Education in Ghavam cabinet.

Mirzadeh Eshghi

Mirzadeh Eshghi, born Seyyed Mohammad Reza Kordestani (1893-1924), was a political writer for republican causes and poet of Iran. He was born in Hamedan, the son of Haj Seyyed Abolghasam Kordestani; he learned French in the Ecole d’Alliance, and moved to Istanbul for a while. He is particularly famous for writing the opera rastakhiz-e shahryaran-e Iran (refferring to a Resurrection of Iran), This was written in Istanbul after he saw the ruins of Taq Kasra on his way there.

After returning to Iran he ended up with his family in Tehran, he published articles and poems in various newspapers and journals in which he fiercely attacked the political system of Iran. He is also remembered for writing six plays; his “noruz nameh” is particularly famous. Another famous play of his is “kafane-siah” (the black death-shroud) about the situation of women under Islam. He published a paper in Tehran called Twentieth Century and predicted in that paper his own early death in the poem “Homeland Love”. He published 17 issues which was stopped due to political pressures. When he resumed publication later; after the first issue it was “officially” banned.

He was eventually murdered on the order of Reza Khan (later, Reza Shah) by two gunmen in his house in Tehran. He is buried in Ebn-e Babooyeh cemetery in Shahr-e Ray, near Tehran. He was one of the first Iranian poets to discuss the concept of New Poetry. The first poems of Nima Yushij, the father of modern poetry in Iran, were published in his journals.


Abolqāsem Lahūtī (1887-1957) was a Persian poet and political activist who was active in Iran during the Persian Constitutional Revolution and in Tajikistanin during the early Soviet era. Born in Kermanshah to a poet by the name Mirza Ahmad Elhami, his first poem was printed in the newspaper Habal al-Mateen in Calcutta at the age of 18.

He soon entered politics and was decorated by Sattar Khan for his efforts for the Constitutional Revolution. Initially, he went to a clerical school, but then went to Bulgaria and wrote many poems about Islam. He then came back to Iran, and enlisted in the armed forces, and graduated as Captain in rank.

After being convicted by a court in Qom to death, he fled to Turkey, but soon returned and joined forces with Sheikh Mohammad Khiabani in Tabriz. His forces defeated Mahmud Khan Puladeen’s troops, but were soon disbanded by freshly dispatched forces. He fled to Baku. While living in Nakhichevan, he became interested in Communism. After marrying a Russian poet, he eventually moved to USSR where he remained until his final days.

Lahuti is the author of the Tajik SSR anthem. Lahuti’s other works include “kave ahangar” (“Kaveh the Blacksmith”, 1947), “qaside kremlin” (“Ode to the Kremlin”, 1923), and “taj va beyraq” (“The Crown and the Flag”, 1935). His collection of poetry, in six volumes, was published between 1960 and 1963.

Iraj Mirza

Iraj Mirza (1874–1926) was an Iranian poet. He is considered as one of the major contemporary poets of the Ghajar period and also as the first Iranian master of colloquial poetry. In his verses he uses the actual words of everyday speech. The origin of this tendency has come to be identified with his name. Through Iraj, poetic language was enriched with many colloquial words and expressions. His simple poetic language is also famous for its witticism and satire directed against tradionalism.

His Father, prince Gholam Hossein Mirza was son of prince Malek Iraj Mirza son of Fat’h Ali Shah Ghajar. Gholam Hossein Mirza was a poet laureate or the official court-poet of Mozaffar al-Din Mirza. Iraj Mirza studied at a branch of the House of Sciences and Techniques (Darolfonoon) in Tabriz. At 15, he was fluent in French, Arabic and Turkish. He was also familiar with the art of calligraphy. His handwriting was very artistic and he was and still is considered as one of the famous calligraphers of Iran.

At 16, Iraj got married and at 19 he lost both his father and wife. He then took the position of his late father and became the court-poet of Mozaffar al-Din Mirza. At 22, when Mozaffar al-Din Mirza became the new Shah, Iraj was titled as the Head of Poets (Sadrol-Shaeryn or Sadrol-Showara). He was then titled as Jalal-ol-mamalek.

Among many poems that Iraj composed, his well-known poems include Satan (Ebleess), Mother (Maadar), A Letter to a Poet Aref Ghazvini (Arefnameh), Woman’s Picture (Tassvir-e Zan), Story of the Veil or Hijab (hejab) and the Story of Zohreh and Manouchehr (Daastan-e Zohreh o Manouchehr). The Story of Zohreh and Manouchehr based on the Greek myth of Venus and Adonis is one of his famous poetic works.

Taghi Rafat

Mirza Taqikhan Raf’at Tabrizi (1887 – 1920), was an Iranian poet, playwright, critic, and journalist.

Rafat was was educated in Istanbul and during World War I returned to Tabriz to teach French in high school. He was a modernist poet who wrote in Turkish and French as well as Persian. Politically, he was a follower of Mohammad Khiabani, and edited the latter’s newspaper, Tajaddod (“Modernity”), an organ of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, as well as his own literary magazine Azadestan.

In Azadestan he wrote about the need to break away from the traditional modes in Persian poetry and alongside Shams Kasmaie he is considered one of the first to argue for the new wave in poetry in iran. His declared aim was to “break holes” in the “dam of traditions” in Persian literature. He also wrote plays some of which were staged in Tabriz whilst he was alive.

He was closely associated with Khiabani’s movement in Azerbayejan and was considered his cultural arm. When Khiabani’s movement was violently crushed, Rafat committed suicide.

Aref Ghazvini

Abolghassem Aref Ghazvini (1882 – 1934) was an Iranian poet, lyricist, and musician. He was born in Ghazvin and finished his studies in Persian and Arabic languages there. He is said to have been a good calligrapher. Under the influence of his father he joined the clerics in his youth but after his father’s death he left the clergy.

He later moved to Tehran and became well known in the court of Mozaffareddin Shah. He was even offered a position at court. Aref did not take this up and returned to Ghazvin. He composed many poems about Iran and became known as 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. His most important and impressive works are his taṣnīfāt (song lyrics), which he composed in response to political events of the day and sang to large and enthusiastic audiences. The taṣnīf 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 banished, to Hamadān where he spent his remaining years in solitude and poverty.

Shams Kasmaie

Shams Kasmaie was born in Yazd, but moved to Eshgh Abad after marrying a tea merchant. After the death of her husband she moved to Tabriz. She, alongside Taghi Rafaat, was one of the first persian poets to break from the traditional mode and embark on modernism. Her first new wave poems were published in Rafaat’s Azadestan in 1920.

She was also a political activist and a fiery writer. She participated in the poilitical movements of the time in Azarbayejan and was a close collaborator of Rafaat. After his death she moved back to Yazd. She remarried and moved to Tehran where she spent the last years of her life in isolation.

Parvin Etesami

Parvin Etesami (1907– 1941), was a Persian poet. She was born in Tabriz to Mirza Yusuf Etesami Ashtiani (E’tesam-al-Molk), who in turn was the son of Mirza Ebrahim Khan Mostawfi Etesam-al-Molk. Mirza Ebrahim Khan Mostawfi Etesam-al-Molk was originally from Ashtiyan, but moved to Tabriz and was appointed financial controller of the province of Azerbaijan by the Qajar administration. Her family moved to Tehran early in her life, and in addition to the formal schooling, she obtained a solid understanding of Arabic and classical Persian literature from her father.

She studied at the American Girls College in Tehran and graduated in 1924. In 1926, she received an invitation to become the tutor of the queen of the new Pahlavi court, but she refused. In 1934, she was married and moved to the city of Kermanshah. But the marriage only lasted for ten weeks and she returned to Tehran.

In 1938-39 she worked for several months at the library of the Teacher Training College (Daneshsaraye Ali). Her father’s death in 1938 bereft Parvin of his loving support and virtually severed her contact with the outside world. Her sudden death only three years after her father shocked the country and was mourned in many elegies. She was buried near her father in Qom.

In her short life, she managed to achieve great fame. Parvin’s poetry follows the classical Persian tradition its form and substance. She remained unaffected by or perhaps ignored the modernistic trends in. In the arrangement of her poetry book, there are approximately 42 untitled Qasidas and Qet’as. These works follower a didactic and philosophical styles of Sanai and Naser Khusraw. Another form of poetry, the monazere (debate), claims the largest portion of Parvin’s Divan. She composed over sixty poems in the style of monazere. In these “debates” she eloquently expresses her basic thoughts about life and death, social justiceethics, education, and the supreme importance of knowledge.

Nima Yushij

Nimā Yushij (November 12, 1896 – January 6, 1960) was a contemporary Persian poet who started the she’r-e no (“new poetry”) movement. He is considered as the father of modern Persian poetry. He died of pneumonia in Shemiran, in the northern part of Tehran and was buried in his native village of Yush, Nur County, Mazandaran, as he had willed.

He grew up in Yush, mostly helping his father with the farm and taking care of the cattle. As a boy, he visited many local summer and winter camps and mingled with shepherds and itinerary workers. Life around the campfire, especially images emerging from the shepherds’ simple and entertaining stories about village and tribal conflicts, impressed him greatly. These images, etched in the young poet’s memory waited until his power of diction developed sufficiently to release them. At the age of twelve, Nima was taken to Tehran and taught at a Roman Catholic school.

Nima started his poetry in the traditional style but gradually realized that the traditional devices are impeding his free flow of ideas. At a certain stage of this gradual change Nima became aware that he has to break completely from this tradition and create his own innovative poetic devices to that enhanced the free flow of concepts. The new poetry was thus born.

Gholamreza Rouhani

Sayyed Gholamreza Rouhani (17 May 1897 to 29 August 1985) was a humorous poet. Professor Mohamad Ali Jamalzadeh called him “The chief of humorous poets”. His father, Sayyed Mirza Shokrollah (known as Azadi) and his grandfather Mirza Mohammad Tafreshi (known as Ali), were both poets of the Qajar era. Gholamreza Rouhani was born in Mashhad. In 1919 his first collection of poetry was published in in Teheran.

In 1921 Rouhani joined the Literary Society and in 1923 he became associated with some theater and music clubs including “Jameh Barbad” which was founded by Professor Ismael Mehrtash. Rouhani wrote many humorous poems for the theater and many of them became publicly famous.

Rouhani was also active in creating songs as well as serious and humorous poems for music and theater. His brand of humorous poems was not widley recognized in the new period of Persian literature and very little was known about them. Gradually his poems became a valuable source of inspiration for young people. Today in Iran there are numerous “humorous” societies named after him.

Zandokht Shirazi

Zandokht Shirazi (1909–1953) was a prominent Iranian feminist, poet and school teacher, who was an active campaigner for women’s rights from an early age.

She established Majma’ e Enghelabi e Nesvan [Revolutionary Association of Women] in Shiraz in 1927, at the age of 18, and published Dokhtran Iran [Daughters of Iran] newspaper on women’s issues from 1931 initially in Shiraz.

She has been called the first Persian radical feminist . Her poetry was ignored for a long time and many of the anthologies on Iranian literature fail to mention her name.

The opposition to her views and her increasing isolation led to a deep depression which alongside poverty and her deteriorting physical health caused her early death.


Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Behjat-Tabrizi known by his pen name as Shahriar was a legendary Iranian poet of Azeri origin, wrote in Persian languages and Azerbaijani language. Shahriar was one of the first Iranians to write significant poetry in Turkish. He published his first book of poems in 1929. His poems are mainly influenced by Hafez. His most famous poem Heydar-Babaya Salam, in Turkish, Published in 1954, won the immense affection of both the Turkic and Iranian speakers. Heydar Babaya Salam is translated into more than 30 languages. Shahriar is considered to be among the best modern poems in Azari language and some of his work has been turned into plays.

Shahriar’s verse takes diverse forms, including lyrics, quatrains, couplets, odes, and elegies. One of his love poems, Hala Chera, (why now?) was set to music by Rouhollah Khaleghi. The composition for orchestra and solo voice became one of his most well-known of his works.

One of the major reasons for the success of Shahriar’s work is the sincerity of his words. Since he uses slang and colloquial language in the context of poetry, his poems are understandable and effective for a broad segment of the public. His day of death is named the “national day of poem” in Iran.

Fereidoon Tavalloli

Fereydoon Tavalloli (1919–1985) was born in Shiraz and grew up in a traditional and wealthy family. His primary education was at home with private tutors. As poetry was a cornerstone of the teaching methods, he was introduced to Persian poetry very early on. Reading the works of Rudaki, Ferdosi, Nezami, Sadi, Hafez and Molavi, as he was learning to read. This set the tone for the rest of his life. The poets’ messages, philosophy and rebellion was imprinted into his character. His family background and culture of the Qashqai nomads of the mountains of Fars province provided the mold. As a result, he was both a rebel and a poet from early childhood.

Shiraz at the time was a hotbed for poetry and literature, not only due to its history and nature but also due to the fact that the government had banned almost all other socio-political activity. Throughout his high school years Tavallali formed and led poetry and social clubs at school. He also occasionally confronted the authoritarian rulers of the country through speeches and writings at these clubs. He entered the Tehran University in 1938 and studied linguistics.

He published his first book called “Al-tafasil” in 1946. This was a compilation of his newspaper published articles. His later works were almost all poetry.


Ahmad Shamlou also known under his nom de plume A. Bamdad (December 12, 1925 — July 24, 2000) was a Persian poet, writer, and journalist. Shamlou is arguably the most influential poet of modern Iran. His poetry was initially very much influenced by and was in the tradition of Nima Youshij.

Shamlou’s poetry is complex, yet his imagery, which contributes significantly to the intensity of his poems, is simple. As the base, he uses the traditional imagery familiar to his Iranian audience through the works of Persian masters like Hafez and Omar Khayyám. For infrastructure and impact, he uses a kind of everyday imagery in which personified oxymoronic elements are spiked with an unreal combination of the abstract and the concrete thus far unprecedented in Persian poetry, which distressed some of the admirers of more traditional poetry .

Shamlou has translated extensively from French to Persian and his own works are also translated into a number of languages. He has also written a number of plays, edited the works of major classical Persian poets, especially Hafez. His thirteen-volume Ketab-e Koucheh (The Book of Alley) is a major contribution in understanding the Iranian folklore beliefs and language. He also wrote fiction and Screenplays, contributing to children’s literature, and journalism.

Fereydoon Moshiri

Fereydoon Moshiri (born August 1926 in Tehran, Iran – died October 24, 2000 in Tehran) was one of the prominent contemporary Persian poets who versified in both modern and classic styles of the Persian poem. He is best known as conciliator of classical Persian poetry at one side with the New Poetry initiated by Nima Yushij at the other side. One of the major contributions of Moshiri’s poetry is the broadening of the social and geographical scope of modern Persian literature.

Fereydoon Moshiri was born in Tehran to a family known for their legacy of poetry. His school years were divided between Tehran and Mashhad where his father held administrative posts. With the outbreak of the World War II the family moved to Tehran and the young Moshiri continued his education at Dar ol-Fonoon and then in Adib High School. Throughout these years his first poems appeared in progressive journals such as Iran-e-Ma. This was the beginning of a career in literary journalism that continued for more than thirty years.

Moshiri’s first volume of poetry titled Teshne-ye Toofan (Thirsty for the Storm) was published in 1955. His lyrical poems were widely received and left an impact on a generation of younger poets. Later works which were published under the titles “Abr-o-Koocheh” (The Cloud and The Alley, 1962), and “Bahar Ra Bavar Kon” (Believe The Spring, 1967) embraced a wide variety of universal concepts ranging from humanistic considerations to social justice. A selection of his poems has been translated into English entitled ‘With All my Tears’ by Ismail Salami.

Siavash Kasraie

Siavash Kasraie (February 25, 1927, Isfahan – February 8, 1996, Vienna) was an Iranian poet.

Kasraie graduated from Tehran University, Faculty of Law. He was a native of Isfahan. His first collection of poetry was published in 1957 followed in 1959 by “Arash the Archer”, based on the mythological tale of Arash. The second collection of poetry brought him to fame immediately. He was from the first group of Iranian poets who followed Nima’s new poetry.

Kasraie was a member of the Tudeh Party and was forced into exile in 1983 after the Islamic regime in Iran turned against most of their earlier supporters such as the Tudeh party. He lived his last years in exile, first in Kabul and Moscow and then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in Vienna.

Simin Behbahani

Simin Behbahani (July 20, 1927, Tehran – 19 August 2014 ) is one of the prominent figures of contemporary Persian poetry. She is considered today as Iran’s national poet and an icon of the Iranian intelligentsia and literati who affectionately refer to her as the “lioness of Iran”. She has been nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature, and has received many literary accolades around the world.

Simin Behbahani, started writing poetry at twelve and published her first poem at the age of fourteen. She used the “Char Pareh” style of Nima Yooshij and subsequently turned to ghazal. Behbahani contributed to a historic development by adding theatrical subjects and daily events and conversations to poetry using the ghazal style of poetry. She has expanded the range of the traditional Persian verse forms and has produced some of the most significant works of the Persian literature in 20th century.

In March 2010 she was refused permission to leave the country. As she was about to board a plane to Paris, police detained her and interrogated her. She was subsequently released but without her passport stopping her from travel abroad. She participated in the first Toos Foundation event in celebration of Lobat Vala.

Behbahani was hospitalized in Tehran on 6 August 2014. She remained in a coma from 6 August until her death 19 August 2014. She died in Tehran’s Pars Hospital and she was 87. Her funeral was held on 22 August in Vahdat Hall and her body was buried at Behesht-e Zahra.

Bijan Jalali

Bijan Jalali (born 1927 in Tehran, Iran) is a renowned modern Persian poet. Sadegh Hedayat who had a major influence on his work was his uncle. He studied French literature at Tehran University. Jalali’s first volume of poetry was published in 1965. he was well known for his simplicity and directness. The Color of Waters (1971) reflects Jalali’s concern for more free forms.

In his unpretentious poems, he reflects moments of pain and boredom by brief words and passing images. His best poems portray vivid images in the mind. He is the most contemplative modern poet and reflects different philosophical thoughts with an intimate language, which never tires the reader. Many of his works have been published posthumously.

Sohrab Sepehri

Sohrab Sepehri (October 7, 1928 – April 21, 1980) was one of the notables of modern Persian poetry. He was also a painter, the influence of which can be seen in the unique imagery he uses in his poems. He was born in Kashan in Isfahan province. He will be in any one’s list of the five most famous and read modern Persian poets.

His poetry is full of humanity and concern for human values. He loved nature and refers to it frequently in all his poems. Well-versed in Buddhism, mysticism and Western traditions, he mingled the Western concepts with Eastern ones, thereby creating a kind of poetry unsurpassed in the history of Persian literature. To him, the new forms were the essential new means he needed to express his thoughts and feelings.

His poetry has been translated into many languages including English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Arabic, Turkish and Russian.

Hushang Ebtehaj

Hushang Ebtehaj (1928-2022), with the pen name of Sayeh is an eminent Iranian poet of the 20th century whose life and work spans many of Iran’s political, cultural and literary upheavals.

He was born February 25, 1928 in Rasht, Iran, and had his primary schooling there before moving to Tehran. His first book of poetry, with an introduction by eminent poet Mehdi Hamidi Shirazi, was published when he was 19 years old. During Iran’s open period following WWII, Sayeh got involved in various literary circles and contributed to various literary magazines such as Sokhan, Kavian, Sadaf, Maslehat, and others.

After the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the ensuing suppression, Sayeh spent a year in prison for his writings. After his release, he began work on “Hafez, by Sayeh,” a verse-by-verse study of the various publications of Hafez. In 1987, he moved to Cologne, Germany, with his family and lives there. In his poems, he is shown as a highly motivated person in love, who has gone through years of pain and suffering.

Mehdi Akhavan-Sales

Mehdi Akhavān-Sāles, was a prominent Iranian poet. He is one of the pioneers of New Style in Persian Poetry. Akhavan Sales was born in 1928 in Mashhad, Iran. In 1990, following an invitation from the Germany, he traveled abroad for the first time. Few months after his return, he died in Tehran. He is buried on the grounds of the mausoleum of Ferdosi in Tus.

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 work placed him among the top runners for the mantle of Nima Yushij. In fact, for many literary circles, Nader Naderpour and Akhavan Sales were equally recognized as worthy successors of Nima. Like him, Akhvan also started as a traditionalists and had to work his way into new realms of New Poetry.

khavan’s forte is epic poetry; more precisely, he chooses themes of epical proportions. His language is complex. 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.

Nader Naderpour

Nader Naderpour (6 June 1929 – 18 February 2000) was one of the many Iranian poets who shaped up the New Persian Poetry. Nader Naderpour was born in Tehran. His parents were both fluent in French with a deep love for art, music and history. The eldest of two brothers and three sisters, Naderpour grew up under the supervisions and cares of his culturally rich parents.

In 1942 during World War II, Naderpour entered Iran-Shahr High School of Tehran. A year later when Iran was occupied by the Allied military forces, Naderpour became involved in politics and joined nationalist group. Later he joined the Tudeh Party of Iran (the pro-Soviet Communist Party of the country). He published a number of poems in the Party Journals. Later he left the Tudeh Party and became sympathetic to the National Front and its leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh. He worked with the wing of Front known as the Third Force (under Khalil Maleki).

In 1971, Naderpour took over as the director of Contemporary Literature Department in the National Iranian Radio & Television, where he directed many programs on the life and works of contemporary literary figures. Naderpour fled the Iranian Revolution in 1980.

Nosrat Rahmani

Nosrat Rahmani (1929-2000) was an Iranian poet and writer. He was born in the slums of Tehran. He received his college degree from Ministry of PTT. After just a few years of services in the Ministry, Nosrat Rahmani sought employment with the state radio. Subsequently he abandoned government employment for journalism and freelance writing. He was for a while the ditor of the poetry section in Zan-e Rooz (Today’s Woman) magazine.

His poetry is the poetry of the stubborn, humiliated and revolting down-town people in Tehran’s slums; he never forgot his concern for the plight of the urban poor. His memoirs entitled, The Man Lost in the Dust (1957), provide an emotional account of the life of an addict. During the 60’s and 70’s, Rahmani was especially popular among the youth. As a whole, his poetry is dramatic in structure and fantastic in effect, often attempting to recapture the past by poeticizing its recollections.

He died in Rasht at the age of 71 and has left numerous collections of his poetry.

Mehrdad Avesta

Mehrdad Avesta (real name Mohammad Reza Rouhani) was born in Brojerd in 1931. He is well known for his Ghasideh poems and some consider him the foremost exponent of this form in contemporary era. Ghaside (literally means “intention”) is a form of petition to a patron. Often it is written in a panegyric form in praise of a king or a nobleman.

He grew up in a literary family and started writing poems from an early age. He did not however publish any of his early work as he considered them to be inferior to the ghasidehs he developed later. He studied philosophy at Tehran University and worked as a lecturer after graduation. At the time he was considered to be the youngest ever lecturer at Tehran university.

He wrote few poems in opposition to the Shah which got him imprisoned for a short period. He published his first collection of poems in 1960. He was in corespondence with a number of French thinkers and travelled to France on a number of occasions. jean Paul sartre considered him “a great eastern thinker”.

Lobat Vala

Lobat Vala (born in Tehran, 1930) is a contemporary Persian poet born in 1930 in tehran. As one of the first Iranian women journalist she was the editor of a weekly women’s magazine, and later, the literary section of the weekly “Tehran Mossavar”. She has also been one of the pioneer campaigners for women’s Rights in Iran. She was also employed by the Ministry of Art and Culture as the art director of literary and musical programs for television and radio.

She has been living in exile since 1979. First in Australia, where she obtained a degree in Middle Eastern Studdies from Melbourne University. She is currently living in London. She has published several short stories, novels and poetry books in Persian and a selection from her poems has been translated into English.

Manouchehr Atashi

Manouchehr Atashi (1931-2005) was a Persian poet, writer, and journalist. He was the last direct student of Nima Yushij. He was born in Dashtestan, Bushehr province in the warm southern coastal regions of Iran and with vivid image of the desert environment and tribal life.

His took his roots seriously and his poems are the poems of the warrior horsemen of the humiliated southern tribesman. Although attached to his native birthplace his poems are universal. In his later works Atashi has relaxed moved towards a direct form of expression of emotion. He was a rare poet who created his own special language and diction in modern Iranian poetry.

Yadollah Royaee

Yadollah Royaee – More Information (born 1932 in Damqan, Semnan Province, Iran) is the poet of the New Wave. His poetry renewed debate about the relative value of form and context in modern Persian poetry. Royaee is careful to produce unity in his poems. His sea songs reflect French symbolism. He moves to exotic marine landscapes creating glorious lyrical scenes, focusing mostly on symbols rather than metaphors in image building.

He was politically active in his youth and was arrested and imprisoned for being a member of the Tudeh Party after the 1953 coup. He started writing poetry after his release from jail. He also graduated in international law.

His lyrics are deeply imbued with Persian mysticism. Royaee also invented and introduced a new style in Persian poetry which he named Spacement Poetry. Some of his works have been translated into French. He is currently living in Paris.

Farrokh Tamimi

Farrokh Tamimi, an Iranian poet and author, was born in Neishabour. Losing his father at the early age of two, he was raised by his mother in Tehran. Tamimi studied accounting and for many hears worked as an account executive in several major manufacturing companies.

Since the 1950’s he began writing poetry, showing interest in the experiments of Fereidoon Tavallali. He soon joined the group of Modernist Iranian Poets (the New Wave), influenced by the poems and views of Nima Yushij (1887 – 1959). His work then was well known as one of the second generation of modernist poets such as Royaee, M. Azad and F. Farrokhzad.

In terms of form and style, Tamimi believed in freedom from the prosody of the Classical Persian Poetry. In terms of themes, he was at first concerned with social and national issues, and later he reflected aspect of city life in his poems. In addition, manifestations of nature evokes a tender atmosphere in some of his poems.

Tamimi has also written other books and translated several books from English into Farsi.

M. Azad

Mahmoud Moshref Azad Tehrani (Tehran 1934 – Tehran 2006) was a contemporary Persian poet with M. Azad as his pen name. Some of his poems have been sung by Iranian singers. Gol-e Bagh-e Ashenaii (the flower of acquaintance garden) is one of his most famous poems.

M. Azad has four collections of poems: Diar-e Shab (The land of night), Aaineh ha Tohist (The mirrors are empty), Ghasideh-ye Boland-e Baad, (The long ode of wind) and, Ba Man Toloo Kon (Rise with me) and a collection of poems, with the title of Gole Baaghe Aashnaai, published in year 2000, comprising 482 pieces from above books and 108 new pieces.

In addition to poetry, he also wrote about 50 books for sub-teens and teenagers. Many of his poems are used in Persian literature books in schools in Iran.

Forough Farrokhzad

Forugh Farrokhzād was an Iranian poet and film director. She is arguably one of Iran’s most influential female poets of the twentieth century. She was born in Tehran. At the age of sixteen she was married to Parviz Shapour, an acclaimed satirist. Farrokhzad continued her education with classes in painting and tayloring and moved with her husband to Ahvaz. A year later, she bore her only child, a son named Kāmyār (subject of “A Poem for You”).

Within two years, in 1954, Farrokhzad and her husband divorced; and she moved back to Tehran to write poetry and published her first volume, entitled The Captive, in 1955. Farrokhzad, wrote controversial poetry with a strong feminine voice, and soon became the focus of much negative attention and open disapproval. In 1958 she spent nine months in Europe and met the Iranian film-maker and writer Ebrahim Golestan, who reinforced her own inclinations to express herself and live independently. She published two more volumes, The Wall and The Rebellion before traveling to Tabriz to make a film about Iranians affected by leprosy. This 1962 documentary film titled The House is Black won several international awards.

In 1963 she published her most famous collection of poetry, Another Birth. Her poetry was now mature and sophisticated, and a profound change from previous modern Iranian poetic conventions. On February 13, 1967, Farrokhzad died in a car accident at age thirty-two.

Manouchehr Neyestani

Manouchehr Neyestani was a native of Kerman and a secondary school teacher. He is considered as one of Iran’s most plebeian poets. He would often put his radical social criticism into witty and decidedly nonacademic poems. Many of these sustain their vividness through a portrayal of life in factories, hospitals and even graveyards.

Manouchehr published his first volume of poetry, The Bud, at the age of 15. He published half a dozen other books of poetry, translations and children’s tales after that.

In his poetry, Neyestani has consistently tried to get away from the notion of the poem as a sort of display of literary virtues. Where this is accomplished, his poetry shines in simplicity and effectiveness, without appearing stale or trite. The anti privilege tone of his poetry, together with a deep sense of ordinary experience makes him something of a spokesman for proletarian concerns. Factory, a famous poem of his, portrays the estrangement and alienation born and bred in the utterly antipoetic atmosphere of a factory. He makes his impact through a series of images that are brought together in simple cadence of language and a straightforward syntax.

Mohammad Hoghoughi

Mohammad Hoqouqi (1937-2009) was an Iranian poet and critic. He was born in Isfahan and after graduating in Iranian Literature he taught for a number of years in both Isfahan and Tehran. He published a literary magazine “Jonge Isfahan” for a number of years and has left many collections of his own poetry.

Of the more than 30 books he has published one of them Modern Poetry, from Beginning until Today, reprinted many times, is considered one of the leading encyclopedic sources on modern Iranian poetry.

He was an exact and untiring critic of the modern Persian poetry carefully selecting those poets, who have left a new style in modern poetry. He wrote many important essays on many of the mdern Iranian poets including Nima Yushij, Foroogh Farokhzad, Ahamd Shamlu, Sohrab Sepehri, Akhvan Saless.

Esmaiil Khoyi

Esmail Khoyi is an Iranian poet born in 1938 in Mashad, Iran, currently living in exile in the United Kingdom. With his background in philosophy he has often been called a philosophical poet. His poetry, mixing a defiant persona with the philosophical musings of a contemplative intellectual is both unique and deeply rooted in the best traditions of Persian poetry.

He has gone beyond chronicling his own life in exile to defend human rights and political freedom the world over. He has continued to speak out for the rights of Salman Rushdi, Taslima Nassrin and others. Khoi’s poetry bears eloquent testimony to his experience and thought, and to his life long quest for a more humane world.

Selections of his poems have been translated into several languages. English translations of his selected poems have appeared in book form, in the US and Canada.

Nemat Azarm

Nemat Mirzazadeh (known as Nemat Azarm) is a Persian poet born in Mashad 1939. Currently living in exile in Paris. He is one of the founding mebers of the Iranian Writers Association and was imprisoned during the last Shah for his poilitical activities.

He started his literary activities in Mashhad in the early 1960s with the publications Khorasan-e Adabi (Lietrary Khorasan) and Mahaneh Hirmand (Hirmand Monthly). Since then he has published 16 collections of poetry.

Shafiei Kadkani

Mohammad Reza Shafi’ee Kadkani (born 1939) is a Persian writer, poet, literary critic, editor, and translator. Born in kadkan Razavi, Khorasan (near Nishapur), Shafiei-Kadkani graduated from Tehran University with a doctorate degree in Persian literature. He was a student of prominent literary figures such as Badiozzaman Forouzanfar, Mohammad Moin, and Parviz Natel-Khanlari.

He is currently professor of literature at Tehran University. Shafiei-Kadkani is known for his works on literary criticism and modern Persian poetry. His own poetry evolved from an earlier traditional style to the new wave started by Nima Yushij. His poems have a social content and his earlier works convey a vivid picture of Iranian society during the 1960s and 70s.

He has published a number of works including many works of literary criticism. With his interest in the music of poetry Kadkani has also developed a keen interest in Iranian traditional music and is now considered a major comentator in that field.

Javad Mojabi

Javad Mojabi (born 1939 in Qazvin, Iran) is an Iranian poet, writer, researcher, and literary critic. He graduated in Economics from Tehran University.

Mojabi has written hundreds of critical works and essays on art and culture in journals and magazines. He began writing poetry in the 1960s, along with short story writing and research on modern painting in Iran. He is also a well-known satirist. He was for a short period the editor of the literary journal, Sokhan.

The poet close to him is Nima in style but he was also strongly inclined towards Shamlou, mostly focusing on social themes. Mojabi is a poet of philosophy and thought, which he sweetens with a blend of satire. He employs the meter but omits it when it prevents him from expressing his thoughts. He has a daughter, Poupak, on whom he bases some of his works.

Hamid Mosadegh

Hamid Mosadegh (1940, Shahreza, Isfahan-1998, Tehran) was a contemporary Iranian poet, author and lawyer.

He went to Tehran in 1960, and graduated from University of Tehran, and his Masters degree in Economy. In 1966, he left Iran to study Law in England. From 1981, he began teaching law, at the Law School of University of Tehran. Besides working as a lawyer, he continued writing poems and publishing some of them. His career as a lawyer was strongly affected by his life as a poet and his political concerns. Most of his defendants were other Iranian authors and artists, such as Simin Behbahani, another famous Iranian poet.

In the words of critics one of the distinctive features of his poems is simplicity, fluency and sincerity. As Simin Behbahani argued: “Mosaddegh associated humanistic goals with poetry.” Hamid Mosaddegh was close to the heart of Iranian people and his poems are understandable and easy to connect with for people of various ages and classes.

In 1998, he died after a heart attack. He is buried in “Ghate’ye Honarmandan” in Tehran. On his tombstone it has been written: “Remember us, whom in all life’s night, Prowl for searching twilight. Remember us kindly and by heart.” The words are from one of his last poems.

Mohammad-Ali Sepanlou

Mohammad Ali Sepanlou (born in Tehran 1941) is an Iranian poet, writer and literary figure. He was a co-founderof the Iranian Writers Association, in which capacity he opposed both the former regime of Shah and the government of the Islamic Republic, speaking out against censorship.

Sepanlou received his diploma from Dar ul-Funun high school. He graduated from Tehran University’s Faculty of Law in 1963. He has since published over 50 books. In addition to poetry he has written extensively on Iranian cultural history and is a well known exponent of Iranian literature internationally.

In the beginning, Sepanlou adopted the style of Fereydoun Tavallali, who acted as a bridge between classic and modern poets. He then followed Nima Yushij and Ahmad Shamlou, and later assimilated the style of Siavash Kasraei, Forough Farrokhzad and Mehdi Akhavan Saales.

Mohammad Mokhtari

Mohammad Mokhtari (1942-1998) was an Iranian poet and writer who was murdered on the outskirts of Tehran in the course of the notorious “Chain Murders of Iran” by the security services of the Islamic regime. He left his residence at five o’clock in the afternoon of December 2 1998, reportedly to buy light bulbs on Jordan Boulevard in north Tehran. His body was identified at the coroner’s office on December 8 1998, he had died of suffocation. His murder came a few days after that of another writer Majid Sharif. He was interrogated and threatened by Intelligence Ministry a few times before to stop working at Kanun-e Nevisandegan (Iranian Writers Association).

His murder was initially blamed on a foreign “network”. Later, blame was placed upon “rogue elements” in the intelligence ministry. He was a political prisoner for a few years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran. He served at bonyad-e-shahname before 1979.

Mokhtari was a member of a group of writers who helped to re-establish the Iranian Writers Association.

Mahmoud Shojaee

Mahmoud Shojaee (1942-2015) was a poet, playwright  and painter, born in Ahar in East Azarbaijan province. He graduated with a Master’s degree in architecture at the Faculty of Fine Arts .

He was one of the founders of volume poetry. a new trend in modern Iranian poetry which announced its existence in1967. Poets such as Yaddollah Royaee and Parviz Islampour wrote manifestos for volume  poetry which were published in the literary magazine Barrow (1969).


Bijan Elahi

Bijan Elahi (1945-2011), was a prolific poet, painter, essayist, translator, and one of the pioneers of the Iranian New Wave in literature. He has been described as the “poet of silence,” alluding to his quiet last years in a tacit retaliation toward the suffocating atmosphere that was crippling artist and intellectual life in Iran.

He had translated Nabokov, Lorca, Joyce, and Kafka and studied Picasso and taught a generation of writers and poets to disregard the form, the platform, the rules. He wrote: “Poetry is chasing the truth through back alleys – such is the creed of relations. But it is only through the course of relations, that you can recognize the back alleys.”



Varand (Soukias Hacob Koorkchian), born 1954, in Tehran, is an Iranian Armenian poet, playwright, lyricist, author, translator and painter. He has published 27 collections of poetry since 1972.

Varand was honoured as Professor of Armenian Literature by the Grigor Lusavoritch University of Etchmiadzin, Armenia in 2001. He translates both Persian classics as well as modern poetry into the Armenian language.

Varand was the chairman of the Armenian Writers Society of Iran founded in 1961 for over ten years, while recently elected chairman of the board for the organization. He is also the editor in charge of the cultural department at Armenian daily newspaper of “Alik”, an honorary member of the Writers Union of Armenia in Yerevan and the professor of the Armenian literature at Azad University of Tehran.

Ziba Karbasi

Ziba Karbasi was born in 1974 in Tabriz. She left Iran in 1989 and now lives between London and Paris. She has published five volumes of poetry in Farsi, all outside Iran, and continues to write prolifically. Her poetry tackles difficult themes with a mastery of craft and has received wide critical attention.

She has been translated into several languages. An entire volume of her poetry is being translated into English. She was recently voted as Director of the Association of Iranian Writers in Exile. Ms. Karbasi tours on a regular basis to present her work and participate in various events.

Sheema Kalbasi

Sheema Kalbasi (born 1972 in Tehran) is a poet, producer, critic, blogger, and human rights advocate. Kalbasi is the founder and president of Reel Content, a film production and publishing company. She is the director and the co-director of several literary projects including the Other Voices International project. She has published two books of poetry and two anthologies of poems. Her poems have been anthologized and translated into eighteen languages to date.

Kalbasi’s work is distinguished by her passionate defense of ethnic and religious minorities’ rights. She has done voluntary teaching and tutoring of Baha’i refugee children as well as Iraqi Kurdish children, and disadvantaged Pakistani children in Pakistan. Kalbasi has worked for the United Nations and the Center for non Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, and in Denmark. She currently resides in Washington, DC.

Granaz Moosavi

Granaz Moussavi (born 1974 in Tehran) is an Iranian contemporary poet, film director and screen writer. She is primarily renowned for her avant-garde poetry in the 90’s. In 1997, Granaz immigrated to Australia with her family. She has changed focus to Screen Studies and film making. Her award winning debut feature film “My Tehran For Sale” is an internationally acclaimed Australian-Iranian co-production.

At the age of 17, she started writing professionally as a book review writer and literary critic at “Donyaye Sokhan” literary magazine in Tehran . Her first poems were published in 1989 and since then, she has continued writing and publishing poetry in various magazines and collections both in Iran and other countries. Granaz published her first book “Khatkhati Rooye Shab” in Tehran in 1996 which had an extensive reception. Her second book, “Paberahneh Ta Sobh” (Barefoot Till Morning) was the winner of Karnameh’s best poetry book of the year award in 2001.

Her poems have been in a few anthologies worldwide and her solo bi-lingual collection was published in France.

Pegah Ahmadi

Pegāh Ahmadi (born 1974 in Tehran) is an Iranian poet and literary critic and also a translator of poetry. At seventeen she made her début as a poet by the publication of a poem in the literary magazine Takāpu. Since then she has regularly contributed to literary magazines inside Iran. She studied Persian Literature at University of Tehran.

Pegah Ahamdi has published four books of poetry. She has also published two works of translation from English into Persian. Her scholarly work on women’s poetry in Iran has been well received. Ms Ahmadi has also published many articles on subject matters related to criticism of verse, theoretical issues pertaining to poetry and translation of poems.

Sepideh Jodeyri

Sepideh Jodeyri (born 1976 in Ahvaz) is an Iranian poet, translator and journalist. A graduate in chemical engineering from Tehran University of Science and Technology, Jodeyri has published several works, including the poetry collections Dream of the amphibious girl (2000) and Some pink inclined to my blood (2007), as well as Logical (2001), an anthology of short stories. Her literary articles have been published in Iranian newspapers and magazines. She has also translated poetry books by Edgar Allan Poe and Jorge Luis Borges into Persian. Her poetry has been translated into English, Swedish and Dutch.

She is the founder of an Iranian Women’s Poetry Prize, Khorshid.

Maryam Hooleh

Maryam Hooleh, a young Iranian poet (born in Tehran in 1978) is one of the most gifted poets of her generation. She is currently living in exile in Sweden. She is one of those writers who for some time now have turned into thorns in the side of the Iranian regime. The profoundly uninhibited and confrontational style of Hooleh’s poetry has daringly exposed the crude disregard of the Islamic regime for human life. It has also drawn attention to the situation of women in Iran, the most manifest objects of repression by the regime.

Within Maryam Hooleh’s poetry, the entire cultural framework upheld by the Islamic Republic disintegrates. For one thing, Hooleh breaks out of the confines of a religiously laden masculine discourse and its deifying paraphernalia of state-sponsored female qualities such as “virtue,” and “shame.” Instead, her poetry overflows with an arsenal of scandalous obscenities that, at every opportunity, debunks the rigid morality of a theocratic patriarchy. Her poetry weaves its texture through a string of allusions to her trampled gender and sexuality as it vividly conjures up the horrifying experience of being a woman in Iran.