10 Responses

  1. Dear Juan! Many thanks for this post that has brought back many happy memories to me. When I was born in Shiraz so many, years ago, it was a small, compact, green city with a small population. It is one of the oldest cities of the world, and as you point out famous for its poets, gardens, and wine. In fact the oldest sample of wine in the world, dated to approximately 7,000 years ago, was discovered in clay jars in Shiraz. During the Islamic period it was referred to as “Dar ol-Ilm” or the City of Learning, in view of its great poets Sa’adi and Hafiz and many scholars and mystics.

    When I was a child there were very few private cars in the city. In fact, we almost knew everyone who possessed one. I remember distinctly when the first taxis replaced the old horse-drawn carriages and many popular poems were written for and against them. Soon they replaced practically all the carriages. Now, the city is home to over 1.5 million people and traffic is terrible. Something close to your heart, Shiraz is the site to Iran’s first solar power plant, and recently the city’s first wind turbine has been installed above a hill overlooking the city, not far from the Koran Gate that is shown several times in these photos. It is also Iran’s center of electronic industries, accounting for 53% of the country’s electronic investment. In addition to the lovely old Vakil Bazaar, recently a new shopping complex has been built in Shiraz, which boasts to be one of the biggest malls in the world in terms of the number of shops, thus making Shiraz one of the easiest places for shopping in Iran and the Middle East.

    Here is a link to Shiraz panorama:
    link to stockholm360.net

  2. It’s unfortunate that the Iranian regime does not honor Iran’s most influential female poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. In 2010, there was a congress in Shiraz of Iranian and other poets attened by President Ahmadinejad. On that occaision, Iran published a book about prominent poets from Iran. Farrokhzad was left out.
    If people saw documentaries about Farrokhzad and read her poems, it would help change stereotypes of Iranian women.

    Two stanzas from ‘In Night’s Cold Streets’

    I am you, you,
    and one who loves,
    one who suddenly finds in herself
    a dumb grafting to a thousand strange unknowns.
    I’m the earth’s ferocious lust
    sucking all the waters in
    to impregnate the fields.

    Listen to my distant voice
    in the heavy mist of dawn’s prayer chants,
    and in silent mirrors see how
    with what is left of my hands
    I touch, once more, all dreams’ innermost dark,
    and imprint my heart like a bloodstain
    on life’s innocent riches.

    • You are absolutely right. In my view, Forugh Farrokhzad is the greatest Iranian poetess of the twentieth century. One reason why the mullahs do not like her is because since the time of 12th century Mahasti Ganjavi, she is the only female poet who wrote openly about her sexuality and celebrated it. In her poem, “The Song of Beauty” she wrote:
      In the silence of the temple of desire
      I am lying beside your passionate body;
      My kisses have left their marks on your shoulder
      Like fiery bites of a snake.

      The mullahs, on the other hand, are in her words “drowned in their own fear”. This is from her poem “Born Again”:
      They were drowned in their own fear
      And the frightened sense of sin
      Had paralyzed
      Their blind, dumb souls…

      Behind their crushed eyes, at the depth of inanimateness
      Something confused, with a flicker of life,
      Was still left;
      And, with its faint effort,
      It wanted to believe in the purity of the waters’ songs.

      Perhaps; but what an infinite emptiness!
      The sun was dead,
      And no one knew
      That the name of the sad dove,
      Which had escaped from hearts, was Faith

      Here is my translation of her Ghazal, written to a lover who clearly did not appreciate her love
      Your ear is as deaf to my voice as the stone
      You hear, but like stone you forget unheard.
      You are the spring downpour and with showers of temptation
      You lash at the window and disturb its peace.
      My hands that are green leaves longing for a caress
      You make them embrace dead leaves.
      You are more tempting than the spirit of wine,
      And you set the eyes aflame and intoxicate them.
      O goldfish in the pond of my blood
      Enjoy your ecstasy for you are drinking me.
      You are like the violet valley of the sunset
      That embraces the sun and extinguishes it.
      Your Forugh [light] was kept in the dark and lost her color
      Why do you dress her in black by keeping her in the shadows?

      • In case it’s not clear to the reader, Farrokhzad died in 1967 at the age of 32, a decade before the Islamic revolution. Another masterpiece of her would be the 1963 documentary she directed and poetically narrated about an Iranian leper colony, “The House is Black”:
        link to youtube.com

    • Persepolis is about 70 km northeast of Shiraz on the way to Isfahan. Cyrus’s tomb is also nearby. Here is a short report from some eight years ago about exhibition of some artefacts from Persepolis at the British Museum in London:

      link to edge.channel4.com

  3. Likewise, Juan, thank you so much for posting this wonderful video. I only had the good fortune to visit Shiraz for about two days in 2009, but the Rose Mosque is one of the most beautiful buildings that I have ever seen, and it is great to have the chance to see it again in this video. Visiting the tombs and gardens of Saadi and Hafez were definitely another highlight. Our tour guide loved Hafez, and we received readings of his poetry in both Farsi and in English translation while riding on our tour bus to Persepolis and other locations. So thanks for evoking these memories! Iran is definitely a friendly country to visit, when Iranians heard that I was American, they were warm and hospitable, and I only wish that more Americans would have the chance to visit.

  4. A related documentary would be the BBC’s “A Taste of Iran” produced about 4 or 5 years ago, a part of which was on Shiraz, which can be viewed in the following 2 segments (the 2nd of which visits Shiraz’s Jews):
    link to youtube.com
    link to youtube.com

    The presenter is Sadegh Saba & the producer was Maziar Bahari, both of whom became the objects of attacks, with Bahari imprisoned, by the gov’t following the 2009 protests.

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