1. The Divan, by Hafez
Even if poetry would deserve a separate listing, no article about Iranian literature would be complete without Hafez, the most famous Persian poet. Born in 1325, Hafez was a prolific writer that left his footprint in the world of poetry.
The “Divan” is a book containing all his poems (about 500), most of which are written in ghazals, and that has been translated into many languages.
2. Bustan and Golestan, by Saadi
The “Bustan” and the “Golestan” are the two major works of Saadi, one of the most influential Persian poets from the 13th century. The “Bustan”, Saadi’s first work, is a 10-chapter book that deals with the poet’s philosophical reflections on life and wisdom. It is considered one of the 100 greatest books of all time by the Bokklubben World Library.
The “Golestan”, written a year after, also is a collection of Saadi’s poems, giving moral and life advice, in particular for the rulers.
3. Masnavi and Divan-e Shams, by Rumi
Alongside Hafez, Ferdowsi and Saadi, Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi, known as Rumi, is one of the most influential Persian poets. His works are gathered into two main books: The “Masnavi” and the “Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi”. As a Sufi poet, Rumi’s poetry mostly explores the philosophical themes of love and desire for God.
4. Conference of the birds, by Farid al-Din Attar
The work of Farid al-Din Attar is a classic of Persian literature that also deserves to be mentioned. Along with Rumi and Sa’adi, Attar was a mystical poet from the 12th century. His “Conference of the birds” is an allegorical poem written in 4500 lines.
It tells the story of a conference led by all the birds to find a good ruler. The story is meant to lead the reader through a spiritual quest, as an allegory of the soul’s search for mystical guidance.
5. Selected Poems, by Forough Farrokhzad
Poetry in Iran is not something that is limited to ancient Persia. Many modern poets have honored the literacy tradition of Iran, among which Forough Farrokhzad, one of the most famous modern poets.
In her poems published in the 1950 and 1960s, she talks openly about many topics that were (and still are, to some extent) taboos, such as politics, sexuality, and the place of women in society.
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