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  • 9/12/2011

Mohammad-Reza Mirzada Eshqi

part 2


In literary approach, Eshqi’s verse dramas reveal the influence of new esthetic tendencies finding their way to Persia through Istanbul. Rastakhiz-e shahriaran is the first of several compositions by Eshqi wherein a fiercely nationalistic ideology finds expression through an unprecedented appropriation of French and German poetic or dramatic genres. Of special note is the musical melange achieved through a mixture of contemporary Turkish, Caucasian, and symphonic melodies with tunes from traditional Persian dastgahs, laid out with fairly explicit stage directions in the text. Akhtar’s report describes the melodies in this work as ”a mixture of Eastern and Western tunes”‌ (Moshir Salimi, p. 108). The immense popularity of the performance may have owed as much to its poetic and musical novelty as to the sentiment it may have aroused in its audience.

After two years, Eshqi returned from Istanbul to Hamadan, greatly radicalized. There he began to write his poems in criticism of the existing political situation in the country, including a mostazad in which he satirized the Fourth Majles, and a qasida in which he ridiculed Prime Minister Hasan Wosuq-al-Dawla for the Anglo-Persian Agreement of 1919 (q.v.) signed between Persia and Great Britain. Eventually his opposition to this treaty earned him a brief stay in prison (Moshir Salimi, p. 89). In this, as in later attacks on the idea of a republican regime for Persia, Eshqi may have been inspired by Mirza Yahya Dawlatabadi (q.v.), a leading nationalist and a fellow poet. The latter cause was most effectively expressed in ”Jomhuri-nama,”‌ a tarji-band in forty stanzas composed a few months before his death, in which the history of this movement is reported and its leaders satirized violently. It was published anonymously, and was thought for years to have been composed by Mohammad-Taqi Bahar (q.v.), another leading opponent of the movement.

Said Nafisi, the noted scholar and contemporary of Eshqi, has left an account of Eshqi’s post-war years in Tehran. He recalls a gathering, perhaps in 1919, in which the poet Aref introduced Eshqi to him as ”one of our friends of the migration”‌ to Istanbul. Nafisi calls Eshqi a confused young man who, even as a poet, was not sure which style or mode of expression to adopt. He remembers Eshqi as honest, yet irascible, harsh yet gullibly simple-minded, and calls his satirical compositions instruments of discord among the intellectuals of the time (quoted in Moshir Salimi, pp. 84-85).

Indeed, Eshqi’s passion for social justice and human rights in Persia, envisioned in the chaotic political atmosphere following World War I, may have pushed him gradually to the brink of sound judgment. In numerous public lectures as well as in a series of highly emotional articles published in Shafaq-e sorkh, Siasat, and eventually his own weekly newspaper Qarn-e bistom, he began to propagate the idea of a feast of blood (id-e khun), an annual cleansing ceremony in which ”the people, while singing songs, would head for the houses of those public officials who . . . during the previous year have committed treason against their public trust, and, leveling their homes, would cut the traitors up into pieces”‌ (Moshir Salimi, pp. 135-36). Chief among Eshqi’s candidates for this punishment were Prime Minister Wosuq-al-Dawla; Qawam-al-Dawla, governor-general of Fars; and eventually Reza Khan, the future king. At first the idea was taken as a rhetorical hyperbole expressing the author’s extreme exasperation. However, it was repeated with increasing intensity in several articles and poems, including the Se tablo (Three tableaux) the best-known of Eshqi’s long narrative poems (Yusofi, p. 376). It thus alarmed not only the ruling politicians, but several leading intellectuals of the time. This may have contributed to Eshqi’s isolation from the mainstream of social life in early 1920s.

Other Links:

Abul-Ghasem Payandeh (part 1)

Abul-Ghasem Payandeh (part 2)

Abul-Qasem Aref Qazvini (part 1)

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