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Khaqani in the Eyes of Khaqani

The obscure nature of Khaqani’s style renders his work difficult for the average reader
Statue of Khaqani at the park in Tabriz named after him.Statue of Khaqani at the park in Tabriz named after him.

Author, essayist and researcher in literature Iraj Shahbazi, 43, will give two speeches this month on Persian poet Khaqani (1121-1190).

Shahbazi’s lectures are scheduled on October 19 and 26 at the Cultural Center of Book City Institute, located on Ahmad Qasir Avenue in Tehran, according to bookcity.org. The programs start at 4.30 pm and are open to all enthusiasts.

Titled ‘Khaqani in the Eyes of Khaqani,’ they are aimed at offering an analysis and understanding of the poet’s personality, based on the verses he has composed about his own emotional and psychological conditions.  

Comments and remarks are not few about Khaqani, but one practical way to understand him better is to analyze his self-describing pieces. There are 319 short and long such pieces in his collection ‘Divan-Khaqani’ that help readers know him better.

  His Life and Works

The importance of Khaqani, whose full name is Afzal al-Din Badil Ibrahim ibn Ali Khaqani Shirvani, rests mainly on his brilliant court poems, satires and epigrams, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

His father was a carpenter and a Muslim and his mother was of Nestorian Christian origin. Brought up in poverty, he was fortunate to be educated by his learned uncle. As a young man he composed lyrics under the name of Haqaiqi (truth seeker). He then gained entry into the court of the ruler of Shirvan (now in Azerbaijan Republic), Khaqan Manouchehr, from whom he took his pen name, Khaqani.

  Mecca Pilgrimage

Embittered by personal disputes and court intrigues, he set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1156/57, after which he composed one of his greatest works, the Tuhfat al-Iraqayn (Gift of the Two Iraqs). It consists of five parts and is essentially a description of the poet’s travels.

Returning to the court, Khaqani was imprisoned for reasons that are not clear. His sufferings moved him to write a ‘Habsiyah’ (jail ballad), considered one of the finest of its kind.

In 1171 he made another pilgrimage to Mecca, after which he returned to the court of Shirvan and his patron, Manouchehr’s son, Akhsatan.

After the death of his son and wife in 1175, Khaqani made another pilgrimage and then settled in the city of Tabriz, now capital of Iran’s East Azarbaijan Province, to write his divan. The obscure nature of his style renders his work difficult for the average reader. He filled his poems with Christian imagery, one of the few Persian poets to have done so.

 

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