Art And Culture

Khosrowshahi’s Anthology Portrays Cruelty of War

War cannot be ignored by the literati and being the most sensitive of this group, poets penetrate deep into the emotions of their societies and express the pains of the people
Khosrowshahi’s Anthology Portrays Cruelty of War
Khosrowshahi’s Anthology Portrays Cruelty of War

Author, poet, literary researcher and translator Ziauddin Khosrowshahi, 73, has translated a collection of 81 poems by 70 renowned poets from across the world, who have portrayed the cruelty and ugliness of war. 

Titled ‘Longing for Peace’ (in Persian ‘Dar Arezou-e Solh’) the work was recently released by Tehran-based Hoonaar Publication, which has also previously collaborated with the scholar.

“I accepted with enthusiasm to publish the book upon hearing from Khosrowshahi about his translation of the poetry collection,” manager of Hoonaar Publication Afarin Zabihmand told IBNA.

“Peace is the utmost of human desires. War has become a familiar subject, always breaking out in some unfortunate corner of the world. Oftentimes, when it ends in one place, it flares up in another,” said the publisher.

Whatever form it takes, war cannot be ignored by the literati. Being the most sensitive of this group, poets penetrate deep into the emotions of their societies and express their pains. This is perhaps why most great poets are known by what they’ve composed in times of war. 

“One cannot be human and stay indifferent to the pains and desires of others. This is why I have published the poems,” she added.

The anthology comprises pieces by prominent figures from ancient Greek poets to contemporary poets who wrote avidly on the use of poison gas and chemical weapons by the Iraqi army during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war in which a million people died on both sides.

On the mounting death toll, curfews, ruins and anger of people in Iraq, Saadi Yousef, 83, of this conflict-ridden country has composed a number of vivid poems some of which are included in the anthology.

Khosrowshahi also brings a number of striking works by English poet Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), who was a soldier in WW I and saw for himself the horrors of the trenches and gas warfare, and composed his war poems accordingly. He stood in stark contrast both to the public perception of war at the time and to the confidently patriotic verse written by earlier war poets of his country such as Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) who was known for his idealistic war sonnets.

Another WW I English soldier whose poems have contributed to the collection is Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967). Sassoon’s poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirized the patriotic pretensions of those who, in his view, were responsible for a jingoism-fuelled war.

  ‘War an Oblique Place’

Sassoon became a focal point for dissent within the armed forces when he made a lone protest against the continuation of the war in his ‘Soldier’s Declaration,’ culminating in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital, and resulting in his forming a friendship with Wilfred Owen, who was greatly influenced by him. 

Some compositions by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) are also included in the collection.  The American poet contemplated on the concept of death among other themes. “War feels to me an oblique place,” she wrote to Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, commander of the First South Carolina Regiment in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Zabihmand has dedicated the book to families of all war martyrs. “This book is for all the heart rending tears shed for their loved ones who died in the wars,” she said.

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