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Nima Yushij: Father of modern Persian poetry

The Poetry Society of Iran is to sponsor an international commemoration for the father of modern Persian poetry, Nima Yushij.

The international commemoration for Nima Yushij will be held concurrent with the date of his birth, November 12, and run for three days in the poet’s hometown, the Village of Yush.

Today marks his death 55 years ago, when the father of modern Persian poetry Ali Esfandiari, or Nima Yushij as was his penname, passed away and was buried in his native village of Yush, Nur County, Mazandaran, as he had willed.

Nima rose from a humble background; a simple shepherd, the son of a farmer, he was bestowed with such a great talent and aptitude to start a revolution in Persian poetry.

Persian poetry is perhaps most famous for its rigid structure and adherence to traditional rhyme schemes. You may know Hafez, Saadi, Khayyam or Rumi’s poetry, prominent Persian classical poets recognized today all across the world. But what Nima started in such rigid atmosphere prevalent in Persian poetry brought about heated controversy and debates. He best examplifies his controversial approach to poetry in these lines:

“With my poetry I have driven the people into a great conflict;

Good and bad, they have fallen in confusion;

I myself am sitting in a corner, watching them:

I have flooded the nest of ants.”


He was born on November 12, 1896 in village of Yush in the north of Iran, and died of pneumonia 64 years later in Shemiran, in the northern part of Tehran.

At the age of twelve, Nima was taken to Tehran and registered at the St. Louis School. There, Nezam Vafa, a major poet himself, took the budding poet under his wing and nurtured his poetic talent.

Here is one of Nima’s most famous poems ‘Moonlight’:

The moon beams
the glowworm glows
sleep is seldom ruined, but
worry over this heedless lot
ruins sleep in my tearful eyes.

Dawn stands worried at my side
morning urges me to announce
its arrival to the lot.
alas! a thorn inside,
stops me in my tracks.

A delicate rose stem
which I planted with my hands
and watered with my life
its thorns break inside me.

I fumble about to open a door
uselessly expecting someone to meet
a jumble of walls and doors
crumbles over my head.

The moon beams
the glow-worm glows
blisters marking a distant road

Standing before the village
a single man
knapsack on his back, hand on the knocker, murmurs
Worry over this lot
ruins sleep in my tearful eyes.

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