Sprint Long Distance

The Iranian


email us

Sprint Long Distance

Flower delivery in Iran

Fly to Iran

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

    News & views

Thousands mourn Shamlou

By Mehrdad Balali

TEHRAN, July 27 (Reuters) - Thousands of mourners lined the streets of Tehran on Thursday for the funeral of Ahmad Shamlou, one of Iran's finest poets who fell foul of the shah and grew disillusioned with the Islamic Revolution that overthrew him.

The crowds clapped and sang nationalist songs in defiance of Iran's religious rule as the procession, led by intellectuals and writers, passed. It began at the hospital where Shamlou, 75, died of diabetes on Tuesday and ended at a mosque in the north of the capital.

``Iran, the treasured land. I am willing to be sacrificed for the pure soil of my homeland,'' youths chanted, fists raised.

Mourners, red roses pinned to their chests, sang Shamlou's poems. Mahmoud Dolatabadi, a leading writer, recited Shamlou's love poetry through a loud speaker, mounted on a pickup truck.

A symbol of secular nationalism and social justice, Shamlou was a major force in the intellectual movement opposed to the former shah before the 1979 revolution.

He developed a simple, free-flowing style at odds with the tightly-balanced rhymes of classical Persian poetry. Influenced by the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, the black American Langston Hughes and the French communist Louis Aragon, Shamlou also wrote increasingly of love and suffering.

``He was a humanist, an atheist and a socially conscious intellectual who skilfully wove his personal love and affections into his political stance,'' said writer Esmail Nooriala [in an artile in The Iranian, "Prophet of light"].

``He was a lover and a fighter. At the centre of his poetry was the bare-footed man with nothing but hope and an insatiable desire for justice.''

His books were banned for long periods before and after the revolution, although since the early 1990s his poems have appeared in literary magazines. Shamlou's opposition to the shah cost him a period of exile in the 1970s, and on his return, he became disillusioned with politics.

His hopes for social justice returned in the wake of popular opposition to the shah in late 1970s, and he joined other writers to lead a secular intellectual movement against the monarch's dictatorship, in parallel with the Islamic one.

Shamlou's poetry nights at the time drew large crowds of mainly socialist-minded youth.

``I dread dying in a land where a grave-digger's wage is higher than the price of human freedom,'' said one of his poems.

However, Shamlou grew disenchanted with the revolution after the Shi'ite clergy cracked down on secularism and imposed religious restrictions on individual freedoms.

``They smell your mouth to see if you have said 'I love you!'. These are the strangest of times, my love... We must hide our joys in the closet,'' reads another poem.

Shamlou had lived in virtual seclusion in a Tehran suburb in recent years, but made occasional trips to the West for medical treatment.

Although vilified by hardline Islamists as a ``traitor and a Western stooge,'' the poet was rehabilitated under moderate President Mohammad Khatami. Khatami's liberal Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani publicly expressed grief over his death, in a marked departure from past practices.

Shamlou's body was buried at a cemetery in Karaj, a town west of Tehran. Shamlou's companion Aida Sarkisian said there were plans to build a monument to him.


 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.