I am not a Persian literature scholar. At best I am an ordinary reader of it. In addition to reading, I also love to tell stories. Among the thousands of Iranian poets, next to Ferdowsi, I believe the greatest storyteller of all times to be the Iranian poet, Nezami Ganjavi (1141-1209). The most beautiful love story of Persian literature was told in verse by Nezami. That story is none other than the Story of Khosrow and Shirin. Using a small book of Persian Literature Love Stories by Eghbal Yaghmaee (Hirmand Publishers, Tehran, 1996), summarizing the epic, I have further summarized and translated the story into English, so that it can be enjoyed by those who have heard of the story, but have never been able to read it in its original Farsi version. Rest assured no one has read this story properly unless they have read it in its original language and form. However, my small and humble effort is to bring it to those who for whatever reason are unable to read it in Farsi. I write it most humbly and cognizant of errors literary experts can find with it. Please consider my good intentions when reading it and finding any errors.
Let me tell you one of the most beautiful love stories ever written in Persian literature. It will be summarized. If you can, please do seek it in Farsi and in its original form, because any efforts to summarize or translate it fall hugely short of doing service to this gem of a Persian tale. Remember this story. Tell it to your children. They will always remember that they heard about love from you first. Celebrate love Persian style.
Hormoz was the King of Iran. He was a kind king who loved his people and cared about his kingdom. After waiting a long time, he became father to a baby boy. They named him Khosrow Parviz. He was a good looking boy who was trained by teachers to become a well-educated prince. By ten years of age, he had learned riding, fencing, and archery. He loved to learn new things. He had a companion, named Shapour, who was a master painter, and best friend to Khosrow. As Khosrow turned into a handsome young man, one day Shapour told him about the Queen of Arman (istan), Shamira, who ruled over a vast territory, and was unmarried and had no heir other than her beautiful niece, Shirin. He described Shirin's beauty for Khosrow, and told him that she was always accompanied by a group of beautiful companions, and had a gem of a horse, named Shabdiz who ran faster than the wind. Several days later Khosrow told Shapour that he thought he had fallen in love with Shirin, and Shapour had to go to Arman territory to find out if Shirin would marry him. Shapour assured Khosrow that he would take action to make sure Shirin would fall in love with him.
Shapour went to Arman territory. After researching Shirin's daily whereabouts, he found out that Shirin and her companions would be going to a day outing in a forest nearby. Shapour arrived at the forest before the ladies arrived. He had painted Khosrow's picture on a piece of paper, hung it on a tree, and left quickly. When Shirin and her friends arrived, they started playing, dancing, and having a good time, until Shirin suddenly saw the picture of Khosrow on the tree. She fell in love with his likeness in the painting. The next day, Shapour went and did the same thing again, and when Shirin and her friends arrived, she saw Khosrow's picture again. This time, she was impatiently looking for someone to tell her the name of the man in the picture. At this time Shapour just happened to come by (!) and told Shirin that this was a picture of Khosrow Parviz, the Prince of Iran. He also told her that Khosrow is in love with her. Shirin begged Shapour to tell her what to do and how to see Khosrow, and Shapour told her that she would have to run away from her companions to meet Khosrow half-way towards Iran. He also gave her a ring Khosrow had sent her. He told her that if per chance she couldn't find Khosrow on the way, she should continue towards Madaen and once there, she should show the ring to the court attendants and wait for Khosrow there.
Shirin ran away the next day on Shabdiz and nobody could follow her. After galloping away for miles and miles, she came to a pond, got off her horse and seeing nobody around, took off her clothes and stepped into the pond to take a bath. In the meantime, Khosrow was galloping fast towards the Arman territory. On the way he came to a resting stop not too far from where Shirin had stopped. Walking around, he came to the pond where Shirin was bathing, and saw her in the water. Standing there admiring the beauty of this anonymous naked woman in the moonlight, Shirin saw him suddenly and became anxious. He turned his eyes. Shirin left the pond, quickly got dressed, got on Shabdiz and started on the road to Madaen again. Each of them who had found the other attractive, remembering the one they were pursuing, turned and went in opposite directions.
(To be continued…)
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