August 1, 2000
Void left by Shamlou
I want to share my feelings with each one of you regarding Shamlou's
sad departure ["Prophet
of light"]. There are times when we feel the need to express ourselves,
times when a voice rising from within cannot be ignored any longer, when
an event hits too close to home!
Since Shamlou's death I have felt such a void. A passionate voice in
me echoes in the language of love, of his poetry. A longing, a sense of
loss, an anxiety that evades detection and leaves farther and farther
out is lingering in my mind. That's why I feel compelled to write these
Last night when I picked up a book to glance through, a thought started
to take root in my mind. As I was turning the pages I started to think
about history and Shamlou. Then I thought if we go back in time and try
to find someone like him how far back do we need to travel?
First I tried five generations and no names came to my mind. Then
ten generations then I got encouraged and started from Ferdowsi's time
and moved forward, Hafez, Molana, Sa'di and as far as I could see no poet
in terms of content and contribution other than those came close.
Shamlou was a well rounded individual. He played a major role in almost
all aspects of our lives. A poet that was a philosopher as well as a critic,
a journalist, a writer, a satirist and a father both for his family and
for a whole nation.
To express himself, he had to expand the Persian vocabulary and verbiage
to accommodate the dynamics of his poetry. He enabled us to reach farther
out into our own culture and heritage for precious glimpses into his genius
and for this we owe him.
As I was looking at his picture I saw an old man that lived with dignity,
worked hard all his life and proved that as long as you live, no matter
where and under what bureaucracy or theocracy you can breathe, evolve and
find ways to express your potentials.
He has emotionally inspired all humans from all cultures for all times
just as Shakespeare, Hafez and Molana did. I think Sahmlou's stature is
yet to be determined, for his diverse body of works he will be a Persian
icon for a long long time to come.
In his poetry more than anything he points to human grace and elegance
to encourage us to get what we are capable of and reach where our greatness
is destined. As he said several years ago, "when I want to write
I go to a place with no name and in there I genuinely observe and perceive
life. People, events and time all have different meanings there. And it
is from here that I can be myself and write what I want."
And I think this place was his true home, a place that was standing
high above us all, a place where he could see the farthest, dream the vastest
and accomplish the most. He conquered his greatness , lived with it throughout
his life, prospered and glowed in the darkness like a light post to point
to our own greatness within.
Through his poetry he made our possibilities and potentialities reachable.
In past few generations and maybe in the next few, the suppleness of
Persian words that was once its great heritage, that still is, reflects
and resurfaces. The phoenix ashes of the greatest generation once again
is glowing in its brightest in his poetry, heart and mind.
For all of us who enjoyed his poetry and his body of works he will
be missed a great deal.