8/07/2007

The Story of Khosrow and Shirin (I)

Let me tell you one of the most beautiful love stories ever written in Persian Literature. It will be summarized. If you would like to read more or in Farsi, let me know and we will figure out a way to make sure you get to see this gem of an Iranian 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. (Part I here. Part II here. Part III here. Part IV here. Part V here. Part VI here.)
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 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, and 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.
[The Story of Khosrow and Shirin by Nezami Ganjavi, abridged by Eghbal Yaghmaee in "Love Stories of Persian Literature," translated by Nazy Kaviani]

11 comments:

Shobeir said...

well 4 months ago I had started a Masnavi (based on real events) that shows many of my friends love stories.... It took about 17 days finishing it (about 800 verses)....
You may find it here :http://www.linus.blogfa.com/8602.aspx

at first ists name was ghamname but transformed to Tarab name! :D

Nazy said...

Shobeir Jan. You write poetry! That's fabulous. I am running really late this morning, but will definitely look at it tonight. Be good my friend.

serendip said...

Great job Nazy jan.

jeerjeerak said...

You know, my best friend here is from Armenia. Once in a party i started to tell the story of Shirin, the Armenian princess who married the Persian king, but then i didn't know the story that well, and shifted to Farhad the other lover who had to dig a tunnel to get to Armenia(!), and... It was a shame that i didn't know the story, but yet we laughed alot that night.

Assal said...

Dear Nazy Joonam:

Thank you so much for your summary...I am looking forward to more!

Hey anonymous:

It's "literary masterpieces" not "literature masterpieces".

Nazy said...

Thanks Serendip! It is not as easy as I had thought! Summarizing such a big book is hard enough, and turning it into English is proving more callenging than I had thought! We talked about Farhad tonight. We read the famous passage where Khosrow who is now jealous of Farhad calls him to court and has that really famous exchange with him. Very powerful utterances of love for the woman he loves from Farhad. I think this is Nezami at his best. So sweet to read and easy to understand and relate. Be good Serenip.

Nazy said...

Jeerjeerak Jan, that was hilarious! I laughed so hard! Obviously you found your way out of that cave! I am hoping that I can finish the summarization/translation project in two or more installments(it's not that easy), and you can then give it to your pal to read! Be good my friend and thanks for th laugh. I needed it.

Nazy said...

Salam Assal Jan. Thank you for your remarks. I am sad my class will end soon. My class has been so interesting. You must join us next year when Dr. Taheri returns to the Bay Area and we will have year-round Persian Poetry classes at Berkeley. I will write more on Khosrow and Shirin soon. Take care.

serendip said...

Nazy jan: did you know there is a village in Kermanshah, called Ghasre Shirin (Shirin's Palace)?

ا. ش said...

قصر شیرین جایی است که وقتی شیرین برای دیدار خسرو به مَداین می رود، زنان بارگاه خسرو از روی رشک و حسادت معماری را طلب می کنند تا در آن جا که محل بد آب و هوایی بوده قصری بسازد. این بنا در ده فرسنگی کرمانشاهان بوده (به توصیف نظامی) و شیرین با تعدادی همراه به آن جا که حکم زندانی را برای او داشته هدایت می شود. بعدها شیرین به این محل انس می گیرد و با قرار گرفتن در آن فضا، عشق خود را با رنج و شکیبایی می پالاید. داستان آشنایی شیرین با فرهاد نیز به همین منطقه برمی گردد. برای من همیشه جای سؤال بوده که آیا اثری از آن قصر باشکوه (نه به خاطر ساختار و بنایش، بلکه به دلیل متاثر بودن آن فضا از حضور زنی چون شیرین) در منطقه ی قصر شیرین فعلی باقی مانده است یا نه؟ پاسخ آن را نمی دانم

Nazy said...

Salam Serendip and Alef Shin. Alef Shin is right. As the story goes, by the time Khosrow and Shirin finally met up near Madaen, Khosrow had already married the Roman Caesar's daughter, Maryam, for political convenience and he was living with her in his castle. Shirin lived nearby in Ghasre Shirin which was not at all as romantic as it sounds! Farhad was invited as an architect to build a canal in which milk would run daily through the mountain for Shirin and her companions, and that's when the two met and that love triangle was formed.

As discussed in our class, though Nezami's account of Khosrow & Shirin has many historical truths in it, there are also several elements of myth and embellishment in it. I don't know whether this part of the story is the truth or just a twist in Nezami's storytelling. I will ask my teacher in our next class. Ghasre Shirin (the actual place where she lived) has an important scene in the story. There is a beautiful exchange taking place between Shirin and Khosrow there in which Khosrow shows up drunk and amorous to see Shirin! Shirin, who had vowed to wait until Khosrow had come to his senses and was ready to settle down in a respectable relationship with her, refused to let him up to her living quarters. The two of them have a fascinating conversation where she is in a balcony and Khosrow, who wasn't allowed to come up, is in the courtyard. It is an amazing exchange of a man and a woman for its time!

I believe Nezami truly loved the character of Shirin, and he has treated her persona with such tender love and respect, it brings tears to my eyes, thinking that hundreds of years ago, an Iranian poet was so cognizant and respectful to women. I will continue translating the summary, Serendip, but I know already that I cannot do justice to the masterpiece this story is. I do recommend your reading it in Farsi if you can. Even talking about it takes my breath away! Be good you two.