Baba Tahir

Baba Tahir

(1000 – 1019/1060) Baba Tahir is one of the earliest poets of medieval Persia. A Sufi and a dervish, he lived and died in the 11th century, and composed poems in the then new ruba`i form (quatrain) which became famous a generation later among the intellectuals and mystics notably Omar Khayyam. Baba Tahir is known as one of the most revered and respectable early poets in Persian literature.



An Ode to the Beloved

Like hyacinths on roses
Thy tangled locks are strung;
Shake out those gleaming tresses,
And lo, a lover youg
On every hair is hung.

The breeze that fans thy tresses
Surpasseth fragrant posies.
In sleep I press thine image,
And as mine eye uncloses
I breathe the scent of roses.

Give me thy two soft tresses,
Therewith my lute I’ll string;
Since thou wilt never love me,
Why dost thou nightly bring
Soft dreams, my heart to wring?

Two eyes with surmeh languid,
Two curls that idly stray,
A body slim, seductive –
And dost thou truly say
“Why art thou troubled, pray?”

Thou hast me, soul and body
My darling, sweet and pure;
I cannot tell what ails me,
But this I know for sure,
Thou only art my cure.

Translated by A. J. Arberry