Iran Life – The Beating Heart Of Persia

Insofar as a nation can be said to have a heart, then the beating heart of Persia, of modern Iran, is Hafez! Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī was a Persian poet who was born in 1325 and died in 1389. A native of Shiraz, the cultural heart of Persia, he lived and died here, hardly venturing outside of the city apart from a short period in Esfahan and Yazd for health reasons related to his writings annoying the rich and powerful!

That his works have had a profound influence on the lives of Persians and modern Iranians is without doubt. His book of verse is to be found in every home of whatever status almost without exception. Modern day Iranians can and do quote his words to fit almost any situation that arises. Little is known of his life and yet the impact of his poetry in Iran and across the globe is profound. From Goethe to Thoreau to Emerson and even Friedrich Engels his influence has been immense.

 hafez tomb2

Hafez was buried in the beautiful Musalla Gardens in Shiraz. The current mausoleum was constructed in the 1930s and it is a place of pilgrimage for aficionados of the word.


The books of his words are treated as a source of inspiration for the future as Iranians open them at random in the belief that whatever page they find foretells the future. As evenings draw in and the loudspeaker system begins to gently paint his poems across the night sky, young lovers can be seen in quiet corners of the gardens checking out their future together by random openings of pages of his verse. Hafez is not to be taken lightly!

When J and I arrived on our ‘pilgrimage’ the very first thing we had to do was have our future foretold by the fortune-telling budgies at the entrance. I have to tell you that the future is good, as you would expect, if you want repeat business.


As we wandered around we became aware of a certain party surrounding a cleric. Our enquiries established that he was the member of the all-powerful (unelected) Supreme Council that in this case oversaw the activities of the Ministry of Culture.


Being good old fashioned egalitarians we decided to push the boundaries and join the party. We were astounded to find that mixing in was no problem as we were engaged in lively conversation with one of the very few security aides who were escorting the council member around. When you look at the entourage of security that prevents Turkey’s PM, RTE, from getting close to the people and having a grasp on reality you can understand our amazement.

Hafez is more important than t

As if to reinforce the importance of Hafez in the life of Iranians, in the middle of the clerics homage to the poet a guy walked up and started to spout his verses at great length. Everyone sat or stood politely and listened attentively until he was done, offered there appreciation and then carried on.


J and the interloper

You can see from the photos that we were right in there with the cleric, his wife and the security bods – amazing in this day and age! Later we rubbed shoulders in the gift shop as we bought nick-knacks together!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü


14 thoughts on “Iran Life – The Beating Heart Of Persia

  1. Alan and Janet, Coming from a country whose main cultural products are Madonna and Mickey Mouse, we were flabbergasted at Iranians’ love of poetry and veneration of poets. If the U.S. government had its way, Iranians would be addicted to their garbage, too. Hopefully there will always be Iranian lovers under the evening sky looking for future guidance from Hafez. BTW, your photos are great.

    1. the point you make is sound – it immediately had me thinking about the response of that war criminal by the name of Rumsfeld in the aftermath of the destruction/looting of Iraq’s National Museum (and hence its history) – ‘Stuff happens!’ May the future be foretold in the random pages of Divan-e-Hafez and not the war rooms of the Pentagon
      Alan recently posted..Iran Life – The Kindness Of StrangersMy Profile

  2. Looks and sounds wonderful. Especially loved the bit about young couples opening books to look at their fates 🙂 Am terribly envious of your trip! My son is half Persian and yet, we have never been – it’s been on my ‘must visit’ list for so long 🙁 I’m really glad that at least I get to see it through your observant eyes 🙂

  3. The gardens around the mausoleum look an ideal spot to enjoy poetry.
    What happened to the fortune telling birds and rabbits of a Turkey, I haven’t seen them for years.

  4. Wonderful post Alan. Iran was not on my radar at all until I read Kamin Mohammadi’s The Cypress Tree a couple of years ago and your post reminded me how fascinating I found dipping into this country and its culture.

    I read your posts here and enjoy. Also it reminds me about 11 wonderfull days which I learned many things. Thank you for visiting my country and see you soon in Persia again!

    1. My dear Feraidoon, what a pleasure to have you commenting here – I am honoured! As our valued guide it you who taught us so many things for which we are grateful – you were delightful company and a man of great patience to put up with us and keep smiling! We look forward to our return to Iran next year.
      Alan recently posted..Iran Life – The Kindness Of StrangersMy Profile

  6. Gorgeous gardens! I remember similar gardens at a Provincial Governor’s compound in neighbouring Afghanistan. They do similar poetry recitations here as well. It’s rather interesting how the culture managed to endure to present day.

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