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Baba Tahir (ca. 1000-1060 AD)


Baba Tahir (ca. 1000-1060 AD) of Hamadan (Hemedan, Ekbatan in Median era) is one of the very first poets in the East to write rubaiyats. Little is known of the circumstances of Baba Tahir's birth and death. Baba Tahir’s rusticity and mastery of both Kurdish (Lekí dialect), Persian (and Arabic) have rendered his works unusually dear to the common people of both nations. His particular poetic meter is perhaps a legacy of the pre-Islamic poetic tradition of southeastern and central Kurdistan, or the celebrated "Pehlewíyat/Fehlewíyat," or more specific the "Ewranet" style of balladry. Many Yarisan (Yaristan) religious works and Jilwa, the holy hymns of the Yezidi prophet Shaykh Adi, are also in this Pehlewíyat style of verse. Baba Tahir himself has now ascended to a high station in the indigenous Kurdish religion of Yarisanism as one of the avatars of the Universal Spirit.

Baba Tahir Oryan's mysticism, philosophy, and sentiments are captured in quatrains of simple and uniform metre.He was considered by his contemporaries as one of the most eminent, erudite mystics and sentimentalists of his time.

Baba Tahir mausoleum (photo below) situated near the northern entrance of the city of Hamadan. It was reconstructed in 1970. Baba Tahir, living in the first half of the 11th centuray A.D. was one of the great gnostics of Yaristan to which the gnostics dynesty of Kurdistan such as Eyn-ol-Quzat Hemedaní, also a gnostic, belonged. Songs and maxims of Baba Tahir was originally read in Pehlewí (Pahlawi), kurdish taken their present form in the course of time. Baba Tahir's hand written manuscript still remained and preserved in the library of Konya in Turkey. It is obvious since the manuscripts are written in Persian (modified Arabic) alphabet, many rewritten attempts of Baba Tahir's by none expertise of Kurdish Lekí dialect resulted in the mispronunciations of verses. Here is the translation of one of Baba Tahir's Poems;

Her ún baxí ki wa resh ser bider bí
Mudamesh baxeban xùnín jiger bí

Bibayed kendenesh ez bíx u ez bin
Eger barish heme le'l u guher bí

When Trees to grow beyond their boundaries dare,
They Cause the Gardeners much anxious care;
Down to their very roots they must be pruned,
Though Pearls and Rubies be the Fruits they bear.

Translated by Elizabeth Curtis Benton,

Bí te ya Reb bibistani gull merrú yad
eger rú yad hergiz kes mebú yad

Bí te ger dill bixende leb gush ye
Rexsh ez xùni dill hergiz meshú yad

Without Thee in the Garden, Lord, I know
The sweetly-perfumed Roses cannot grow,
Nor Tears of Grief, although the Lips should smile,
Be washed away in Joy's bright overflow.

Translated by Elizabeth Curtis Benton,

Dillim lez derdi tu dayem xemín e
Bi balín xishtim ú bester zimín e

Hemí jirmim ki mo te dúst dírim
Ne her kes dúst díre hallish ín e

Grieving for thee my heart is ever sad,
A brick my pillow, and my couch the earth;
My only sin is loving thee too well:
Surely not all thy lovers suffer so?

Translated by E. Heron-Allen, "A Fool Of God"

From The Quatrains of Baba Tahir

I am that ocean now in foam and tide;
I am that sun, but now in rays abide.
I move and burn, and then reverse my course;
I shine and glow and then grow low and hide.

I am that sea now gathered in a tear.
I am that universe now centered here.
I am that book of destiny which seems
To form a lonely dot of hope and fear.

I am a rose that grows on hills of love
I am a soul that learns the drills of love.
I am a heart in agony and joy.
From fire and chills and woes and thrills of love.

What if a sword should rob me of my sight,
What if a wind? should send my soul to flight,
What if a nail were driven through my hands,
I still would feel thy presence and thy light.

If I am trapped in flesh and lust - I'm thine
And though I doubt your ways, or trust - I'm thine.
Whether to Christ I cling or Mazda's Wing*
Behind these veils of dreams and dust - I'm thine.

Whether I cling, whether I part- you know.
Whether I break or keep my heart - you know.
Whether I crown my head or drown my eyes,
You know my goal from end to start - you know.

I find my ill in you, my cure in you.
I part from you and then endure in you.
If knives would cut my tissues each from each,
My naked soul is e'er secure in you.



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