28 February 2013

Persian poetry at the Bodleian Library

Goatskin cover, with green background laquer, of a manuscript copied in 1569
"Love and devotion from Persia and beyond", an exhibition of manuscripts that has travelled to the Bodleian Library from the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, runs till 28th April 2013. If you can't get to Oxford, you can explore the exhibition at leisure online. A cogent, useful introduction to each section sets the scene, followed by clickable thumbnails of beautiful book pages, with descriptions that get you noticing things. And there is video and audio at www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk.
Out hunting, with a slave girl
While you're on the site, you might want to explore the other online exhibitions, for example "Treasures of the Bodleian" or "Crossing borders: Hebrew manuscripts as a meeting-place of cultures". The library has done a fabulous job of putting their exhibitions on line.
The Bodleian has a tempting bookshop, too! (image from here)
Looking for a modern persian poem, I found these poems from Iran, from which this poem by Farah Afshari comes, and also (for physical context) the photo of the persian garden -

Hand painted dreams

Alike the silence of a dream
Forgotten by dawn
Not to be remembered
but in broken pieces of no meaning...
Alike that coming moment
That brings no tomorrow
But takes away  today ...
Alike me walking behind my shadow
Leaving the dark traces of memories behind
Turning back and  nothing to see
Lost at the beginning of no-ways ahead
Searching for what might have been
What should have been in places
I have  already been
Alike me walk with me
In this grey garden of  green remembrance
Where every fallen leaf dreams of
That last unfinished  dance 
And  in the dry vain of every branch
A picture of blue sky lives
And  the sweetness of  that lost spring
That lost spring that will  never grow green
Is forever  green
Is forever  green
Walk with me in the land of hand painted dreams
I will grow  dreamlike
Dreamlike  but tall
Dreamlike  but green

Farah Afshari

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