The Reference Desk

From reader turan tuman comes this question:

“I am interested to know what happened to the poet Sarkhosh who was , I think,a contemporary of Eshqi.”

I was moved enough at the time to go pull Sarkhosh’s divan off the shelf and let it sit unread on my desk. Months passed.  It turned up recently during a rare desk cleaning. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “I have a blog. How very 2003 of me.” Still, it seemed a question worth answering. What did happen to Sarkhosh, anyway? And moreover, who the heck was he? Never heard of the guy.  Turns out, he was a poet. And happened to him is that he died.

Wait, there’s more!

Courtesy of Dīvān-i Sarkhvush Tafrishī, ed. Aḥmad Karamī. (Tehran: Mā, 1983.):

“Mirza Yahya Khan Sar Khvush [the “v” is silent] was a talented poet of the first half of the 13th c. hijri [late 19/early 20th] famed for his ghazals. [It’s late, I’m tired and drinking, this is going to be a pithy rendition concerned more with meaning than style]. His birthplace is the neighborhood of Kukan, a suburb of Tafresh. He refers to his being a Tafreshi [i.e. of Tafresh] in this bayt:

Even though the garden of Tafresh is my homeland

I gladly drink from the cup of your love in Rayy [Or something to that effect. Rayy was an old city long swallowed up by Tehran].

Sarkhosh was born on 1277 qamari [1861 ish]. He spent his childhood and some of his adolescence in his birthplace, studying with his father Hajji Mirza Abd al-Ghani. Then he completed his studies under his brother, a smart guy and student of Hajji Mulla Hadi Sabzvari. He also became an accomplished calligrapher.

After that, he spent several years in Khorramabad as a scribe to his uncle [mom’s side] who was the Minister of the provinces Luristan and Khuzistan and also spent some time in the city of Dezful, continuing his studies under several scholars of the region. He then picked up and moved to Tehran and in 1308 q. [1891] took a job as a clerk in the British embassy.

Sarkhosh died in 1338 q. [1920] at the age of 61.”

Surely there must be more to this story. The man was right in the middle of things. The British embassy was where the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 really got rolling. All the malcontents moved into the courtyard to protest and be seditious, with all their talk of representative government and whatnot. I’m intrigued but also tired, my nose is dripping like a leaky faucet, and Kojak is on in ten minutes. I will investigate as the mood strikes. And one of these days I’ll translate one of his poems and we’ll see if he’s all he’s cracked up to be.

Who loves ya, baby?

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About M.C. Smith

translatingpersian@gmail.com View all posts by M.C. Smith

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