Attention has already been called to the curious but indisputable fact that in Persia, at any rate, periods of great Stable govern­ment not neces­sarily conducive to good poetry turmoil and disorder have generally produced the finest poetry, while periods of relative prosperity, when the country was under a strong and stable government, have generally been singularly barren in this respect. * In comparatively modern times Persia has never been more strong, united and pros­perous than under the Ṣafawí dynasty (A.D. 1502-1736), more particularly during the sixteenth century; yet, though, not only in military strength, national unity and commerce, but also in the arts (especially architecture and painting) and the sciences (especially theology), this period was particularly brilliant, it hardly produced a single poet of com­manding genius or wide-spread reputation; a phenomenon of which the causes will be discussed when we come to speak of the epoch in question. The period with the literary aspects of which we are now about to deal is, on the other hand, as will have been sufficiently apparent from the pre­ceding chapter, one of anarchy, misery and bloodshed; yet it would be hard to indicate any period of seventy years (A.D. 1335-1405) which produced so many remarkable poets, a galaxy of talent in which the great Ḥáfiẓ is merely the brightest of many brilliant stars. Probably the existence of numerous little courts, each anxious to rival and excel the others, is favourable to the development of poetical talent, since the poet who fails to win appreciation from one royal patron can easily find another who may prove more sus­ceptible to his song; while, when there is but one capital and one court, he who fails there (not necessarily from lack of talent so much as from lack of opportunity, ill fortune, or the machinations of jealous rivals) is likely to be perma­nently discouraged, or at least to remain unknown outside his own immediate circle.

From this point of view, Persia, immediately after the collapse of the Mongol power, and before the irruption * of Anarchical con­dition of Persia from the extinc­tion of the Mongol power to the rise of Tímúr Tímúr the Tartar, was an ideal field for the wandering poet. In the North-East, with their capital at Herát, were the Kurt princes; at Sabzawár and the neighbourhood the little Sarbadár dynasty (if such it can be called) held sway; the Íl-khanís, Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Buzurg, his son Sulṭán Uways, and their descendants, ruled over a curious elliptical domain which had its northern capital at Tabríz and its southern capital at Baghdád; while Southern Persia was divided amongst princes of the House of Muẓaffar, often independent of, and even at war with, one another, with Shíráz, Iṣfahán, Yazd and Kirmán as their seats of government. There were no hard and fast frontiers to these little states, and no map could be made showing the divisions of these fluid, ever-shifting kingdoms; rather, if we wish to reconstruct the political geography of Persia at that period, we must conceive of some seven or eight centres whence radiated, in ever-varying strength, the influence of as many petty warrior-princes, whose truculent activities were oftener than not combined with a fine literary taste.

Of the poets of this period some ten at least deserve mention, either on account of their evident originality and Number and ex­cellence of the poets of this period beauty, or because of the reputation which they enjoy in their own country. These two things do not necessarily go together, but either of them seems to me to entitle a poet at any rate to honourable mention; for a foreign critic must always entertain some mistrust of his judgements, and must re­member that, strive as he may, he can hardly hope to develop the fine and discriminating taste of the cultivated By what cri­terions poets may be judged by a foreign critic native critic, and that the mere fact that a poet has maintained his reputation amongst his own countrymen for several centuries entitles him at least to some respectful consideration. This applies to lyrical poets like Khwájú and 'Imád of Kirmán and Kamál of Khujand, of whom one is apt to think as mere dim reflections of the incomparable Ḥáfiẓ, devoid of any salient originality; but it must not be forgotten that the first died 37 and the second 18 years before him, and that they may therefore well have prepared the way for his greater achievements, while the eminence of the third, who was his contemporary, is to a certain extent certified by Ḥáfiẓ himself in the verse—

<text in Arabic script omitted>

which is translated by Rosenzweig-Schwannau—*

“Wenn er erst Hafisens Lieder höret,
Die als zart und lieblich Jeder kennt,
Wird sich selbst Kemāl nicht unterfangen
Dichtend aufzutreten in Chodschend.”

On the other hand poets like 'Ubayd-i-Zákání and Busḥaq (Abú Isḥáq) are so original that, whether appreciated or not in their own country, they cannot be ignored by any student of Persian literature.

I propose, therefore, to discuss in this chapter the following poets, and, that priority may be duly considered Untrustworthi­ness of most of the Persian bio­graphers of poets in relation to actual merit, in chronological order. This, however, can only be regarded as approximate, since in most cases the date of death only is recorded (and that often uncer­tainly), and we often do not know whether the poet died young or at an advanced old age. Indeed, notwithstanding the numerous biographies of poets given by Dawlatsháh, and in the Atash-kada, Haft Iqlím and other similar well­known works, the lack of authentic particulars as to the lives and characters of these poets is a very discouraging feature in our quest. Most of the anecdotes given in these books are trivial or fictitious, and, save for what can be gleaned from their verses (where again we are often Lack of critical editions hampered by the lack of anything approaching a critical edition), we are finally driven to admit that we know very little indeed about most of them. They were generally poor men, often socially obscure, and as such were completely ignored by contemporary historians, while all that later generations, who appreciated their merit, could do was, as a rule, to string together a few more or less trivial anecdotes, evidently constructed in many cases to explain or illustrate passages in their poems. An exception must be made in favour of one rare manuscript work, the Mujmal (“Compendium”) of Faṣíḥí of Khwáf, * a chronicle of some thousand pages compiled in 845/1441-2 and containing many valuable details not to be found else­where, especially in what concerns the province of Khurásán in general, and the city of Herát in particular.

The poets of this period whom I propose to discuss are the following:

Ten poets to be discussed in this chapter

(1) Ibn-i-Yamín (d. 745/1345 according to Dawlatsháh, * or 769/1368 according to the more authoritative Mujmal) was associated with the Sarbadár dynasty.

(2) Khwájú of Kirmán (d. 753/1352, or, according to Dawlatsháh, 742/1341-2).

(3) 'Ubayd-i-Zákání, the great satirist and parodist (d. 772/1371).

(4) 'Imád of Kirmán (d. 773/1372).

(5) Salmán of Sáwa (d. 779/1378), the panegyrist of Sulṭán Uways.

(6) Ḥáfiẓ of Shírâz (d. 791/1389).

(7) Kamál of Khujand (d. 793/1391, or 803/1400).

(8) Maghribí, the mystic (d. 809/1407).

(9) Busḥaq (Abú Isḥáq) of Shíráz, the gastronomic poet (d. 814/1416).

(10) Níẓámu'd-Dín Maḥmúd Qárí of Yazd, the poet of clothes.

Of each of these poets I shall now proceed to speak in detail.

1. Ibn-i-Yamín
(Amír Mahmúd ibn Amír Yamínu'd-Dín Ṭughrá'í)

Although notices of this poet and his father Yamínu'd-Dín (from whom he derives the name Ibn-i-Yamín—“son of Yamín”—by which he is commonly known) occur in Dawlatsháh, * the Haft Iqlím, Átash-kada, * Majma'u'l-Fuṣaḥá * and other biographical works, the few particulars about him which are known to us are chiefly derived from the rare Mujmal of Faṣíḥí. In this work Ibn-i-Yamín is thrice mentioned, under the years 743/1342-3, and 769/ 1367-8, the year of his death.

The first of these two notices, so far as it concerns Ibn-i-Yamín, runs as follows:

Notice of Ibn-i-Yamín in the Mujmal o?? Faṣíḥí

“War of Malik Mu'izzu'd-Dín Abu'l-Ḥusayn Muḥammad-i-Kurt with Khwájá Wajíhu'd-Dín Mas'úd-i-Sarbadár and Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Júrí between Záwa and Khwáf, and death of Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Júrí at the hands of Khwájá Wajíhu'd-Dín Mas'úd's men on the 13th of Ṣafar [A.H. 743 = July 18, 1342], and flight of Khwájá Wajíhu'd-Dín.

“Loss of the Díwán (complete poetical works) of the late Amír Fakhru'l-Ḥaqq wa'd-Dín Maḥmúd ibn-i-Yamín the Mustawfí (government accountant) of Faryúmad, which was looted in the battle mentioned above. Here is the fragment [in which Ibn-i-Yamín refers to this event]:

<text in Arabic script omitted>

‘It fell into the hands of the spoilers, and thereafter no trace of it was

“The above-mentioned Amír Fakhru'd-Dín Maḥmúd [Ibn-i-Yamín] sent the following fragment which he had composed from Sabzawár to Malik Mu'izzu'd-Dín Abu'l-Ḥusayn-i-Kurt:

<text in Arabic script omitted>

“Seek as they might his Díwán was not to be found, so he made a [fresh] compilation from the anthologies of the Masters [of this art], and from what each [amateur of verse] remembered by heart, and from what he himself subsequently composed:

<text in Arabic script omitted>

‘So that my verses, scattered like the Seven Thrones, *
Might be again co-ordinated like the Pleiades.’”

This ends the first notice of Ibn-i-Yamín in the Mujmal, but, before passing on to the second, I should give a trans­lation of the fourteen couplets quoted above, which, if not remarkable as poetry, are of interest on account of the data which they afford.