Prince Iraj Mirza (Persian: ایرج میرزا; October 1874 – March 14, 1926) (titled Jalāl-ol-Mamālek), son of prince Gholam Hossein Mirza, was a famous Iranian poet. He was a modern poet and his works are associated with the criticism of traditions. He had translations from the French language.
Iraj was born in October 1874 in Tabriz, the capital city of East Azarbaijan province in Iran. His Pedigree chart shows that he was a descendant of Fath Ali Shah Qajar, the second shah of Qajar dynasty (reigned 1797–1834). His Father, prince Gholam Hossein Mirza was son of prince Malek Iraj Mirza son of Fat'h Ali Shah Qajar
Gholam Hossein Mirza, Iraj's father, was a poet laureate or the official court-poet of Mozaffar al-Din Mirza. Mozaffar al-Din Mirza, the son of Nasser-al-Din Shah (the fourth shah of Qajar dynasty reigned 1848–1896), was the Crown Prince (in Persian: Vali-Ahd) of Iran at the time. (As a tradition, all Crown Princes during Qajar era used to reside in Tabriz). Though some literatures indicate that Iraj was schooled privately, there are reliable evidences that he studied at a branch of the House of Sciences and Techniques (in Persian: Darolfonoon) in Tabriz. At 15, he was fluent in French, Arabic and Turkish. He was also familiar with the art of calligraphy. His handwriting was very artistic and he was and still is considered as one of the famous calligraphers of Iran. At 16, Iraj got married and at 19 he lost both his father and wife. He then took the position of his late father and became the court-poet of Mozaffar al-Din Mirza . At 22, when Mozaffar al-Din Mirza was succeeded to the throne in 1896 and became Mozaffar al-Din Shah; Iraj was titled as the Head of Poets (in Persian: Sadrol-Shaaeryn or Sadrol-Show-Araa). He was then titled as Jalal-ol-mamalek.
Few years later, however, he left the royal court and joined the Tabriz office of Ali Khan Amindowleh AKA) who was the governor of East Azarbaijan. At this time Iraj learned French and became very much familiar with Russian too. In 1905, when AKA was relocated and moved to Tehran, Iraj also accompanied him and soon became involved in the Iranian or Persian Constitutional Revolution. In 1907 when Ahmad Ghavam Saltaneh (AGS), a governmental authority, was assigned to go to Europe, Iraj was asked to join AGS. Two years later, Iraj returned to Tehran where he started to work as a staff member of the Office of Official Compositions (in Persian: Daarol-en-Shaa). In 1915, his first son, Ja'afar Gholi Mirza, due to some psychological problems committed suicide.
In 1917, Iraj joined the newly established Ministry of Culture, and three years later he was transferred to the Ministry of Finance and Revenue. From 1920 to 1925 he worked as a Revenue Officer in Mashhad (the capital city of Razavi Khorasan, a province in northeast of Iran). At 52, Iraj moved back to Tehran where he died on March 14, 1926. He was survived by his second son, Khosrow Iraj.
Iraj is considered as one of the famous contemporary poets of Iran and also as the first Iranian master of colloquial poetry. In his verses he uses the actual words of everyday speech. The origin of this tendency has come to be identified with his name. (Centuries earlier, the poet Ferdowsi in his epic book of Shahnameh had referred to someone by the name of Iraj as an Iranian who is noble and wise). Through Iraj, poetic language was enriched with many colloquial words and expressions. His simple poetic language is also famous for its witticism and satire.
During Qajar era, Iraj was influenced by the Iranian or Persian Constitutional Revolution (1906–1911) and by the changing circumstances in the country. This fact is manifested in the particular style of poetry that he created. Modern and imported concepts, combined with what were obtained from his own thoughts, form the framework of his style. He criticizes the social conditions of the country, and the striking originality in his use of metaphor when addressing diverse social problems has been admirable by his critics. His style is rich in the Art of Simile (in Persian: Honar-e-Tashbeeh). His striking sarcasm, pungent and fanged words are pointed at the dishonest clergy, businessmen, merchants (in Persian: Baazari-Haa) and statesmen. In addition to those colloquial poems, Iraj also composed elegies (in Persian: Soognameh or Marssieh) to praise Mozzafar-al-Din Shah, Hassan Ali Khan Garroosy (also known as Amir Nezam Garroosy, the governor of East Azarbaijan and Kermanshah during Qajar era), and many other Qajar historical personalities. His praise never shaded into flattery. Iraj also composed very nice Massnawi and Fragments or Ghata'at (Different Styles of Persian Poetry) on the raising and education of children, maternal affection, love and romance. He was an enlightened, innovative poet, and tended to European thought. Despite his famous technical skills, he sometimes used similar cases of rhyme, which is considered by some poetry researchers as an intentional rejection of strict traditional poetical rules. Although Iraj was one of the pioneers of the innovative movement in the Persian Poetry, he never thought of abandoning the rules of the classic poetry. Some scholars believe that because of the time in which he lived, his depth of literary knowledge and his familiarity with French and other foreign languages, he could also have been one of the masters of free verse if he wanted to.
He is particularly famous for his pederastic and satirical poetry. Among many poems that Iraj composed, his well-known poems include Satan (in Persian: Ebleess), Mother (in Persian: Maadar), A Letter to a Poet Aref Ghazvini (in Persian: Arefnameh), Woman's Picture (in Persian: Tassvir-e-Zan), Story of the Veil or Hijab (in Persian: hejab) and the Story of Zohreh and Manouchehr (in Persian: Daastan-e-Zohreh-o-Manouchehr), which is based on William Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis.
In Mother, the poet describes a child's affection for his/her mother and how the mother nurtures the child from birth onwards. The words Iraj uses are so exquisitely descriptive and lovely not only in its original Farsi but also in translated versions.
The Story of Zohreh and Manouchehr is one of his famous poetic works. Here Iraj tells the story based on the Greek myth of Venus and Adonis. In this poem, Zohreh leaves the gods and comes to Earth, where she is overcome by the pleasing charm of Manouchehr in his armor. He rejects her advances while Zohreh attempts her first seduction. She goes to great pains to explain the beauty of lovemaking and she finally goes her own way as she returns to the gods. (Just for the record: On December 8, 2004 the last Iranian movies launched in France was The Story of Zohreh and Manouchehr directed by Mitra Farahani. The film had already participated in Berlin film festival and several other international events and attracted many viewers). Iraj was known to believe that the status of Iranian women at his time was devastatingly reminiscent of the Dark Ages. Iraj could not bear to see that life was intolerable, unbearable and miserable for the courageous and valorous women of Iran. That was why he composed the very powerful and memorable pieces of Woman's daily lives in his poems.
- Poems Divan
- Masnavis of Zohre va Manuchehr (in Persian, not completed)
- Masnavi of Arefnameh
- Iraj Literary Works
- Romeo and Juliet (Translation from French)
- Iraj Mirza Jalaalol-Mamalek: A Reference Article on the First Iranian Master of Colloquial Poetry by Manouchehr Saadat Noury
- A survey of biography, thoughts, and works and ancestors of Irajmirza, Dr. Mohammadja'far Mahbub, Golshan Printing House, Tehran, 1977
- Mo'in Persian Dictionary, Amirkabir Publishers, Vol.5,
- From Saba till Nima, Vol. 1, Yahya Aryanpur, Tehran, Zavvar Publishers, Tehran
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