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December 9, 1886|
April 22, 1951 (aged 64)|
|Occupation||Poet, Politician and Journalist|
|Literary movement||Persian literature|
Mohammad-Taqi Bahar (Persian: محمدتقی بهار; also Romanized as Mohammad-Taqí Bahār; December 9, 1886 in Mashhad – April 22, 1951 in Tehran), widely known as Malek o-Sho'arā (Persian: ملکالشعراء) and Malek o-Sho'arā Bahār (literally: the king of poets), is a renowned Iranian poet and scholar, who was also a politician, journalist, historian and Professor of Literature. Although he was a 20th-century poet, his poems are fairly traditional and strongly nationalistic in character.
Mohammad-Taqí Bahār was born on December 9, 1886. His father was Mohammad Kazem Sabouri, and his mother was Sakineh Tehrani (daughter of Haj Abbas Gholi Tehrani). in the Sarshoor District of Mashhad, the capital city of the Khorasan Province in the north-east of Iran. Bahār began his primary education when he was three, with his father, Mohammad Kāzem Sabouri, as his tutor. Mohammad Kāzem Sabouri was the Poet Laureate of the shrine in Mashad and had the honorific title of Malek o-Sho'arā, The King of Poets.
In addition to his private schooling, Bahār attended one of the traditional schools, Maktab Khāneh, in Mashhad. To enhance his knowledge of the Persian and Arabic, he further attended the classes of Adib Nai'shābouri, a traditional poet and literary scholar who promoted the style of the poets of Khorasan in the early Islamic era, in the tradition of the so-called bāzgasht-e adabī (literary regress). It has been said that Bahār knew by heart a very good portion of the Koran at a very early age. According to Bahār himself, at seven he read Shahnameh and fully grasped the meaning of Ferdowsi's Epic poems.
Bahār composed his first poem at age eight, at which time he also chose the name Bahār, meaning Spring, as his pen name (takhallos in Persian). It is known that Bahār chose this pen name after Bahār Shirvāni, a poet and close friend of his father's, after Shirvāni's death. Shirvāni was a renowned poet during Nasser-al-Din Shah Qajar.
At 14, Bahār was fluent in Arabic, and later he achieved spoken and written fluency in French. At 18, he lost his father and started to work as a Muslim preacher and clergy. It was during this time that he composed a long ode (Qasideh in Persian) and sent it to Mozzafar-al-Din Shah who became so deeply impressed by this ode that he immediately appointed Bahār as his Poet Laureate and by Royal Decree conferred on him, at the age of 19 (1903), the title of Malek o-Sho'arā at the shrine of Imam REZA in Mashad.
At the onset of the Constitutional Revolution of Iran (1906–1911), Bahār laid down his position of Poet Laureateship and joined the revolutionary movement for establishing the parliamentary system of democracy in Iran. Bahār became an active member of the Mashhad branch of Anjoman-e Sa'ādat (Society for Prosperity) that campaigned for establishment of Parliament of Iran (Majles). He published the semi-covert newspaper Khorāsān, in collaboration with Hossein Ardebili, Nou-bahār (New Spring), and Tāzeh-bahār (Fresh Spring), both in collaboration with his cousin Haj Sheikh Ahmad Bahar who operated a printing company and who acted as the Senior Editor first in Mashhad and later in Tehran.
Bahār published numerous articles in his newspapers in which he passionately exhorted his readers to stand up and help bring about the establishment of a functioning Parliament. He equally forcefully advocated creation of new and reformed public institutions, a new social and political order and of new forms of expression. After the triumph of the Constitutional Revolution, Bahār was repeatedly elected as Member of Parliament.
In 1918, when Ahmad Shah Qajar, the seventh and the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty, was in power, Bahār reinvented himself: he ceased all his clerical activities and became an entirely new man. At the same time, he together with the writer and poet Saeed Nafisi, the poet and historian Gholam-Reza Rashid Yasemi the historian Abbas Eqbāl Ashtiāni, and his talented friend Abdolhossein Teymourtash founded The Literary Association of the Academy (Anjoman-e Adabi-ye Dāneshkadeh). The Magazine of the Academy (Majaleh-ye Dāneshkadeh) was the monthly publication of this Association, in which, in addition to works of prose and poetry, other very informative and useful articles were published, under such divers titles as "Literary Revolution", "How other nations view us" and "The Literary History of Iran". In fact, this magazine became Bahār's vehicle for publication of the results of his literary researches and introduction of Western Literature to Iranians. The magazine also played a key role in developing and strengthening the present-day form of Persian Literature.
Following establishment of Tehran University in 1934 (during the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi), Bahār became Professor of Persian Literature at the Faculty of Literature of this University. In the course of his tenure as Professor, he dedicated most of his time to writing and editing books on Persian Literature and History. Notable amongst numerous works written and edited by Bahār are:
- Tārikh-e Sistān (History of Sistān),
- Tārikh-e Mokh'tasar-e Ahzāb-e Siāssi (A Concise History of the Political Parties),
- Sabk Shenāsi (Methodology), which concerns the variety of styles and traditions of Persian prose,
- Moj'malal ol-Tavārikh o val Qesās (Concise Histories and Tales),
- Javāme' ol-Hekāyāt (Anthology of Stories),
- Two volumes of verse, consisting of his own poems.
In 1945, during Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's reign, Bahār served for a short period as the Minister of Culture and Education in the Cabinet of the then Prime Minister Ahmad Ghavam (aka Ghavam o-Saltaneh). Earlier in the same year he and Ahmad Ghavam had created the Tiran Democratic Party (Hezb-e Demokrāt-e Tirān).
In the last years of his life, Bahār suffered from Tuberculosis. He sought medical treatment in Leysin, Switzerland, in a sanatorium, where he stayed between 1947 and 1949. It was not long after his return to Iran that his health quickly deteriorated. He died on April 21, 1951, at his home in Tehran. He is entombed in Zahir o-Dowleh Cemetery in Darband, located in Shemiran, north of Tehran.
Although Bahār was a 20th-century poet, his poems are quite traditional and decidedly patriotic. Many scholars have strongly emphasized and documented that Bahār's style of writing and the beauty of his poetry, in addition to his deep passion for Iran and his persistent opposition to fanaticism, have indeed made him one of the greatest cultural icons of modern Iran. Although he worked for some period of time as a clergyman and preacher, his first and foremost passion had always been writing, especially of poetry, as well as carrying out historical researches and teaching.
Through his literary magazine, The Magazine of the Academy (Majaleh-ye Dāneshkadeh), Bahār had a significant impact on the development of modern Persian poetry and literature. One may argue that, to varying degrees, almost all the early advocates of modernism in Persian Poetry and Literature found their inspirations in the new developments and changes that had taken place in Western literature. Nonetheless, such inspirations would not have easily resulted in changes without the efforts and support of such figures as Bahār, whose literary contributions were, and remain consonant with Iranian culture. In Bahār's collection of poems, one finds poems composed in almost every tradition of Persian Poetry. To name a few, he wrote Panegyric (Setāyeshi or Madiheh), Epic (Hamāsi), Patriotic (Mihaní), Heraldic and Mystic (Ramzi or Sufi'āneh), Romantic (Āasheghāneh), Ethical (Akhlāghi), Didactic (Āmuzeshi or Pandi), Colloquial (Goft-o-gu'í), and Satirical (Tanzi or Hajvi). Bahār's Official Website has made a selection of Bahār's poetry available to the general public, which the interested reader may wish to consult.
The Chained White Beast
The Chained White Beast is a poem by Bahar, in which he praises Damavand, the highest mountain in Iran, and presents it as a symbol of patriotism. The poem is written in 1922, at the height of the reign of Reza Shah, the tyrant and modernist king of Iran. While Reza Shah was trying to limit the power of other institutions, such as parliament and religious system of clergies, the opportunity has come for the nationalists to take the floor and criticize the regime. Bahar’s symbolism for provoking patriotic upheavals is a reflection of the growth for notion of nationalism which had been introduced to Iranians only few decades before. In this passage, Bahar describes Damavand as a beast, and asks it to rise and wipe out the injustice, and let the real Iran flourish.
- A relatively detailed biography of Mohammad-Taqí Bahār, by his youngest son, Mehrdad Bahar, is available on the Official Website of Bahār:  (in Persian). Bahār's first autobiography is also made available by this Website:  (in Persian, 12 pages). Amongst others, these biographies indicate that Mohammad-Taqi Bahār is through his paternal lineage related to Amir Ghiāss od-Din, the patriarch of the Zarrābi family in Kashan, one of the Generals of the Safavid King Shah Abbas II who accompanied Shah Abbas in the wars leading to the conquest of Kandahar in 1648. The ancestors of Amir Ghiāss od-Din were Kurdish aristocrats and Heads of the Danbali Tribe in the region between the West of Khoy, West Azarbaijan Province, to the mountains of Diārbakr (now called Diyarbakir). This family had been throughout the Safavid Era, from Shah Ismail I onwards, in positions of power, both civilian and military. For instance, Amir Soleiman Danbali, a maternal cousin of Shah Ismail I, fought alongside Shah Ismail in the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514. With some caution, the family traces its roots to the Barmakids and from thence to the Sassanid King, Khosrau I.
- A detailed chronology of the life of Mohammad-Taqí Bahār has been prepared by Mohammad Golbon and is made available on the Official Website of Bahār: .
- M.B. Loraine and J. Matíní, Bahār, Mohammad-Taqī Malek Al-Šoʿarāʾ, Encyclopaedia Iranica: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2008-06-09..
- Majles is more completely referred to as Majles-e Shorā-ye Melli-e Iran, that is, National Consultative Assembly of Iran.
- The first edition of Khorāsān was published on March 19, 1909.
- Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar aborted democracy in Iran through his coup d'état in June 1908. For some relevant details, see the biographies of Mirza Jahangir Khan and Mohammad-Ali Jamalzadeh.
- For a comprehensive bibliography consult: Works of Bahār (Āsār-e Bahār) in Bahār's Official Website.
- 1 Ordibehesht 1330 AH, at 8 O'clock in the morning.
- Bahār's home in Tehran was located on Malek o-Sh'sho'arā-ye Bahār Street, Takht-e Jamshid Avenue.
- A close-up of Bahār's gravestone can be viewed here: Dream Land, Mohammad-Taqi Bahār, flickr.
- Ali Mostafavi, editor, Selected poems from the poetical works of Malek o-Sh'sho'arā Bahār (Gozideh-ye Divān-e Ash'ār-e Malek o-Sh'sho'arā-ye Bahār), in Persian, 56 pages, Bahār's Official Website: (pdf).
- M.B. Loraine and J. Matíní, Bahār, Mohammad-Taqī Malek Al-Šoʿarāʾ, Encyclopaedia Iranica: .
- Mohammad-Taqi Bahār's Official Website, in Persian: Malek o-Sh'sho'arā Bahār.
- Manuchehr Saadat Noury, First Iranian scholar who challenged the Islamic fundamentalism, Persian Journal, June 4, 2006: .
- ملکالشعرا بهار; his biography
- his biography
- Malek o-Sh'sho'arā Bahār, Mohammad-Taqi Bahār's Official Website, in Persian: .
- Note: At present this website offers the following biographical section also in French: .
- Ali Mostafavi, editor, Selected poems from the poetical works of Malek o-Sh'sho'arā Bahār (Gozideh-ye Divān-e Ash'ār-e Malek o-Sh'sho'arā-ye Bahār), in Persian, 56 pages, Bahār's Official Website, pdf.
- M.T. Bahār, Iran Yellow Pages, Iranian Poets, .