STANZAIC POETRY

Stanzaic verse forms have been part of the corpus of classical Persian poetry from the early stage onwards and have continued to play a role until modern times.  Though the quantity of stanzaic poetry in Persian literature is modest in comparison to other verse forms, a few examples of this genre have obtained widespread fame and an iconic value in Persian culture and society.

 

STANZAIC POETRY. Three different forms of stanzaic poetry can be discerned in Persian classical poetry: the tarjiʿ-band (or tarjiʿ), the tarkib-band (or tarkib) and the mosammaṭ. The mostazād might be seen as a related verse form.

A tarjiʿ-band consists of several stanzas built up by a number of couplets (bayt), each stanza with its own rhyme and followed by an identical recurring couplet similar to a refrain; likewise a tarkib-band consists of a number of stanzas built up by couplets, but in this form each stanza is followed by a different couplet; a mosammaṭ, on the other hand, has stanzas built up by rhyming hemistichs (meṣrāʿ), rather than couplets, and the last hemistich of each stanza ends in a rhyme different from the one in the preceding hemistichs.  This rhyme is then repeated in the last hemistich of each stanza, so that a formal unity is created through the rhyme of each stanza’s last hemistich.  A mostazād is a poem to which an additional phrase in the same meter is added; this phrase is like a supplement and shorter than a hemistich.  It is debatable whether this form belongs to stanzaic poetry, though the added phrases give the verses of a mostazād a strophic quality.  Stanzaic poems have never been more than a small part of the poetry collected in divāns, and not every poet has examples of stanzaic poetry.  Nonetheless, this genre has never been out of vogue ever since its first appearance in classical poetry.  Over the centuries, the genre has developed into a form deemed specifically suitable for elegies and eulogies on religious figureheads.  Some specimens of stanzaic poetry, notably the mosammaṭs by Manučehri Dāmḡāni and the tarkib-band on the twelve Imams by Moḥtašam Kāšāni have found a great measure of renown.  From the end of the 19th century onwards, classical forms of stanzaic poetry were adapted and often used to convey the political messages of modern poets.

Tarjiʿ-band and tarkib-band.  Both tarjiʿ-band and tarkib-band may consist of a varying number of stanzas, formed by a number of rhyming couplets.  Each stanza has a different rhyme; the same rhyme may, however, occur in more than one stanza.  The individual stanzas are followed and interlinked by a separate couplet with an independent rhyme, the so-called wāseṭa (linker) or band-e šeʿr (Elwell-Sutton, p. 256).  The two hemistichs making up the wāseṭa couplet usually rhyme.

The Persian term for the stanza without the wāseṭa is ḵāna, the term for the stanza including the wāseṭa is band, though band, confusingly, is sometimes also used to denote the wāseṭa (Schoeler, p. 261).  The wāseṭa and the rhyme that varies per stanza form the main characteristics of the tarjiʿ-band and the tarkib-band. The wāseṭa is usually clearly marked in printed divāns as a separate unit, with the hemistichs forming the wāseṭa-couplet presented one above the other, rather than next to each other.

Both in tarjiʿ-bands and tarkib-bands the meter remains the same throughout the poem, and this kind of stanzaic poetry occurs in a wide variety of meters.  The length of the stanzas vary and may be of five to twenty-five couplets.  Within a given stanzaic poem, the length of individual stanzas may also vary, usually by no more than two couplets, but sometimes by as many as eight (e.g., Hātef, pp. 27-32; Browne, IV, pp. 284-86).

In a tarjiʿ-band, the wāseṭa that follows each stanza remains the same throughout the poem like a refrain and may have the same rhyme as the first stanza.  Edward G. Browne named this a “return-tie” (Browne, I, p. 39).

A poem is named a tarkib-band if the wāseṭa is different for each stanza.  Browne (I, p. 40) termed this variant a “composite-tie”.  In case of a tarkib-band, one cannot speak of a refrain, since each wāseṭa is a new couplet, consisting of two rhyming hemistichs. In some tarkib-bands, the second hemistich of each wāseṭa rhymes with the second hemistich of the following wāseṭa, so that the wāseṭa-couplets form a formal unity in themselves and in this manner can be seen as a kind of refrain (e.g., Ḵāqāni, pp. 457-81; Moḵtāri, pp. 531-41).

The stanzas of a tarjiʿ-band or tarkib-band may have either rhyming couplets or rhyming hemistichs.  If the couplets out of which the stanza is built up rhyme, the poem may have the appearance of a short qaṣida or ḡazal.  Thus two different types of tarjiʿ-band can be discerned:

1. aa ba ca da (…) XX; ff gf hf kf (…) XX, etc.  [type 1]

2. aa aa aa aa (…) XX; bb bb bb bb (...) XX, etc. [type 2]

And similarly, two types of tarkib-band:

1. aa ba ca da (…)FF; gg hg kg lg (…)MM, etc. [type 1]

2. aa aa aa aa (…) BB; cc cc cc cc (…) HH, etc. [type 2]

A third type of tarkib-band may be distinguished by the following form:

3. aa ba ca da (...) FF; gg hg kg lg (...) MF, etc. [type 3]

This third type can be found for example in the divāns of Ḵāqāni Šervāni/Šarvāni (1127-86/99) and ʿOṯmān Moḵtāri (ca. 1075-between 1118-21).  In this type of tarkib-band, the wāseṭa couplets taken together without the surrounding stanzas have a rhyme scheme identical to the qaṣida (Ḵāqāni, pp. 457-81, 490-514, 523-27; Moḵtāri, pp. 531-541, 557-66)

The following form may be distinguished as a fourth type of tarkib-band: 

4. aa ba ca da (…); gg hg kg lg (…), etc. [type 4];

This fourth type is found, for example, in the Divān of Masʿud-e Saʿd-e Salmān (1046-122), in which mono-rhymed stanzas sharing the same meter and number of verses are grouped without a wāseṭa, and thus without an obvious linker (pp. 741-44, 751-56).

In a divān the tarjiʿ-bands and tarkib-bands usually come after the odes (qaṣida), sometimes after the lyrics (ḡazal).  Often the stanzaic poems section is entitled tarjiʿāt or tarkibāt, whereby both terms may refer to both tarjiʿ-bands and tarkib-bands.  Unlike the stanzaic form mosammaṭ, the tarjiʿ-band and tarkib-band have no Arabic origin or equivalent and appear to be Persian creations on the basis of the mosammaṭ (Schoeler, p. 263; Thiesen, p. 235).

The first prosodist to write on tarjiʿ-band and tarkib-band seems to have been Šams-al-Din Moḥammad b. Qays (Šams-e Qays) Rāzi, in the sixth chapter of his book on poetics, al-Moʿjam fi maʿāyir ašʿār al-ʿajam (comp. after 1217-18 CE), under the heading tarjiʿ (pp. 393-400).  He describes tarjiʿ from the viewpoint of the qaṣida:

“Tarjiʿ is the division of the qaṣida in a number of pieces (qeṭʿa), which all have the same meter, but different rhymes.  The poets call each piece a ḵāna and in between they insert a separate couplet, and this couplet is named tarjiʿ-band.  If they want, they make this very same couplet the tarjiʿ-band of all the ḵānas (stanzas); they may also decide to compose a separate tarjiʿ-band for each stanza” (Šams-e Qeys, pp. 393-94).

Šams-e Qeys does not use the term tarkib-band to distinguish between the use of the same or a different couplet after each stanza. Moreover, he uses the term tarjiʿ-band for the separate couplet (either repeated after each stanza or not) rather than for this type of poem as a whole.  The example given by Šams-e Qeys is introduced as a qaṣida-ye tarjiʿ, as in case of the mosammaṭ (see below).  Thus, neither the tarjiʿ-band nor the tarkib-band is regarded as a separate genre, but rather as a poetical device to be applied to qaṣidas.

The first extant examples of tarjiʿ-bands can be found in the Divān of Farroḵi Sistāni (d. after 422/1031), while the first extant tarkib-bands are included in the Divān of Qaṭrān Tabrizi (d. after 462/1070; Schoeler, pp. 260-61).  Farroḵi has three tarjiʿ-bands, the first one consisting of twenty-four stanzas, each containing five couplets and a recurrent one (wāseṭa), in total six couplets per stanza.  The couplets in the stanza are formed by rhyming hemistichs, as marked in bold in the following example, composed in the meter hazaj moṯamman sālem (Farroḵi, pp. 403-13, the fourth stanza):

1. Delā bāz āy tā bā to ḡam-e dirina begsāram,
Ḥadiṯ-i az to benyušam naṣib-i az to bar dāram.

2. Delā gar man ba-āsāni to-rā ruz-i ba-čang āram,
Čo jān dāram to-rā zirā ke bito ḵᵛāram-o zāram.

3. Delā tā to ze man duri, na dar ḵᵛāb-am na bidāram,
Nešān-e bideli peydā’st az goftār-o kerdāram.

4. Delā tā to ze man duri nadānam bar če kerdāram,
Marā bini čonān bini ke man yak-sāla bimāram

5. Delā bā to wafā kardam k’azin biš-at nayāzāram
Biā tā in bahārān-rā be šādi bā to begzāram

Wāseṭa:

Bedin šāyestegi jašn-i bedin bāyestegi ruz-i,
Malek rā dar jahān har ruz jašn-i bād-o nowruz-i.


1. Oh heart, come back so that I can ease my long suffering together with you,
I will listen to one of your stories, I will reap some benefit from you.

2. Oh heart, if one day I can get you into my hands with ease,
I will hold you like my soul, for without you I am cast down and sad.

3. Oh heart, as long as you are far away from me, I do not sleep and I am not awake,
The signs of a lost heart are visible from what I say and what I do.

4. Oh heart, as long as you are far away from me, I do not know what I am doing,
Should you see me, you would see me if I were ill for a year.

5. Oh heart, I have been faithful to you and from now on I will not trouble you,
Come so that I can spend this time of spring happily with you.

Wāseṭa:

Such a worthy feast, such a welcome day,
May every day be a feast and a New Year’s day to the king in the world!

 

The first ten hemistichs in the stanza have identical rhyme (-āram), and are followed by a couplet (the wāseṭa functioning as a refrain) with two rhyming hemistiches in a different rhyme (-ruz-i), described above as type 2.  The following tarjiʿ-band by Farroḵi (pp. 414-26) follows the same pattern, but the third one by him (pp. 427-32) is of a different type, described above as type 1. Instead of rhyming hemistichs in each stanza, the seven stanzas of this tarjiʿ-band are formed each by nine couplets in mono-rhyme, apart from the first couplet of each stanza, which is in double rhyme, following the pattern of a qaṣida or ḡazal.  All three tarjiʿ-bands of Farroḵi are panegyric poems composed on the occasion of Nowruz.

In contrast to Farroḵi, in whose divān we only find tarjiʿ-bands, Qaṭrān Tabrizi has both tarjiʿ-bands (five), tarkib-bands (five) and mosammaṭs (two) ascribed to him, (Qaṭrān, pp. 410-53).  He is the earliest poet of whom tarkib-bands have been preserved (Schoeler, p. 261).  The presence of three different forms of stanzaic poetry in his divān proves that it had become a fully developed genre in the course of the 11th century.

Just as Farroḵi has two different kinds of tarjiʿ-bands, Qaṭrān also has two different kinds of tarkib-bands and tarjiʿ-bands: four tarjiʿ-bands and one tarkib-band with stanzas consisting of rhyming hemistichs, that is, double rhyme (type 2) and one tarjiʿ-band and four tarkib-bands consisting of rhyming couplets rather than hemistichs, that is mono-rhyme (type 1).  A number of his tarjiʿ-bands and tarkib-bands have stanzas of different lengths, his tarkib-bands more so than the tarjiʿ-bands.  Assymetric stanzas appear to be very common in the stanzaic poetry composed in subsequent centuries.

The following example is the eighth stanza of the second tarkib-band in Qaṭrān’s divān, composed on the occasion of Nowruz for his patron, the Shaddadid amir of Ganja, Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAli Laškari (r. 1034-49), composed in the meter ramal-e moṯamman-e maḥḏuf (Qaṭrān, pp. 413-17).

1. Ḵosrow-e turān-o sālār-e hama Irān toʾi,
Ḵosrow-e bornā ke dārad dāneš-e pirān toʾi.

2. Zinat-e šāhān toʾi, pirāya-ye mirān toʾi,
Faḵr-e in dowrān toʾi, tāriḵ-e in mirān toʾi.

3. Gāh-e šamšir aždahāʾi, pir-e šamširān toʾi,
Gāh-e tadbir āftābi, pir-e tadbirān toʾi.

4. Ān ke bestānad bemardi molkat-e Irān toʾi,
W’ān k’az u ābād gardad ʿālam-e virān toʾi.

5. Bā tan-e pilān toʾi, bā zahra-ye širān toʾi,
Az jahāndārān sari, šāh-e jahāngirān toʾi.

Wāseṭa:

Tā ke begrefti jahāni-rā be yak peykār to,
Tā jahān bāšad beguyand ānče kardi kār to.


1. You are the king of Turān and the commander of entire Iran,
You are the youthful king who has the wisdom of the old.

2. You are the ornament of kings, you are the jewel of emirs,
You are the pride of this age, you are the history of these emirs.

3. When it is time for the sword, you are a dragon, you are the leader of swords,
When it is time for planning, you are a sun, you are the leader of planning.

4. You are the one who courageously conquers Iran,
And you are the one by whom the ruined world prospers.

5. You have the strength of elephants, you have the courage of lions,
You lead those who rule the world, you are the king of those who conquer the world.

 

The subjects treated in the stanzaic forms tarkib-band and tarjiʿ-band in general do not differ much from the subjects found in a poet’s qaṣidas or ḡazals.  In Ghaznavid and Saljuq court poetry we thus find many tarjiʿ-bands and tarkib-bands in praise of a patron, often with a few stanzas that seem to function as a prelude, similar to the prologue (nasib) of a qaṣida.  Nowruz seems to have been a favorite occasion for the composition of a stanzaic poem.

The mystical poet Farid-al-Din ʿAttār (d. 1221, q.v.) has one tarjiʿ-band and two tarkib-bands with mystical contents, as other mystical poets, such as Faḵr-al-Din ʿErāqi (d. 1289), who followed him (ʿAṭṭār, pp. 83-91; ʿErāqi, pp. 109-40).

A distinctive trend in as far as the contents of stanzaic poetry are concerned can be perceived from the later Ghaznavid period onwards.  In the divāns, the tarkib-band and the tarjiʿ-band appear increasingly as popular forms for the elegy (marṯia), composed both for the poet’s patrons and for Prophet Moḥammad and his circle.  In the divān of Masʿud-e Saʿd-e Salmān (1046-122) we find an elegy in the form of a tarkib-band for one of his patrons, Sultan Ebrāhim’s minister, Abu’l-Rošd Rašid b. Moḥtāj (Masʿud-e Saʿd, pp. 751-56; Sharma, 2000, pp. 80-81). The 12th-century poet Ḵāqāni Šervāni (1127-1186/87) has a total of sixteen tarkib-bands, twelve praise poems and four elegies (Ḵāqāni, pp. 445-546), one of which is for his son Rašid al-Din (pp. 541-546).  ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi (1414-92) has four tarjiʿ-bands and six tarkib-bands: four of the six tarkib-bands are elegies (Jāmi, pp. 113-24).  In divāns, elegies in the form of tarkib-band or tarjiʿ-band are often arranged separately in a subcategory marāṯi (elegies).

Closely connected to the genre of marṯia is manqabat, poetry in which the heroic deeds of Moḥammad, Imam ʿAli or Imam Ḥosayn are described and for which the tarkib-band or tarjiʿ-band forms have often been used.  Ḵᵛāju Kermāni (1290-ca. 1349) has a tarkib-band on the four rightly-guided caliphs and one on ʿAli, both of type 1 as described above (Ḵᵛāju Kermāni pp. 128-35).  Salmān Sāvaji (1309?-76) has a tarkib-band in praise of Moḥammad and one in praise of ʿAli, also both of type 1 (Salmān Sāvaji, pp. 317-27).  Ahli Širāzi (1454?-1535) has a tarkib-band (of type 1) in praise of the twelve Imams (Ahli Širāzi, pp. 519-23).

The tarkib-band on the martyrdom of Imam Ḥosayn in Karbalā by Moḥtašam Kāšāni (1528/29-1588) forms the culmination of this development (Moḥtašam Kāšāni, pp. 280-85; see Losensky). This elegy is often described and introduced as a davāzdah-band, as it contains twelve bands or stanzas.  The first stanza opens with the verse Bāz in če šureši’st ke dar ḵalq-e ʿālam ast / Bāz in če nawḥa-o če ʿazā-o če mātam ast, translated by Losensky as “What is this tumult now among the world’s creatures? / What now is this wailing, this mourning, this lamentation?” (Losensky).  Edward G. Browne (IV, pp. 173-77), who described this elegy as “extraordinarily simple and direct,” translated three (4th-6th) of the stanzas.  Each of these stanzas consists of seven couplets in mono-rhyme and one non-repetitive couplet with double rhyme forming the wāseṭa.  It is therefore called haft-band, which is slightly confusing, since the term band denoted the whole stanza including the wāseṭa, not the number of couplets per stanza.  On the basis of the popularity of this specific tarkib-band, the so-called haft-band form became common for marṯias (Thiesen, p. 235).  This is slightly confusing, as the term band denoted the whole stanza including the wāseṭa.

A later famous stanzaic poem is a tarjiʿ-band on divine unity by the 18th-century poet Hātef Eṣfahāni (d. 1783), translated in an early stage into French and German (Hātef Eṣfahāni, pp. 27-32; for the full text with Eng. tr., see Browne, IV, pp. 284-97, see also II, p. 40).

From the late 19th century onwards, a number of poets who were also politically active used variant forms of stanzaic poetry to express their ideas.  Moḥammad-Reżā Mirzāda ʿEšqi (1894-1923) composed a type of tarjiʿ-band of forty stanzas, entitled “Jomhuri-nāma,” in the months before he was assassinated (ʿEšqi, pp. 286-94).

This tarjiʿ-band is a satire on the idea of a republican regime for Iran. It is built up by stanzas of six couplets and a hemistich  (Dariḡ az rāh-e dur-o ranj-e besyār), which is repeated after each stanza.  The same hemistich forms the second hemistich of the opening couplet of the poem: Če ḏellathā kešid in mellat-e zār / Dariḡ az rāh-e dur-o ranj-e besyār (What misery this lamentable nation suffered / Alas for the distant road and the load of pain). After this couplet the first stanza starts, consisting of four rhyming hemistichs (two couplets) in a rhyme that changes per stanza, followed by two rhyming hemistichs (one couplet) with the rhyme –ār and the refrain-hemistich cited above.  Schematically the stanzas have the rhyme-scheme x x x x a a a.  This type of tarjiʿ-band does not correspond with the types found in classical poetry and may perhaps be regarded as a hybrid form of stanzaic poetry, one of the examples of poetry heralding an age of poetical experimenting leading up to modern poetry (šeʿr-e now). 

Mosammaṭ.  The mosammaṭ is the third main type of stanzaic poetry in Persian. The first poet with a sizeable quantity of mosammaṭs is Manučehri Dāmḡāni (d. after 432/1040), but remnants of mosammaṭs are also ascribed to Rudaki (d. 329/941) and Kesāʾi Marvazi (d. after 394/1004), who lived a century before Manučehri (Elwell-Sutton, p. 258; Schoeler, p. 258).

A mosammaṭ is composed of a number of stanzas consisting of three to ten rhyming hemistichs and one hemistich in a different rhyme; the rhyme of the last hemistich of the first stanza is repeated in the last one of each stanza, so that the stanzas are formally unified through this recurrent rhyme.  As in the tarjiʿ-band and tarkib-band, the meter is the same in all the stanzas.  The term mosammaṭ is usually explained as “the stringing of pearls on a necklace”; or alternatively as “the tying to the saddle-straps” (Dehḵodā, s.v.).

The mosammaṭ is classified according to the length of its stanzas as morabbaʿ (composed of four [i.e., hemistichs]), moḵammas (composed of five), mosaddas (composed of six), mosabbaʿ (composed of seven), moṯamman (composed of eight), motassaʿ (composed of nine), or moʿaššar (composed of ten; Elwell-Sutton, pp. 257-58).  In contrast to the tarkib-band and tarjiʿ-band, there are no variations in the length of the stanza within a mosammaṭ: every stanza has the same length throughout the poem.  In a schematic representation, the mosammaṭ may then have the following forms:

1. a a a – b, c c c – b, d d d - b etc. (morabbaʿ)

2. a a a a – b, c c c c – b, d d d d – b etc. (moḵammas)

3. a a a a a – b, c c c c c- b, d d d d d – b etc. (mosaddas)

4. a a a a a a – b, c c c c c c – b, d d d d d d – b etc. (mosabbaʿ)

5. a a a a a a a – b, c c c c c c c – b, d d d d d d d – b etc (moṯamman)

6. a a a a a a a a – b, c c c c c c c c – b, d d d d d d d d – b etc (motassaʿ)

7. a a a a a a a a a – b, c c c c c c c c c – b, d d d d d d d d d –b etc (moʿaššar)

The moḵammas and mosaddas, and to a lesser extent the morabbaʿ, are most common.  The rhyme scheme of the moḵammas and the mosaddas may also be respectively a a a b b and a a a a b b.  Other rhyme schemes have been mentioned by Elwell-Sutton, but they are rare (Elwell-Sutton, pp. 257-58).  Elwell-Sutton introduces the mosammaṭ by stating that “the couplet basis is abandoned” (Elwell-Sutton, p. 257).  In the morabbaʿ, mosaddas, moṯamman and moʿaššar forms of the mosammaṭ, however, the stanzas can be perceived as to consist of respectively two, three four, and five couplets, with the rhyme changing in the last or penultimate hemistich of each stanza; for the moḵammas, mosabbaʿ and motassaʿ one might perceive each stanza to consist of  respectively two, three, and four couplets and one hemistich.  In collected poetical works (divān), mosammaṭs are always presented in a way that the couplet seems to be the basic unit of the stanza.  If a poet has both mosammaṭs, tarjiʿ-bands and tarkib-bands in his divān, the mosammaṭs usually come last and the tarjiʿ-bands first.

Moḥammad Rāduyāni, in his Tarjomān al-balāḡa (comp. between 1088-1114 CE), the earliest extant Persian book on rhetoric, describes mosammaṭ and mentions one of Manučehri’s as an example (pp. 104-5).  It is noteworthy, however, that the descriptions by Rāduyāni and in other early works on prosody focus on a slightly different, though related, poetic device for which the same term mosammaṭ is used.  These descriptions throw some light upon the perception and the development of the mosammaṭ in Persian poetry.

Rāduyāni starts his description of mosammaṭ by presenting a couplet of Kesāʾi.  This couplet, according to Rāduyāni, is an example of a qaṣida in which the poet has divided every couplet into four parts.  The first three parts of the couplet have the same rhyme, called sajʿ by Raduyāni, while the fourth part of each one shares its rhyme (qāfia) with the fourth part of each following couplet.

The couplet of Kesāʾi can be understood as a couplet of a qaṣida, but also as a stanza of a mosammaṭ in the morabbaʿ format, hence the appearance of this couplet under the heading “mosammaṭ,” which, according to Rāduyāni, is “grouping” (goruh goruh kardan), that is, composing a qaṣida with couplets built up of three parts with internal rhyme and one part with end-rhyme.  This type of qaṣida is quite common in Persian poetry (Van den Berg, pp. 215-16).  The example of Kesāʾi, in możāreʿ moṯamman aḵrab, given by Rāduyāni is the following:

Bizāram az piyāla w’az arḡavān-o lāla / Mā-o ḵoruš-o nāla konj-i gerefta tanhā.

I have had enough of the cup, the Judas tree, and the tulip,
I am alone, wailing and crying, sitting in a corner.
This couplet can also be understood as a stanza:

Bizāram az piyāla,
W’az arḡavān-o lāla,
Mā-o ḵoruš-o nāla,
Konj-i gerefta tanhā.

Rudaki has a similar couplet, discussed by Schoeler (Schoeler, p. 258).

According to Rāduyāni, this kind of couplet is mosammaṭ.  He adds: “It may occur that the parts of the couplet in scanning be larger than what I just mentioned (Wa bovad ke aqsām-e bayt ba taqṭiʿ  ziādat az in bovad ke yād kardam), as we can see in Manučehri:

Ḵizid-o ḵaz ārid ke hangām-e ḵazān ast,
Bād-e ḵonak az jāneb-e ḵᵛārazm bazān ast,
Ān barg-e razān bin ke bar ān šāḵ-e razān ast,
Guʾi ke yak-i kārgah-e rangrazān ast,
Dehqān ba taʿajjob sar-e angošt gazān ast,
K’andar čaman-e bāḡ na gol mānd-o na golzār.

Rise and bring fur because it is autumn,
A cold wind is blowing from Ḵᵛārazm,
Look at those vine leaves with the vines on top,
You would say it is a workshop of dyers,
The landowner bites the tip of his finger in amazement,
For in the meadow neither rose nor rose-bed remained.

“And it is possible to expand this as much as you like” (Rāduyāni, pp. 104-5).

Rāduyāni’s version of this first stanza of Manučehri’s mosammaṭ slightly differs from the text in the edition of the divān (Manučehri, pp. 147-56).  The meter of this mosammaṭ is hazaj moṯamman aḵrab makfuf maḥḏuf; it is composed in description of the autumn and in praise of Sultan Masʿud of Ḡazna.

The prosodist Rašid-al-Din Vaṭvāṭ (d. 1182 CE), like Rāduyāni, describes mosammaṭ as an art or device (ṣanʿat) whereby the poet divides the couplet in four parts; at the end of the first three parts he observes internal rhyme (sajʿ) and in the fourth part he introduces end-rhyme (qāfiat); according to Vaṭvāṭ, this is also called šeʿr-e mosajjaʿ  (Vaṭvāṭ, pp. 61-62).  He mentions two examples of this device, one of which is the well-known qaṣida by Moʿezzi (1048/49-1125/27) Ey sārbān manzel makon joz dar diār-e yār-e man.  This qaṣida, composed of fifty-five couplets, is in rajaz moṯamman sālem (Moʿezzi, pp. 597-599).  From the second hemistich onwards, the couplets of this qaṣida follow the same pattern as the single couplet of Kesāʾi cited by Rāduyāni.

Ey sārbān manzel makon joz dar diār-e yār-e man,
Tā yak zamān zāri konam bar rabʿ-o aṭlāl-o daman.
Rabʿ az del-am por ḵun konam, ḵāk-e daman golgun konam,
Aṭlāl rā jeyhun konam az āb-e čašm-e ḵᵛištan.

Oh camel-driver, do not halt but in the realm of my beloved,
That I may lament a while over the abode, the ruins, and the traces left.
With my heart I will make the abode full of blood, I will make the traces left behind rose-red with    my tears,
I will turn the ruins into the river Jeyḥun by weeping.

Vaṭvāṭ adds to this description that the Persians also compose the mosammaṭ in a different manner, namely that five hemistichs are composed in one rhyme (qāfiat) and that at the end of the sixth hemistich the basic rhyme (qāfiat-e aṣli) is introduced, on which the poem in its entirety is based (Vaṭvāṭ, p. 63).  To illustrate this Vaṭvāṭ presents the first stanza of Manučehri’s mosammaṭ opening with Āmad bāng-e ḵorus moʾḏen-e meyḵᵛāragān (see below).

The original mosammaṭ was thus understood as a mosammaṭ in the morabbaʿ format, and described as a device applied in the couplets of a qaṣida.  The term morabbaʿ is however not used in early works on prosody in connection to this poetical device.  This device, named mosammaṭ, seems gradually to have developed into something larger, which in the time of Rāduyāni was apparently seen as an extension of a poetical device in which three of the four parts of the couplet (aqsām-e bayt) had internal rhyme (sajʿ) and the fourth one the recurrent rhyme (qafia).  Rāduyāni does not yet acknowledge this as a different form.

Vaṭvāṭ, on the other hand, seems to have perceived this “extended form of mosammaṭ” as a different kind of mosammaṭ, and refers to its parts as hemistichs with rhyme (meṣrāʿs with qāfia) and no longer as parts of the couplet with internal rhyme (aqsām-e bayt with sajʿ).  Vatvāt distinguishes rhyme and basic rhyme (qāfiat and qāfiat-e aṣli) to denote the difference between the rhyme used in the hemistichs of the separate stanza and the recurrent rhyme in the last hemistich of each separate stanza.  For this kind of mosammaṭ, according to him composed by Persians, Vaṭvāṭ no longer uses the term sajʿ.

This shift in approach, illustrated by the descriptions of Rāduyāni and Vaṭvāṭ, shows how the mosammaṭ gradually came to be seen as a separate genre, a stanzaic poem, rather than a poetical device used in couplets of mono-rhymed qaṣidas.  The fact that mosammaṭ was seen as a poetical device initially is probably the reason why this form is included in the first place in the early works on prosody, which usually do not describe genres of poetry.

This development of the mosammaṭ as a separate genre in poetry can be illustrated furthermore by the description of Šams-e Qeys in al-Moʿjam, composed more than a century later than Rāduyāni’s and probably more than forty years after Vaṭvāṭ (Šams-e Qeys, pp. 382-83).  Noticeably, Šams-e Qeys begins his description of mosammaṭ with the stanzaic Persian form, rather than the internal rhyme form and groups them under the heading tasmiṭ.  By the time of Šams-e Qeys, the mosammaṭ of  the mosaddas form, the form used by Manučehri, seems to have been perceived as the standard form of a mosammaṭ, which might well be because of the presence of this particular form in Manučehri’s divān and its apparent popularity.  Incidentally, Šams-e Qeys is the first to describe tarjiʿ (see above), which is not included in the works of Rāduyāni and Vaṭvāṭ.

The mosammaṭ is not as widespread in the divāns of Persian poets as the tarjiʿ-band and tarkib-band are.  Manučehri is an exception with as many as eleven mosammaṭs in his divān.  His mosammaṭs are all mosaddas and follow the rhyme scheme sketched above, that is five rhyming hemistichs and a sixth hemistich with a rhyme that comes back in the sixth hemistich of each stanza.  The tenth mosammaṭ in Manučehri’s divān (pp. 197-206), however, has another scheme, and consists of thirty-seven stanzas with six rhyming hemistichs.  The last hemistich of each stanza in this case does not stand out at all, and the stanzas are not formally unified by a recurrent rhyme.  However, there is some doubt on the authenticity of this poem (Manučehri, p. 197, note 1). The other ten mosammaṭs of Manučehri have between ten and thirty-five stanzas.  The subject matter of these mosammaṭs is similar to his qaṣidas.  The first two stanzas of the sixth mosammaṭ of Manučehri’s divān, composed in the meter monṣareḥ moṯamman maṭwi maksuf , are dedicated to the benefits of the morning cup.

Āmad bāng-e ḵorus moʾḏen-e meyḵᵛāragān,
Ṣobḥ-e noḵostin nemud ruy ba naẓẓāragān,
Koh be katef bar fekand čādor-e bāzāragān,
Ruy be mašreq nehād ḵosrow-e sayyāragān,
Bāda farāz āvarid čāra-ye bičāragān,
Qumu šorb al-ṣabuḥ yā ayyoha’l-nāʾemin.
Mey zadagānim mā, dar del-e mā ḡam bovad,
Čāra-ye mā bāmdād reṭl-e damādam bovad,
Rāḥat-e každomzada košta-ye každom bovad,
Meyzada-rā ham ba mey dāru-o marḥam bovad,
Har ke ṣabuḥi zanad bā del-e ḵorram bovad,
Bā do lab-e moškbuy, bā do roḵ-e ḥur-e ʿin.

The crowing of the cock sounds, the muezzin of those who drink wine,
The first morning light showed its face to those who watched,
The mountain has thrown the tent of the traders over its shoulders,
The emperor of the planets has directed his face to the east,
Bring wine, the remedy of the wretched,
Oh you who are asleep, rise and drink the morning cup.

We are afflicted by wine, our heart is filled with grief,
Incessant cup of wine at dawn is our remedy,
The comfort of the one bitten by the scorpion is the scorpion’s corpse,
For the one afflicted by wine, the wine is likewise medicine and balm.

Whoever drains the morning cup is glad in his heart,
With two musk-scented lips, with two cheeks of black-eyed paradise virgins.

Other poets favored other types of mosammaṭ; Qaṭrān Tabrizi has two mosammaṭs of the moṯamman format, while Masʿud-e Saʿd-e Salmān, with four of the same, seems to have a preference for this type (Qaṭrān, pp. 442-49; Masʿud-e Saʿd, pp. 766-79).  In the last stanza of one of them, he cites the opening hemistich of Manučehri’s famous mosammaṭ, Ḵizid-o ḵaz ārid (Masʿud-e Saʿd, p. 771).  Sanāʾi (pp. 572-73, 577-78, 587-88, 591-92) has four mosammaṭs in the morabbaʿ format, Moʿezzi (pp. 768-71) has one in the moṯamman format, and Ḵᵛāju (pp. 126-28, 137-39) one in the moṯamman and one in the moḵammas. The moḵammas of Ḵᵛāju is an expansion (tażmin, lit. citation) on a qaṣida of Sanāʾi (Elwell-Sutton, p. 259).  The moḵammas type seems to have been developed in later years as an appropriate form for expanding on an existing poem, though also other types of mosammaṭ are used for this purpose.  A tażmin in the moḵammas format is often termed taḵmis (Schoeler, p. 661), and in the same manner the terms tarbiʿ, tasdis etc. are used for the corresponding types of mosammaṭ used as tażmin (Elwell-Sutton, p. 259).

Ahli Širāzi (pp. 536-539) has three mosammaṭs in moḵammas format, all based on existing ḡazals.  In the first one, nine stanzas are based on nine couplets of a ḡazal of Ḥāfeẓ (ca. 1315-90), composed in the meter mojtaṯṯ moṯamman maḵbun maḥḏuf (Ahli, pp. 536-37, based on Ḥāfeẓ, p. 320, no. 152).  Each stanza consists of three hemistichs by Ahli and two of the ḡazal of Ḥāfeẓ.  The last two hemistichs of each stanza are formed by a couplet of the ḡazal of Ḥāfeẓ.  The last stanza includes in the third hemistich the penname Ahli, and in the fourth hemistich, part of the original ḡazal, naturally the penname Ḥāfeẓ.  The first stanza of this moḵammas has five rhyming hemistichs, the last two being the first couplet of Ḥāfeẓ’s ḡazal (ḡazal verses translated by Peter Avery, p. 207):

1. Pari beḥosn-e roḵ-e golʿeḏār-e mā naresad;

2. Malak beḵolq-e ḵᵛoš-e ḡamgosār-e mā naresad;

3. Wafā-ye kas ba wafā-ye negār-e mā naresad;

4. Ba ḥosn-e ḵolq-o wafā kas ba yār-e mā naresad;

5. To-rā dar in soḵan enkār-e kār-e mā naresad.

1. A peri cannot outreach the beauty of the face of our rose-cheeked beloved;

2. An angel cannot outreach the pleasant disposition of our dear friend;

3. No one’s loyalty outreaches the loyalty of the beloved idol;

4. No one outreaches our friend in beauty of disposition and fidelity;

5. Contradicting us in this matter is not for you.

 

The second stanza rhymes with the last syllable of the first hemistich of the third couplet of Ḥāfeẓ:

1. Marā ke nist ba kas ḡayr-e yār-e ḵᵛiš niyāz,

2. Ḥoquq-e ṣoḥbat-e ḵᵛod ham ba yār guyam bāz,

3. Če ḥājat ast ze nāmaḥramān kešidan-e nāz,

4. Ba ḥaqq-e ṣoḥbat-e dirin ke hič mahram-e rāz,

5. Ba yār-e yakjehat-e ḥaqgozār-e mā naresad.

1. I who have no need for anyone except my own friend,

2. I will repeat the just claims of my association to my friend as well

3. What need is there to glorify those who are no intimates.

4. By right of old association I swear no secret-sharer,

5. Comes up to our unwavering, favor-requiting friend.

In more modern times the mosammaṭ was used by poets such as Moḥammad-Taqi Bahār (1886-1951) and Mirzāda ʿEšqi for political verse.  Bahār modeled on of his earliest mosammaṭs on a mosammaṭ of Manučehri (see BAHĀR).  ʿEšqi made extensive use of the moḵammas format, most famously in one of his long narrative poems on social and political injustice entitled Se tablo (Karimi-Hakkak, pp. 210-31), containing 139 stanzas each consisting of five hemistichs (ʿEšqi, pp. 173-93).

Mostazād.  The mostazād has been described by Elwell-Sutton as a variant of the ḡazal or short qaṣida, and sometimes of other forms such as the quatrain (robāʿi).  In this variant an additional phrase with a meter identical to the meter of the rest of the poem is attached either to each hemistic or to each couplet.  This additional phrase is as a rule not essential for the understanding of the poem.  Elwell-Sutton places this verse form under “mono-rhyme verse forms,” together with the qaṣida, ḡazal, fragment (qeṭʿa) and quatrain, rather than under “stanzaic verse forms” (Elwell-Sutton, pp. 249-51).  The earliest extant mostazād may be found in the divān of Masʿud-e Saʿd (Sharma, 2008).  This is a mostazād of fourteen couplets, in the metre możāreʿ moṯamman aḵrab ṣadrayn, in praise of his patron Sultan Masʿud III (Masʿud-e Saʿd p. 783).  This mostazād consists of double-rhymed couplets, with an additional phrase, different for each couplet, rhyming in –ān; the metrical pattern of this phrase is the first foot of the możāreʿ meter used for this poem.  The rhyme of the phrase follows the rhyme of the first couplet of the mostazād.

Ey kāmgār solṭān, Enṣāf-e to ba geyhān, Gašta ʿeyān.
Masʿud šahriāri, Ḵᵛoršid-e nāmdāri, Andar jahān.
Ey awj-e čarḵ jāyat, Giti ze ruy-o rāyat, Čun bustān.

Oh auspicious sultan, Your justice in the world, Has become evident.
You are the fortunate king, You are the illustrious sun, In the world.
Your place is the firmament’s pinnacle, The world is because of your appearance and wisdom, Like an orchard

It can be seen in the verses above that it is not always possible to have a satisfactory understanding of the couplet without taking into account the additional phrase.

Mostazāds are quite rare in classical poetry, but they seem to have gained popularity in the poetry of the early 20th century.  Bahār, ʿEšqi and Abu’l-Qāsem Lāhuti (1887-1957) composed mostazāds to convey their political ideas.  In the early twenties of the 20th century, ʿEšqi wrote a mostazād satirizing the Fourth Majles, entitled mostazād-e majles-e čahārom.  This mostazād has over a hundred couplets, and each hemistich is followed by an additional phrase.  The first two hemistichs are followed by the phrase “didi če ḵabar bud?,” and this phrase is repeated in the following couplets after every second hemistich, forming a kind of refrain:

In majles-e čārom ba ḵodā nang-e bašar bud, Didi če ḵabar bud?
Har kār ke kardand żarar ruy-e żarar bud, Didi če ḵabar bud?
In majles-e čārom, ḵᵛodemānim, ṯamar dāšt? Wa’llāh żarar dāšt!
Ṣad šokr ke ʿomr-aš čo zamāna begoḏar bud, Didi če ḵabar bud?

This Fourth Majles was a disgrace for mankind, by God! Have you seen what happened?
Whatever they did, it was damage upon damage Have you seen what happened?
This Fourth Majles, “let us be frank,” had it results? I swear to God, it was damage!
Thanks a million that its life, like the era, will pass Have you seen what happened?

The meter of this mostazād is hazaj moṯamman aḵrab makfuf maḥḏuf, a meter, which is common for this form (Elwell-Sutton, p. 249).

Stanzaic verse forms have been part of the corpus of classical Persian poetry from the early stage onwards and have continued to play a role until modern times.  The development and history of this genre can be explored via works on prosody and divāns of poets.  It appears from the prosodic sources that various forms of stanzaic poetry can be considered to have originated in the qaṣida.  The examples present in divāns show that, with respect to content and sometimes form, this genre has been subject to change and adaptation by its users to suit their purposes over time.  Though the quantity of stanzaic poetry in Persian literature is modest in comparison to other verse forms, a few examples of this genre have obtained widespread fame and an iconic value in Persian culture and society.

See ʿARUŻ for meters in poetry.

 

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(Gabrielle van den Berg)

Last Updated: December 6, 2012