Sunday, June 21, 2009

News that stays with you

A couple of things about the revolution in Iran that struck me are today:

Good summary of the current situation and the possibilities for the coming week by blogger Black Hat Journalist. I'll be following this blog.

And a new Wikipedia entry for Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman gunned down Saturday, June 20 in Tehran, allegedly by a Basij gunman. Lighting a candle tonight in her memory.

Women of Iran - "lioness" is a Farsi word that comes to mind when I see the images of protesting women and read about Zahra Rahnavard, Moussavi's wife, taking a leadership role.

Someone on my poetry listserv posed the question of the emotional content in poetry and its equation to "importance" of a poem, citing a craze for emotionalism with linebreaks that's become a trend among teenagers. While I like to think that anything is fair game to interest youth in our lovely art form, that kind of verbal emoting may so far debase any art form that it defeats the purpose. This has been an emotional week for me, watching singular events unfold in a country I haven't till now thought much about. The only poetry I have dared to work on is far, far from these themes.

I thought of Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads, and this statement that connects poetry to our common humanity:

To this knowledge which all men carry about with them, and to these sympathies in which without any other discipline than that of our daily life we are fitted to take delight, the poet principally directs his attention.

at the same time, I thought of this, also from the Preface:

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

Spontaneous, yes. Overflow, certainly. The wisdom is in recollecting it from tranquillity.


  1. It's interesting to note that Tahirih, the heroine and martyr of the Baha'i Faith, was one of the first women to call for the equality of women in Iran and the world. Her final words, "You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women."

    Like the 12 disciples of Christ, she was one of 19 Letters of the Living as the disciple of the Báb, and a follower of Bahá'u'lláh. She was martyred for her beliefs in 1852, when she made the above statement.

    When women were considered less than men, she taught other women and had learned disputations with men. At a pivotal event in the beginnings of the Baha'i Faith, she tore off her veil that all women were supposed to wear to signal the break with the Islamic dispensation.

    Another Baha'i woman, an early American believer, because of her faith and perseverance in teaching the Cause, was designated "The Lioness of the Threshold". Her name was Martha Root.

    So the roots of women's strength in Iran run deep.

  2. Thank you, Billy, for this wonderful addition to the idea of women of Iran as "the lioness." Beautiful.

  3. Btw, there is another woman martry, Mona, a sixteen year old girl, who was hung with ten other Baha'i women. They all were asked to recant the Baha'i Faith and live before they were hung. They all refused to do so. This was in 1982.

    No one knows much about this, yet it seems to me to be much more tragic and heroic.

  4. Billy, thank you for informing me about the persecution of the Baha'i in Iran, and about the heroic death of this young woman at the hands of this evil regime. I agree, Mona's story is one of amazing courage and faith. The women of Iran are indeed "lioness". I've heard only a little bit about Bahai'i but it must be a beautiful faith to inspire such nobility of purpose. We must remember all who stand and are counted for freedom, whether political or religious. I'm just so grateful today to be living in America.