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Chapter 3-C    


Nimâ, in the poem Afsâneh, like Dante in La vita nuova and The Divine Comedy, believes in Love as the only motive force of the whole universe. However, since Nimâ does not believe in any kind of finalism, either religious or secular, and is not partisan to any “eternal” existence beyond this “moment”, from the very beginning he admits that his motive force of the universe, i.e. love, is a lie, albeit a pleasant one, without which life is not worth living:


LOVER:I want no one to touch my heart

For my heart is the nest of another

Although my nesting bear no fruits

I think it will bear fruit

“I am happy with enticement and an image.”       


AFSÂNEH:Lover, I am a more pleasant enticement 

Than whatever is enticing!

Whatever rises anew will grow old.

Me, I am an older lie!

I am chased away from the wise and am called by you.       


LOVER:Oh, lie! Oh, sorrow! Oh you, good and evil!

Who told you to get up from you place?

Who told you in this path 

To hang from a bough like a flower

Like the moonlight in the garden?       


     At the end, the narrator, who in the beginning narrates the story of the lunatic, becomes one with him. The poet-lover, this time as one person addressing Afsâneh, the lover's heart, the personified beloved, and the person real exclaims,


LOVER:Hey! Come forward from this narrow valley

That is the shepherds' best shelter

Out of all mens' path,

So that here where everything is lonely

We both sing together sadly...       



3. Father and the Fatherland

Nimâ Yushij was the pen name he used when he wanted to publish Afsâneh. His real name was Ali Esfandiâri, and, as will be seen further on, the pseudonym, Nimâ Yushij, clearly shows his love and admiration for his father and his fatherland. In an autobiography which he wrote for the First Congress of Iranian Writers, which was held in Tehran by the Iranian-Soviet Cultural Relations Association in 1946, Nimâ subconsciously puts these two elements side by side:


     In the year 1895, Ebrâhim Nuri—a brave and angry man—was considered to have descended from an ancient lineage in the north of Iran. I am his eldest son. My father was preoccupied with his life in agriculture and shepherding in this district.

     In the autumn of that year, when he was living in his summering grounds, Yush, I came into the world. My lineage on my mother's side, goes back to the Georgian fugitives, who fled to this country long ago.

     My early life was spent among herdsmen and horse breeders, who in search of meadows, migrate between distant summering and wintering grounds, and at night, get together for long hours around the campfire in the mountains.

From my whole childhood period I remember nothing but wild wrangles and things related to nomadic life and their simple recreation in monotonous, blind, and ignorant tranquility.

     In the same village where I was born, I learned to read and write from the village mullah. He chased me through garden alleys and tortured me ruthlessly. He tied my tender feet to the snarled and thorny stinging trees, beat me with a long stick and forced me to memorize letters which the village households usually write to each other; and he had attached them and had made a scroll for me.


 Nimâ had a younger brother named Ladbun, and two sisters named Nâktâ and Behjat. As can be seen from Nimâ's correspondence, the two brothers had a close relationship. Nimâ also wrote letters to Nâktâ and dedicated to her one of his early long poems, Khânevâde-ye sarbâz (A Soldier's Family). Nevertheless, none of his siblings nor his mother had the impact on him that his father did. In a poem called Pedaram ("My Father"), which he wrote thirteen years after his father's death in 1926, he talks with nasim (the breeze) and sees in it his father's agility and cleverness:


Like you [the breeze], he on swift heels

Descended from this mountain peak

But following behind him 

Were two lads fast and brave.


     Then he remembers when his father returned home from his journey late at night and the family circled around him:


When [the father], the village darling, came to the village

Our hearts were in hope of finding his

The night was dark and the world had drowned

In the fearful silence of the village.


I saw a man armed

Drooping moustache, staff in hand,

A shadow of a smile on his lips every moment,

Coming towards us fatigued.


My mother jumped up and lit a lamp

He became a shadow, as if covered in tar.

Has he hitched the horse in the garden?

Has he jumped down from the wall?


Til dawn with wakeful eyes 

There was talk of trouble on the journey

We were sitting all around him

He was gazing at our faces every moment.


He was asking after each of us

Sitting like a hero on the ground

Kind to all the world's people

His words cheerful, warm, and sweet.


Like you [the breeze], he went fast

He went and left me to grieve for

He hid his face from the world and shortened his journey

And I became worn with grief.


     In the end he calls the breeze again and seeks in it his lost father:


My eyes are peeled to the road

I ask road for him each moment

When you [the breeze] come to me tired,

I tell my dejected heart,


“I wish he would come through this window.”

I shout out to him from afar, “Come!”

I would tell my wife آliyeh, “Woman!

My father has come. Open the door.”


     In another poem that he wrote for his father two years later, called Pânzdah sâl gozasht (Fifteen Years Have Gone By), he draws his inspiration from his father's bravery and manliness and sees his own militancy as mirroring that of his father:


Fifteen years have gone by

Each day worse than a night

Each night turned blacker because of the black day.

Fifteen years have gone by

Since you left my side

I still have words of yours dangling from my ear

Oh, father, my eyes still

Attend to many of them.

Ah, why did you go like that!

Fifteen years have gone by


Each night one year and each day one month

But I did not come one bit short of my work.

I stood strong against the hardships

And thanks to loneliness

I did what I should have

And what I raised up 

Got its beauty from your treasure


     In a simple and at the same time beautiful poem called “From My Father's Mansion” (Az ‘emârat-e pedaram) he first describes parts of his father's ruined house which still remained:


My father's mansion remains only in name

On the north side a hall

On the south side an archway


On its exterior the stables

Now the owl has nested in it

And a panel dangling in the doorway.


     Then he sees a man who could be interpreted as either Nimâ or his dead father sitting in a lighted room of this house.


The door is open and his house is dark

Sometimes a lamp is lit in one room

A man has made his bed


His head is bent over a book

He has brought his knees to his chest

His hand is spinning over a notebook


Night, darkness, a lamp, and that man

In a tangle, but in the notebook 

They have created another mansion


     In the final stanza, the reader gets the idea that Nimâ finds his father incarnated in him:


His hand wrote this on a page,

“My father's mansion remains only in name.”

His soulless body has become like a body for me.


     One month after Nimâ married ‘آliyeh Jahângir, his father died in May 1926. In a letter to his wife, he expressed his grief thus,


Last night out of terror I did not get to sleep until dawn. Who has seen me such a coward, trembling like a willow. A half-dead flame, a heavenly book, and a piece of mud brick, in the corner of my father's room, have taken my father's place. Is a spirit conjured up by these means? Perhaps! My father! My father! Last night a black hand incessantly was pressing against my chest. Why don't they leave a lunatic even in the middle of the night! I took refuge in my mother out of fear. What a refuge! I started walking. My legs were trembling. The shadow of a boxwood bush startled me.


Here a hero has gone to sleep far away from home, and his body has gone cold.


     Searching for a lost father is an ancient theme in literature, from Homer's Odyssey to James Joyce's Ulysses, which shows the longing of human beings for their origin and a sense of continuity. This search for one's ancestors, in turn, is linked with looking for one's birthplace, and here, history borders on geography, and love for father, on love for the fatherland. We see the same pattern in Nimâ.

     A geographic dictionary of Iran prepared by the military, describes the village of Yush, thus,


Yush: A village in the rural district of Uz Rud (1), the district of Nur (2) the township of آmol. Seven kilometers west of Baladeh, 42 kilometers east of the main road to Châlus (near Kanduvân). Mountainous, cold, population 11,000, currently 600. Shiite, Mâzandarâni and Persian. Water: from the Uz Rud River and many springs. Products: cereals, dairy products, legumes, fruits. Occupation: agriculture and animal husbandry. Roads: dirt roads. In winter, the majority of the population go to the winter grounds of Nur and Tehran as wage laborers. It had important buildings which are falling into disrepair. Its mosque and ceremonial hall [takieh] are very old.


Sirus Tâhbâz, who wrote a monograph on the village of Yush in 1963, describes the village thus,


The village is located in a valley. This valley runs from south to north starting from Mount Lovash, then from the village of Ilkâ, flanked by two low and high mountain ranges and continues until you get to Yush. Yush is the point of juncture and the valley bends eastward, toward Baladeh[...] In the valley is a river called Harâz, which is a generic name. Most of the land in the village is cultivated, especially near the dwellings, and it is these cultivated fields which connect the surrounding villages...

The land north of the river is called Khortâb (“Sunny”) and the southern Nesem (“Shady”). The snow in the Khortâb land melts sooner and its weather is warmer. The houses of Yush, and half of the cultivated fields, are located in Khortâb, and on the Nesem side, there is not one building except one mill. The rest is all cultivated fields >>> Chapter 3-D