September 1993 (1.3)
Page 28-29

Remembering Shahriyar
Azeri version of "Heydar Babaya Salam!"
(PDF, 16 k)

It's extremely rare for any Azerbaijani (Northern or Southern) not to know the famous poet, Mohammed Hussein Shahriyar (1907-1987) and not to be familiar with his poem, "Heydar Babaya Salam" (Greetings to Heydar Baba). Through the graphic imagery, the poet as a mature adult nostalgically recalls his carefree childhood growing up in a village next to a mountain known as "Heydar Baba" near Tabriz, Iran.

It was while Shahriyar was training as a medical student in Tehran University in the early 1940s that he became influenced by his mother to develop his colloquial Azeri idiom into a masterful literary language. Equal to Shahriyar's best poetry in Farsi, "Heydar Babaya Salam" proved that he could write Azeri with equal elegance and power.

The poem became so popular and so many Azerbaijanis identified so closely with it that many songs were written and many stanzas have been incorporated into proverbial expressions in everyday Azeri speech.

"Heydar Baba" broke the cultural isolation and silence of Southern Azerbaijan. It can be said that it was responsible for reviving literary Azeri language in Iran. It quickly became known not only in Southern Azerbaijan but throughout the rest of the Turkic world and signaled a new chapter in the literary history in Southern Azerbaijan as the Azeri language at that time was not officially recognized nor publication officially allowed in Iran. Intellectual exchange with Northern Azerbaijanis was severed as Soviet policy had imposed a new unfamiliar alphabet - Cyrillic - on the language which had united them before.

Left: Poet's Shrine in Tabriz where Shahriyar is buried.

In fact, though the original work was published in Arabic script in two parts (Tabriz: 1954 and 1966), its influence is still strongly felt. In 1991, a symphonic work was composed in Iran entitled "Heydar Babaya Salam" and in 1993 in Northern Azerbaijan a mugam singer based his lyrics on these lines as well.

In the 1970s when a publisher was denied permission from the government to reprint the poem in Azeri, he determined to find a way for even illiterate people to know "Heydar Baba". Soon "underground" cassette tapes were circulating and the impact of the poetry was even stronger than if it had been printed.

Shahriyar is recognized as one of the finest contemporary poets of Iran particularly for his brilliant skill with a classical form called ghazal. As well, he established his own school of poetry - known as the "Shahriyar School."

In 1992, a joint Conference about Shahriyar - sponsored by Azerbaijan's Academy of Sciences and Iran's Ministry of Art and Culture was held in Tehran.

As September is the commemoration of Shahriyar's death in 1987, and many remember him and his literary contribution at this time, we use this issue to present the Þrst six stanzas of "Heydar Babaya Salam" - translated and published in English and transliterated to the new Latin script of Northern Azerbaijan. Both for the Þrst time.

Azeri version of "Heydar Babaya Salam!"
(PDF, 16 k)

Greetings to Haydar Baba
By Shahriyar
English Translation by Dr. Hasan Javadi

Heydar Baba, when the thunder resounds across the skies,
When floods roar down the mountainsides,
And the girls line up to watch it rushing by,
Send my greetings to the tribesmen and the village folk
And remember me and my name once more.

Heydar Baba, when pheasants take flight,
And the rabbits scurry from flowering bush,
When your garden burst into full bloom,
May those who remember us live long
And may our saddened hearts be gladdened.

When the March wind strikes down the bowers,
Primrose and snowdrops appear from the frozen earth,
When the clouds wing their white shirts,
Let us be remembered once again
Let our sorrows rise up like a mountain.

Heydar Baba, let your back bear the mark of the sun.
Let your streams weep and your face beam with smiles.
Let your children put together a bouquet
And send it to us when the wind blows this way
So that, perhaps, our sleepy fortune be awakened.

Haydar Baba, may your brows be bright.
May you be circled by streams and gardens.
And after us, may you live long.
This world is full of misfortunes and losses.
The world is replete with those bereaved of sons and orphaned.

Heydar Baba, my steps never crossed your pass.
My life was spent, becoming too late to visit you
I know not what became of all those beautiful girls.
I never knew about deadends, about paths of "no return".
I never knew about separation, loss and death.

© Azerbaijan International 1993. All rights reserved.

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