Gracefully she approached,
in a dress of bright blue silk,
With an olive branch in her hand,
and many tales of sorrows in her eyes.
excerpt from poem by Simin Behbahani
Simin Behbahani is a revered Iranian poet, aged 82, who was arrested this month as she was about to fly to Paris to read some of her poems. Her passport was taken away from her. Today, on the NPR program "On Point" several Iranian scholars and Tom Ashbrook talked about her, read her poetry and took calls.
This program brought me to tears. The power of poets to speak out against injustice and for humanity all through beautiful words and rhythms came across so strongly. A caller mentioned that in the US very few people know of poets and poetry. Is this different in Iran, he asked.
Yes, in Iran the butcher speaks in poems, the man who sells newspapers speaks in poems. Poetry is part of the life-blood of the Iranian people. Most everyone in Iran knows who Simin Behbahani is (I had never heard of her before).
Can you imagine living in a country where poems flow so freely and yet not so freely of course when the poet speaks out in protest. The pen is mightier than the sword.
Read the rest of the above poem and others by Behbahani and in fact after 3pm you can hear the program via podcast (or something) here.