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In Memorial of one of Iran’s foremost poets of the 20th century
Mehdi Akhavan Saless (Salas) 1929 - 1991


















A month before his demise. Paris, 1991

Holding his second son ‘Zartosht’
Tehran, 1960

Photo of Akhavan at age 10 affixed on his 4th grade completion certificate
Mashad, 1939

The year 2004 marks the 75th birth anniversary of one of Iran’s foremost poets of the 20th Century.

The following excerpt from  ‘Peyk’ Magazine1 (May-June 2004), publication of the Persian Cultural Center of San Diego, California is a fitting tribute to the legacy of that outstanding poet.

“His superb poetic gifts made Mehdi Akhavan Saless a towering figure in contemporary Persian poetry, and one with whom younger poets had to come to terms.”

“In his longer poems, Akhavan brings together the epic tradition of Ferdowsi, the dramatic qualities of Zoroastrian hymns – particularly the Gathas and the Vendidad – and themes from the simple ballads and tales of the Persian oral tradition in a light poetic structure  capable of sustaining reader’s attention and interest through the long stretches of narrative. His shorter poems are sometimes cynical and sinister, sometimes playful and witty, and sometimes even bitingly satirical.”

“Akhavan became known nationally after the publication of his second volume of poetry, entitled ‘Winter’ (1956).  The book was hailed as one of the most important achievements of Nima Yushij.  Subsequently, Akhavan published several other collections, including ‘The Ending of the ShahNameh’ (1959), ‘From this Avesta’ (1966) and ‘Autumn in Prison’ (1969).”

A native of Khorassan and deeply versed in the literary traditions of the North Eastern part of Iran, Akhavan remained faithful to the spirit of Khorassani poetic conventions. He began his career as a teacher, and went on to work for the Ministry of Education, the National Radio and Television organization, among others. He found himself caught in the midst of the political turmoil of the 1950s and was briefly imprisoned in 1953 following the coup d’etat that beset Iran.

Akhavan Saless passed away in Tehran in 1990 shortly after return from his only trip outside Iran to Western Europe.  His remains were moved to the city of Tous in Khorassan and buried close to the mausoleum of another legendary Iranian poet Ferdowsi.  With his passage a remarkable chapter in the literary history of Iran came to a close.  

Akhavan’s lasting legacy is his ability to influence through his poetry a generation of Iranian intellectuals of his time to become acquainted with their proud past despite all the negative propaganda and distortion applied to the cause of ancient Iran.

Amongst his compositions2 one comes across  “Thou this Ancient Land, I adore thee” with a dedication that reads “To Dr. Jalil Doostkhah3 (Isfahani), and all other Nobel Spirited Iranians”  The English rendition of few of the couplets from that composition follows.

From all things earthly, if I acclaim
Thee this land so ancient, I adore

Thee the birth place of so many nobles
Cherisher of magnanimity, I adore

Thine Ormuzd and Yazatas, I revere

To thine ancient prophet
A wisdom seeking sage whom I adore

The noble  Zarathushtra,  more so than
all other sages and prophets  I adore

Humanity better than him has not seen and will not
and this noblest of humanity I adore

His trios  the best guide for the world
This concise, impactful guide I adore

This great Iranian a  leader
This Iranian leader I adore

Never killed, nor asked others to
This noble role modeling I adore

Tine Ferdowsi, the legendary literary tower he erected
placed in the hall of fame and glory, I adore

1 The Peyk article on Akhavan Saless was sourced from the book ‘An Anthology of Modern Persian Poetry’ by Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

2 His memorial book – in Persian - produced soon after his demise ‘Bagheh bee barkee’ has an extensive collection of his poems

3 Dr. Jalil Doostkhah is a well accomplished Iranian Avestan scholar of late 20th century.  As a student and associate of the late Professor Ibrahim Pour-e Davoud, Dr. Doostakhah is well recognized for his contribution to translation of the Avesta text into modern Persian.