Nezami Ganjavi

 

Nezami Ganjavi, who was born in Ganje around 1141 C. E., during the Saljuq empire, was the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature. He was the first poet to bring a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic.


Little is known of Nezami's life. Orphaned at a young age, he spent his entire life in Ganje, and died there in 1209. Although he enjoyed the patronage of a number of rulers and princes, he was known to have lived a simple life.

 

Only a handful of his qasides (odes) and qazals (lyrics) have survived. His reputation rests on his great Khamseh (The Quintuplet), a set of five poems written in masnavi verse form (rhymed couplets) and totaling 30,000 couplets. Drawing inspiration from the Persian epic poets Ferdowsi and Sanai, Nezami

proved himself the first great dramatic poet of Persian literature. The first poem in the set is Makhzanol-Asrar (The Treasury of Mysteries). It is followed by the romantic epic Khosrow va Shirin (Khosrow and Shirin) and Nezami's rendition of a well-known story in Persian folklore, Leyli va Majnun (The Story of Leyli and Majnun). The fourth poem, Haft Peykar (The Seven Beauties), is considered his masterwork. The final poem in the set is the Sekandar or Eskandar-Name (The Book of Alexander the Great), a philosophical portrait of the Greek conqueror.

 

Nezami is admired in Persian-speaking lands for his originality and clarity of style. The Khamseh was so powerful in the literary sense that later poets such as Amirkhosro Dehlavi, Vahshi Bafqi, Salman Savoji, and Khajuye Kermani tried to imitate him . Nezami's influence on such great poets as Hafez, Rumi, and Saadi can be easily discerned from a simple comparative reading of their works.