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  • Topic: Azerbaijani language, Azerbaijan, Poetry
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  • Published : June 5, 2006
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Remembering Shahriyar
Azeri version of "Greeting, Heydar Baba!"
(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 Baba, 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 inþuenced by his mother to develop his colloquial Azeri idiom into a masterful literary language. Equal to Shahriyar's best poetry in Farsi, "Heydar Baba, Salam" proved that he could write Azeri with equal elegance and power. The poem became so popular and so many Azerbaijanis identiÞed 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 ofÞcially recognized nor publication ofÞcially 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.

In fact, though the original work was published in Arabic script in two parts (Tabriz: 1954 and 1966), its inþuence is still strongly felt. In 1991, a symphonic work was composed in Iran entitled "Heydar Baba, 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...
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