Letter from a Lur to the Shah: a Bakhtiari poem

This poem has a hilarious satirical kick – literally – in its ending. It is not clear which Qajar king this might have been addressed to; and Lorimer is not even sure if the language in this poem is convincingly Bakhtiari. However, it’s certainly an example of satire.

I want a man wise and crafty, manly and active, To go and present himself before the King with the forked beard, And kiss the ground and say, ‘ O King with the Forked Beard, You have come from the city – for what purpose? From Alwand, from Maiwand, from the back of Karwand, Of straw and barley what have you grazed and what have you cut? Into the state of your subjects you have not inquired, to what they say you have not listened. Everything (even to the wild berries) of the ban and sesta you have turned into cash in your purse. I shall go to the camp of a Lur who has seven or eight sons (and take refuge with him). So that to his dog you cannot say ‘chikh’, nor to his donkey ‘pikh’, nor to his goat ‘yikh’. I shall go to the foot of a wild almond tree, whose roots weigh a hundred maunds. And if there is a saw, I shall cut a club and cudgel, Which from the top end of it to the bottom has nine knots. I shall put it over my shoulder and roar out and threaten. We shall not come nigh the camp, I and my mother’s brother(s), Hamza and Shirali and Pirali, Who have fed on acorn-bread, and are savage and fearless, Short of stature, (we are clad in) narrow cotton cloth, and each (of us) has a stone in his hand. We shall hold up the road from Shiraz, all of one heart and one secret purpose, (To wit) that when the Daughter of the King comes by that road, We shall pull down the trousers from her buttocks, and with blandishments make her sit down. (And) this deed will be pleasing to God!

With kind permission, from: Lorimer, DLR 1955 “The Popular Verse of the Bakhtiāri of S. W. Persia –II: Specimens of Bakhtiāri Verse”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1 pp. 108-109