August 05, 2007
The tulip, or lale (from Persian لاله, lâleh) as it is also called in Iran and Turkey, is a flower indigenous to a vast area encompassing arid parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Tulips are a symbol of fame or of the perfect lover. The gift of a red tulip is a declaration of love. This originates from a story about a great Persian scholar and engineer named Ferhad, who fell in love with an Armenian Queen named Shirin. When Shirin, in love with another, could not accept Ferhad’s feelings for her, he went out into the desert, weeping. As he pined, legend has it, each tear that fell into the sand turned into a beautiful tulip.
Tulips for Karen:
No lunch last Friday; no message, but she was there. Perhaps my sad, desperate email last weekend for her to stop by and see the new place, or answer my email or just call and say hello finally did it – perhaps I have finally broken the boundary between us, but ended our ‘relationship’ or friendship or acquaintanceship – whatever it is. It’s hard to love other people. My love for the dragon was not reciprocated. My love for Karen is foolish. Such is life.
Ferhad, in the story, returned from the desert,where he had been comforted by the wild beasts. It was said that a lion was his pillow and the wolf sat at his feet. He was hired by Koshrow, the Persian king, to build a road through a mountain. Khosrow, who was also in love with Shirin, and knowing of Ferhad’s love for Shirin, offered Ferhad great wealth, and tested his love for Shirin, but could not shake Ferhad’s devotion. Ferhad refused to build Kosrow’s road unless he be given Shirin as a reward, to which, Koshrow, believing the task impossible, agreed. However, upon seeing that Ferhad was about to complete the impossible task he had set him, and that he would lose Shirin, Koshrow sent a messenger to Bisutun, where Ferhad labored on the road. He was told that Shirin had died of fever in the night. Ferhad threw away the axe he used in the construction of the road. Legend has it that he flung the axe so hard that it split and quivered in a rock. Ferhad declared his love for Shirin for the last time, and then threw himself from Mount Bisutun to his death. Legend has it that later the pomegranate wood of Ferhad’s axe handle took root and sprouted into a tree, a tree that still bears fruit.
Koshrow and Shirin passed through many troubles but were one day finally married. Although they were happy, Khosrow was jailed and then stabbed by his son, the rival for his throne, and died. Shirin, before being forced to marry Khosrow’s son, entered the vault that held the royal tombs as Koshrow was about to be buried, locked herself in, and then stabbed herself in the same place as he had been stabbed, and they were buried together. This story was first written in poetic form in the 11th century by Qatran, the court poet of Tabriz and Ganjeh, but then reinvented and retold in masnavi poetic form about 1200 A.D. by the Persian poet Nizami (Hakim Jamal al-din Abu Muhhammad Ilyas ibn Yusuf ibn Zaki Mu’ayyad). It is widely believed that Nizami wrote the work as a tribute to his beloved wife Afaq, drawing inspiration from her untimely death. It is, however, based on the true events of the real Koshrow II (590-628 A.D) and the real Shirin, who poisoned herself after Khosrow’s murder. Nizami’s extraordinary poetic interpretation predates Romeo and Juliet by several hundred years. The oldest known manuscript of Khosrow and Shirin still in existence dates from 1362, one hundred and fifty years after Nizami’s death, and about two hundred and thirty years before Romeo and Juliet was written. Earlier copies were destroyed during Mongol invasions.
Shakespeare was just a hack, and me, I’m just an idiot.