Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rabi'ah of Balkh-Poetess

Rabi'ah wrote her final poems with her blood on the wall of the bathroom until she died. This is the poem she wrote for her beloved Baktash, a Turkish slave.

"Your love caused me to be imprisoned again
My effort to keep this love as a secret was in vain
Love is as a sea with the shores you cannot see
And a wise can never swim in such a sea":

Translated by Manouchehr Saadat Noury: Montreal (Feb 14, 2005)

Rabi'ah's grave is just to the right of the picture. Women come from all over Afghanistan to visit her grave and tie ribbons on a tree growing over her grave, and pray for fertility, to have children and to have a healthy family.

Rabe'a Balkhi (Persian: رابعه بلخی), also called as Rabi'ah bint Kaab Quzdari or Ghozdary (in Persian: رابعه قزداری) , or just as Rabe'ah was most likely the first poetess in the History of Persian Poetry. She was born and died in Balkh, a city today in northern Afghanistan. The exact dates of her birth and death are unknown. But some evidences indicate she lived during the same period that Rudaki, the Father of Persian Poetry, was a court poet to Nasr II of Samanid (914-943).

Her name and biography appear in Jami's Nafahat-ol-Uns, Attar's Mathnaviyat and Aufi's Lubab ul-Albab. She was one of the first Afghan/Persian poets who wrote in modern Persian (Dari). Her father, Kaab, was a governor; when Kaab died, his son Haares, brother of Rabe’eh, became the governor. Haares had a Turkish slave named Baktash, with whom Rabe’eh was secretly in love. At a court party, Haares heard Rabe’eh's secret from Rudaki. He imprisoned Baktash in a well, cut the jugular vein of Rabe’eh and imprisoned her in a bathroom. She wrote her final poems with her blood on the wall of the bathroom until she died. Baktash escaped the well, and as soon as got the news about Rabe’eh, he went to the governor’s office and assassinated Haares. He then committed suicide.

1 comment:

Sorya G said...


Thanks for posting this. What a beautiful woman with so much courage.

Would you know of any books which has her poems?