TEA SHURGHAIA                                                                                                                                                                   # 16



The translation of Persian literature in Georgia has so long history that the example of this sort is unlikely to be found in the world. For centuries the pieces of literary works of Persian writers have not only been translated in Georgia but their imitations as well as written and oral versions of Persian literature have appeared. Taken together, these facts point to the popularity of Persian literature in Georgia. Thus it is impossible to deny the role of the Persian literature in the developments of Georgian literature. The estimation of this part is a different matter.

Not only translation of Persian literature has become a tradition in Georgia but the selection of literary monuments (to be translated) has become a tradition in some sense. In other words patterns and themes of certain genres had been translated only: heroic epic, love, didactic ones etc. The suggestion that this tradition had been maintained up to the end of the last century sounds fairly plausible and this tendency can be obviously seen in Georgian translations of Persian poetry of those days. Even nowadays whenever the conversation turns to the Persian literature, usually classic Persian poetry and truly outstanding poets like Ferdowsi, Khayyam, Nizami, Rumi, Hafez come to mind.

With respect to the translation of the patterns of Persian literature, the XX century is considerably distinguished for its wide diversity. During that period in Georgia the works of modern Iranian writers and poets had been translated and, what is more, they became an active area of scientific researches. Among the authors prosaics dominate. And still not less attention had been given to classic Persian poets in the XX century’s Georgian. Just through this poetry Persian literature maintained its popularity. “Iranian Poetry” published in 1977 in series of the Library of World Literature (where the patterns of Persian literature given there do not overstep the XV century) provides proof of the latter suggestion. However by the time of compiling the named collection several verses of distinguished Iranian poets (Nima Yushij, Fereidun Tavalol, Sayeh, Siavash Kasrai, Mehdi Akhavan Sales, Iraj Mirza, Bahar and Khomeini) had already been translated. It might be well to point out that these translations of the XX century Persian literature had a fragmentary character and had enjoyed less popularity than the patterns of classic poetry. Moreover, Persian poetry of the period subsequent to the 60s of the last century remained almost unknown to Georgian readers. The pieces of Iranian literary heritage that had ever been published in an early stage of restoration of the independency of Georgia (in times of economic crisis) were the patterns of classic poetry, that is the tradition continued.

Not only soviet censorship might be responsible for the situation (here unwritten low of the day is meant according to which any literary work had to be translated into Russian first and then into any other languages). In our opinion Georgian society and readers had not yet been ready to accept “She’re Nou” (“New verse” or “New Poetry”) as a rhythmic verse still tended to dominate in our country then. By the turn of the XX century the situation in Georgian poetry changed. Even those who had won recognition for the rhythmic verse tried their hands at writing a “free verse”. For the new generation of Georgian poets verlibre and other “non-tradition” forms have already become “traditional” and usual ones.

A distinguished Georgian translator of a new generation  Giorgi Lobjanidze has not betrayed the established traditions either. His first translations of the pieces of Persian poetry have been taken just from the works of the authors of classic period (Abu Said, Sa'adi, and Rumi). However it is obvious that a lot of the credit must go to G. Lobjanidze for namely he has introduced the works of the most eminent Iranian poets of the second half of the XX century Sohrab Sepehri and Forough Farokhzad to Georgian readers. It is appropriate at this point to note as well that in the newspaper “Literaturuli Sakartvelo” (“Literary Georgia”) dated by 17-24 December, 1999, there were published translations of  the verses of other distinguished Iranian poet and scientist Ahmad Shamlou made by G. Lobjanidze. From aforesaid we could say that through these translations G. Lobjanidze has introduced to Georgian readers the pieces of work of Persian poetry (unknown to them before) which differ by form and content from classical verses familiar to us. Alongside the highly competent work of the translator the popularity of these authors in our country has been mediated by the situation and a fertile field existing in Georgian poetry of the day. As to the translation method of G. Lobjanidze, we can say that he always manages to find the proper tonality required for translation of the literary monuments of different epochs into Georgian language. Closer examination of translations of Persian classic poetry made by G. Lobjanidze has shown that the rhythm served for the translator as the “key” or the starting point in some sense. For Lobjanidze rhythm is the framework on which all other components are built. Sometimes the rhythm picks out the basic sound that produces the effect of acoustic identity with the original.

When translating modern Persian poetry rhythm can no longer serve the main point of support. Towards the end of the XX century the system of Arabian –Persian verification in Persian poetry had been nearly completely absorbed by so called “New Verse”). It is obvious that sharply defined rhythm and rhyme, which sometimes appeared to be a savior for the translator of classic poetry, cannot render a service while translating modern poetry.

Out of modern Persian poets G. Lobjanidze has translated and published (as a separate collection) the poetry of Sohrab Sepehri and Forough Farokhzad. In spite of the fact that tens of years have passed since their death, there can hardly be find more popular poets in nowadays Iran than they are. These two poets are equally strong poets, but quite distinct ones. The distinction as well as their individuality should be read easily in the translations of their verses.

These two poets have some things in common. They both could paint though they were not equally successful. This is only formal alikeness. What is more important, their loneliness draws them close together. True enough, the poets of all times have complained about their loneliness, but S. Sepehri’s loneliness can be defined as “complacent” or “reserved one, while the loneliness of F. Farokhzad is an “uncompromising”, “open” (though doomed either) one.

Sohrab Sepehri is a complicated poet. It should be mentioned that his inner world is rather complex by itself. Thus infinitely widened semantic area of his vocabulary and unexpected interrelations between the words make it further more complicated. Here translator needs to have much information, versatile, intimate knowledge and poetic flair to reveal the invisible connections seen by Sepehri and to guess them right.

A translator is faced with some other kind of complicated problems in Forough’s poetry. Everywhere in Faroukhzad’s poetry one can feel her femininity – not weakness but female strength that displays itself in completely naked sincerity. Forough perceives the surrounding world through emotions. With equal love she strives to see the finesse and ugliness. Through enormous love energy accumulated in her the poetess attempts to envelop the severe world round her. The translation should reflect Forough’s “strong feminity” and show that she is a sensitive poet, alone but open to the globe. Not a spirit of a fighter can be felt in S.Sepehri’s poetry, while Forough is an uncompromising one and she never closes her eyes to anything.       

“The art of translation is assessed by the quality of fusion of foreign and native cultures, the more harmonized is the fusion of the elements of these two cultures in a translation, the higher is their synthesis”. (Panjikidze 2005: 38 ). Following this criterion it can be said that the translations considered in the paper are the genuine examples of such harmonization. It should not be forgotten that just these examples have ended the Georgian translations of “New Poetry” and G.Lobjanidze is the only translator who has taken the task of popularizing of this poetry in Georgia. 


Panjikidze 2005: Panjikidze D. The issues of the history of Georgian translation. Tbilisi: Publishing House of Tbilisi State University 2005



Volume 1, issue 1


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature