You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Ahriman. The zoroastrian epitome of evil, a devil; juxtaposed with Ahura Mazda or Ohrmuzd, the epitome of good, though this dualism was toned down somewhat by Ferdowsi, who was Muslim.

A'sha. Poet whose name means "the night blind."

bulbul. A thrush, or oriental bird, sometimes called nightingale of the East, admired for its song.

Jamshed. Legendary Persian king said to have lived for a thousand years and ruled for many hundreds during the golden age; he had command over angels and demons. Near the end of his rule, he sat on a jeweled throne and was raised to the heavens; for this and other kinds of hubris he eventually fell out of favor with the creator.

Laila and Majnun. A tragic Persian love story, along the lines of Romeo and Juliet.

Qais. Bedouin poet  of the seventh century who fell in love with Laila (see above) and became known as Majnun or "madman."

Sanubar. Any cone-bearing tree; a fir. Often used metaphorically in Persian to mean an attractive young person of either sex.

Zal. Legendary Persian warrior. Born albino, he was rejected as an infant for his defect by his father (although they were later reconciled). Rescued by a Phoenix-like bird called the Simurgh, who gave him magic feathers to burn when he needed help. Later on, when his wife Rudaba had difficulties giving birth, the Simurgh instructed Zal to run one of the feathers across her belly, which was how his son Rustum, who would himself become a great warrior, was born.

Selected from the glossary to
Bunting's Persia, translations by Basil Bunting, edited by Don Share
Flood Editions, 2012

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