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But in light of my enhanced knowledge of the author's history, I can now approach the poem with a better understanding of the author and of what he may be intending to convey. It took several readings of the poem to come to some comprehension. I was at first puzzled not sure if some underlying political motif existed here or whether the poem was a straightforward description of an 'Autumn day in Teheran'. Perhaps, just like a conversation depends on the mind of the listener who interprets it according to the specific slant that he or she gives it, so, too, poems in general and this poem in particular can be read and interpreted in either direction hinging as much on the mind of the reader as on the author. 'Autumn in Teheran' accordingly can be read in a straightforward manner as descriptive of an approaching season in Iran, whilst others may accord it implicit subversive nuances, and both can appeal to the text for corroboration.
As straightforward meaning, the text seems almost clear enough until one reaches the final stanzas. Autumn seems to approach carefully, stealthily her first signs being "sick sneezes.. from carefree street kids"; "deep tears waiting weakened eyes of retired old men, women hurrying faster in the approaching cold; and "young women in love [who] drove their shoulders into the cavities of their lovers' chests"
This is followed by the looting of the branches, rain and wind, floods of water, and the perfume of the falling leaves all brilliantly described in metaphor and allusion by Baraheni. Teheran apparently in autumn still is suffused with the sun, its radiance dazzles Baraheni ("the sun came from every side and every angle"), and the entire spectacle, water, sun, leaves overwhelms him: "I was not used to the death of so many worlds / unable to grasp the meaning of all of this."
The poem could be also granted political connotations. The themes and words of death and mourning penetrated the poem. In the context of Baraheni's social and political experiences, we could interpret the political climate starting as a "puzzling whisper" then growing incrementally louder until: " a blatant crow flew in the horizon drew its dagger t the swallows / and savaged the routes of the air with the convex dagger of its beak." This may have been the Revolution of 1980. Indeed, "the crow screamed.. I am your emperor!" See later: "the looting of the branches began in the evening" -- there were arrests and torture with trees and leaves of the former season dying. "A strange siesta gripped the world and carried it off / in the anguished hour the arrow of the haggard autumn man's stick drove into death's running stream."
And with this interpretation, the finale of the poem makes more sense than it did in a direct descriptive meaning for here Baraheni weeps unable to comprehend the rationale or meaning of this destruction:
"I wept without grasping the meaning of this mass of decay.. I wept without grasping their meaning.. I was not used to the death of so many worlds unable to grasp the meaning of all of this."
Baraheni's poem, in a straightforward sense, seems to describe a typical autumn day in Tehran, but if one reads a poem as per a conversation, one can arrive at a deeper, more profound understanding of the author's intentions.
To understand a poem better, it would be helpful to practice three techniques: 1. Understanding the history of the author, 2. Understand the context of the poem, 3. Active listening.
Baraheni was a dissident who fought and suffered all his life for human freedom, particularly freedom in Iran, and his philosophy and goals suffused his writings.
In connection to Baraheni's Autumn in Tehran one could read the poem as descriptive (hints of approaching Autumn) or, when employing the three tools, allusive to the approaching political conditions and consequences of those conditions. As in a conversation, meaning depends on the recipient as well as on the sender. And here too: the poem could be read and understood in a straightforward manner, as descriptive, but, treating the poem as a vibrant conversation with a living mortal and understanding that human, it could also be injected with deeper meaning and,…[continue]
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