ḤĀLAT, ABU’L-QĀSEM

ḤĀLAT, ABU’L-QĀSEM (b. Tehran, ca. 1298/1919 [1912/1913 in most sources, see Ḥālat, in Farajiān and Najafzāda, p. 212]; d. Tehran, 3 Ābān 1371 Š./23 November 1992; Figure 1), poet, writer, translator, songwriter, and scholar. He received all his formal education in Tehran and was a graduate of the University of Tehran with a B.A. in literature. He was initially interested in music and painting, but his father, Karbalāʾi Moḥammad-Taqi, prevented him from pursuing the arts. His career as a poet began in 1935 and received encouragement when he joined the literary society, Anjoman-e adabi-e Irān. He began collaborating with the satirical weekly Tawfiq in 1938, and remained as one of its regular contributors until the journal closed in the early 1970s (Ḥālat, in Farajiān and Najafzāda, I, pp. 212-13). He later had his satires published in other magazines as well.

Ḥālat is considered by some observers to be the greatest contemporary Persian satirical poet. His enormous success and mastery of satirical prose and, especially, poetry have sometimes earned him the titles of Malek-al-šoʿarāʾ, Sayyed-al-šoʿarāʾ, and Amir-al-šoʿarā (Kas-māʾi, p. 94).

Ḥālat was a master of the style baḥr-e ṭawil (q.v.), a rhythmic prosodic form, not unlike metrical prose, which has occupied a special position in Persian satirical writing ever since (“Dargoḏašt,” p. 81). In Baḥr-e ṭawil, the feet of the meter continue without change and a caesura or period comes after several lines. He wrote his baḥr-e ṭawils under the pen-name “Hodhod Mirzā” and his satirical verses under the pen-names “Ḵorus-e lāri (Long-legged Rooster),” “Šuḵ (Jokester),” “Fāżel-maʾāb (Scholarish),” and “Abu’l-ʿAynak (Bespectacled),” which appeared regularly in Tawfiq. After the end of Reżā Shah’s reign in September 1941, his writings also appeared in such weekly magazines as Omid, Tehrān-e moṣawwar, Qiām-e Irān, and Ḵabardār. He also wrote matter-of-fact, serious verses, including versified translations of aphorisms attributed to Imam ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb for the religious weekly Āʾin-e eslām.

Ḥālat also wrote funny satirical songs (tarāna) with social and political overtones, that soon became popular, as well as songs with more serious themes, together totalling well over one hundred. These songs were often sung on stage by well-known actors (e.g., Ḥamid Qanbari and Majid Moḥseni) and professional singers (e.g., Maleka Ḥekmat-Šeʿār) in Tehran or the Gohar theaters.

In 1946 he published the first collection of his satirical works, Fokāhiyāt-e Ḥālat, in two volumes. In the same year Evergreen Pictures of India invited him and two Persian actors to go to India in order to dub a number of films. He was stationed in Bombay for twenty months and used the occasion to improve his English. Upon his return, he was employed by the Publication Department of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Ābādān, where he joined the staff of the two Persian papers, the weekly Aḵbār-e hafta and the daily Ḵabarhā-ye ruz, published by the company. In 1959 he was transferred to Tehran and was appointed manager of the magazine Ṣanʿat-e naft, and later became the director of the NIOC’s Department of Public Relations. Simultaneously, he collaborated with Radio Iran and continued his literary activities, retiring in 1973. Ḥālat was also the author of the national anthem of the Islamic Republic (Ḥālat, in Farajiān and Najafzāda, I, pp. 212-16).

Ḥālat was very skillful in composing various types of verse, including the qaṣida, qeṭʿa, robāʿi and ḡazal forms, and humorous and satirical poems. He was also a talented writer and an energetic translator, particularly of Arabic and English. He employed novel expressions in his works, but avoided far-fetched metaphors and analogies. His critical style is fluent and simple (Sohayli Ḵᵛānsāri, pp. 251-52).

Ḥālat’s satires mirror Persian society, its recent history, and the mentality of its people. Some of his satirical verses are quite noteworthy for their direct and oblique allegorical references to social realities. He wrote with great ease, but, in the view of ʿAli-Akbar Kasmāʾi, his predominant preoccupation with social problems and humorous situations prevented him from creating pure, deeply-felt and passionate poetry in the proper Persian tradition (Kasmāʾi, p. 95).

Bibliography:

Works, a selected list. Raqṣ-e kusa (collection of short stories), Tehran, 1954; Kolliyāt-e divān-e Ḥālat, Tehran, 1962; Šāhān-e šāʿer, Tehran, 1967; Piruzmandān-e tāriḵ, Tehran, 1991; Hapal-hapow Ḵān (a collection of prose and poetry), Tehran, 1992; Zan-dāri ogereftāri, Tehran, 1973; Majmuʿa-ye āṯār-e ṭanz, 2 vols., Tehran, 1997; 57 Sāl bā Abu’l-Qāsem Ḥālat: zendagi-nāma-ye ḵᵛodnevešt wa ḵāṭerāt, Tehran, 2001 (for a more complete list see Farajiān and Najafzāda Bārforuš). His major translations include: Foruḡ-e bineš (Eng. and versified pers. tr. of the sayings of the Prophet), Tehran, n.d.; Šokufahā-ye ḵerad (Eng. and Pers. tr. of sayings attributed to Imam ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb), Tehran, 1963; Saʿdi’s Arabic poems (publ. as an appendix to Saʿdi’s Kolliyāt), Tehran, 1966; Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, as Jādugar-e šahr-e zard, Tehran, 1959; Mark Twains’s Life on the Mississipi, as Zendagi bar ru-ye Misisipi, Tehran, 1968; and Ebn al-Aṯir’s al-Kāmel fi’l-taʾriḵ, as Tāriḵ-e bozorg-e eslām wa Irān, 27 vols., 1973-81.

Studies. “Dargoḏašt-e ostād Abu’l-Qāsem Ḥālat,” Adabestān 35, 1992, p. 81.

Mortażā Farajiān and Moḥammad-Bāqer Najafzāda Bārforuš, Ṭanzsarāyān-e Irān az Mašruṭa tā enqelāb, 3 vols., Tehran, 1991, I, pp. 212-24.

ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid Ḵalḵāli, Taḏkera-ye šoʿarā-ye moʿāṣer, Tehran, 1954, pp. 111-22.

ʿAli-Akbar Kasmāʾi, “Āḵerin moṭāyeba-ye jeddi,” Adabestān 35, 1992, pp. 94-95.

Aḥmad Sohayli Ḵᵛānsāri, “Ḵub-i az ḵubān,” Kelk 32-33, 1992, pp. 251-52.

(Hušang Etteḥād)

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