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Tahirih Unveiled [Paperback]

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Item description for Tahirih Unveiled by Julia Older...

Tahirih Unveiled by Julia Older

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Item Specifications...

Pages   88
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.8" Width: 5.8" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2007
Publisher   WordTech Communications
ISBN  1933456590  
ISBN13  9781933456591  

Availability  0 units.

More About Julia Older

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Award-winning author Julia Older has written poetry, essays, fiction, nonfiction, plays and literary translations. She is a recipient of numerous literary honors and has lived and worked in France, Italy, Mexico, and Brazil. She now writes in her studio in the foothills of Grand Monadnock, New Hampshire.

Julia Older currently resides in Hancock, in the state of New Hampshire. Julia Older was born in 1941.

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Enjoying "Tahirih Unveiled"  Oct 17, 2007
"You cannot stop the emancipation of women." Tahirih, the Pure

Julia Older is a poet and writer who has lived in southern New Hampshire for many years. She is author of several books of poetry, two historical novels about the Isle of Shoals, the first book on endometriosis, and several on walking and hiking the Appalachian Trail and areas of New England. In other words, she is a person of wide interests as is evident in her new book of poetry, Tahirih Unveiled, about a feminist hero of Persia in the nineteeth century, whose name was Tahirih, the Pure, a follower of the Bab.

The Bab, Siyyid `Ali Muhammad, (1819-1850) was to some Moslems the prophet (Mahdi) expected to return in the 1800's. Some Moslems followed him and his teachings and are known as Sufis. Today some are associated with the Baha'is.

Tahirih the Pure, or Fatimah Baraghani, was one of seventeen of the Bab's original followers though she was the only one who never met him and the only woman. She was born around 1818 to a Mullah and one of his wives in Qazyin to the west of Tehran. She was a brilliant child, so her father, lamenting she wasn't a son, taught her theology.
He had her come and speak with his fellow Mullahs when she was around twelve, at which time she had to don her first veil/chador.
Tahirih corresponded with leaders of the Saykhi Moslem movement. Their second leader died in 1844, and after that, through letters in which she learned his theological precepts, she accepted the Bab as the expected prophet. She then taught her new faith to others. This belief included not wearing a veil . She was arrested at least twice for her heresy, tortured, and eventually, in 1852, with other followers of the Bab, executed.

The book, Tahirih Unveiled, is organized chronologically from her birth to her death, starting with her many different names, moving to the donning of her first veil for her meeting with the scholars, her acceptance of the Bab, her escape to Bagdad and her teaching, her tortures, the conference which she led, and her arrests, trial and execution.

As to the poems themselves, the first poem in the book, "Names and Numbers," in two parts is primarily expository concerning her names and life, the first part held together by parallelism, the second by slant or approximate rhymed three line stanzas, the syllable count varied. This is the only poem that has a formal aspect, but it is subtle so fits with the others.

The next poem"Tahirih" gives the reader a sense of Tahirih's historic significance and is an overview of her life condensed into a short poem. The line near the end, "One might as well ask/the nightingale not to sing?," provides the poetic punch.

"First Veil," while humorous, would not be humorous at all if any of us had to try on and wear a veil for the first time. The poem ends rather sarcastically after Tahirih's undoubtedly sweaty struggle with the recalcitrant veil: "Thus, I was to speak/to the learned men." She says critically in the next poem, "Behind a Curtain," of the Mullahs with whom she met: "Their interpretations (of the Qu'ran) sadly missed the mark."

Later when she had grown up and "When she declared her faith in a new Prophet," the Bab, in the poem "Exiled," her father banished her to one of his far distant properties, but she eventually went on east as far as an Afghan village where she finally found acceptance. At the end of the poem, "Jacob's Angels," in which the Afghan women surround the cooking pot then go to bed, Tahirih says of their influence and acceptance of her teachings that "a downpour in the night/drips their prayers into my dreams."

Older often plays with words, sometimes delightful, sometimes powerfully, sometime both at the same time, as in the poem, "The Shambles of My Mind," in which the word "shambles" segues to "sham," repeated many times so that it drums powerfully and meaningfully in this reader's head. She also uses other words with that root to reinforce this, such as "shamshir," Shamyana," "shambala," "shaman," "Sham Abrah'm," "chamse," "shambier," "champion," "chammy," and "shameless."

Older's section, "Tahirih Leads a Conference," has many powerful images and lines in "Remnants and Tatters," "Let the Play Begin," ("burbling blood/runs past the horrified women," and "Wrath," "beaten until the soles of your feet flap," and especially, "See this mouth? It is an unmarked well./See this throat? A sheath for the Shah's sword./See my hair? Straw set to flame." In "House Arrest" we find "I unfasten the face-veil/from my ears and smile."

The section near the end, "Trial," focuses not only on religion but also poetry, hers and others. Two lines stopped this reader dead. Tahirih says in the final poem of the book, "Book Burning," "A poem learned by heart cannot be burned," making those of us who are poets think what if our own poetry was about to be burned or the files on our computers trashed? How many of our own poems have been memorized by us or others? And when, in the poem "Interrogation" Tahirih is about to be executed by strangling (apparently with her own veil), she asks, "What have you done to my poems?," the most important point to her at the end. She might have gone straight to Paradise as a reward for recognizing the promised prophet, but she wanted that part of her to stay on earth, safe. And stay it has, brought to our attention through Older's study, persistence, determination, and vision on the golden platter of her own poetry about Tahirih, hero for all ages and cultures.

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