"And this I": the power of the individual in the poetry of Forugh Farrokhzâd




Oehler-Stricklin, Dylan Olivia

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



From the time she began publishing in 1954 to her death at 32 in a car accident about thirteen years later, Forugh Farrokhzâd composed poetry that challenged some of the most fundamental precepts of conservative, patriarchal Iranian society. She wrote openly autobiographical poems from a female perspective, poems that defied tradition in their unapologetic celebration of feminine sensuality, in their rejection of conventional women’s roles, and most importantly, in their emphasis on individual experience and self-awareness. This dissertation posits the individual in Farrokhzâd’s poetry as the essential measure of her internal and external worlds. To achieve my purpose, I examine eight poems through explications de texte, demonstrating how each represents a different facet of Farrokhzâd’s treatment of the individual. First, the introduction outlines the nature and relevance of Farrokhzâd’s challenge to Iranian society as an outspoken female poet. It continues with an overview of critical approaches to the individual in Farrokhzâd’s poetry, the role of the feminine, and an explanation of my use of the terms. The introduction concludes with a review of sociological, structural, thematic, developmental, and biographical critical writing on Farrokhzâd and her poetry. The first four chapters cover poems that focus primarily on the individual in the context of her environment: “Tanhâ Sedâst Keh Mimânad” [It Is Only Sound That Remains] “’Arusak-e Kuki” [The Wind-Up Doll], “Delam Barâye Bâghche Misuzad” [I Feel Sorry for the Garden], and “Ay Marz-e Por Gohar” [Oh Jewel-Studded Land]. The next three chapters discuss poems with speakers who focus inward to a greater extent: “Fath-e Bâgh” [Conquest of the Garden], “Vahm-e Sabz” [Green Delusion], and “Ma’shuq-e Man” [My Lover]. Here we see some of the results of living by the principles expressed in the first four poems. The eighth chapter treats “Tavallodi Digar” [Another Birth] as an overview of Farrokhzâd’s ideas about the potential of the individual, which ideas are reviewed and summarized in the conclusion. The appendix contains the Persian and English texts of all eight poems above, as well as the texts for “Parandeh Mordanist” [The Bird is Mortal], which I discuss in the first chapter. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine. The dissertation concludes with bibliographies of relevant critical works in Persian and non-Persian languages.