Metrics is a crucial component of Persian poetry. The founding system underlying all classical poetic compositions, it remains dominant in modern poetry as well. Therefore no reading or study of Persian poetry can be undertaken without at least a basic knowledge of traditional Persian metrics, a quantitative system borrowed from the Arabs and known as ‘aruz. However, the layout and terminology associated to Persian ‘aruz have not evolved since they were first described by Xalîl ibn Ahmad al-Farâhîdî in the 8th century, who gave a very complete yet famously intricate account of the system. The formalization of Persian quantitative metrics thus aims to fill a gap. Inspired by the work of Georges Bohas and Djamel Kouloughli, who devised a formal method as well as a specific software for analyzing Arabic meters, our project will largely benefit from this unique method while extending its scope and reach.

With this project, we hope to establish a new, more scientific yet easier method for describing, teaching and making use of traditional Persian metrics. This new method should, in turn, allow for a number of technical and literary studies to be undertaken, such as the revision of L.P. Elwell-Sutton’s Persian Metres (1976) or the comparison of metrical usages between individual poets.

Since modern poetry displays a more varied and complex usage of ‘aruz than its classic counterpart, the analysis of modern poems is often more challenging to the scholar. Extending the new method for identifying meters to the corpus of modern quantitative poetry should also make the study of modern meters more widely accessible. This part of the project is now in progress, starting with the formalization of the meters in the poetry of Nimâ Yushij.


Dr. Amr Taher Ahmed


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