Last updated: 28 may, 2010 - 09:34 GMT

Art and Culture

Nightingales and Roses

Persian poetry

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For Iranians the texts of poets such as Hafez, Sa'adi, Rumi and Ferdousi are deeply embedded in the national consciousness, as familiar as words from the Qu'ran.

Poetry extends to all areas of Iranian life, from scolding children to romantic gestures. People turn to poems to look for solace and the strength to with the predicaments of everyday life.

It is no surprise then that there is a tradition of using poetry to make political points. In the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian elections, the protest slogans were lyrical and a great deal of singing took place.

Before the violence began, the mood was hopeful. Poetry continues to be a source of protest against the current regime.

Why have volumes of poetry become so important to Iranians' sense of identity?

First broadcast on BBC World Service 28 May 2010.

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