Rahi Mo'ayyeri


MOʿAYYERIMohammad Hasan, better known as Rahi (Moḥammad Ḥasan Moʿayyeri, b. Tehran, 1 April 1909; d. Tehran, 14 November 1968), prominent poet and lyricist.

Born six months after his father’s untimely death, Moʿayyeri was named for the departed Moḥammad Ḥasan Moʾayyad Ḵalvat.  His family resolved, however, to call him Biyuk through his adolescent years (Namini, p. 62).  He adopted Moʿayyeri as his surname, reflecting his lineage to his paternal grandfather Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek Neẓām-al-Dawla, treasurer to Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s court. On his mother’s side, he was the grandson of ʿAbbās Mirza Khan Qavām al-Dawla Tafreši, Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Nāṣer-al-din Shah era (Moʿayyeri, 1965, p. 20; Dastḡayb, p. 34). He took Rahi as his pen name at the age of twenty five (Amiri Firuzkuhi, p. 527).

In 1933, after the completion of his studies at Dār al-fonun (q.v.), Rahi took employment at the Municipality of Tehran.  He would work, successively, at the Ministry of Culture and Art, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Economy, and, after retirement, at the Royal Library, holding high level professional positions throughout (Afšār, p. 478).

Moʿayyeri’s love of poetry commenced in his youth and continued to grow through his contact with literary figures and poets and his participation in literary societies, a feature of Persian urban literary life that began in the 18th century and became widespread after the Constitutional Revolution.  His membership in the Ḥakim Neẓāmi Literary Society, founded by Ḥassan Vaḥid Dastgerdi in 1932 (see ANJOMAN iii), and his participation in editing and annotating Neẓāmi Ganjavi’s Panj Ganj or Ḵamsa further contributed to his fascination with Persian classical literature (Dastḡayb, p. 34).

He also participated, along with his friend ʿAbd-al-Karim Amiri Firuzkuhi, in the Qodsi Society, a literary and decidedly religious organization presided over by Mir Sayyed ʿAli Sādāt Aḵavi. His early qaṣidas in praise of Shi’ite Imams, in the manner of Soruš Eṣfahāni, did not escape the attention of poets and literary figures like Taqi Dāneš (Żiāʾ-laškar, 1250-1346) and ʿEbrat Nāʾini (1247-1321), who were impressed by his poetic sensibilities (Amiri Firuzkuhi, p. 521-22).  Moʿayyeri’s interest in religious themes continued throughout his career, and towards the end, he intended to bring  into verse segments of Nahj al-balāḡa (The road of eloquence), the anthology of dissertations, letters and testimonials, traditionally attributed to ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb, the first Imam in the Shiʿa tradition (Moʿayyeri, 1969, pp. 1-18).  It was a project that was to remain unfulfilled.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Rahi rarely departed from the conventions of Persian classical prosody (see ʿARUŻ). His poems are marked by the innovative employment of similes and metaphors, and a harmony of rhythms and rhymes with the poem’s content. Nature, human desire, solitude, sorrow, flowers and wine are recurrent motifs in his poetry:

“Hamčo nilufar be šāḵ-e nastaran pičida-am
Nāzok andāmi bovad emšab dar āqušam, Rahi”
(Like a climbing lily curling around an eglantine branch
Tender and delicate she rests in my embrace tonight, Rahi)
(Bārān-e ṣobḥgāhi, p.  35)

His familiarity with music is well reflected in his skilful employment of internal rhyme and alliteration in his poetry:

“Ān ke piš-e lab-e širin-e to ey češma-ye nuš
Āfarin gofteh va došnām šenuda ast, manam”  
(The one who by your sweet lips, O spring of life
Has sung your praises and heard reproach, am I)
(Sāya-ye ʿomr, p. 33)

The repetition of ‘š’ and ‘n’ in various arrangements works to create a melody in the poem that is further bolstered by the use of words commonly paired with, and therefore serving to evoke, other words employed elsewhere in the poem. Many of his ghazals (ḡazal), not too far from the masterpieces of Persian classic poetry (Dašti, pp. 491-95), are among the most popular and the most appreciated verses of his period:

“Dar piš-e bidardān čerā faryād bi hāṣel konam
Saqi beda peymāna-i zān may ke biḵᵛišam konad”
(Why should I lament in vain amidst the sober and the wide-eyed,
O wine bearer, bring me a glass strong enough to lose myself)
(Bārān-e ṣobḥgāhi, p. 38)

He also joined the ranks of many of his contemporaries–Fereydun Tavallali (1919-1985), Abu’l-Qāsem Ḥālat (1919-1992, q.v.), and Moḥammad ‘Ali Afrāšta (1908-1959, q.v.) –who, albeit from different political backgrounds, delighted in composing humorous, burlesque and satirical poetry during the short-lived period of freedom of expression which followed the invasion of Iran by the Allied Forces and the subsequent abdication of Reza Shah in 1941.

His satirical poems, under such pen names as Zāḡča, Guša-gir, Ḥaq-gu, and Šāh-e pariyun, appeared in the weekly Tehrān-e moṣavvar and, more significantly, in Bābā Šamal (q.v.), a weekly satirical periodical founded by Reżā Ganjaʾi in April 1943.  In one such poem, Moʿayyeri exercises his wit in describing the election of women representatives to the Parliament, alluding throughout to the names of prominent male representatives, who, as the poem goes on to satirize, were mesmerized by the beauty of their newly-arrived counterparts (Dastḡayb, p. 37; see also Moḥammad Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, Ḵatun-e Haft-Qalʿa, Tehran, 1977, p. 17). His talent for nuance, the art of ambiguity and the double entendre was also exercised, as held by Amiri Firuzkuhi, to a degree of perfection in both his humorous and serious verse, and indeed, on friend and foe alike. 

His biting and considered verses, directed at Iranian collaborators during the occupation of Azerbaijan (q.v.) by the forces of the USSR, which reflect his penchant for patriotism, remain remarkably poetical. Some of these verses were set to music and aired by Radio Iran for several years to come: 

“To ey por gohar ḵāk-e Irānzamin
ke vālātari az sepehr-e barin
honar zenda az partow-e nām-e tost
jahān sarḵoš az jorʿa-ye jām-e tost
bar o bum-e in molk pāyanda bād”

(Oh, jeweled soil of Iran,
more prized than the sublime skies
art shines under the brightness of your name
the world, drunk with a sip of your cup
long live this land)
(Bārān-e ṣobḥgāhi, pp. 369-70)

Rahi’s appointment as the literary director of Radio Iran’s musical program (see GOLHĀ, BARNĀMA-YE) in the later years of his life gave him the greatest professional satisfaction and was most in keeping with his artistic inclination. Rahi exhibited both artistic fervor and skill in composing lyrics to be set to music for the Golhā program that brought quality performances by the best performing artists to a vast audience. Some commentators have pointed out his debt to his predecessor ʿĀref Qazvini (q.v.). As noted by a critic, however, the incongruous repetitions and breaks in flow at times encountered in Āref Qazvini’s verses are absent from Rahi’s work (Yusofi, pp. 510-11). His verses are recognized for their elegant and delicate language (Šafiʿi Kadkani, p. 777), and for the highly informed coordination of lyrics and melody (Ḵāleqi, p. 250-51; Dašti, p. 495). Rahi’s compositions, often exemplary, were emulated by many and played an instrumental role in extracting lyrical poetry from the worn out rut into which it had fallen (Pirniā, pp. 32-35).

Throughout his years with the Radio, Moʿayyeri enjoyed the friendship and collaboration of such eminent composers and vocalists as Morteżā Maḥjubi (1900-1965; q.v.), Ruḥ-Allāh Ḵāleqi (1906-1965; q.v.), ʿAli Tajvidi (1919-2006), ʿAbd-al-ʿAli Vaziri (1887-1979; q.v.), and Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Banān (1911-1986; q.v.). Rahi’s poetical sensibilities, and his ability to fit words to music, combined with his deep understanding of Persian music made him the poet of choice for many great composers of his time (A selection of his verses that were set to music is recorded and published as Yādbud-e Rahi: barnāma-ye 485 golhā-ye tāza, n.d.). He had an extensive following, not only in Iran, but also in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where his cassettes were circulated hand to hand, includeing the following famous composition that began:

“Hama šab nālam čon ney
ke qami dāram, ke qami dāram”
(All night I weep, like the reed,
I bear a sadness, I bear a sadness).
(Āzāda, p. 278)

Moʿayyeri has been described as a tall, well-groomed and attractive man, characteristics that were not lost on the opposite sex (Šahbāz, p. 25: Dastḡayb, p. 47). Much has been written of his romantic affairs.  Moḥammad Hejāzī (Moṭiʿ-al-Dawla, 1901-1974; q.v.) who was distantly related and shared an office with him at the Ministry of Culture and Art, found inspiration for a number of his stories, in particular Āyena (Mirror, Tehran, 1937), in Moʿayyeri’s romances and romantic escapades (Farhād-Moʿtamed, p. 316; Dastḡayb, p. 36-37). The noted historian Moḥammad Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi has also alluded to the love between Moʿayyeri and Maryam Firuz (daughter of ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Farmānfarmā, q.v.), for whom, Bāstāni Pārizi goes on to say, Moʿayyeri composed some of his most celebrated ḡazals (Bāstāni Pārizi, 1985, pp 431-50). This romance was short lived, however, as soon thereafter, Maryam Firuz met Nur-al-Din Kiyānuri, the prominent member, and sometime leader, of the Ḥezb-e Tudeh (Tudeh party; see COMMUNISM iii), the man she would eventually marry.

Rahi died of cancer the morning of November 14, 1968, and was buried in the Ẓahir-al-dawla Cemetery in Tehran. At the time of his death, Rahi was at the height of his fame, both in Iran and abroad. Just before his death, he was praised by Ḵalil-Allāh Ḵalili, the notable Afghan poet, in a long and eloquent Qaṣida:

“Dar sepehr-e soḵan čo badr-e monir
ḡazal tābnāk-e tost, Rahi”
(In the heaven of words, your ghazals,
are  like the shining moon, Rahi) 
(Sāya-ye ʿomr, p.182)

His loss received wide coverage in Iran and the Persian-speaking countries. A memorial service was held at the Sepahsālār Mosque, attended by Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Prime Minister Amir ʿAbbās Hoveyda (q.v.), Minister of Court Amir Assad-Allah ʿAlam, and the political and social elite. He was remembered as “one of the most eminent poets of the period” (Yaḡmāʾi, p. 518), whose life and death imitated his poetry (M.ʿA. Moʿayyeri. pp. 524-28). Several poets wrote eulogies in his memory, including his old friend Amiri Firuzkuhi (Yaḡmā, 21/8, p. 525), Raʿdi Āḏaraḵši (Negāh, p. 449), and Āṣef Fekrat, the noted contemporary Afghan poet (Yaḡmā, 21/8, p. 520).

Rahi’s poems, songs, compositions, satire and humor have been brought together in a number of collections, of which Sāya-ye ʿomr (Tehran, 1965) is the only collection edited under the supervision of Moʿayyeri himself.  The list of publications includes:

Āzāda (poetry collection), Tehran, 1969.

Bārān-e Ṣobḥgāhi, Tehran, 1999

Divān-e kāmel-e Rahi, ed., Omid Majd, Tehran, 2005

Divān-e Rahi Moʿayyeri, ed., Bahman Ḵalifa Banārvāni, Tehran, 2009

Kolliyāt-e Rahi, ed.,Reżā Sajjādi, Tehran, 2001

Majmuʿa-ye ašʿār, ed., Saʿid Qāneʿi, Tehran, 2000

Rahāvard-e Rahi, ed., Dāryuš Ṣabūr, Tehran 1996

Sāya-ye ʿomr, Tehran, 1965

Ṭanzhā-ye Rahi, ed., Moḥammad-Bāqer Najafzāda Bārforuš, Tehran, 1997

Ṭanzhā-ye Rahi Moʿayyeri, ed., Raḥim Čāvoši Akbari (Yasnā-ye Tabrizi), Tehran, 2003

Rahi also contributed to Eṭṭelāʿāt-e haftagi and other periodicals, at times selecting from other poets’ works, and describing their lives.  He has also contributed articles on the poets who composed in Persian in the Indian subcontinent. His writings are published in two collections under the same title Golhā-ye jāvidān (Yusof Ḵānʿali, Tehran, 1984), and Golhā-ye jāvidān (Sayyed Ḥosayn Elhāmi, Tehran 1988).


Iraj Afšār, “Vafāt-e Rahi”, Rāhnamā-ye ketāb, 11/8, Ābān-Āḏar, 1347Š./1968, p. 478.

ʿAbd-al-Karim Amiri Firuzkuhi, “Be yād-e Rahi” Yaḡmā, 21/9, Āḏar, 1347Š./1968, pp. 521-25.

Abu’l-Qāsem Anjavi Širāzi, Safina-ye ḡazal, Tehran, 1988.

Moḥammad Āṣef Fekrat, Dar raṯā-ye Rahi, Tehran, 1968, pp. 519-20.

Moḥammad Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, Ḵātun-e haft-qalʿa, Tehran, 1977.

Idem, Farmānfarmā-ye ʿālam, Tehran, 1985.

ʿAbd-al-ʿAli Dastḡayb, “Rahi Moʿayyeri” Payām-e Novin, 3/2, Ābān 1339Š./1960, pp. 34-50.

ʿAli Dašti, “Šʿer-e Rahi”Rāhnamā-ye ketāb, 11/8, Ābān-Āḏar, 1347Š./1968, pp. 491-95.

Farhād Farhād-Moʿtamed, “Yādi digar az soḵanvar-e bozorg, Rahi,” Rahāvard, no. 26, Autumn-Winter 1369Š./1990, pp. 213-17.

Moḥammad Ḥejāzi, Āyena, Tehran, 1962.

Idem, Parvāna, Tehran, 1970.

Ruḥ-Allāh Ḵāleqi, Sargoẕašt-e musiqi-e Irān, Tehran, n. d.

Moḥammad ʿAli Moʿayyeri (Masḥur), “Yādi az Rahi keh az yādhā nemiravad,” Yaḡmā, 21/9, Āḏar, 1347Š./1968, pp. 525-528.

Moḥammad Ḥasan Moʿayyeri (Rahi), Sāya-ye ʿomr, Tehran, 1965.

Idem, Āzāda, Tehran, 1969.

Ḥosayn Namini, ed. Jāvdāna Rahi Moʿayyeri, Tehran, 1984.

Ḡolām-ʿAli Rʿadi Āẕarḵaši, Negāh, Tehran, 1364Š./1985.

Dāvud Pirniā, “Ān ḵešt bovad……”, Talāš, Tehran, no. 15, 1347Š./ 1968, pp. 32-35).

Moḥammad Reżā Šafiʿi Kadkani, “Marg-e se šāʿer-e Irāni,” Soḵan, 18/7, Āẕar 1347Š./1968, pp. 775-77.

Ḥasan Šahbāz, “Bist sāl pas az marg-e yek šāʿer-e nāmvar: yādi az dustam Rahi,” Rahāvard, nos. 20-21, 1367Š./1988, pp. 249-53.

Yādbud-e Rahi, barnāma-ye 485 golhā-ye tāza (Audio recording), n.d.

Ḥabin Yaḡmāʾi, “Marg-e Rahi Moʿyyeri,” Yaḡmā, 21/9, Āḏar, 1347Š./1968, p. 518.

Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Yusofi, Češma-ye rowšan, Tehran, 1990.

See also:

Ruḥ-Allāh Ḵāleqi “Ṣafar-e heyʾat-e farhangi-e Iran be Moscow,” Payām-e novin, 1/1, Mehr 1337Š./1958, pp. 46-47.

Moḥammad Ḥassan (Rahi) Moʿayyeri, “Towżih” Yaḡmā, 4/1, Farvardin 1330Š./1951, p. 46.

Idem, “Šarḥ-e Aḥvāl”, Vaḥid, no. 12, Āḏar 1347Š./1968, pp. 1082-1083.

Zeyn-al-ʿĀbedin Moʾtamen, Taḥavvol-e šʿer-e Fārsi, Tehran, 1973.

Ebrāhim Ṣafāʾi, Nehżat-e adabi-e Iran dar ʿaṣr-e Qajar, Tehran, no date.

Moḥammad Reżā Šafiʿi Kadkani, “Sāya-ye ʿomr” in Kolliyāt-e Rahi, ed., Reżā Sajjādi, Tehran, 2001, pp. 31-37.

Masʿud Tāki, “Rahi, ṣayyād-e maʿni,” in Pardegiān-e ḵiāl, eds., Moḥammad Reżā Šafiʿi Kadkani & Moḥammad Jaʿfar Yāḥaqqi, Mašhad, 2005.

ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Zarrinkub, Az gozašta-ye adabi-e Iran, Tehran, 1996.

(Kāmyār ʿĀbedi)

Originally Published: February 4, 2011

Last Updated: February 4, 2011

Cite this entry:

Kāmyār ʿĀbedi, “MOʿAYYERI, Mohammad Hasan,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2011, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/moayyeri-mohammad-hasan (accessed on 20 September 2016).

  • Birthday: April 30, 1909
  • Death: November 15, 1968
  • Birthplace: Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Poet and Musician

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