Aref Qazvini: Poet, Lyricist, Constitutionalist

Today (January 21) is marked by the death of a highly praised Constitutionalist poet.

Abolqassem Aref Qazvini (1882- 1934) was an Iranian poet, lyricist, and musician. He was born in Qazvin, the son of Molla Hadi Vakil. He learned Persian and Arabic there and was also well-skilled in nastaliq calligraphy and music.

He was only 17 that he fell in love with a girl from the gentry and they got married secretly, but the family found out about it; Aref got divorced perforce and moved to Rasht, and never married again.

As the Constitutional Movement began, Aref joined the liberals and wrote numerous songs to support them. After serious conflicts with the monarchy, he was forced to move to Hamadan and lived there in poverty and seclusion. However, this poet continued to compose national and pro-revolutionary songs till his death in Hamadan at the age of 52. Iraj Mirza, the famous satirical poet, wrote Arefnameh in his honor.

This great poet made his poems simple by mixing them with popular proverbs and he is the voice of his common and liberal countrymen.

Aref was interested in Iranian culture and praised Democratic Republic. He believed that to achieve national and social liberty, one must eradicate dictatorship. In 2010 Aref Qazvini’s memoirs on Constitutional Movement was published.

He wrote both the music and the lyrics of his songs, many of which were arranged for orchestra by Persian composers, including Rouhollah Khaleghi.

Aref passed away in Hamadan in January 21, 1934 and was buried next to Abu-Ali Sina’s (Avicenna’s) tomb.