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Sohrab and Rustum - translated by Matthew Arnold

Sohrab and Rustum: An Episode," a narrative poem by Matthew Arnold, first published in 1853, is a brilliant example of Western literature's homage to Ferdowsi's epic "Shahnameh." Arnold's poem retells one of the most poignant and tragic episodes from the Persian epic, offering a unique blend of Eastern narrative with Western literary aesthetics.

The poem narrates the tragic tale of the legendary warriors Sohrab and Rustum. Set against the backdrop of a war between Persia and Turan, it unfolds the heart-wrenching story of a father and son, Rustum and Sohrab, who, unknown to each other, engage in a fatal battle. This tale of mistaken identities and the inevitable tragedy that follows is a profound exploration of fate, heroism, and the human condition.

Matthew Arnold's adaptation of this story is remarkable for its lyrical beauty and emotional depth. Through his vivid and powerful verses, Arnold brings the rich tapestry of Persian mythology to the English-speaking audience, capturing the essence of Ferdowsi's original work while infusing it with his poetic sensibility. The poem's exploration of themes such as honor, bravery, and the tragic ironies of life resonates with readers across cultures and time.

Arnold's "Sohrab and Rustum" serves not just as a retelling of a Persian legend but as a cultural bridge, highlighting the universality of human experiences and emotions. It is a testament to the enduring appeal of "Shahnameh" and its ability to inspire artists and poets around the world.

In our project, which celebrates the global impact of Ferdowsi's "Shahnameh," Arnold's poem stands as a significant Western interpretation that honors the original epic's grandeur and emotional depth. It reminds us that great stories, like those found in "Shahnameh," have the power to transcend geographical and cultural boundaries, speaking to the shared human experience that connects us all.


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