Director Library of Alexandrina,
Librarian of Alexandria
Executive Director World Digital Library
Manuscripts and illustrations of the great works of the legendary sage and poet deserve to be celebrated again and again. Nine centuries have not dimmed the light that his great works shine upon the world, nor have they blunted the endless inspiration that they continue to give generations of poets and artists from all cultures. Another nine centuries from now, other mortals shall gather to celebrate him; for his work has joined that of the immortals from Homer to Shakespeare.
Molded by the indigenous Azerbaijani tradition, he showed how genius can go from the specific to the universal, and how culture specific writing and characters can appeal to all humanity. Nizami knew and understood the great myths and works of literature in both Arabic and Persian, and had a profound appreciation of local popular traditions. But he transcended that and produced a body of work of universal import. The works invite reflection and repay it. Nizami has distilled the experience of the ages, if only we have the eyes to see it and the mind to absorb it.
But Nizami the sage was also a poet. His language was not only suited to the drums of war, the clash of weapons and the blood of battle, but also exquisitely crafted for the intimate whisper of a lover, or the sad lament of reflective regret. From his work, especially the Khamsa, we recognize his knowledge of human character and emotion. The wisdom in his works - except perhaps for Makhzan al Asrar where it was more prominent - tended to be hidden behind the sweeping epic flow of his language. He was a master craftsman of poetic language, of meter and of rhyme. And like all great work, the flow seems effortless, hiding the meticulous precision and the mastery that went into its creation.
Nizami is both an end and a beginning. An end in that he brought the classic tradition that he mastered and the local, frequently oral traditions that he loved, and created something special... something that would mark a turning point in the history of Persian letters and remains a pinnacle of Azerbaijani and global achievement. But it was a beginning for all poets and writers and artists after him, for they would now have this treasure that he created to draw upon and be inspired by.
So let us celebrate the great Nizami Ganjevi, for the many gifts he has given us, for the inspiration he has bequeathed to the artists of the world, for the wisdom that is buried in his multi-layered works and for the profound humanity that calls to the better angels of our nature through the centuries and into the future.