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Fine lines

Jini Reddy was an avid reader, but not of poetry. Then she glimpsed its healing, enriching power, and decided to explore

Reading is my passion. I read all the time and, lately, I have surprised myself by actively seeking out poetry. It is new for me, as I have often felt oddly distanced from the genre. But what I am discovering is delighting me – and I want to know more.

My curiosity was first piqued in the Iranian city of Shiraz a few years ago. I was wandering in the Musalla Gardens, where the tomb of the great Persian poet Hafez, who wrote of affairs of the heart and spirituality, can be found. It was sunset and the locals were milling about, drinking in the scent of roses and cooling off under the cypress trees. In the open-air pavilion housing his tomb, I had an encounter with one of many woman intently reading his work there.

Hafez is considered an oracle and, so I could partake of his wisdom, the woman kindly handed me her volume. As the custom dictates, I formulated a wish, shut my eyes and chose a page. She recited the poem to me in Farsi, softly and with great feeling. It didn’t matter that I don’t speak the language, I could feel the beauty of the words. ‘What does it mean?’ I asked, eagerly. ‘It’s love; it’s good,’ she replied with feminine empathy. This was probably the first time I’d heard the ‘music’ of poetry and it has stayed with me. I want to recapture that enchantment.

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