Christopher Dickey

Ayatollah Khamenei's Journey

"They are not going to answer your greeting," begins a poem that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, knows well, and loved once. "Nobody is going to raise his head to answer a question or to see a friend." The verse was written in the time of the shah, in the 1950s, when Khamenei was a young, idealistic Shia cleric who shared with its hard-drinking author a sense of claustrophobic alienation and deep frustration. "Winter," by Mehdi Akhavan Sales, is about as vivid a metaphor for...