Sublime Lyrics of HAFEZ

Index of first lines

Bring the bowl round ,O saki, and pour me a cup

Too far is my ruined state from prudence

Should that wild beauty of Shiraz ravish my hear

My heart is swept, by God , O enlightened ones

The flourish of youth is upon the garden now

Light up my cup ,O saki , by the wines’ luster

O beloved divine, who shall unite your veil

My bosom burned by the fire of the beloved’s grief

Fasting is over, holiday is in and the hearts rejoice

When you hear enlightened word, say not that’s false

Come, the palace of aspirations lies on feeble grounds

What need has my garden for cypress and firs

In these times the friend that is free of flaw

Here are roses , wine and lover all by my side

The sum of the mill of firmament is not all that much

Blame not the libertines, you devout puritan

Your charm allied with beauty conquered the world

For my gracious friend I feel both grateful and aggrieved

What is hidden wine and rapture, a baseless act!

Once your image was cast upon the mirror of the glass

Plant the tree of friendship as it gratifies the heart

Whoever favors the fellows in fidelity

Music of love has marvelous songs and melody

without the beloved Beauty, the soul wants not to live

For years the heart was seeking the glass of illumination

In the beginning the glow of your grace shone out

How can a mind that’s sullen make a sweet poem?

The breath of the breeze shall turn musk-spraying

No friendship is seen in men , what befell the friends?

The heart’s intimate in the beloved site stayed

I saw last eve the ignorant are astonished

last night at dawn I was saved from sorrow

By our ogling the ignorant are astonished

The jasmine-scented ones settle the dust of woe as they sit

Those who sublimate the soil by a mere gaze

Preachers who parade so upon the pulpit and altar

Saki, there is now talk of the pine and rose and tulip

Good tidings, O heart, a Messiah breath will blow

Said I: I have your woe. Said she: your woe will end

I’ve decided, if it’s at all possible

I shan’t cease to seek till my wish is fulfilled

Friends, untie the knot from the beloved’s hair-lock

The lost Joseph shall come back to Kanaan, be not sad

My heart is swept by a ravishing gypsy maid

From the world’s rose-garden, a rosy dame suffices us

In the tulips’ time take the cup in all serenity

Such mighty wine I want that knocks men down

Openly I say and rejoice in my saying:

In the eve of desolation as I begin to weep

Where is the tide of your union, so off my life I rise?

I’m enchanted by fair face and lovely hair

The spirits visage is veiled by the body’s dust

Better make the eye a lake and cast patience to shore

With dark lashes you pierced my faith in myriad ways

Happy the day I depart from this land of waste

Of companions we expected only compassion

We’ve held the morning sermon upon the wine cellar

Come let us fling flowers and pour wine in the cup

We speak not foul and tend not toward the false

Often I’ve said and still say once more

Do say a blessing for some sick soul as you come by

The lord of slenders, master of all the tenders

I’m the one famed in town for loving tenderly

Green fields of skies saw I and sickle of the new moon

Your fragrant curls set pansies to twist

I kiss her lips and sip on wine

Tell not the pretender secrets of love and ecstasy

A town full of lovely dames, delicate in every way

Alive by love are both humans and fairies

Spring has come, better be in high spirit

Bosom is filled with grief, alas no relief

Your ardent admire, I know that you know

A couple of subtle friends and casks of olden wine

Note the point to free yourself of cares

Saki, here is the shade of clouds, spring and the brook

The nightingale upon the pine bough in joyous rhapsody

Want wine and fling flowers, what do you seek in life

A Bit about Our Bard

Hafez is a most appealing poet world-wide. His divan (collected lyrics) is read and revered by young and old, male and female, modern and traditional , religious and secular, common and sophisticated readers. His poetry has been a source of inspiration for many later poets, foreign and Iranian. It is commonly used as a source of divination – people consult it to see their fate and fortune. The divan of Hafez is seen as the quintessential mirror of the soul, a mystical manifestation of human existence in the universe. Indeed it is itself the jame jam or the mythical illuminating glass much referred to in his verse.

     Hafez lived in the 14th century in the city of Shiraz in the south of Iran, some 30 miles from the ruins of Persepolis, once majestic capital of ancient Persia.  A successor of renowned poets Rumi and Sa’adi, his fellow townsman, he lived during the Tartar invasion, an era of great social turmoil. His beautiful verse can be considered as the artistic attempt of a brilliant mind to keep his sanity amid fanaticism and oppression.  To do so,  he devised the concept of rend,  a free,  subtle,  enlightened soul, anti-thesis to zahed,  a sullen,  fanatic,  hypocritical puritan who probes into others’  lives,  seeking to ban and bar all sensual pleasures and mystical appreciation of life and God.

‎      Thematically, the persona in the lyrics (ghazals)  of Hafez adores an exquisite beloved that’s both sensual and sublime.  He holds a fine balance between morality and humanity, his morality stops when it threatens to inhibit the sensual/spiritual freedom of man to enjoy his earthly life, tread the path of enlightenment, be modest and tender to fellow men, savor wine and cherish natural beauties and the divine source of all beauty, the Beloved Supreme God.  He is indeed a rend,  a lovable libertine,  tender tippler,  delicate debauchee,  enraptured by divine beauty and its earthly manifestations – wine,  women and roses,  brooks,  grass and nightingales.  He defies all creeds that breed cruelty and violate the human rights of sensual pleasure, spiritual rapture.

‎       The Divan of Hafez draws on various sources such as ancient Persian legends, erotic pagan poetry,  the Anacreontic tradition of adulatory verse,  the Holy Quran and mystical traditions.  The secret of the wide, ever-widening appeal of Hafez that sets him apart from so many other great poets may be his ingenious sense of balance in all levels of expression and emotion:  balance between eloquence and simplicity, between elegance and modesty, lucidity and ambiguity, ecstasy and morality.

     A distinct quality of his poetry is that in a typical lyric of Hafez, each verse seems to treat a different theme.  This may seem to some as a formalistic flaw yet it may just be the secret of his perennial fascination as shown by Mr.   Khorramshahi, the eminent scholar of Hafez, the poet may have adapted this style from the surahs of Quran, which he knew by heart.  By masterful manipulation of the classical rigid form of ghazal Hafez gained great freedom to diversify his themes by oblique allusions to both novel and common notions.  The ghazal of Hafez thus gained a marvelous potential of multifarious references, hence a kaleidoscopic vision.  Hafez’  poetry is indeed realization par excellence of Ezra Pound’s definition of poetry as language charged with utmost possible meaning.  Vivid while elusive, the
verse of Hafez also exemplifies TS Eliot’s remark that in great poetry words embody their entire historical impact and richness.

        The 77 lyrics here are wholly chosen by myself out of some 600 ghazals – the selection include famous poems considered masterpieces.  Using modem idiom, this new English rendition offers an exact reproduction of the structure of images and striking paradoxes that mar Hafez’s poetry.  Rather than rigid rhythm and rime, clarity, simplicity, verbal wit, and euphony were sought in these texts.  In many lyrics, not all lines were translated into English – some lines of verse were omitted for various reasons: untranslatability, repetitiousness, bearing particular courtly names.  Hoping that a bit of lyrical poetics of Hafez has remained in this English rendition, I dedicate the humble attempt to the spirit of Hafez, il miglior fabbro.

The number at the end of each lyric indicates the number of the original Persian ghazal.

Saeed Saeedpour

Nov.  2006



Bring the bowl round, O saki, and hand me a cup

For love seemed easy at first but troubles befell.

Yearning for the scent of her hair on the breeze

 Such distress we bore in the zeal for her fragrant tress.

In the lover’s home how can I revel in peace

When each moment the bell resounds departing hour?

Such gloomy night, dreadful waves and whirls

What can the safe in the shore know of our plight?

Vanity has brought me down to infamy at last

How can a secret be hid when it glides lip to lip?

If you seek presence , be not absent from her, Hafez

Forsake the world when you chance to meet the beloved

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