Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Joy of Hafez

The Power of Poetry to move us all

Poetry, like music, like art, can not only move us personally but also express the longing of a nation..

If I have a special place in my heart for the holy books the Quran, Bhagvad Gita, or Bible, it is because of the power of their poetry, and the poetry of Shakespeare, Lao-Tzu and Hafez also has a special place in my heart.

I remember with special fondness when a friend and I read the Diwan i Hafiz in the Persian by candlelight in Tehran during Nawrooz, the Persian New Year. It was a very difficult time for what I saw ahead, but also because the reading gave me a confirmation the path I choose would lead me to what I sought. Fal-e-Hafiz can be an oracle as well.

Nawrooz in Tehran 2007: A friend and i stayed up reading Fal-e-Hafiz

"Than eternal life, union is better

O God, give me that, which is better.

Cut me with a sword, and I said no word,

From foe keeping friend's secret is better.

In this path to die enslaved to the Lord

Than all the world, that Soul is better.

Ask healer of my painful discord

Will this invalid ever get better?

In shade of the spruce, the rose that was floored

Than ruby red blood, its dust is better.

O pious ones, with heavens I'm bored

Than paradise, this garden is better.

O heart, always, in His alley beg and hoard

He, who commands eternity is better.

O youth, with the advice of the old be in accord

Than youthful luck, old wisdom is better.

No eye has seen a gem that soared

That of the pearl of my ear is better.

Though from "Zendeh Rood" elixir of life poured

Than Isfahan, Our Shiraz is better.

Though friend's words sweetness stored

Than those words, Hafiz's is better"

© Shahriar Shahriari

I wish my friends peace.


Xanadu said...

I prefer the picture to the poem! Stunningly evocative. I couldn't help dashing off a poem in response to the picture. (Hope you don't mind me posting it here).

Xanadu said...


The full moon swooning
behind the rooftops
of the oriental city!

The ravishingly lovely girl
strumming away on her harp,
her eyes like midnight moths,
her mouth made for kissing
in the Caverns of Night!

Oriental femme fatale,
pale lily of languor,
how many strong men have you caught
in your silken nets?
How many mariners have you wrecked
on the wilder shores of love?

"None!" she cries. "I have lured none
into the pits of pleasure save those fools
who willingly sought Me there,
intent on their own doom!"

Lalara said...

Oh gosh! Dreadful poem. You are showing yourself up. Please, Xanadu, don't embarrass MFA! :)

Man From Atlan said...

Go ahead and post away :)
The ghazal of Hafez that I read in Tehran was different than the one I posted here. There, it was to confirm my path. This one is a reminder that eternal life, or the material, is nothing compared to union. That union might be with a loved one (and there's nothing wrong with that) but the true union is oneness with God.

Xanadu said...

MFA, could you pleae supply details of the painting of the girl with the harp and the full moon behind her? If a print is available from some online outlet like, I'd love to buy it and get it framed.

It reminds me of exotic art paintings featuring harem scenes with odalisques and slaves.

Like these:

Ingres: Odalisque with a Slave.

Quintana Blas Olleras: Harem Scene.

Many thanks. Xanadu.

Man From Atlan said...

It's from a 1969 Iranian edition of Diwan e Hafez.

Xanadu said...


A.Z. Foreman said...

Heh try these out:

My translations. Enjoy

Man From Atlan said...

Thanks very much, Foreman. I'll check it out.