It would take me pages and pages to write about Hafiz. The history and works of this famous poet are deeply rooted in the Persian History and in the daily lives of million of Iranians.
More than a poet, a national symbol. Here is a short introduction to Hafiz.
Hafiz is one of the most famous iranian poet. He was born in Shiraz in the 14th century, during the golden age of Persian literature and poetry. Little reliable information about his life and youth are unfortunately available. Still, most Iranians come together on some points, like the fact that Hafez would have learned by heart the entirety of the Qur’an during his youth by listening to his father’s recitations.
Hafez means “guardian, protector”, name which referred to persons having “protected” the Qur’an by rote learning it. This is the reason why he was called “Hafiz”, as his real name is Khwaja Shams-ud-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi . Easy to remember, right? 🙂
His complete work is called “Divan”. It includes nearly 500 lyric poems, known as “ghazals” which were the most common literary genre in Iran during the 13th and 14th century. “Ghazals” main themes are love, spirituality, the pleasures of life and wisdom.
Hafiz’s poems, just like the Farsi language itself, use many symbols and metaphors, albeit with a certain linguistic complexity that make his poems all the more intense and rewarding! Several translations of Hafiz’s poems exist but many of them offer a very poor translation and some of them are even wrong.
I would recommend the translation of Peter Avery, that offers a very faithful rendering of the complete works of Hafiz. For those looking for an introduction to Hafez, I would recommend this shorter version, still by Peter Avery.
Let me know how you liked it 🙂
Mirror, mirror, on the wall …
Today, Hafiz’s works have more than a poetic value: the “Divan” is also used as a book of spiritual consultation called “fal e Hafiz” (litteraly “the omen of Hafiz”).
You can do a “Fal e Hafiz” when you have a question or a doubt during an important decision-making. You then take the book of Hafiz in your hands, and open it at a random page after internally having stated your question or your wish. The first lines you read on the page are supposed to be the answer to your request.
For example I want to know if I’ll get my dream job. I ask my question, I open a page of the “Divan” randomly, and I read: “Go, go out of this world and do not solicit him a piece of bread, since this bad host always eventually kills his guests”, well… I’d rather start looking for another job!
Today, digital has also come forward in this area: fal e Hafiz is available on various digital media (mobile applications and websites) and allow to carry on this tradition from a new ‘tech & geek’ angle!
Hafiz holds a prominent place in the hearts of millions of Iranians who show him respect and love. Almost every Iranian can recite by heart one of their favorite verse of this great poet and you can find the “Divan” in almost every iranian home.
The tomb of Hafiz is located in the middle of the Musalla Gardens in Shiraz, and every day continues to gather hundreds of pilgrims coming to recite and sing the verses of the poet who has become a national symbol.
2 poems I particularly like
To make it easier to read, I decided not to respect the composition’s rules of the lyric genre. Poetry lovers, forgive me!
I have learned so much
I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer Call Myself
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.
The Truth has shared so much of Itself With me that
That I can no longer call myself A man, a woman, an angel, or even a pure Soul.
Love has Befriended Hafiz so completelyIt has turned to ash And freed Me
Of every concept and imagemy mind has ever known.
You, who are so proud of your name
You, who are so proud of your name
If you are not in love, then shame!
Befriend not lovers, who are insane,
If sane sobriety is your fame.
Your head is sober from the wine of Love
Drinking grape juice is your game.
Melancholic face and painful cries,
Make lovers’ pain, somewhat tame.
Hafiz, let go of infamy and name,
Seek more wine, your drunkenness inflame.