Khājeh Shams-od-Dīn Moḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e Shīrāzī (Persian: خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی), known by his pen name Hafez (حافظ, Ḥāfeẓ, 'the memorizer; the (safe) keeper'; 1325–1390) or Hafiz,[1] was a Persian lyric poet[2][3] whose collected works are regarded by many Iranians as one of the highest pinnacles of Persian literature. His works are often found in the homes of Persian speakers, who learn his poems by heart and use them as everyday proverbs and sayings. His life and poems have become the subjects of much analysis, commentary, and interpretation, influencing post-14th century Persian writing more than any other Persian author.[4][5]

Painting of Hafez by Abolhassan Sadighi.
Spiritual poet, mystic
Bornc. 1325
Shiraz, Muzaffarid Persia (present-day Iran)
Died1390 (aged 64–65)
Shiraz, Timurid Empire (present-day Iran)
Major shrineTomb of Hafez, Shiraz, Iran
InfluencesIbn Arabi, Khwaju, Al-Hallaj, Sanai, Anvari, Nizami, Sa'di, Khaqani, Attar
InfluencedSubsequent Persian lyric poets, Goethe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mihály Csokonai
Tradition or genre
Mystic poetry (Ghazal, Irfan)
Major worksThe Divān of Hafez

Hafez is best known for his Divān, a collection of his surviving poems probably compiled after his death. His works can be described as "antinomian"[6] and with the medieval use of the term "theosophical"; the term "theosophy" in the 13th and 14th centuries was used to indicate mystical work by "authors only inspired by the holy books" (as distinguished from theology). Hafez primarily wrote in the literary genre of lyric poetry or ghazals, that is the ideal style for expressing the ecstasy of divine inspiration in the mystical form of love poems. He was a Sufi.[1]

Themes of his ghazals include the beloved, faith and exposing hypocrisy. In his ghazals he deals with love, wine and taverns, all presenting ecstasy and freedom from restraint, whether in actual worldly release or in the voice of the lover[7] speaking of divine love.[8][self-published source] His influence on Persian speakers appears in divination by his poems (Persian: فال حافظ, fāl-e hāfez, somewhat similar to the Roman tradition of sortes vergilianae) and in the frequent use of his poems in Persian traditional music, visual art and Persian calligraphy. His tomb is located in his birthplace of Shiraz. Adaptations, imitations and translations of his poems exist in all major languages.

Life edit

Doublures inside a 19th-century copy of the Divān of Hafez. The front doublure shows Hafez offering his work to a patron.

Hafez was born in Shiraz, Iran. Few details of his life are known. Accounts of his early life rely upon traditional anecdotes. Early tazkiras (biographical sketches) mentioning Hafez are generally considered unreliable.[9] At an early age, he memorized the Quran and was given the title of Hafez, which he later used as his pen name.[10] The preface of his Divān, in which his early life is discussed, was written by an unknown contemporary whose name may have been Moḥammad Golandām.[11] Two of the most highly regarded modern editions of Hafez's Divān are compiled by Moḥammad Ghazvini and Qāsem Ḡani (495 ghazals) and by Parviz Natel-Khanlari (486 ghazals).[12][13] Hafez was a Sufi Muslim.[1]

Modern scholars generally agree that he was born either in 1315 or 1317. According to an account by Jami, Hafez died in 1390.[11][14] Hafez was supported by patronage from several successive local regimes: Shah Abu Ishaq, who came to power while Hafez was in his teens; Timur at the end of his life; and even the strict ruler Shah Mubariz ud-Din Muhammad (Mubariz Muzaffar). Though his work flourished most under the 27-year rule of Jalal ud-Din Shah Shuja (Shah Shuja),[15] it is claimed Hāfez briefly fell out of favor with Shah Shuja for mocking inferior poets (Shah Shuja wrote poetry himself and may have taken the comments personally), forcing Hāfez to flee from Shiraz to Isfahan and Yazd, but no historical evidence is available.[15] Hafez also exchanged letters and poetry with Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah, the Sultan of Bengal, who invited him to Sonargaon though he could not make it.[16][17][18][19]

Twenty years after his death, a tomb, the Hafezieh, was erected to honor Hafez in the Musalla Gardens in Shiraz. The current mausoleum was designed by André Godard, a French archeologist and architect, in the late 1930s, and the tomb is raised up on a dais amidst rose gardens, water channels, and orange trees. Inside, Hafez's alabaster sarcophagus bears the inscription of two of his poems.[citation needed]

Legends edit

Many semi-miraculous mythical tales were woven around Hafez after his death. It is said that by listening to his father's recitations, Hafez had accomplished the task of learning the Quran by heart at an early age (that is the meaning of the word Hafez). At the same time, he is said to have known by heart the works of Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi), Saadi, Farid ud-Din, and Nizami.

According to one tradition, before meeting his self-chosen Sufi master Hajji Zayn al-Attar, Hafez had been working in a bakery, delivering bread to a wealthy quarter of the town. There, he first saw Shakh-e Nabat, a woman of great beauty, to whom some of his poems are addressed. Ravished by her beauty but knowing that his love for her would not be requited, he allegedly held his first mystic vigil in his desire to realize this union. Still, he encountered a being of surpassing beauty who identified himself as an angel, and his further attempts at union became mystic; a pursuit of spiritual union with the divine.

At 60, he is said to have begun a Chilla-nashini, a 40-day-and-night vigil by sitting in a circle that he had drawn for himself. On the 40th day, he once again met with Zayn al-Attar on what is known to be their fortieth anniversary and was offered a cup of wine. It was there where he is said to have attained "Cosmic Consciousness". He hints at this episode in one of his verses in which he advises the reader to attain "clarity of wine" by letting it "sit for 40 days".

In one tale, Tamerlane (Timur) angrily summoned Hafez to account for one of his verses:

Samarkand was Tamerlane's capital and Bokhara was the kingdom's finest city. "With the blows of my lustrous sword", Timur complained, "I have subjugated most of the habitable globe... to embellish Samarkand and Bokhara, the seats of my government; and you would sell them for the black mole of some girl in Shiraz!"

Hafez, the tale goes, bowed deeply and replied, "Alas, O Prince, it is this prodigality which is the cause of the misery in which you find me". So surprised and pleased was Timur with this response that he dismissed Hafez with handsome gifts.[15]

Influence edit

Intellectual and artistic legacy edit

The Soviet Union in 1971 published a stamp entitledː 650th Birth Anniversary of Hafez, Persian Poet
Mihály Csokonai, a Hungarian poet, composed this piece of poetry in Persian rhythmical versification (ramal). It proves that this Persian metre and therefore the poems of Hafez have already been known generally in Hungary in the 18th century.

Hafez was acclaimed throughout the Islamic world during his lifetime, with other Persian poets imitating his work, and offers of patronage from Baghdad to India.[15]

His work was first translated into English in 1771 by William Jones. It would leave a mark on such Western writers as Thoreau, Goethe, W. B. Yeats, in his prose anthology book of essays, Discoveries,[20] as well as gaining a positive reception within West Bengal, in India, among some of the most prolific religious leaders and poets in this province, Debendranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore's father, who knew Persian and used to recite from Hafez's Divans and in this line, Gurudev himself, who, during his visit to Persia in 1932, also made a homage visit to Hafez's tomb in Shiraz[21][22] and Ralph Waldo Emerson (the last referred to him as "a poet's poet").[23][24] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has his character Sherlock Holmes state that "there is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and as much knowledge of the world" (in A Case of Identity). Friedrich Engels mentioned him in an 1853 letter to Karl Marx.[25]

There is no definitive version of his collected works (or Dīvān); editions vary from 573 to 994 poems. Only since the 1940s has a sustained scholarly attempt (by Mas'ud Farzad, Qasim Ghani and others in Iran) been made to authenticate his work and to remove errors introduced by later copyists and censors. However, the reliability of such work has been questioned,[26] and in the words of Hāfez scholar Iraj Bashiri, "there remains little hope from there (i.e.: Iran) for an authenticated diwan".[27]

In contemporary Iranian culture edit

Hafez is the most popular poet in Iran, and his works can be found in almost every Iranian home.[28] In fact, October 12 is celebrated as Hafez Day in Iran.[29]

President Mohammad Khatami with actress Fatemeh Motamed-Aria in 2007 Yalda night use Divan of Hafez for fortune telling.

His tomb is "crowded with devotees" who visit the site and the atmosphere is "festive" with visitors singing and reciting their favorite Hafez poems.[28]

Many Iranians use Divan of Hafez for fortune telling.[30] Iranian families usually have a Divan of Hafez in their house, and when they get together during the Nowruz or Yaldā holidays, they open the Divan to a random page and read the poem on it, which they believe to be an indication of things that will happen in the future.[31]

In Iranian music edit

In the genre of Persian classical music Hafez along with Sa'di have been the most popular poets in the art of āvāz, non-metered form of singing. Also the form 'Sāqi-Nāmeh' in the radif of Persian music is based on the same title by Hafez. A number of contemporary composers such as Parviz Meshkatian (Sheydaie), Hossein Alizadeh (Ahu-ye Vahshi), Mohammad Reza Lotfi (Golestān), and Siamak Aghaie (Yād Bād) have composed metric songs (tasnif) based on ghazals of Hafez which have become very popular in the genre of classical music. Hayedeh performed the song "Padeshah-e Khooban", with music by Farid Zoland. The Ottoman composer Buhurizade Mustafa Itri composed his magnum opus Neva Kâr based upon one of Hafez's poems. The Polish composer Karol Szymanowski composed The Love Songs of Hafiz based upon a German translation of Hafez poems.[citation needed]

In Afghan music edit

Many Afghan singers, including Ahmad Zahir and Sarban, have composed songs such as "Ay Padeshah-e Khooban", "Gar-Zulfe Parayshanat".[citation needed]

Interpretation edit

Hafez (left) in a conversation with Abu Ishaq Indjou (right). Painting on Paper in Mughal style, 18th century

The question of whether his work is to be interpreted literally, mystically, or both has been a source of contention among western scholars.[32] On the one hand, some of his early readers such as William Jones saw in him a conventional lyricist similar to European love poets such as Petrarch.[33] Others scholars such as Henry Wilberforce Clarke saw him as purely a poet of didactic, ecstatic mysticism in the manner of Rumi, a view that a minority of twentieth century critics and literary historians have come to challenge.[34] Ralph Waldo Emerson rejected the Sufistic view of wine in Hafez's poems.[35]

This confusion stems from the fact that, early in Persian literary history, the poetic vocabulary was usurped by mystics, who believed that the ineffable could be better approached in poetry than in prose. In composing poems of mystic content, they imbued every word and image with mystical undertones, causing mysticism and lyricism to converge into a single tradition. As a result, no fourteenth-century Persian poet could write a lyrical poem without having a flavor of mysticism forced on it by the poetic vocabulary itself.[36][37] While some poets, such as Ubayd Zakani, attempted to distance themselves from this fused mystical-lyrical tradition by writing satires, Hafez embraced the fusion and thrived on it. Wheeler Thackston has said of this that Hafez "sang a rare blend of human and mystic love so balanced... that it is impossible to separate one from the other".[38]

For reasons such as that, the history of the translation of Hāfez is fraught with complications, and few translations into western languages have been wholly successful.

One of the figurative gestures for which he is most famous (and which is among the most difficult to translate) is īhām or artful punning. Thus, a word such as gowhar, which could mean both "essence, truth" and "pearl", would take on both meanings at once as in a phrase such as "a pearl/essential truth outside the shell of superficial existence".

Hafez often took advantage of the aforementioned lack of distinction between lyrical, mystical, and panegyric writing by using highly intellectualized, elaborate metaphors and images to suggest multiple possible meanings. For example, a couplet from one of Hafez's poems reads:[citation needed]

Last night, from the cypress branch, the nightingale sang,
In Old Persian tones, the lesson of spiritual stations.

The cypress tree is a symbol both of the beloved and of a regal presence; the nightingale and birdsong evoke the traditional setting for human love. The "lessons of spiritual stations" suggest, obviously, a mystical undertone as well (though the word for "spiritual" could also be translated as "intrinsically meaningful"). Therefore, the words could signify at once a prince addressing his devoted followers, a lover courting a beloved, and the reception of spiritual wisdom.[39]

Satire, religion, and politics edit

Hafez-Goethe monument in Weimar, Germany

Though Hafez is well known for his poetry, he is less commonly recognized for his intellectual and political contributions.[40] A defining feature of Hafez' poetry is its ironic tone and the theme of hypocrisy, widely believed to be a critique of the religious and ruling establishments of the time.[41][42] Persian satire developed during the 14th century, within the courts of the Mongol Empire. In this period, Hafez and other notable early satirists, such as Ubayd Zakani, produced a body of work that has since become a template for the use of satire as a political device. Many of his critiques are believed to be targeted at the rule of Mubariz al-Din Muhammad, specifically, towards the disintegration of important public and private institutions.[41][42][43]

His work, particularly his imaginative references to monasteries, convents, Shahneh, and muhtasib, ignored the religious taboos of his period, and he found humor in some of his society's religious doctrines.[42][43] Employing humor polemically has since become a common practice in Iranian public discourse and satire is now perhaps the de facto language of Iranian social commentary.[42]

Modern English editions edit

A standard modern English edition of Hafez is Faces of Love (2012) translated by Dick Davis for Penguin Classics.[44] Beloved: 81 poems from Hafez (Bloodaxe Books, 2018) translated by Mario Petrucci, is a recent English selection, noted by Fatemeh Keshavarz (Roshan Institute for Persian studies, University of Maryland) for preserving "that audacious and multilayered richness one finds in the originals".[45]

Peter Avery translated a complete edition of Hafez in English, The Collected Lyrics of Hafiz of Shiraz, published in 2007.[46] It was awarded Iran's Farabi prize.[47] Avery's translations are published with notes explaining allusions in the text and filling in what the poets would have expected their readers to know.[47] An abridged version exists, titled Hafiz of Shiraz: Thirty Poems: An Introduction to the Sufi Master.

Divan-e-Hafez edit

Divan Hafez is a book containing all the remaining poems of Hafez. Most of these poems are in Persian and the most crucial part of this Divan is ghazals. There are poems in other poetic formats such as piece, ode, Masnavi and quatrain in this Divan.

There is no evidence that most of Hafez's poems were destroyed. In addition, Hafez was very famous during his lifetime; Therefore, the small number of poetry in the court indicates that he was not a prolific poet.

Hafez's Divan was probably compiled for the first time by Mohammad Glendam after his death. Of course, some unconfirmed reports indicate that Hafez published his court in AH 770 (1368). that is, edited more than twenty years before his death.[39]

Death and the tomb edit

Tomb of Hafez in Shiraz

The year of Hafez's death is AH 791 (1389). Hafez was buried in the prayer hall of Shiraz called hafezieh. In AH 855 (1451), after the conquest of Shiraz by Abolghasem Babar Teymouri, they built a tomb under the command of his minister, Maulana Mohammad Mamaei.[8]

Poems by Hafez edit

The number in the edition by Muhammad Qazvini and Qasem Ghani (1941) is given, as well as that of Parviz Nātel-Khānlari (2nd ed. 1983):

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Ḥāfeẓ | Persian author", Encyclopedia Britannica, retrieved 2018-08-06
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica. "HAFEZ". Retrieved 2018-08-06. HAFEZ (Ḥāfeẓ), Šams-al-Din Moḥammad, of Shiraz (ca. 715-792/1315-1390), celebrated Persian lyric poet.
  3. ^ de Fouchécour, Charles-Henri (2018-07-01). "Ḥāfiẓ". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad Ḥāfiẓ was a Persian lyric poet who lived in Shiraz from about 715/1315 to 792/1390.
  4. ^ Yarshater. Accessed 25 July 2010.
  5. ^ Aga Khan III, "Hafiz and the Place of Iranian Culture in the World", November 9, 1936 London.
  6. ^ "Hafez's Poetic Art". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Accessed August 23, 2016.
  7. ^ "Hafez's Poetic Art" Thematics and Imagery". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Accessed 2016-08-23. Also Shaida, Khalid Hameed (2014). Hafiz, Drunk with God: Selected Odes. Xlibris Corporation. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4653-7091-4. Accessed 2016-08-23.
  8. ^ a b Shaida, Khalid Hameed (2014). Hafiz, Drunk with God: Selected Odes. Xlibris Corporation. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4653-7091-4. Retrieved 2016-08-23.[self-published source]
  9. ^ Lit. Hist. Persia III, pp. 271-73
  10. ^ Jonathan, Bloom (2002). Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power. Yale University Press. p. 166. ISBN 0-300-09422-1. Retrieved 2015-03-21.
  11. ^ a b Khorramshahi. Accessed 25 July 2010
  12. ^ Lewisohn, p. 69.
  13. ^ Gray, pp. 11-12. Gray notes that Ghazvini's and Gani's compilation in 1941 relied on the earliest texts known at that time and that none of the four texts they used were related to each other. Since then, she adds, more than 14 earlier texts have been found, but their relationships to each other have not been studied.
  14. ^ Lewisohn, p. 67
  15. ^ a b c d Gray, pp. 2-4.
  16. ^ Ahmed, ABM Shamsuddin (2012). "Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah". In Sirajul Islam; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  17. ^ Haider, MH (3 July 2015). "The Persian candy". The Daily Star (Bangladesh).
  18. ^ Jafri, Sardar. “Hafiz Shirazi (1312-1387-89).” Social Scientist, vol. 28, no. 1/2, 2000, pp. 12–31. JSTOR, Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.
  19. ^ Rabindranath Tagore (1932). Journey to Persia and Iraq. p. 47.
  20. ^ Discoveries
  21. ^ The autobiography of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore
  23. ^ Kane, Paul (Spring 2009). "EMERSON AND HAFIZ: THE FIGURE OF THE RELIGIOUS POET". Religion & Literature. 41 (1): 111–139.; "that Emerson claims for the domain of poetry Hafiz may turn out to be a poet's poet"
  24. ^ Delphi Collected Poetical Works of Hafez. Delphi Classics. 2017. p. 10. ISBN 978-1786562104.
  25. ^ "Letters: Marx-Engels correspondence". Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  26. ^ Michael Hillmann in Rahnema-ye Ketab, 13 (1971), "Kusheshha-ye Jadid dar Shenakht-e Divan-e Sahih-e Hafez"
  27. ^ "Hafiz' Shirazi Turk: A Structuralist's Point of View". Archived from the original on 2014-03-01. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  28. ^ a b Darke, Diana (1 November 2014). "The book in every Iranian home". BBC.
  29. ^ Hossein Kaji, "Hafez’s incomparable position in Iranian culture: October 12 is Hafez Day in Iran" Archived 2007-10-15 at the Wayback Machine, Mehrnews. Tehran Times Opinion Column, October 12, 2006.
  30. ^ Massoud Khalili#September 9, 2001 Massoud Khalili speaking to BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet
  31. ^ fa:حافظ
  32. ^ Schroeder, Eric, "The Wild Deer Mathnavi" in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 11, No. 2, Special Issue on Oriental Art and Aesthetics (December 1952), p.118
  33. ^ Jones, William (1772) "Preface" in Poems, Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatick Tongues p. iv
  34. ^ Dick Davis: Hafez Faces of Love and the Poets of Shiraz, introduction
  35. ^ "EMERSON, RALPH WALDO – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  36. ^ Thackston, Wheeler: A Millennium of Classical Persian Poetry, Ibex Publishers Inc. 1994, p. ix in "Introduction"
  37. ^ Davis, Dick, "On Not Translating Hafez" in the New England Review 25:1-2 [2004]: 310-18
  38. ^ Thackston, Wheeler, A Millennium of Classical Persian Poetry, Ibex Publishers Inc.' 1994, p.64
  39. ^ a b Meisami, Julie Scott. "Allegorical Gardens in the Persian Poetic Tradition: Nezami, Rumi, Hafez." International Journal of Middle East Studies 17(2) (May 1985), 229-260
  40. ^ Hafez, singing love Mahmood Soree, Golbarg magazine, mehr 1382, number 43
  41. ^ a b Yavari, Neguin; Potter, Lawrence G.; Oppenheim, Jean-Marc Ran (November 24, 2004). Views from the Edge: Essays in Honor of Richard W. Bulliet. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231509367 – via Google Books.
  42. ^ a b c d "طنز حافظ".
  43. ^ a b "مائده جان رسید ( بخش سوم)".
  44. ^ Washington Post Book World: ‘Faces of Love,’ translations of Persian poetry reviewed by Michael Dirda
  45. ^ "Beloved | Bloodaxe Books".
  46. ^ ISBN 1-901383-26-1 hb; ISBN 1-901383-09-1 pb
  47. ^ a b "Obituary: Peter Avery", The Daily Telegraph, (14 October 2008), page 29, (not online 19 October 2008)

Sources edit

External links edit

English translations of Poetry by Hafez

Persian texts and resources

English language resources