In Praise of Ecstatic Persian Poetry


While Muslim mystic, Rumi, is a household name — bestselling poet in America, paradoxically, at a time of rampant Islamophobia — the other great Persian poet (of the fourteenth century) is less well known...

To begin with, less is known about his life and, with so many dubious ‘translations’ of Hafiz — hailed by Persians as “the tongue of the Invisible” and the “interpreter of mysteries” — he remains more elusive.


Which is why I’m especially grateful for this beautiful edition of his verse; thanks, to Omid Safi (Professor of Islamic studies) for recommending it, Elizabeth T Gray Jr for translating it & Steven Scholl for publishing it 🙏🏼🏼

Typically, in Sufi (mystic) poetry, wine does not represent alcohol and drunkenness stands in for ecstasy. With Hafiz, perhaps even more than mystic poets of this tradition (who often confound the spiritual and sensual) at times, it is difficult to determine if the beloved addressed is human or Divine.
Below, is a peek between the jewel-like book covers. Reers of Persian can compare the fidelity of the translation across the p page:
Stain your prayer mat with wine if the Magus tells you to,for such a traveller knows the road, and the customs of its stations...
The dark night, the fear of waves, the terrifying whirlpool,how can they know of our state, those who go lightly along the shore?


Read the rave reviews,s, below; and, if you like, you can listen to my reading of a rendering of his poem, My Sweet, Crushed Angel, here


Comments 4

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26.10.2019 23:57

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27.10.2019 02:04

Your reading of "My sweet crushed angel" has me in tears, it is so beautiful. "Forgiving" was the first word I thought of to describe but that is incorrect. For me it is more a celebration of effort, any and all effort, to know the divine.

27.10.2019 17:42

Bless you, sensitive soul, for listening with an open heart... I lend my breath to poems I admire to know them better; it's a privilege to be heard _/|\_

Yes, all we can do is try; and the effort itself --renewed failure after failure -- is a form of prayer.

27.10.2019 18:50