Hafez (1319-1389)

Born in southcentral Iran, the town of Shiraz, Khajeh Shamseddin Mohammad Hafez Shiraz earned the title Hafez (given to those who memorize the Koran).  He also had memorized many of the works of his hero, Saadi, as wells as Attar, Rumi and Nizami. His father who was a coal merchant died, leaving him and his mother with much debt. Hafez and his mother went to live with his uncle. He left day school to work in a drapery shop and later in a bakery.

While still working at the bakery, Hafez delivered bread to a wealthy quarter of town and saw Shakh-e Nabat, a young woman of incredible beauty. Many of his poems are addressed to Shakh-e Nabat. In pursuit of reaching his beloved, Hafez kept a forty day and night vigil at the tomb of Baba Kohi. After successfully attaining this, he met Attar (is not Attar Neishabouri) and became his disciple.

Longing to be united with his Creator, at the age of 60 he began a forty day and night vigil by sitting in a circle that he had drawn himself. On the morn of the fortieth day of his vigil, which was also on the fortieth anniversary of meeting his Master Attar, he went to his Master, and upon drinking a cup of wine that Attar gave him, he attained Cosmic Consciousness or God-Realization. In this phase, up to the death, he composed more than half of his ghazals., and continued to teach his small circle of disciples. His poetry at this time, talk with the authority of a Master who is united with God.

Hafez died at the age of 70 (1389 CE) in Shiraz. Hafez's body was buried in Musalla Gardens, along the banks of Roknabad river in Shiraz, which is now called Hafezieh.

He left some 500 Ghazals, 42 Rubaiyees, and a few Ghaseedeh's, composed over a period of 50 years. Hafez only composed when he was divinely inspired, and therefore he averaged only about 10 Ghazals per year. His focus was to write poetry worthy of the Beloved.

 

Ghazels


1.

O beautiful wine-bearer, bring forth the cup and put it to my lips
Path of love seemed easy at first, what came was many hardships.
With its perfume, the morning breeze unlocks those beautiful locks
The curl of those dark ringlets, many hearts to shreds strips.
In the house of my Beloved, how can I enjoy the feast
Since the church bells call the call that for pilgrimage equips.
With wine color your robe, one of the old Magi’s best tips
Trust in this traveler’s tips, who knows of many paths and trips.
The dark midnight, fearful waves, and the tempestuous whirlpool
How can he know of our state, while ports house his unladen ships.
I followed my own path of love, and now I am in bad repute
How can a secret remain veiled, if from every tongue it drips?
If His presence you seek, Hafiz, then why yourself eclipse?
Stick to the One you know, let go of imaginary trips.

 

2.

Disheveled hair, sweaty, smiling, drunken, and
With a torn shirt, singing, the jug in hand
Narcissus loudly laments, on his lips, alas, alas!
Last night at midnight, came and sat right by my bed-stand
Brought his head next to my ears, with a sad song
Said, O my old lover, you are still in dreamland
The lover who drinks this nocturnal brew
Infidel, if not worships the wine's command
Go away O hermit, fault not the drunk
Our Divine gift from the day that God made sea and land
Whatever He poured for us in our cup, we just drank
If it was a cheap wine or heavenly brand
The smile on the cup's face and Beloved's hair strand
Break many who may repent, just as Hafiz falsely planned.

 

3.

When God designed your features and joined your brows
Paved my way, then trapped me with your gestures & bows
The spruce and I, both rooted to the ground
Fate, like a fine cloth belt, its bind endows.
United the knots of my doing and of the budding heart
The fragrant breeze, when to you it made its vows.
Fate convinced me to be enslaved to thee
Yet nothing moves unless your will allows.
Like an umbilical cord, don't wrap around my heart
It is your flowing lock of hair that I espouse.
You were the desire of another, O breeze of union,
Alas, my heart's hope and fire you douse.
I said because of your infliction I shall leave my house
Smilingly said go ahead Hafiz, with chained hooves and paws.

 

4.

I long to open up my heart
For my heart do my part.
My story was yesterday’s news
From rivals cannot keep apart.
On this holy night stay with me
Till the morning, do not depart.
On a night so dark as this,
My course, how can I chart?
O breath of life, help me tonight
That in the morn I make a start.
In my love for you, I will
My self and ego thwart.
Like Hafiz, being love smart;
I long to master that art.

 

 

 

The Angel at the Tavern Door

Last night I dreamed that angels stood without
The tavern door, and knocked in vain, and wept;
They took the clay of Adam, and, methought,
Moulded a cup therewith while all men slept.
Oh dwellers in the halls of Chastity!
You brought Love’s passionate red wine to me,
Down to the dust I am, your bright feet stept.
For Heaven’s self was all too weak, to bear
The burden of His love God laid on it,
He turned to seek a messenger elsewhere,
And in the Book of Fate my name was writ.
Between my Lord and me such concord lies.
As makes the Huris glad in Paradise,
With songs of praise through the green glades they flit.

A hundred dreams of Fancy’s garnered store
Assail me — Father Adam went astray
Tempted by one poor grain of corn! Wherefore
Absolve and pardon him that turns away
Though the soft breath of Truth reaches his ears,
For two-and-seventy Jangling creeds he hears,
And loud-voiced Fable calls him ceaselessly.

That, that is not the flame of Love’s true fire
Which makes the torchlight shadows dance in rings,
But where the radiance draws the moth’s desire
And send him forth with scorched and drooping wings.
The heart of one who dwells retired shall break,
Rememb’ring a black mole and a red cheek,
And his life ebb, sapped at its secret springs.

Yet since the earliest time that man has sought
To comb the locks of Speech, his goodly bride,
Not one, like Hafiz, from the face of Thought
Has torn the veil of Ignorance aside.

–Khwāja Šams ud-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Šīrāzī (Hāfez) (خواجه شمس‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی), The Divan (ca. 1370)(transl. Gertrud Bell 1897)

 

 

Morning Breeze

Morning breeze, its fragrance will exhale
The old world will once again youthfully sail.
Tulip will bring a red cup to the meadows
Narcissus' eyes from poppy will grow pale.
When would nightingale put up with such abuse
In the chamber of the rose cry and wail.
I traded the temple for the tavern, fault me not
Prayer is long and stale, time is frail.
Leave not joy of the now till the morrow
Who can vouch that the morrow, the now shall trail?
Month of Sha'aban put not down the jug of wine
Till the end of Ramadan you'll miss this Holy Grail.
Hold dear all the flowers and commune
Came to be and will whither with a breeze or a gale.
This feast is for friends, O minstrel, play and sing
Sing again, it came thus and went thus, to what avail?
Hafez, for your sake, entered this tale
Walk with him, say farewell, he'll tear the veil.