Ali Salami

The Collected Poems of Hafiz

Hafiz, also spelled Ḥafez (born 1325/26, Shīrāz, Iran—died 1389/90, Shīrāz), was one of the finest lyric poets of Persia. Hafiz received a classical religious education, lectured on Qurʾānic and other theological subjects (“Hafiz” designates one who has learned the Qurʾān by heart), and wrote commentaries on religious classics. As a court poet, he enjoyed the patronage of several rulers of Shīrāz. Hafiz is known among the Iranians for his Divan (Collected Poems).

Hafiz 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.

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 speaking of divine love. His influence on Persian speakers appears in divination by his poems  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. This is part of a project carried out by Ali Salami.

Ghazal 1

اَلا یا اَیُّهَا السّاقی اَدِرْ کَأسَاً و ناوِلْها
که عشق آسان نمود اوّل ولی افتاد مشکل‌ها
به بویِ نافه‌ای کآخر صبا زان طُرّه بگشاید
ز تابِ جَعدِ مشکینش چه خون افتاد در دل‌ها

Pour, Saki, fill the cup, and share it wide,
To all around, and then to me, bestow;
At dawn, love’s path was clear and open-tide,
But dusk did bring its intricate shadow.

When morning winds do brush aside the hair
On lover’s brow in quest of musk’s sweet scent,
Many a heart is blood-stained by fragrance fair,
From elegant strands that love’s own grace has lent.

If the sage advises, “Stain your mat with wine,”
Do not falter; heed his words with care;
For those well-versed in this deep path divine,
Know well its turns, its truths so rich and rare.

Upon the path, where might I find reprieve,
Whilst journeying to my heart’s deep, silent call?
The bell does toll, a sign ‘tis time to leave,
To set my course, lest in delay I fall.

In blackest nights, where treacherous tides do rise,
And daunting whirls the bravest soul enthrall;
How can calm sailors, ‘neath untroubled skies,
Perceive our storm, or grasp our fears at all?

Each deed done, ignoring love’s decree,
Led me from path, and stained my name with mire;
How can a secret, voiced in assembly,
Stay hid, when tongues oft fan the spreading fire?

O Hafiz, for that peace which ever does last,
Be vigilant; in love’s embrace stay true;
When once in arms of your beloved held fast,
Renounce this fleeting world too.

Ghazal 4

صبا به لطف بگو آن غزال رعنا را
که سر به کوه و بیابان تو داده‌ای ما را
شکرفروش که عمرش دراز باد چرا
تَفَقُّدی نکند طوطی شکرخا را

O softest wind, as morn begins to tell,
Speak to yon gazelle, so radiant and bright;
You are the freedom o’er hill and dell,
That dances ‘cross our lands in purest light.

O ancient sweetsmith, may his days extend,
Why does he not tend to lips his sweets have kissed?
Those tender mouths by his sugar amend,
Yet he but glances, and their charm has missed.

O rose, in your grandeur does pride you bind?
Why seek not the nightingale’s own fate?
His passion deep, his song for you designed,
Yet you are mute, and he does pine and wait.

In truest sight, hearts by grace are caught,
Character shines brighter than mere disguise;
No crafty fowl by simple snares is sought,
For wisdom sees through such deceiving lies.

As you with love do sip the wine so fine,
Cherishing moments in affection’s light,
Think on those mates, in distant realms they pine,
Who know not of your present heart’s delight.

Why, pray tell, do raven-eyed ones stand,
Moon-faced enchanters, aloof and so tall?
What keeps them afar from this mortal land,
Rendering them distant, untouched by everyone’s call?

In beauty pure, no mark upon you set,
Yet a truth subtle, to you must I impart:
Though perfect in form, a flaw I’ve met,
For you know not love; fickle is your heart.

In yon heavenly realm, if Venus should tell,
The verses of Hafiz, both deep and grand,
E’en Jesus might dance to the rhythm so well,
Such wonder, in truth, we’d well understand.

Ghazal 5

دل می‌رود ز دستم صاحب‌دلان خدا را
دردا که راز پنهان خواهد شد آشکارا
کشتی‌شکستگانیم ای باد شُرطِه برخیز
باشد که باز بینم دیدار آشنا را

The heart slips away, O holders of hearts so true,
Assist, in God’s name, and to our plight attend;
How heart-rending it is, this pain that we rue,
A secret despair that’s soon to its end.

Our vessel is stalled, unmoving, in still tide,
O favorable wind, arise and breathe new life;
Perchance we’ll glimpse again that face, our pride,
The cherished beloved, ending all our strife.

Friend, fleeting love that Fate grants is but a tale,
A fabled story, spun and woven thin;
Grasp this brief moment as a treasure frail,
To show deep kindness to your friends therein.

Last night, the nightingale in roses’ bed did sing,
In gathering where wine and mirth were twined;
“Awaken, drunkards,” was the call its notes did bring,
“Bring forth my morning wine,” its song designed.

Alexander’s chalice now my wineglass stands,
Behold it well, and in its depths descry;
Let it narrate the fate of Dara’s lands,
A tale of kingdoms passed and glory nigh.

O bearer of generosity, grace, dwell in peace,
And thrive in health as seasons ebb and flow;
Give thanks for life, its bounty ne’er to cease,
And for the destitute, spare thoughts that grow.

The essence of both worlds in these words lies,
A truth profound, as ancient sages know:
Kindness to friends, the noblest, truest prize,
And with one’s foes, harmonious coexistence show.

They granted us no chance for noble name to earn,
No path to stride in steps of famed and righteous gait;
If this displeases so, let Wheel of Fortune turn,
And alter thus the rigid course that is our fate.

That grape nectar, which the ascetic scorns as vice,
And damns it as the well from whence sin does spring;
To us, it’s sweeter, far more pleasing in our eyes,
Than youthful, fervent kisses and the joy they bring.

When hands are bound and plunged in want’s sea,
In wine seek solace, in its embrace drown;
For life’s mystical art, as old as can be,
Turns the pauper to king, sans crown or renown.

Refrain from defiance! Be still! Be not bold!
For the beloved, with power to soften stone,
In passion ignites, envy taking its hold,
And like a taper, you’ll be burned, overthrown.

The maidens fluent in Persian’s lilting tone,
Bestow vitality, life in fullest bloom;
Saki, share joyous news, let it be known,
To devout inebriates in this festive room.

O Sheikh, in robe of purest hue, forgive our state,
For we’re marked by life in ways we can’t control;
Hafiz, with wine-stained mantle, meets an unjust fate,
Not by his will, but by the passions that him stole.

Ghazal 6

به ملازمان سلطان که رساند این دعا را؟
که به شُکرِ پادشاهی ز نظر مران گدا را
ز رقیب دیوسیرت به خدای خود پناهم
مگر آن شهاب ثاقب مددی دهد خدا را

Who’ll bear this plea to those by sultan’s side,
In radiant glow of his majestic mien?
As mark of rule, let him in grace abide,
And to the meek and poor, let him be seen.

I shed no tears, nor plead ‘fore devilish rival’s block,
Yet hope in God’s grace, that aid it might send.
Perchance, by His will, that hindrance may knock,
And unto my plight, a helping hand extend.

When thy cheek glows, the world’s heart is aflame,
Such brilliance and light, from thee do derive.
Yet what dost thou gain, keeping such a name?
Why not with all souls, in harmony live?

Beloved, if thine lashes, dark as night, decree
To pierce our blood with their seductive art,
Be not beguiled by their treachery,
Pray, take heed and guard your trusting heart!

All through the night, this hope in me does grow:
Perchance the dawn’s wind, tales of love will bear,
From that known lover, whispers soft shall flow,
To sate the familiar souls of those who truly care.

Beloved, with visage as the moon so bright,
And neck that stands as cypress trees so high,
What end of days do you to lovers cite?
What tempest stirs beneath that tranquil sky?

For Heaven’s sake, as Hafiz greets the morn,
Bestow a sip of wine, as he does rise.
Accept his prayers, in early light sworn;
For dawn’s devout plea, the Lord ne’er denies.

Ghazal 7

صوفی بیا که آینه صافیست جام را
تا بنگری صفای می لعل‌فام را
راز درون پرده ز رندان مست پرس
کاین حال نیست زاهد عالی‌مقام را

Behold, O Sufi, in the chalice’s mirror gleams,
A purity that mortal eyes have seldom spied;
Witness the wine’s deep flush, its radiant, heady beams,
And in its ecstatic dance, the truth is not denied.

Inquire of the inebriated, behind the veil, the truth,
About such passion that sets their souls aflame;
This fervor is a sight seldom seen in lofty youth,
In those devoutly elevated, rarely speaks its name.

No trap can ever snare the phoenix bright,
Gather them in, but they will slip away;
From your snares, you’ll catch but hot air, so light,
An empty prize that will not long to stay.

In the grand assembly, savor a drink or two, then go,
Proceed along your path, with steady heart and face;
Do not for everlasting love so ache and yearn,
For fleeting are the joys that in this world we chase.

O Heart, youth’s days have slipped away, unseen,
And life’s sweet roses eluded your grasp tight;
In twilight years that now stretch out serene,
Seek meaningful gesture in the fading light.

Grasp the present moment as invaluable gold,
For even Adam, in his radiant Eden bright,
Deprived of his portion, had to leave untold,
The sorrow of departing from that blissful sight.

In service at your doorstep, we’ve claimed a space,
Amidst the devout, with hearts both pure and free;
Bestow your mercy, grant us your grace,
And cast a gentle glance upon your devotee.

Hafiz, a follower of the wine-filled glass, so true,
With every sip, the divine he does embrace;
O dawn’s zephyr, to the Lord convey our due,
This servant’s homage to the Lord of the Chalice’s grace.

Ghazal 13

می‌دمد صبح و کِلِّه بست سحاب
الصَبوح الصَبوح یا اصحاب
می‌چکد ژاله بر رخِ لاله
المُدام المُدام یا احباب

Dawn appears; the heavens wear a shroud,
The zephyr scents of hyacinth so fine.
O comrades, raise the cup, shout aloud,
“Bring the wine, O friends, bring the wine!”

On tulip’s face, the dew begins to speak,
Hesitate not, dear friends, the time is prime,
Raise up your cups, let spirits soar and peak,
Bring forth the wine, O friends, ‘tis the time!

From yonder fields comes a wind, so heavenly sweet,
Hark, every instant calls for drink divine,
Lift up your chalice, let not time retreat,
Drink of that purest wine, let souls entwine!

The rose, amidst the field, my throne has made,
An emerald seat, midst petals it does stand.
You too, grasp the ruby drink displayed,
A fiery wine, hold firm within your hand.

If tavern doors are sealed, denying cheer,
O God of keys, who unbars gates so wide,
In gracious act, draw near and lend your ear,
Unlock the way, and let us step inside.

Within our souls, and in the burns we bear,
Like kebabs charred, with hearts so deeply scarred,
How much claim, I wonder, do your lips share,
Their salt does sting, yet we’re forever marred.

To shut the tavern in this time so fair,
Would truly be a marvel most profound.
For in this season, when the air’s so rare,
Such closure would leave many hearts unbound.

Like Hafez, whilst gazing at the face so fine,
Of fairy-love, whose beauty does enthrone,
Draw deep the wine, so clear and pure its line,
Then take your leave, and journey on alone.

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