Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hafiz: authenticity and boldness . . . as good as the world [Emerson]

{see below*}
Did I mess up, or not? D. told me today was Hafiz's birthday. I believe her but see no back-up on the web. Well, every day is Hafiz day.

Ralph Waldo Emerson chanced on a book of Hafiz translations--at a bookstore--ahem--and knew that in spite of awkward renderings from the Persian he was reading someone who, like another of his greats, Swedenborg, "achieved genius through authenticity and boldness." Whose poetry had "the insight of a mystic. . ." A mystic.

"He accosts all topics with an easy audacity." Further, "That hardihood and self-equality of every sound nature, which result from the feeling that the spirit in him is entire and as good as the world, which entitle the poet to speak with authority, and make him an object of interest, and his every phrase and syllable significant."

That's rapture. Emerson knew rapture when reading Hafiz.  The "authority" of Hafiz's poems and being "abundantly fortify and ennoble his tone." {See below.}

I admit, ennoble is not necessarily a Sarah Sarai word. I grew up in the age of the diffident teen. I wore zories--a predecessor of rubber flips flips; we bought them at the drug store. My great ambition was to wear zories into retirement, a climate-dependent ambition. Noble? 

I think of the noble as on the mark, too honest to be dishonest. Honesty is a trap, oddly. Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Jimmy Carter, Dorothy Day, Charles Rangel, Dag Hammarskjold, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks.

That may be why Hafiz is, on many days, my favorite poet. He has and is a direct channel. He teaches us to sing; is expansive; a peacock like an eagle like a hawk like a Belladonna Delphinium, Heliotrope or Cloth of Gold calling songbirds to feed.

Here is one poem by of Hafiz of Shiraz, Hafez-e-Shirazi, Khajeh Shamseddin Mohammad Hafiz Shirazi (or Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez Shirazi), or Shams and a few relevant links. 

Ghazal 14

The sea of love is a sea that has no shore.
There, you can only give up your soul.

Each time you give your heart to love is a joyous moment.
For auspicious deeds there is no need for divination.

Avail yourself of the rend's way, for this mark,
like the road to buried treasure, is not plain to everyone.

Don't frighten us with reason's prohibitions, and bring wine,
for that watchman has no authority in our province.

One can see him with a pure eye, like the new moon.
Not every eye can hold that crescent's beauty.

Ask your own eyes who is killing us. 0 soul,
it is not the sin of ascendants and the crime of stars.

You are unaffected by the cry of Hafiz.
I am perplexed at that heart, hard as granite.

Hafiz, tr. Elizabeth T. Gray, in The Green Sea Of Heaven, Wild Cloud Press, Ashland, Oregon, 1995.

**Emerson's "Persian Poetry" from The Complete Works of RWE -- VIII -- Letters and Social Aims.


*Exquisite calligraphy from: http://www.farsicalligraphy.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Hafiz-poem-33.png

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