Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hafiz: a ghazal; Andromeda as "A Little Cloud" [Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi]

from al-Sufi's The Book of Fixed Stars
My keen mental preparation for yesterday's posting about Hafiz was spurred by D., who'd told me it was Hafiz's birthday.

Keen mental preparation in my world consists of, more or less, me thinking, Huh; Hafiz; can't wait.

It turns out D.'d seen this in a Parabola Magazine newsletter:

Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi (December 7, 903 – May 25, 986) was a Persian astronomer. . . [who] published his famous Book of Fixed Stars in 964, describing much of his work, both in textual descriptions and pictures.
Hafiz the poet was a Sufi (a Sufi of Sufis of Sufis among Sufis) and Persian. I would think Al-Sufi was a Sufi by his name, but that conclusion could merely highlight my western ignorance. He was Persian, wrote in Arabic and according to synthesized the work of earlier astronomers (Ptolemy) in his Book of Fixed Stars, complete with exquisite illustrations, as above. He called the Andromeda Galaxy "A Little Cloud;" sounds like poetry to me.

In another lifetime I studied Ptolemy, and retain vestigial interest. But I'm posting more of the great lover, Hafiz, again translated by Elizabeth T. Gray Jr in The Green Sea of Heaven, an amazing collection of ghazals.

Ghazal 22

Remember the day of union with the friends.
Remember those times, remember.

From bitter sorrow my mouth became like poison.
Remember the revelers’ cry of “Drink!”

The friends are free of the memory of me
although I remember them a thousand times.

I was overtaken in these bonds of calamity.
Remember the efforts of those who serve the truth.

Although there are always a hundred rivers in my eye
remember the Zindehrud, and those who plant gardens.

After this Hafiz’s secret will remain unspoken.
Alas, remember those who keep the secrets.

I found the illustration at Galileo: Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the Telescope

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