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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Selected Ghazals or Odes

By Hafez (c. 1325–c. 1389)

Translation of Samuel Robinson

IF that beauty of Shīrāz would take my heart in hand, I would give for her dark mole Samarkand and Bokhara.

Boy, bring me the wine that remaineth; for in Paradise thou wilt not see the banks of the water of Roknabad, nor the rose bower of our Mosella.

Alas! those saucy lovely ones, those charming disturbers of our city, bear away patience from my heart as Turkomans their repast of plunder!

Yet the beauty of our maidens is independent of our imperfect love! To a lovely face what need is there of paint or dyes, of mole or down?

Speak to me of the musician and of wine, and search less into the secrets of futurity; for no one in his wisdom ever hath discovered, or ever will discover, that mystery.

I can understand how the beauty of Joseph, which added new lustre to the day, withdrew Zulaikha from the veil of her modesty.

Thou hast spoken evil of me, and I am contented—God forgive thee! Thou hast spoken well; for even a bitter word is beseeming, when it cometh from a ruby sugar-dropping lip.

Give ear, O my soul, to good counsel; for better than their own souls love youths of a happy disposition the admonition of the aged wise.

Thou hast composed thy ghazal; thou hast strung thy pearls: come and sing it sweetly, O Hāfiz! for Heaven hath shed upon thy poetry the harmony of the Pleiades.

THE HEART is the veil behind which is hidden His love; His eye is the mirror-holder which reflecteth His countenance.

I, who would not bow my head to both worlds, submit my neck to the burthen of His mercies.

Thou enjoyest the tūba-tree, I the image of thy beloved one! Every one’s thoughts are fashioned to the measure of his aims.

What should I be within that Holy Place, in which the morning breeze is the veil-holder who guardeth the sanctuary of His honor!

If I have soiled the skirts of my raiment, what is the damage which I can do? The universe is the pledge for His purity!

Mejnūn is long departed; now it is our turn: to each one is allowed a five-days’ sojourning!

The kingdom of love and the wealth of enjoyment—all that I possess is bestowed by the hand of His destination.

If we have offered for a ransom ourselves and our hearts, why need we fear? The goal towards which we strive is the purpose of His salvation.

Never cease to make His image the object of thine eye, for its cell is the peculiar chamber of His privacy.

Every new rose which adorneth the meadow is a mark of the color and perfume of His benevolence.

Look not on his external poverty, for the bosom of Hāfiz is a rich treasury in the exuberance of His benevolence!

IS there aught sweeter than the delights of the garden and companionship of the spring? But where is the Cup-bearer? Say, what is the cause of his lingering?

Every pleasant moment that cometh to your hand, score up as an invaluable prize! Let no one hesitate, for who knoweth the conclusion of the matter?

The tie of life is but a hair! Use thine intelligence; be thyself thine own comrade in sorrow, and what then is the sorrow which Fate can deal thee?

The meaning of the Fountain of Life and the Gardens of Irem—what is it but the enjoyment of a running stream and a delicious wine?

The temperate man and the intemperate are both of one tribe: what choice is there between them, that we should surrender our souls to dubious reasonings?

What reveal the silent heavens of that which is behind the veil? O litigant, why dispute with the keeper of the Veil?

If to him who is bound up in error or sin there is no room for warning or amendment, what meaning is there in the words “Canceling, and the mercy of the Forgiving One”?

The devotee longs for draughts from the river Kuther, and Hāfiz from a goblet of wine. Between these, the will of the Creator—what would that be?

IN the hour of dawn the bird of the garden thus spoke to a freshly blown rose: “Be less disdainful, for in this garden hath bloomed many a one like thee.”

The rose smiled, and said, “We have never grieved at hearing the truth; but no lover would speak so harshly to his beloved!”

To all eternity, the odor of love will never reach the brain of that man who hath never swept with his brow the dust from the sill of the wine-house.

Dost thou desire to drink the ruby-tinted wine from that gold-begemmed goblet, how many a pearl must thou first pierce with the point of thine eyelashes!

Yesterday, when in the Rose Garden of Irem the morning breeze with its gentle breath began to disturb the hair of the spikenard,

I exclaimed, “O throne of Jemshīd, where is thy magic world-reflecting mirror?” and it replied, “Alas! that that watchful Fortune should be slumbering!”

The words of love are not those that come to the tongue: O Cup-bearer, cut short this asking and answering.

The tears of Hāfiz have cast patience and wisdom into the sea: how could it be otherwise? The burning pangs of love how could he conceal?

THE FAST is over, the Festival is come, and hearts are lifted up, and the wine is sparkling in the wine-house, and wine we must drink!

The turn of the heavy dealer in abstinence is past, the season of joy is arrived, and of joyous revelers!

Why should reproach be heaped upon him, who like me quaffeth wine? This is neither sin nor fault in the jovial lover!

The drinker of wine, in whom is no false show and no dissimulation, is better than he who is a trader in semblances.

We are neither dissembling revelers, nor the comrades of hypocrites: He who is the knower of all secrets knoweth this.

We discharge all our Divine obligations and do evil to no man; and whatever we are told is not right, we say not that it is right.

What mattereth it, that thou and I should quaff a few goblets of wine? Wine is the blood of the vine; it is not thy blood!

This is not a fault which throweth all into confusion; and were it a fault, where is the man to be found who is free from faults?

Hāfiz, leave thou the “How” and the “Wherefore,” and drink for a moment thy wine: His wisdom hath withholden from us what is the force of the words “HOW” and “WHEREFORE.”

HAIL, Shīrāz! incomparable site! O Lord, preserve it from every disaster!

God forbid a hundred times that our Roknabād be dimmed, to which the life of Khizar hath given its brightness!

For between Jafferabād and Mosella cometh his north wind perfumed with amber.

Oh come to Shīrāz, and the overflow of the Holy Spirit implore for it from the man who is the possessor of all perfection!

Let no one boast here the sugar-candy of Egypt, for our sweet ones have no reason for the blush of shame.

O morning breeze, what news bringest thou of that tipsy lovely one? What information canst thou give me of her condition?

Awaken me not from my dream, O God, that I may sweeten my solitude with that fair vision!

Yea, if that sweet one should desire me to pour out my blood, yield it up, my heart, as freely as mother’s milk!

Wherefore, O Hāfiz, if thou wouldst be terrified by the thought of separation, wast thou not grateful for the days of her presence?

O LORD, that smiling rose which thou gavest me in charge, I return to thy charge, to preserve her from the envious eye of her meadow.

Although she be removed a hundred stages from the village of faithfulness, far be the mischiefs of the revolutions of the moon from her soul and body!

Whithersoever she goeth, the heart of her friend shall be the companion of her journey; the kindness of the benevolent the shield of her soul and body!

If, morning wind, thou passest by the bounds of Sulima’s station, I shall look that thou carry a salutation from me to Sulima.

Scatter thy musky fragrance gently upon those black tresses: they are the abode of dear hearts,—do not disturb them!

Say to her, “My heart preserveth its vow of fidelity to the mole and down of thy cheek;” therefore hold sacred those amber-plaited ringlets.

In the place where they drink to the memory of her lip, base would be the intoxicated one who should remain conscious of himself!

Merchandise and money expect not to gain at the door of the wine-house. Whoever partaketh of this beverage will cast his pack into the sea.

Whoever is in dread of the restlessness of anxiety, not genuine is his love: either be her foot upon my head, or be my lip upon her mouth!

The poetry of Hāfiz is the primary couplet of wisdom: praise be on her soul-attracting and grace-inspiring breath!

I HAVE made a compact with the mistress of my soul, that so long as I have a soul within my body I will hold as mine own soul the well-wishers of her village.

In the privacy of my breast I see light from that taper of Chighil; splendor to mine eye and brightness to my heart from that moon of Khoten.

Since in accordance with my wishes and yearnings I have gained the privacy of my breast, why need I care for the slander of evil-speakers in the midst of the crowd?

If a hundred armies of lovely ones should be lying in ambush to assault my heart, I have, by the mercy and to the praise of Heaven, an idol which will shatter armies to pieces.

Would to Heaven, my rival, that this night thou wouldest close thine eye for a while, that I might whisper a hundred words to her silent ruby lips!

No inclination have I for tulip, or white rose, or the leaf of the narcissus, so long as by Heaven’s grace I walk proudly in the rose garden of her favor.

O mine ancient wise one, lay not thy prohibition on the wine-house; for abandoning the wine-cup, I should break a pledge to mine own heart.

My beverage is easy of digestion, and my love is beautiful as a picture; no one hath a love—such a love as I have!

I have a Cypress in my dwelling, under the shade of whose tall stature I can dispense with the cypress of the grove, and the box-tree of the meadow.

I can boast that the seal of her ruby lip is potent as was that of Solomon: in possession of the Great Name, why should I dread the Evil One!

After long abstinence, Hāfiz is become a notorious reveler; but why grieve, so long as there is in the world an Emin-ad-Dīn Hassan!

SPRING is come again, and the joy-exciting and vow-breaking rose; in the delight of gazing on the cheek of the rose, tear up the root of sorrow from thy heart!

The soft east wind is arrived; the rosebud in its passion hath burst forth and torn its own garment.

Learn, O my heart, the way of sincerity from the clear water; in uprightness seek freedom from the cypress of the meadow.

The bride of the rosebud, with her jewels and sweet smile, hath stolen away with her black eye my heart and my religion.

The warbling of the enamored nightingale, and the piping of the bird of the thousand notes, come to enjoy the meeting with the rose from her house of mourning [i.e., her pod].

See how the gentle breeze hath entwined with his hand the ringlets of the rose! Look how the plaited locks of the hyacinth bend over the face of the jessamine!

The story of the revolving sphere seek to learn from the cup, O Hāfiz! as the voice of the minstrel and the judgment of the wise advise thee!

THE BIRD of my heart is a sacred bird, whose nest is the throne of God: sick of its cage of the body, it is satiated with the things of the world.

If once the bird of the spirit wingeth its flight from this pit of mire, it findeth its resting-place once more only at the door of that palace;

And when the bird of my heart flieth upward, its place is the sidrah-tree; for know that our falcon reposeth only on the pinnacle of the Throne.

The shadow of good fortune falleth upon the world, whenever our bird spreadeth its pinions and feathers over the earth.

In both worlds its station is only in the loftiest sphere; its body is from the quarry, but its soul is confined to no dwelling.

Only the highest heaven is the secret bower of our bird; its drinking-place is in the rose arbors of the Garden of Paradise.

O Hāfiz, thou perplexed one, when thou breathest a word about Unity, inscribe Unity with thy reed on the page of man and spirit!

IF at the voice of the turtle-dove and the nightingale thou wilt not quaff wine, how can I cure thee, save by the last remedy—burning?

When the Rose hath cast her veil, and the bird is reciting his “Hu, Hu!” put not the cup from thy hand! What meaneth thine “Oh! Oh!”

Whilst the Water of Life is in thy hand, die not of thirst! “Water giveth life to all things.”

Lay up treasures for thyself from the hues and odors of springtide, for follow quickly on its heels the autumn and the winter.

Fate bestoweth no gift which it taketh not back: ask not aught of sordid humanity; the trifle it bestoweth is a nothing.

The grandeur of sovereignty and power, how should it be stable? Of the throne of Jem, and the diadem of Kai, what is left save a fable?

Whoso heapeth up riches to be the heritage of the mean is an infidel: so say the minstrel and the cup-bearer; such is the decree of the cymbal and the fife!

It is written on the portico of the mansion of Paradise: “Woe to him who hath purchased the smiles of the world!”

Generosity is departed! I fold up my words “Where is the wine?” that I may give “May the soul of Hatim Tai dwell in bliss for ever!”

The miser will never breathe the fragrance of heaven! Come, Hāfiz! take the cup and practice liberality, and I will be thy surety!