Lyric Poems of Hāfiz


Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad Shīrāzī (known as Hāfiz; circa 1320–90) is considered by many to be the greatest lyric poet of Persia (present-day Iran) and one of the most remarkable Eastern poets. Born to a poor family in Shiraz, where he lived most of his life, Hāfiz enjoyed the patronage of Shah Shujah for many years and in his last years that of Timur (Tamerlane). This work presents ghazals (lyric poems) of Hāfiz. As in all Sufi poetry, the ghazals are layered with meanings, from the most basic to the most esoteric. Scholars have puzzled over whether his work should be taken literally or metaphorically. Some have seen the poems as similar to Petrarch’s sonnets to pure and ideal love, while others regard them as ecstatic celebrations of the divine. The elaborate and cerebral language sometimes enables both interpretations simultaneously. Hāfiz wrote in Farsi and the linguistic complexity of his poetry explains why there have been few Western translations. The edition from 1901 shown here, produced by the publishing house of the Turkestan Military District of Tashkent (present-day Uzbekistan), is an example of officially sponsored publishing in Eastern languages in the Russian Empire.

Last updated: October 3, 2014