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Nine ghazals
New translation of Hafez poems

 

 

August 4, 2006
iranian.com

From Poems of Hafez by Reza Ordoubadian (IBEX Publishers, July 2006). See introduction:

1

Never! Not even the blaming vision of my foes:

............I cannot forsake my wine—nor my rendi.

The way of the neo-rendaan leads to a single vale;

............I, in universal disrepute, why should I care?

Call me the king of the insane, a restive man:

............since my colossal ignorance exceeds all.

Mark your forehead with the blood of my heart:

............I’m your sacrificial offering, a heathen sot.

Have faith, proceed in the name of God

............so you will not know what a naa-Darvish I.

 O’ wind! Blow my bloodied verse to my beloved,

............who has opened the vein of my life with her lash.

If I drink my wine, who’s hurt?

........................I’m the keeper of my secret, aware of my time.

3

You hear a discerning voice: do not confound it.

............You are not discerning: there lies the rub.

My concern is not for this world—or the other;

............Blessed God! What temptations crowd our heads!

Who resides inside my weary heart?

............I remain silent, full of passion and fight!

Discord rules my heart: Oh, where are you musician!

............Sing your tune; bring harmony to this patrician.

Disinclined with the affairs of this world:

............only the beauty of your face opens my eyes

Bereft of sleep, heart breaking with empty thoughts,

............hung-over for a thousand nights! Where is the tavern?

I have desecrated the temple with my blood:

............if I’m given ablutions with the wine, why not?

The reason our Master is kept in high esteem and dear, is that

............a fire unquenched lives eternally in our hearts.

What air the musician plays behind the scale with his harp?

............My life expires, yet my head is filled with airs!

........................At dusk the voice of your love intones within my heart:

........................the vastness of Hafez’s chest still echoes with voices.

53

Tousled hair, sweating, a smile on her lips—drunk!

Slashed-shirt, a song on her lips, a cup in her hand.

The flower of her eyes, an argument; her lips filled with regret:

yesternight she came to my bed—and sat!

She brought her lips to my ear and sang—melancholic voice—

“Oh, my inveterate lover: are you asleep?”

“Given to such a nocturnal wine, a lover,

if not a drunk, the lover’s traitor be!”

Go, you virtuous hermit—find no fault with those in pain:

the only gift we received from eternity.

Whatever He poured into our cup, we drank:

if heavenly nectar—if the intoxicating wine!

........................Oh, the laughter of that wine cup —the curly hair of the beloved:

........................how much contrition, broken like the repentance of Hafez!

55

Come, Sufi, see the clear mirror in the cup:

behold the purity of the red ruby in the wine.

Oh! The besotted libertine knows the secrets

behind the veil, hidden from the virtuous ascetic men!

Remove your traps! Phoenix cannot be caught:

will you hold the snare in vain till the doomsday comes?

At the banquet of Time, drink a cup—or two—then leave;

that is: you cannot covet eternal bliss.

Our youth fled, O Heart, before you could pick a flower of pleasures;

Then, O Spirit, my guide—do not talk of our fame or shame.

Delight yourself with the pleasures at hand:

draught availed not Adam in Paradise.

Much debt of duty we owe at your feet, O Master:

............look down upon me, your slave, with indulgence.

O West Wind, Hafez is devoted to his jaam of wine:

........................Reach Sheikh Jaam with our word of obedience!

56

It’s not she—flowing hair, beauteous body—the beloved:

I’m the slave of the one with that other Beauty!

Oh, the beauty of the nymphs and fairies, elegant and fair,

but the real elegance—the grace—has the other virtue!

You, laughing rose, behold the fountain of mine eyes:

it’s only that hope, gracing my soul.

The sun above—the delight of its orbit—

is not a rider, reins in hand!

My words—soon you accepted—were accepted:

Oh, yes! Yes, the word of love has its own tokens.

The bow of your brow—in the art of archery—

has triumphed over those with a bow at hand.

In the path of love, none is privy to the secret—not for surety:

each suspicion, each according to his wits.

With the denizens of the tavern, munificence of wine,

for every word has its own time, and every point its spot.

The clever bird, she sings not her tune in the meadow:

she knows—each Spring, eventually is followed by its Fall.

........................You, critics! You cannot sell riddles to Hafez—nor epigrams!

........................Our pen has its own luminous tongue, its own expression.

57

Come, you! Come launch our ship in a river of wine:

incite with joyous shouts—the old and young!

Come! Cast me—O my muse—in a ship of wine,

for it is said: do good, then throw it in the rushing waters.

I’ve repented from the path of the tavern, the sinful way;

in your kindness, point me to the pious path.

Bring me a cup of that rosy wine—the scent of musk:

ignite jealousy, envy, in the heart of the scented rose-water!

Granted! I’m a reprobate drunk: look upon me kindly so;

look gently upon this broken heart of mine.

If desiring the sun at mid-night, then remove

the cover off the face of that beauteous daughter of vine.

When the day comes, the day of my burial,

take me to the tavern; cast me into that vat of wine!

........................When the world is too much with you, O Hafez,

........................hurl the arrow of a shooting star at the demon of the sorrows!

58

Arise! Fill the golden cup—with joyous tidings

before the cup of my head becomes a dirt scoop!

The end—our perpetual home—is the valley of silence:

now echo joyous songs from the heaven’s dome!

Tainted look! No, it’s absent from a lover’s face:

cast your eyes like the unsullied reflection from a mirror.

O Green Juniper, when I’m buried in the dust of your feet,

deny your coyness, cast your shadow upon my dust.

My heart poisoned by the snake of your hair;

now heal my wound with the antidote of your lips.

Accept: the possessions of this meadow have no surety:

............set aflame from the heart of wine these possessions.

I’m baptized by the tears of my eyes, for the wise declare:

............first be cleansed, then your eyes cast upon the virtuous one.

That conceited hermit, O God, who never saw but blemish,

channel his darkness into the mirror of understanding!

........................For her breath, like a rose, shed your garment, Hafez:

........................Then spread this wrap on your nimble lover’s path!

59

Do not grieve: Joseph, lost, he returns to Canaan;

the hut of sorrow turns to a rose garden—do not grieve.

This heart, mournful, it will heal, do not despair;

this head, frenzied, it will heal—do not grieve.

Perchance, Heaven denies our desires for a day—or two:

there is no constancy to the motion of the time—do not grieve!

If the spring of life climbs the green throne of the meadow,

you, the song bird, again will dance with the rose—do not grieve.

Despair!  Who is privy to mysteries of the invisible?

Behind the curtain, such hidden games—do not grieve!

When the rushing flood of doom slashes your life,

Noah is your captain in this gale—do not grieve.

In the barren desert if treading in the delight of Kaaba and

the thorn bushes suture your feet in blame—do not grieve.

Oh, the home is fraught in danger, destination void,

but there is not a single path—sans end—do not grieve!

Separation from the beloved, importuning of the rival,

all known to our God—do not grieve.

............Hafez, in the depths of poverty and the void of dark nights,

............your benediction and lessons come from the Quran—do not grieve.

60

I lose my heart, the virtuous, his God.

Alas, the night’s secrets, will show in the day light.

We are the ship-wrecked: oh, rise merciful wind.

Perchance, again I may see the lover’s familiar face.

The ten days of the wheel, filled with tales and charm,

............be generous to friends, appreciate your loves.

In the feast of flower and wine, thus sang the nightingale at dawn:

............“O Saghi, bring the jug of wine; awake, you, besotted men!”

Oh, you generous man, grateful for your health;

show kindness to a poor beggar man.

The peace of the world impinges on two simple phrases:

generosity with friends—prudence with enemies.

We are not given access to the path of reputation:

if you don’t like it so—try changing your fate!

That virulent liquid! “Mother of all evil,” the Sufi call:

God will reject the prayer of him who imbibe from that wine.

When in poverty, seek pleasure in wine:

this alchemy of soul, makes a beggar, Gharoon!

Refractory! Don’t be like a candle from zeal, you’ll burn

............your love, in whose hands wax feels wax a stone

Alexander’s mirror is a goblet of wine (*) —observe it well:

May it offer you the kingdom of Daaraa.

If the minstrels of the rivals sing my Persian words,

those virtuous sages will be seduced to rapture!

........................Do not wear, Hafez, your wine-soaked garments:

........................absolve us of all this, you virtuous preachers!

(*) A cup, a mirror, with ability to reveal the secrets of the universe, a sort of magician’s globe in which one can see what is happening in the universe. Ferdowsee, the great epic poet of Iran, talks of the mythological king of Iran, Key-khosro, who possessed the cup and could see the events in it. In the Persian Folklore, the cup is used to symbolize our universal yearning to know the secrets to which we have no access. Persian mythology credits Alexander the Great with the invention of mirror.

Poems of Hafez is available at amazon.com.

Reza Ordoubadian holds a Ph.D. degree in English and linguistics. He has held a professorship at Middle Tennessee State University and Visiting Professorship at Umea University (Sweden). He has published numerous pieces of fiction and poetry as well as scholarly articles and books on both sides of the ocean. He was the editor of SECOL Review for 18 years. Features in iranian.com

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