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My Sweet, Crushed Angel -- Hafiz

Guest poem submitted by Ruchi Bhimani:
(Poem #447) My Sweet, Crushed Angel
        You have not danced so badly, my dear,
Trying to hold hands with the Beautiful One.

You have waltzed with great style,
        My sweet, crushed angel,
To have ever neared God's heart at all.

Our Partner is notoriously difficult to follow,
And even His best musicians are not always easy
                To hear.

So what if the music has stopped for a while.

                So what
If the price of admission to the Divine
        Is out of reach tonight.

        So what, my dear,
If you do not have the ante to gamble for Real Love.

        The mind and the body are famous
        For holding the heart ransom,

But Hafiz knows the Beloved's eternal habits.

                Have patience,

For He will not be able to resist your longing
                For Long.

You have not danced so badly, my dear,
        Trying to kiss the Beautiful One.

You have actually waltzed with tremendous style,
                O my sweet,
        O my sweet crushed angel.
-- Hafiz
This poem was sent to me by a dear friend after we parted ways at boarding
school 5 years ago.  I like it...well, primarily, because it was from a close
friend.  But for the sake of formalism and good poetry, I will attempt to
identify what else it is about the poem that captures me, and makes me unfold a
scrap of paper from my wallet and share it with people that matter.

I like the repetition.  'The sweet Crushed Angel'.  I like the world it creates
of God and Divinity, and makes it seem ordinary, not a forced, contrived world.
And i love how God is "notorious" for making our life difficult.  The metaphor
of the dance gives the entire poem such grace and makes it flow, like a lilting
melody.  Makes it enjoyable reading every single time.

I am happy to share this poem with other minstrel subscribers... other poetry
lovers.  I know nothing more, apart from this poem, about Hafiz, and would love
to know more, if anyone knows.


[thomas adds]

Your wish is our command... here's Brittanica on Hafiz (or Hafez, as they prefer
to spell his name):

        b. 1325/26, Shiraz, Iran
        d. 1389/90, Shiraz

in full MOHAMMAD SHAMS OD-DIN HAFEZ one of the finest lyric poets of Persia.

Hafez received a classical religious education, lectured on Qur'anic and other
theological subjects ("Hafez" designates one who has learned the Qur'an by
heart), and wrote commentaries on religious classics. As a court poet he enjoyed
the patronage of several rulers of Shiraz.

About 1368-69 Hafez fell out of favour at the court and did not regain his
position until 20 years later, just before his death. In his poetry there are
many echoes of historical events as well as biographical descriptions and
details of life in Shiraz. One of the guiding principles of his life was Sufism,
the Islamic mystical movement that demanded of its adherents complete devotion
to the pursuit of union with the ultimate reality.

Hafez's principal verse form, one that he brought to a perfection never achieved
before or since, was the ghazel, a lyric poem of 6 to 15 couplets linked by
unity of subject and symbolism rather than by a logical sequence of ideas.
Traditionally the ghazel had dealt with love and wine, motifs that, in their
association with ecstasy and freedom from restraint, lent themselves naturally
to the expression of Sufi ideas. Hafez's achievement was to give these
conventional subjects a freshness and subtlety that completely relieves his
poetry of tedious formalism. An important innovation credited to Hafez was the
use of the ghazel instead of the qasida (ode) in panegyrics. Hafez also reduced
the panegyric element of his poems to a mere one or two lines, leaving the
remainder of the poem for his ideas. The extraordinary popularity of Hafez's
poetry in all Persian-speaking lands stems from his simple and often colloquial
though musical language, free from artificial virtuosity, and his unaffected use
of homely images and proverbial expressions. Above all, his poetry is
characterized by love of humanity, contempt for hypocrisy and mediocrity, and an
ability to universalize everyday experience and to relate it to the mystic's
unending search for union with God. His appeal in the West is indicated by the
numerous translations of his poems. Hafez is most famous for his Divan; Eng.
prose trans., H. Wilberforce Clarke, Hafiz Shirazi. The Divan (1891, reprinted
1971). There is also a translated collection: A.J. Arberry, Fifty Poems of Hafiz

        -- EB


"There is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and as much knowledge of the

        -- Sherlock Holmes, 'A Case of Identity'.

16 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Erin Thomas said...

crazy translation ... would you happen to know of a translation from
this ghazal to english that is not quite so... shamed?



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