Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī (Persian: خواجه شمسالدین محمد حافظ شیرازی), known by his pen name Hāfez (حافظ; also Hāfiz; 1325/26–1389/90), was a Persian poet who "laud[ed] the joys of love and wine [but] also targeted religious hypocrisy". His collected works are regarded as a pinnacle of Persian literature and are to be found in the homes of most people in Iran, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-fourteenth century Persian writing more than any other author.
Themes of his ghazals are the beloved, faith, and exposing hypocrisy. His influence in the lives of Farsi speakers can be found in "Hafez readings" (fāl-e hāfez, Persian: فال حافظ) and the frequent use of his poems in Persian traditional music, visual art, and Persian calligraphy. His tomb is visited often. Adaptations, imitations and translations of Hafez' poems exist in all major languages.
According to one tradition, before meeting his patron Hajji Zayn al-Attar Hāfez had been working in a bakery, delivering bread to a wealthy quarter of the town. There, he first saw Shakh-e Nabat, a woman of great beauty, to whom some of his poems are addressed. Ravished by her beauty, but knowing that his love for her would not be requited, he allegedly held his first mystic vigil in his desire to realize this union. During this, he encountered a being of surpassing beauty who identified himself as an angel, and his further attempts at union became mystic; a pursuit of spiritual union with the divine. A Western parallel is that of Dante and Beatrice.
At age 60, he is said to have begun a Chilla-nashini, a 40-day-and-night vigil by sitting in a circle which he had drawn for himself. On the 40th day, he once again met with Zayn al-Attar on what is known to be their fortieth anniversary and was offered a cup of wine. It was there where he is said to have attained "Cosmic Consciousness". Hāfez hints at this episode in one of his verses in which he advises the reader to attain "clarity of wine" by letting it "sit for 40 days".
Although Hafez hardly ever traveled outside Shiraz, in one tale Tamerlane (Timur) angrily summoned Hāfez to account for one of his verses:
:If that Shirazi Turk would take my heart in hand
I would remit Samarkand and Bukhārā for her black mole.
Samarkand was Timur's capital and Bokhara was his kingdom's finest city. "With the blows of my lustrous sword", Timur complained, "I have subjugated most of the habitable globe...to embellish Samarkand and Bokhara, the seats of my government; and you would sell them for the black mole of some girl in Shiraz!" Hāfez, so the tale goes, bowed deeply and replied, "Alas, O Prince, it is this prodigality which is the cause of the misery in which you find me". So surprised and pleased was Timur with this response that he dismissed Hafez with handsome gifts.
Many Persian composers have composed pieces inspired by Hafez's poems or on his poems. Many Persian singers have also performed Hafez poems. Among them Mohsen Namjoo composed music and vocals on several poems of Hafez such as Zolf, Del Miravad, Nameh and others and Hayedeh (the song "Padeshah-e Khooban", music by Farid Zoland) and Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (the song "Del Miravad Ze Dastam", music by Parviz Meshkatian). The Ottoman composer Buhurizade Mustafa Itri composed his magnum opus Neva Kâr on one of his poems. The Polish composer Karol Szymanowski has also composed The Love Songs of Hafiz on German translation of Hafez poems.
released January 8, 2015
All music copyright 2014 Tim Birchard (BMI)
Special thanks to:
Brad and Susan Stamets
and all my MKP brothers
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