Thursday, May 1, 2008

Love on Fire: Hafiz Ghazals in 2 Translations

A gift from Hafez (Khwaja Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafiz of Shiraz -- 1258-1389/90)
master of states and stations of inebriations and intoxifications
-- poems of invocations ... in two translations

I. Love’s Awakening

Ho, Saki, haste, the beaker bring,
Fill up, and pass it round the ring;
Love seemed at first an easy thing –
But ah! the hard awakening.

So sweet perfume the morning air
Did lately from her trusses bear,
Her twisted, musk-diffusing hair ---
What heart’s calamity was there!

Within life’s caravanserai
What brief security have I,
When momentarily the bell doth cry,
“Bind on your loads, the hour is nigh!”

Let wine upon the prayer-mat flow,
And if the tavener bids so;
Whose wont is this road to go
Its ways and manners well doth know.

Mark now the mad career of me,
From willfulness to infamy;
Yet how conceal that mystery
Whereof men make festivity?

A mountain sea, moon clouded o’er
And nigh the whirlpool’s awful roar –
How can they know our labour sore
Who pass light-burthened on the shore?

Hafiz, if thou would win her grace,
Be never absent from thy place;
When thou dost see the well-loved face,
Be lost at last to time and space.
~~ trans: A.J. Arberry, in Hafiz: Fifty Poems (ed., Arberry) Cambridge, 1962

Ghazal 1

O Saki, bring around the cup of wine and then offer it to me,
for love seemed easy at first, but then grew difficult.

Flooded with their heart's blood are those who wait for the scent
that the dawn wind may spill from her dark msky curls.

Stain your prayer mat with wine if the Magus tells you to,
for such a traveler knows the road and the customs of its stations.

What security is there for us here in her caravanserai
when every moment the camel bells cry, "Pack up the loads!"?

The dark night, the fear of waves, the terrifying whirlpool,
how can they know of our state, those who go lightly along the shore?

In the end, my life has drawn me from self-concern to ill-repute.
How long can the secret of our assemblies stay hidden.

Hafiz, if you desire her presence, pay attention.
When you find rthe one you seek, abandon the world and let it go. Ghazal 1, p. 37)

NOTES (p. 144, note 1): saqi. The cupbearer, usually a young man, beautiful and adored [usually "young Turkic slaves" -- p. 10], who brings the wine of love to those in the tavern...; also the elusive friend a Magian (i.e., Zoroastrian) boy,...a beautiful and distracting idol (but, pl. butan) idol, carries with it most of its English connotations...but usually refers to the beloved or a person of great, and thus distracting, sensual beauty [p. 150, note 1 to Ghazal 12]. Pir-i Mughan, the Elder or Master of the Magi, who were Zoroastrian fire-worshippers [actually meaning that when they prayed to Ahura Mazda, they faced a fire (in temples) or at least a source of light elsewhere] and thus, in Islamic terms unbelievers. Unconstrained by the Islamic prohibitions against alcohol, Zoroastrians, or Mazdeans [better name as derived from the single God Ahura Mazda] (and Christians) operated taverns, and thus the Magus is the tavern-master, the source of wine (with all its heretical and spiritually symbolic associations).

from Ghazal 5

Saki, make our cup ablaze with winelight.
Sing minstrel, the world has become as we wished.

O you who don't understand our perpetual joy in drinking,
in our cup we have seen the image of his face.

translated by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. from The Green Sea of Heaven: Fifty Ghazals from the Diwan of Hafiz. Ashland, Oregon: White Cloud Press, 1995, p. 37

Saturday, March 29, 2008

'Ishq: powerfully passionate supreme divine love

Let's place the rose of God's Beauty between us and contemplate His Love.

Abu Husayn an-Nuri said that "passionate love ('ishq) is not greater than surene love (mahabba) except that the passionate lover ('ashiq) is kept away while the serene lover (muhibb) enjoys his love."

quoted from Ahmed Karamustafa, Sufism: The Formative Period 2007
also in Carl Ernst, Words of Ecstacy, p. 98