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Shemsuddin Mahommad, alias Hafiz
Teachings of Hafiz

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XXX

* ALL hail, Shiraz, hail! oh site without peer!
May God be the Watchman before thy gate,
That the feet of Misfortune enter not here!
Lest my Ruknabad be left desolate,
A hundred times, "God forbid!" I pray;
Its limpid stream where the shadows wait
Like the fount of Khizr giveth life for aye.

'Twixt Jafrabad and Mosalla's close
Flies the north wind laden with ambergris--
Oh, come to Shiraz when the north wind blows!
There abideth the angel Gabriel's peace
With him who is lord of its treasures; the fame
Of the sugar of Egypt shall fade and cease,
For the breath of our beauties has put it to shame.

Oh wind that blows from the sun-rising,
What news of the maid with the drunken eyes,
What news of the lovely maid dost thou bring?
Bid me not wake from my dream and arise,
In dreams I have rested my head at her feet--
When stillness unbroken around me lies,
The vision of her makes my solitude sweet.

If for wine the Cup-bearer pour forth my blood,
As the milk from a mother's bosom flows,
At his word let my heart yield its crimson flood.
But, Hafiz, Hafiz! thou art of those
For ever fearing lest absence be near;
For the days when thou held'st the Beloved close,
Why rise not thy thanks so that all may hear?

 




*  Stanza 1.--Khizr--see Note to the third stanza of Poem XVIII.

Stanza 2.--The quarter of Jafrabad has ceased to exist. Its position was to the east of the town, opposite to the fields and to the ruined mosque of Mosalla. Between Jaftabad and Mosalla runs the highroad to Isfahan, traversing, at the distance of a mile from Shiraz, the pass of Allahu Akbar.

The angel Gabriel, the Holy Spirit, is the highest of all the angels. It is his duty to write down the decrees of God; through him the Koran was revealed to Mahommad, and it is he who, hovering above the throne of God, shelters it with his wings. Hafiz therefore claims for Shiraz the protection of him who is guardian of the highest place in heaven.

Ibn Batuta, the Arab traveller who visited Shiraz about the year 1340, has left a charming description of the native town of Hafiz and of the manners of his contemporaries. "Shiraz," he says, "is a well-built town of a great size, a wide celebrity, and a high place among cities. It possesses pleasant gardens, far-reaching streams, excellent markets, fine streets, and a numerous population. The town is constructed with taste and admirably arranged; each trade has its own bazaar. The inhabitants are a fine race and well clad. Shiraz lies in a plain; gardens surround it on every side; and five rivers flow through it, amongst them one called Ruknabad, a stream of which the water is excellent to drink, very cold in summer and warm in winter. The principal mosque is called the Old Mosque; it is as spacious and as well built as any one could wish to see. The court of it is vast and paved with marble; in hot weather it is washed with fresh water every night. The wealthy citizens come there every evening to repeat the prayers of sunset and of night. The inhabitants of Shiraz are well-to-do, pious, and chaste; the women in particular are distinguished for their modesty. They go completely veiled, give much in alms, and repair three times a week to the great mosque. Often as many as two thousand are assembled there, sitting with fans in their hands on account of the great heat. Each day in one of the mausoleums the whole Koran is read aloud, and the readers have very beautiful voices. The people bring with them fruits and sweetmeats, and when the congregation has finished eating, the preacher begins his discourse. This takes place between the mid-day and the evening prayers." Ibn Batuta struck up acquaintance with a Sheikh whom he found seated in a small hermitage at the corner of a mosque. The Sheikh was engaged in reading the Koran. In answer to Ibn Batuta's questions, he told him that he had founded the mosque himself, and that the hermitage was to be his tomb. Lifting a carpet, he showed him his grave, covered over with planks. In that box,"he said, pointing to a chest opposite to him, are my winding-sheet, some spices with which my corpse will be perfumed, and a few pieces of money which I earned by digging a well for a pious man. The money will serve to pay for my burial, and what is left over will be distributed among the poor." "I admired his conduct," adds Ibn Batuta. "One of the mausoleums outside the town," he continues, "contains the tomb of Sheikh Sa'di, the first poet of his time. Close at hand is a hermitage built by Sa'di himself, surrounded by a charming garden. It is situated near the source of the Ruknabad. In the garden Sheikh Sa'di constructed a number of basins for the washing of clothes. The citizens of Shiraz make parties of pleasure to this mausoleum; they eat food prepared in the hermitage, wash their garments in the river, and at sunset return to the town. So did I also. May God have mercy on Shiraz!" he concludes piously.






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