Friday, April 3, 2015

The Living Dead

Honouring Our Poetic Ancestors

The Sun Never Says
by Hafiz

All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the

Hafiz and Rumi are two of my very favourite poets. Both ecstatic Sufi mystics, their love of life, the earth, and the Beloved produced some of the most beautiful poetry the world has ever known (in my opinion.) Their work also has an underlying message; each poem calls to our deepest, highest selves, asking us to bring forth the best of what lies within us.

Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muhammad Hāfiz-e Shīrāzī,  was the most beloved poet of Persia. He was born in Shiraz, and lived from 1315 to 1390, in the time of Chaucer in England, and about one hundred years after Rumi.

Not a lot is known about his life. At an early age, he memorized the Quran, and was thus given the title "Hafez", (someone who memorizes the Quran), which he later took for his pen name. 

It is said his early love for a beautiful woman inspired his first mystic vigil, during which an angel of surpassing beauty appeared to him. After this visitation, his attempts at union became mystical, a pursuit of spiritual union with the Divine.

His patron was  Hajji Zayn al-Attar. Hafiz became a famous Sufi master. He wrote some 500 ghazals over the course of 50 years,  averaging ten ghazals a year. His output is estimated at between 573 and 994 poems. Because  his poems were often ecstatic love songs from God to his beloved world, Hafiz has often been called "the Tongue of the Invisible".

At age 60, Hafiz drew a circle and sat within it, to begin a 40-day-and-night vigil.  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 then he is said to have attained "Cosmic Consciousness". 

Twenty years after his death, a tomb, the Hafezieh, was erected to honor Hafiz in the Musalla Gardens in Shiraz.

His work became known to the west largely through the efforts of Goethe, whose enthusiasm inspired Ralph Waldo Emerson to translate Hafiz's poetry in the nineteenth century. Hazrat Inayat Khan, the Indian teacher credited with bringing Sufism to the West,  proclaimed, "The words of Hafiz  have won every heart that listens." I believe this is true.

sources: The Gift : Poems by Hafiz, translations by Daniel Ladinsky;

Wikipedia [note: The poet's name is spelled Hafez by Wikipedia. The more usual spelling is the one I have used in this article.]

Images used in this post remain under the copyright of the artists.


  1. Beautiful proverb-like piece from Hafez, Sherry! Just this morning, while searching for my day 3 materials for my NPM Found Poetry project, I happened to read a poem by him,A Caravan from China Comes, translated in english and I liked it a lot for the fun vibe & energy & wit the entire poem suggested. I have to bookmark the piece to see if I can write something out of it in the later days as I have settled to the work of another interesting poet from Indonesia for my day 3 entry. Smiles. Thanks for the read, Sherry!

    - ksm

  2. Such a gifted personality.. a wonderful poet.. may his soul rest in peace!

  3. This poem by Hafiz lit up my day, Sherry! Thank you...

  4. The perfect thing to read today! Thanks for brightening up my day, Sherry :)

  5. You are most welcome. I came in to see what Rosemary had posted, having forgotten (Mz Magoo) that I wrote this. LOL. Not all of the rabbits are in the bush this morning! Smiles. I love Hafiz - and Rumi even more.

  6. We need to read them often....Hafiz. catalysts of truth....if you will or just the dif. perspective - for others...Thanks, Sherry x

  7. Ah, one never tires of this poet! And you have told m things about him which I didn't know before. Thank you Sherry for standing in for me again, and doing such a lovely job.

  8. This made my day Sherry! I had not known anything about this poet before--so thank you!!

    1. Oh Audrey, get his book of poems called The Gift.........sublime!

  9. Like this poem & I did not know the mystical facts so it was enlightening....thanks!

  10. What a wonderful poem of so much truth. I am not familiar with him but you can bet I'll be looking now.

  11. Ladinsky is extremely lyrical in presenting Hafiz (I have his book "The subject tonight is love") but Rumi, I think, elevates one to a different level even though I sadly believe much is lost in translation. Great to see this post, first thing in the morning. Thank you Sherry!

  12. Swimming in his words! Thankyou.

  13. beautiful words of Hafiz...Thank you Sherry for this bouquet...


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