From Iran With Love

Hafez’s epic is the equivalent of Homer for Persians. The Metropolitan Museum Of Art/President And Fellows Of Harvard College

My love’s for pretty faces,
     For heart-bewitching hair;
I’m crazy for good wine,
     A languorous, drunk stare ...

In love there’s no escaping
     The burning of desire;
I stand here like a candle –
     Don’t scare me with your fire.

I am a man from heaven,
     But on this path I see
My love of youth and beauty
     Have made a slave of me.

If Fate will help me, I
     Will take myself elsewhere –
My bed will be swept clean
     By some sweet houri’s hair.

Shiraz is like a mine
     Of ruby lips, a store
Of loveliness ... and I’m
     A jeweler who’s dirt-poor.

I’ve seen so many drunk
     Eyes in this town, I think
I’m drunk, although I swear
     I’ve had no wine to drink.

You asked me to explain
     Eternity for you –
Well certainly, when I
     Have downed a drink or two.

Hafez, my nature’s like
     A hopeful bride, but I
Lack mirrors to array
     Myself – that’s why I sigh.

gooch-om02-persian-poetry-translator-main-tease Hafez, Iran’s ubiquitous poet, as depicted in 16th Century painting by Sultan Muhammad. The Metropolitan Museum Of Art/President And Fellows Of Harvard College


How long will you be like
     A cypress tree,
And lean your lovely head
     Away from me?

Sorrow is all you’ve ever
     Brought to me;
I will not ask how long
     I am to be

The knocker on your door
     You do not see,
The iron ring you pass

My pillow’s made of absence –
     While you are free
To taste another’s love,
     Forgetting me.

If I could follow your
     Curls’ scent I’d see
A way to let their night
     Envelop me;

Since you have left me to
     This misery,
Tears, and a heart on fire
     Are all of me.

I don’t deserve you, but
    I long to see
The sunlight of your face
     Shine here, for me.

Although you’ve shown that you
     Don’t care for me,
My soul still wishes you

—Jahan Khatun

Your face’s absence leaves mine waxy-white,
                                             like a candle;
How long will my tears drip, blearing my sight,
                                             like a candle?
You sleep, and on your pillow I lie broken,
Awake and weeping till the morning light,
                                             like a candle.

—Jahan Khatun

I’m off to stroll through the bazaar – and there
I’ll see what can be flushed out from its lair;
I’ll lure a rent-boy home here, or a whore;
One of the two – either will do – I don’t care.

—Obayd-e Zakani

Reprinted by arrangement with Mage Publishers from Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz. Copyright 2013 by Dick Davis.