Hafiz

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Hafiz

(häfēz`) [Arab.,=one who has memorized the Qur'an], 1319–1389?, Persian lyric poet, b. Shiraz. His original name was Shams al-Din Muhammad. He acquired the surname from having memorized the Qur'an at an early age. A teacher of the Qur'an who associated with mystics, his lyrical poetry is acclaimed as the finest ever written in Persian. His lyrics are always vehement, especially his amatory verses, his drinking songs, and his invective. Muslim critics interpret his passionate lines as allegorical, while critics in the West incline to construe them literally. Hafiz enlivened the conventional imagery of the ghazal, a form of love poetry in rhyming couplets, comparable to the sonnet. His poetry, in ghazal and in the other poetic forms of qasida (long rhyming poem), mathnawi (couplets), and rubaiyyat (quatrains), survives in his Divan or Diwan, a collection that prompted numerous commentaries. His Diwan was so popular that it is used for bibliomancy: predictions are made from randomly selected verses. GoetheGoethe, Johann Wolfgang von
, 1749–1832, German poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist, b. Frankfurt. One of the great masters of world literature, his genius embraced most fields of human endeavor; his art and thought are epitomized in his great dramatic poem Faust.
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's Westöstlicher Diwan (1819) was inspired by Hafiz. Hafiz is buried in a splendid tomb near Shiraz, Iran.

Bibliography

See his News of Love (tr. 1984).

Hafiz

 

(real name, Shams ud-din Muhammad). Born circa 1325 in Shiraz; died there 1389 or 1390. Persian poet.

Hafiz came from a common family of modest means from Shiraz. Nonetheless, he received a complete theological education and became known as a hafiz (originally, a person who knew the Koran by heart; later the term was applied to folk bards and storytellers in Middle Asia and Afghanistan). Even in later years he recited the Koran at religious ceremonies and relied on donations from patrons of high rank as his chief source of income. Although he was a court poet he never became wealthy, and in many verses he refers to his financial insecurity.

Hafiz’ Divan, compiled posthumously, was circulated in Persia and abroad in an enormous number of transcriptions, which led to corruptions of the text. The first attempt to restore the text was undertaken by the Turkish philologist Sudi (died 1591), whose edition was accepted as the authoritative version and served as the source for most 19th-century European translations. In 1928 the Iranian bibliophile Kalkhali discovered a manuscript of the Divan that had been transcribed 35 years after the poet’s death, making a considerable contribution to research on the work. According to the edition of Anjavi (Tehran, 1967), Hafiz’ Divan consists of 418 ghazals (ranging from five to ten bayts in length), five long panegyrical qasida, 29 qita (short occasional poems), 41 rubaiyat, and three short mathnawi: The Wild Deer, Zaki-nameh, and Moghani-nameh. The authenticity of a number of works remains in dispute, however.

Predominant motifs in Hafiz’ lyric poetry include the traditional themes of wine and love, mystical enlightenment, panegyrics, and plaints upon the evanescence and incomprehensibility of mortal life. However, while other poets traditionally treated such themes in an abstract, impersonal manner, Hafiz created a unique hero, a vital, full-blooded man torn by conflicting passions. At times an ascetic, mystic, and visionary, this hero is sometimes drawn as a skeptic or freethinker, or a dreamer predicting a bright earthly kingdom for mankind; at other times he appears as a brawling, unrestrained debauchee, crudely attacking the clergy and the powerful. If the insatiable, egocentric thirst for pleasure remains the central theme of Hafiz poetry, it should be seen as the poet’s desire to escape from the cruel reality of his day.

In his ghazals, Hafiz made wide use of the images and turns of speech of traditional Sufi poetry, which can usually be interpreted on the straightforward or realistic level and metaphorically or symbolically. However, there is no doubt that Hafiz, like many of his predecessors, made use of Sufi poetic form to veil rebellious, antityrannical statements and that most of his ghazals have no relationship to Sufism.

Taken as a whole, the work of Hafiz is the supreme achievement of medieval Persian lyric poetry. His verses have been translated into all European languages, as well as many languages of Asia. In present-day Iran, the Divan of Hafiz is the most frequently republished work of the classical heritage.

WORKS

Divan-e Khaj-e Shams ol-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi. Edited by M. Ghazvini and Dr. Ghasem Ghani. Tehran, 1320 A.H. (A.D. 1941).
Anjavi Shirazi, Sayyid abu-al-Qasim, editor. Divan-e Khaj-e Hafiz-e Shirazi. Tehran, 1346 A.H. (A.D. 1967).
In Russian translation:
Lirika. Moscow, 1956.
Lirika. Moscow, 1963.
Gazeli. Moscow, 1969.

REFERENCES

Braginskii, I. S. 12 miniatiur. [Moscow, 1966.]
Istoriia persidskoi i tadzhikskoi literatury. Edited by J. Rypka. Moscow, 1970.
Lescot, R. “Essai d’une chronologie de l’oeuvre de Hafiz.” Bulletin d’études orientales, vol. X, 1943–44. Beirut, 1944. Page 57.
Dashti, ’Ali. Naqshi az Hafiz, 5th ed. Tehran, A.H. 1349 (A.D. 1970).
Dastghayb, Abd-al-’Ali. “Hafiz was ruydadhay-e ejtema’iy-e ham-zam-e u.” Peynam-e novin, dourey-e dahom, nos. 2, 3, 4. Tehran, A.H. 1352 (A.D. 1973).

A. N. BOLDYREV