Hafiz: Ghazal 186 "Entreaty to Fakhr-al-Din Abdul Samad" (From Persian)

A somewhat long excursus on this poem and a couple related issues is found after my translation.

Ghazal 186: Entreaty to Fakhr-al-Din Abdul-Samad
By Hafiz
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
With an assist from Julie Scott Meisami's version found in her Structure and Meaning in Medieval Arabic and Persian Lyric Poetry 

O who will be the noble man
to treat me well and loyally    
And just this once do a good turn 
   for such a no-good wretch as me, 
Will first, as flute and reedpipe play,
his message to my heart convey
And with a single winecup pay 
   me a true act of courtesy?
That heartswipe who wears down my soul 
retains my heart in his control.   
I can't lose hope. Might he console 
   my heart and treat it lovingly?
Said I: the day has yet to pass 
when I let your hair loose at last.    
Said he to me: it's playing fast 
   and loose with you by my decree.
The straight and narrow Sufi's mind,
when love stands in plain sight, is blind.   

Tell of being wasted. Help him find 
   cause to forsake sobriety.    
Love grand as this proved hard to win, 
poor beggar that I've always been.   
What Sultan takes a street-lout in
   to play and pleasure secretly?
From that sweet, curling crown of hair 
no tyranny is hard to bear.    
What shame in bonds and chains is there 
   for one who's lived by knavery?
Grief's countless legions stand arrayed.  
From Fortune I importune aid.    
May gracious Fakhr-al-Dīn be swayed
   to ease my grief with sympathy.
 Stay back, Hafez. Don't even try 
 engaging that spellbinding eye.   
 Those curling locks, like dark night's sky 
    are roiling with much trickery.

Diffuse excursus on this poem:

One of the problems of literary translation is that the choice of what to translate, and not to translate, is usually motivated by some variation of the question "what would work in the target language with the target audience?" The history of literary translations of Hafiz, mirroring that of translations of classical Persian verse in general, has had the effect of an overfocus (depending on the translator's or target-culture's preference and prejudice) either on the poet's more overtly bacchanalian, threnodic, amorous or anti-authoritarian facets, or the more obviously mystically-tinted and godwardly oriented ones, and of course there are the various intersections of these. But there's more to him. This poem is an example of that, for it has not as far as I know been translated by anyone, apart from the above-mentioned J.S. Meisami, who has not set themselves the task of translating Hafez' works in their entirety. Though not by any means one of Hafiz best works, it is superior to some of the more recognizably hedonistic or mystical (or hedonomystical, if you like) poems that are more frequently translated. It is an entreaty to Fakhr-al-Din ˁAbdul-Samad, presumably a potential patron (whose real-world referent has yet to be satisfactorily triangulated by Hafiz scholars, but then the historical goings on of that turbulent period's politickings are a bit murky anyway.)

The most determinant factor of much medieval Persian poetry was that it was court poetry, and unless they had some other source of support, poets were either in the service of a patron or wishing they were. The result was that much poetry was addressed to sovereigns and other grandees, and nearly all medieval Persian poetry of the period, most especially that of Hafiz the illustrious court poet, is pervaded by a courtly aesthetic. 

In medieval Persian poetic discourse, the heart-ruling beloved and the world-ruling potentate (or the universe-ruling divine by extension) tended to blend, and this poem is an obvious testament to that. Addressing a social or political superior in the poetic voice of an abandoned or desperate lover seems to me to be a common feature of poetry traditions which develop among urbanized elites whose social and political power relationships are bound up within a highly aestheticized court environment. Other examples include the closely related medieval Arabic and the quite unrelated medieval Chinese traditions. 

A word on technical issues. You'll notice that my translation (like many of my translations of Persian lyric poems) is in somewhat stanzaic form and (like all of said translations) has more line-breaks than the included Persian text would appear to have. 

The poem, being a persian ghazal, is monorhymed throughout, with every so-called line carrying the same rhyme ending. Here's the poem in transliterated Latin characters, spaced as it would typically be in a traditional Persian edition. Note the phrasal rhyme /-ārī kunad/

Ān kīst kaz rūy-i karam bā mā wafādārī kunad  bar jā-i badkārī ču man yakdam nikōkārī kunad
Awwal ba bāng-i nāy u nayy ārad ba dil payɣām-i way  wāngah ba yak paymāna mayy bā man wafādārī kunad
Dilbar ki jān farsūd az ō kām-i dilam nagšūd az ō  nawmēd natwān būd az ō bāšad ki dildārī kunad
Guftam: girih nagšūdaam zān turra tā man būdaam  guftā manaš farmūdaam tā bā tu tarrārī kunad
Pašmīnapōš-i tundxō kaz išq našnīdast bō  az mastīyaš ramzē bigō tā tark-i hušyārī kunad
Čun man gadā-i bēnišān muškil buwad yārī čunān  sultān kujā 'ayš-i nihān bā rind-i bāzārī kunad
Zān turra-i pur pēč u xam sahlast agar bīnam sitam   az band u zanjīraš či ɣam har kas ki ayyārī kunad
Šud laškar-i ɣam bē'adad az baxt mēxwāham madad  tā faxr-al-dīn abd us-samad bāšad ki ɣamxwārī kunad
Bā čašm-i pur nayrang-i ō Hāfiz makun āhang-i ō  
kān turra-i šabrang-i ō bisyār tarrārī kunad

But the natural divisions of the poem are more like this. (Note the many rhymes, phrasal and not.)

Ān kīst kaz rūy-i karam 
bā mā wafādārī kunad  
bar jā-i badkārī ču man 
  yakdam nikōkārī kunad

Awwal ba bāng-i nāy u nayy 
ārad ba dil payɣām-i way 
wāngah ba yak paymāna mayy 
  bā man wafādārī kunad

Dilbar ki jān farsūd az ō 
kām-i dilam naɣšūd az ō 
nawmēd natwān būd az ō 
  bāšad ki dildārī kunad

Guftam: girih nagšūda-am 
zān turra tā man būda-am 
guftā manaš farmūda-am 
  tā bā tu tarrārī kunad

Pašmīnapōš-i tundxō 
kaz išq našnīdast bō 
az mastīyaš ramzē bigō
  tā tark-i hušyārī kunad

Čun man gadā-i bēnišān
muškil buwad yārī čunān 
sultān kujā ayš-i nihān 
  bā rind-i bāzārī kunad

Zān turra-i pur pēč u xam 
sahlast agar bīnam sitam 
az band u zanjīraš či ɣam
  har kas ki ayyārī kunad

Šud lašgar-i ɣam bē'adad 
az baxt mēxwāham madad 
tā faxr-al-dīn abd us-samad 
  bāšad ki ɣamxwārī kunad

Bā čašm-i pur nayrang-i ō 
Hāfiz makun āhang-i ō 
kān turra-i šabrang-i ō 
  bisyār tarrārī kunad

Like many ghazals that seem to have been written to be sung, the "lines" (I'll explain the quotation marks below) are rhymed internally (a feature termed taṣrīˁ in the Persian and Arabic traditions) and so break down into equivalent metrical chunks with their own rhyme configurations in a pattern that could be called stanzaic or strophic. My translation, obviously, attempts to mimic this. 

It is routinely said of Persian, and of Arabic and many another Islamicate literature besides, that the concept of the stanza is alien to its poetic tradition. The idea that medieval Persians and Arabs had no concept of the stanza is true in the sense that the concept as westerners understand it has no precise analogue in medieval Persians' descriptions of their own literature. But when you get down to it neither does the concept of "a line of verse", really. Broadly speaking/stereotyping, western traditions have, at least since late antiquity, conceived of the verse-line as something which can be, and typically is, part of a larger unit of verse, in which it is linked to other lines by rhyme and/or meter etc. The Persian and Arabic traditions have (again in general/stereotype, and with some important exceptions) operated with something else, called a bayt, with certain formal parameters (one of which is that it end with a rhyme or rhyme-phrase) to be understood not as primarily something of which larger formal units are composed, but which can itself be broken down into (at least) two smaller units which may under various conditions (milage may vary) also be marked by rhyme as well. The bayt is as a rule much longer than the verse-lines of western languages. Bayts written in the most common Persian meters can have around 30 syllables a piece, give or take. The common translation of the term bayt as "line" is ridiculous and inapposite for verse written before the 20th century (the terms "couplet" and "distich" have been used also and, though also inexact, are infinitely more to the point.) Bayt isn't a line of verse. It's just a verse, plain and simple. 

What we have here seems to be a case of scholars assuming an equivalence between what people do and what they say they do.

In fact, scholars ironically instantiate this principle by thinking they're taking an alien tradition on its own terms, but they end up merely once again describing it on their terms - but now by inversion. 

Anyway, of course there are larger units - of a thematic, semantic or other nature - consisting of more than one bayt but less than the entire poem, a fact which I hope is clear to anyone who reads even just the small sampling of Hafiz' verse translated on this site. The idea of atomistic oriental poetics, of bayt being stacked onto bayt "like Orient pearls at random strung" has recently been convincingly demolished (though its votaries are still legion and putting up fight after fight like the denizens of Estakhr under Arab hegemony, but for far less understandable reasons) and is, at best, only valid for certain lyric pieces by certain authors, and in general for certain places and periods. Though the coherence, and progression that are there aren't always of a type that western literatures, since the renaissance anyway, would lead us to expect and recognize. Then again, the inter-stanzaic relationships of verses in medieval Provençal lyric poetry of a non-narrative nature can also be quite varied or even surprising from our post-medieval perspective.  

The Original

آن کیست کز روی کرم با ما وفاداری کند  بر جای بدکاری چو من یک دم نکوکاری کند
اول به بانگ نای و نی آرد به دل پیغام وی  وانگه به یک پیمانه می با من وفاداری کند
دلبر که جان فرسود از او کام دلم نگشود از او  نومید نتوان بود از او باشد که دلداری کند
گفتم گره نگشوده‌ام زان طره تا من بوده‌ام  گفتا منش فرموده‌ام تا با تو طراری کند
پشمینه پوش تندخو از عشق نشنیده‌است بو از مستیش رمزی بگو تا ترک هشیاری کند
چون من گدای بی‌نشان مشکل بود یاری چنان سلطان کجا عیش نهان با رند بازاری کند
زان طره پرپیچ و خم سهل است اگر بینم ستم از بند و زنجیرش چه غم هر کس که عیاری کند
شد لشکر غم بی عدد از بخت می‌خواهم مدد تا فخر دین عبدالصمد باشد که غمخواری کند
با چشم پرنیرنگ او حافظ مکن آهنگ او
 کان طره شبرنگ او بسیار طراری کند

No comments:

Post a Comment