Hafiz: Ghazal 37 "Instant Messanger" (From Persian)

Ghazal 37: Instant Messanger 
By Hafiz
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Persian

Come! For the great Hope Castle's foundations are unsound. 
   Bring wine, for life is founded on wind and on no ground.
But that man's zeal shall bind me who under heaven's blue wheel  
   Is free of any stain of remaining worldly bound.
Listen to what glad tidings Surōsh1 the angel brought me 
   When I lay in the wineshop last night, drunk on the ground.
Said he: Keen-eyed royal falcon whose perch is the Tree of Life!2  
   Why do you seek your nest in this part of Sorrow Town?
I know not what you're doing here in this lowly snarepit 
   They call you from emypreal battlements. Heed the sound!
I have advice to give you. Pray, practice what I teach. 
   It is my Master's dictum which I learned and hand down. 
Let not this world's grief grieve you. Forget not my advice.
   This subtle point I learned from a traveller of love's round. 
Look not to this ramshackle old world to uphold its word.  
   This aged hag is the bride of suitors from all around.  
Accept what has been given. Learn to unknit your brows.
   For me and you the padlock on free will's door holds sound. 
The sweet smile of the rose has no trace of troth or promise.
   Lament, lover nightingale. Things to lament abound. 
The well-turned word and favor's reception are God's gift.
   O unsound poetasters,
      resent not Hafez' sound!


1- The entity known as Surōsh (Avestan Sraosha) has been many things at many times (and must descend from an entity that was worshipped in prehistoric Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, as evidenced by the fact that he has a Sanskrit cognate in the form of the Vedic river-goddess Sarasvatī, but I digress.) In late Zoroastrianism he was associated with death, a type of archangel who took on the stewardship of souls during the three days after decease when the soul is still floating around the body. The Persian articulation of Islam appropriated Surōsh as a guardian angel who keeps the faithful obedient to God's will, and also an angel messenger (in the original sense of Greek ἄγγελος) who bears glad tidings to humans. 

2- The Sidra, here rendered for a variety of connotative reasons as "Tree of Life" is the Lote-tree of Islamic mythology, which is said to stand at the boundary between the celestial and terrestrial realms and is the site from which the Archangel Gabriel is said to have revealed God's message to Muhammad. C.f. Qur'an 53:10-18 below (translation mine) 

Fa-'awħá ilá ˁabdihi mā awħá   Then he revealed to his Servant what he revealed
Mā kaðaba l-fu'ādu mā ra'á   In what it saw, the heart did not deceive
A-fa-tumārunahū ˁalá mā yará   Dare you dispute with him what he did see?
Wa-laqad ra'āhu nazlatan uxrá   And he saw Him once more indeed
ˁInda sidrati l-muntahá   By the upper boundary's Lote-Tree
ˁIndahā jannatu l-ma'wá   Near the Garden of the Sanctuary
Ið yaɣšá l-sidrata mā yaɣšá   And that which enshrouds shrouded the Lote Tree
Mā zāɣa l-baṣru wa-mā ṭaɣá   His sight strayed not, did not go wrong
Laqad ra'á min 'āyāti rabbihi l-kubrá   He saw one of the signs of his Lord, the greatest

Sidra is also the (etymologically unrelated) word for the undergarment worn by Zoroastrians, considered to be a shield against evil. 

The Original:

بیا که قصر امل سخت سست بنیادست بیار باده که بنیاد عمر بر بادست
غلام همت آنم که زیر چرخ کبود ز هر چه رنگ تعلق پذیرد آزادست
چه گویمت که به میخانه دوش مست و خراب سروش عالم غیبم چه مژده‌ها دادست
که ای بلندنظر شاهباز سدره نشین نشیمن تو نه این کنج محنت آبادست
تو را ز کنگره عرش می‌زنند صفیر ندانمت که در این دامگه چه افتادست
نصیحتی کنمت یاد گیر و در عمل آر که این حدیث ز پیر طریقتم یادست
مجو درستی عهد از جهان سست نهاد که این عجوز عروس هزاردامادست
غم جهان مخور و پند من مبر از یاد که این لطیفه عشقم ز ره روی یادست
رضا به داده بده وز جبین گره بگشای که بر من و تو در اختیار نگشادست
نشان عهد و وفا نیست در تبسم گل بنال بلبل بی دل که جای فریادست
حسد چه می‌بری ای سست نظم بر حافظ
قبول خاطر و لطف سخن خدادادست


  1. I am really enjoying your translations of Hafiz! thank you for sharing this poetry.

  2. I can't comment on the original, but it's beautiful in translation. It reminds me a bit of James Wright's "On Minding One's Own Business":

    "Long may the lovers hide
    In viny shacks from those
    Who thrash among the trees
    Who curse, who have no peace,
    Who pitch and moan all night
    For fear of someone's joys,
    Deploring the human face.

    From prudes and muddying fools,
    Kind Aphrodite, spare
    All hunted criminals,
    Hoboes, and whip-poor-wills,
    And girls with rumpled hair,
    All, all of whom might hide
    Within that darkening shack.
    Lovers may live, and abide."


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