Hafiz: Ghazal 136 "The Grail of Jamshed" (From Persian)

This poem is one of very few ghazals that could in any sense be called "narrative." There is a discernible course of events, beginning with a search which leads the speaker to the Wineshop, where a conversation with the proprietor occurs. The substance of that conversation can be interpreted in various ways, depending to some degree on editorial choices. Most overtly, the topic is the nature of mystical gnosis and how it should and should not be transmitted. Read more loosely, one can see in it a discussion of how openly subversive one can be without endangering one's own life. And there are other interpretations galore. Myself, I find it most illuminating to see the figure of Hallāj as an example of how a charlatan can use the truth (or The Truth) in dishonest and self-serving ways. Or, as Blake put it "a truth that's told with bad intent/ beats all the lies you can invent."

It would be reasonable to suppose that an overtly and unarguably narrative ghazal would present fewer transmission problems than most of Hafiz' lyric poems, since the structure would limit the accretion and transposition of verses. Such a supposition, however, would be quite mistaken. The manuscripts differ in the ordering, number, and content of the verses in this poem as much as any other in Hafiz' divan. The only difference is that, because the poem is narrative and depends on the cumulative effect of verses in their linear totality, the variations matter all the more. The different verse-orderings found in the manuscripts of the poem, the different verses excluded or included in them, and the different variants found for the same verse, alter the poem's meaning considerably.

Ghazal 136: The Grail of Jamshed
By Hafiz
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

For years, my questing heart kept asking me 
   where on earth Jamshed's ancient grail could be.
In search of something it already had, 
   it supplicated strangers ceaselessly.
It sought a pearl that slipped the temporal shell 
   from wayward men that maunder by the sea.
Last night I brought the Wineshop's Sage my problem, 
  that where I had been blinded, he might see. 
I saw him, laughing, lift a cup of wine 
   wherein a thousand visions answered me.
Said I to him: "When did God gift you with 
   this grail revealing all reality?"
Said he: "The day His Mind Almighty raised 
  the heavens' vault of lapis lazuli."
Said he: "Recall the smitten Al-Hallaj   
  they hanged on high upon the gallows tree...
His crime was that he told the world of things 
  meant to be contemplated privately.
His heart was gone for God, though God was there. 
  He cried O God because he could not see.
His heart held truth, as soil conceals a seed. 
  His mind put forth glossed leaflets, like a tree.
Moses' white hand would shame his sleights of hand 
  As once it foiled Pharaonic sorcery.
Were the Holy Ghost to lend its grace again,  
  others like Christ would help the blind to see." 
Said I: "Why do the locks of beauty bind me?" 
  "Because of Hafiz' love-crazed heart" said he.


V 1: Jamshed's goblet revealed everything in the world to anyone who looked into it

V 8: Hallāj, a martyr and mystic who was executed in 922 AD in Baghdad, supposedly for having declared ana l-ḥaqq "I am God the Truth." His sleight of hand tricks, which he touted as miracles, are referred to later in the poem.

The Original:

سال ها دل طلبِ جامِ جم از ما مى كرد   وآنچه خود داشت زِ بيگانه تمنّا مى كرد
گَوهَرى كَز صدفِ كون و مكان بيرون است   طلب از گمشدگانِ لبِ دريا مى كرد
مشكلِ خويش بر پيرِ مغان بردم دوش   كو بتأييدِ نظر حلِّ معمّا مى كرد
ديدمش خرَّم و خوش دل قدحِ باده به دست   وندر آن آينه صد گونه تماشا مى كرد
گفت اين جامِ جهان بين به تو كَى داد حكيم   گفت آن روز كه اين گمبدِ مينا مى كرد
گفت آن يار كزو گشت سرِ دار بلند   جرمش اين بود كه اسرار هويدا مى كرد
بيدلى در همه احوال خدا با او بود   او نميديدش و از دور خدايا مى كرد
آنكه چون غنچه دلش رازِ حقيقت بنهفت ورقِ خاطر از اين نكته محشّا مى كرد
اين همه شعبدۀ عقل كه مى كرد اينجا ساحرى پيش عصا و يدِ بيضا مى كرد
فيضِ روح القدس ار باز مدد فرمايد   ديگران هم بكنند آنچه مسيحا مى كرد
گفتمش سلسلۀ زلفِ بتان از پىِ چيست؟   
گفت حافظ گله اى از دلِ شيدا مى كرد


Sālhā dil talab-i jām-i jām az mā mēkard
Wān či xwad dāšt zi bēgāna tamannā mēkard
Gawharē, kaz sadaf-i kawn o makān bērūnast,
Talab az gumšudagān-i lab-i daryā mēkard.
Muškil-i xwēš bar-i pīr- muɣān burdam dōš,
Kō ba ta'yīd-i nazar hall-i mu'ammā mēkard.
Dīdamaš xurram o xwašdil qadah-i bāda ba dast
Wandar ān āyina sad gūna tamāšā mēkard
Guftam "īn jām-i jahānbīn ba to kay dād hakīm"
Guft "ān rōz ki īn gumbad-i mīnā mēkard"
Guft "ān yār kaz ō gašt sar-i dār buland
Jurmaš īn būd ki asrār huwaydā mēkard
Ānki čūn ɣunča dilaš rāz-i haqīqat binahuft
Waraq-i xātir az īn nukta muhaššā mēkard
Bēdilē dar hama ahwāl xudā bā ō būd
Ō namēdīdaš o az dūr xudāyā mēkard.
Īn hama šu'bada-i 'aql ki mēkard īnjā
Sāhirī pēš-i 'asā o yad-i bayzā mēkard
Fayz-i rūh-ul-qudus ar bāz madad farmāyad
Dīgarān ham bukunand ān či masīhā mēkard
Guftamaš: "Silsila-i zulf-i butān az pay-i čīst?"
Guft: "Hāfiz gilaē az dil-i šaydā mēkard."

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