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Poems from the Divan of Hafiz, by Getrude Lowthian Bell, [1897], at


Stanza 1.-When the conqueror Timur entered Shiraz it is related that he summoned Hafiz before him and said: "Of all my empire, Bokhara and Samarkand are the fairest jewels; how comes it that in thy song thou hast declared that thou would’st exchange them against the black mole on the cheek of thy mistress?" Hafiz replied: "It is because of such generosity that I am now as poor as thou seest." The Emperor was not to be outdone in repartee: he sent the poet away a richer man by some hundreds of gold pieces.

"Cest du Molière renversé," says Darmsteter of these lines, and quotes

"Si le roi m’avait donné
Paris sa grande ville,
Et qu’il me fallût quitter
L’amour de ma mie,
Je dirais au roi Henri:
Reprenez votre Paris,
J’aime mieux ma mie, ô gué,
J’aime mieux ma mie!"

In the garden of Mosalla, Hafiz lies buried: the stream Ruknabad flows near at hand.

Stanza 2.—The Luli or gipsies, as they were contemptuously called, were a people of the tribe of Keredj, of Indian origin, who inhabited the country between Shiraz and Isfahan. Their young men and maidens were famous for their beauty and musical accomplishments, and furnished minstrels and dancing girls to the wealthy inhabitants of Shiraz. Sir Henry Layard met with a similar tribe near Baghdad. "They bear," he says, "a very bad reputation on the score of morality, and according to general report lead very dissolute lives. The dancing boys and girls who frequent Baghdad, and are notoriously of evil fame, come principally from this district. Whilst we were resting at the caravanserai a party of them came to perform their indecent dances before us, as they were in the habit of doing on the arrival of travellers."—Early Adventures.

In Turkestan there was formerly an institution called the Feast of Plunder. When the pay-day of the soldiers came round, dishes of rice and great quantities of cooked food were prepared and set out on the ground. The soldiers then rode up, armed as if for battle, and carried off the food with mimic violence. Thus they made reparation to their conscience for accepting a pay lawfully earned, and reminded themselves that rapine was their true profession.

Stanza 3.—Joseph is the Oriental type of perfect beauty. The story of his relations with Zuleikha, Potiphar's wife, is one of the famous love stories of the East; Jami made it the theme of a long metaphysical poem. The part played by Zuleikha in Persian tales is far more creditable than that which is assigned to her either in the Bible or the Koran.

Every translator of Hafiz has tried his hand upon this song, which is one of the most famous in the Divan. It is only right to inform the reader that the original is of great beauty.

The whole poem has received a mystical interpretation which seems to me to add but little to its value or to its intelligibility; but in case any one should wish to gather the higher wisdom from it, I may mention that the mole, powder, and paint, of which a beautiful face does not stand in need, represent the ink, colour, dots, and lines of the Koran; and this is the explanation given to the couplet concerning Joseph and Zuleikha by a thorough-going Western mystic: "By reason of that beauty daily increasing that Joseph (the absolute existence, the real beloved, God) had, I (the first day) knew that love for him would bring Zuleikha (us, things possible) forth from the screen of chastity (the pure existence of God)." The learned translator seems to have felt that his version presented some difficulties, and he adds for the use of his weaker brethren the following comment: "In the world of non-existence and possibility, when I beheld the splendour of true beauty with different qualities, I knew for certain that Love would take us out of the ambush." This makes everything clear.

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