Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hafez - Last night I saw the angels

Recently I've been reading some of the poetry of Hafez, the 14th century Persian poet, whose work is still revered now. It seems that a lot of his poetry dealt with themes of love, but also with wine, which he must have been quite fond of. Of all the poems of his I have read so far, the one below is probably my favourite.

Last night I saw the angels
tapping at the wine-shop’s door.
And kneading Adam’s dust,
and molding it as cups for wine;

And, where I sat beside the road,
these messengers of heaven
Gave me their wine to drink,
so that their drunkenness was mine.

The heavens could not bear
the heavy trust they had been given,
And lots were cast, and crazed
Hafez’s name received the sign

Forgive the seventy-two
competing factions- all their tales
Mean that the Truth is what
they haven’t seen and can’t define.

But I am thankful that there’s peace
between Him now, and me;
In celebration of our pact
the houris drink their wine-

And fire is not what gently smiles
from candles’ flames, it’s what
Annihilates the flocking moths
that flutter round His shrine.

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