The collected Ghazals of Hafiz

The Collected Ghazals of Hafiz; vol. 1, with the original Farsi poems, English translation & notes by Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri with Maryam Moghadam; ill.; 355 p.; 2017; Beacon Books;; Manchester.

This is the opening verse of the Divan of Hafiz:

O server of love-wine, pass round and be offering the cup,
In the first place love looked easy, but problems came up.
Another verse in the same ghazal is very well known:

Colour the prayer mat with wine, if the Magian Pir tells you to,
For knowledge he has of the Way and what you need to do.

Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri has presented the Divan of Hafiz into these modern English verses. Maryam Moghadam has provided the original Persian text. She has also taken care of the transliteration of the Persian text, so that someone not knowing Persian gets enabled to recite every poem. Another verse of the same ghazal receives this rendition by Jamiluddin:

Fearful indeed is the wave and whirlpool in that dark night;
Those lightly burdened shore-huggers know what of our plight?

The Divan of Hafiz is considered to be a master’s piece. It is not for nothing that the Sufis have described Khwaja Shamsuddin Muhammad-i-Hafiz-i-Shirazi as Lisaan-ul-Ghaib (Tongue of the Unseen) and Tarjumaan-i-Asraar (Interpreter of Hidden Secrets). Jamiluddin and Maryam have presented the complete Divan of Hafiz in 4 volumes, the first volume of which has now been published.

The introduction by Jamiluddin contains a description of the life of Hafiz. It also mentions that the Divan has been used as a means of prognostication. A short commentary is given regarding the symbols to be found in the poetry of Hafiz, while Hafiz receives a place among the stars by briefly comparing him with several other important Sufi poets.

The first translation of a poem of the Divan in the West was done in Latin in the 17th century, while a century later Sir William Jones has been responsible for the first English translation of a ghazal of Hafiz. Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall published a complete translation of the Divan in 2 volumes in German in 1812-13. It received immediate attention by Goethe, who even went as far as describe Hafiz as holy!

Lieut.-Col. H. Wilberforce Clark has been the first one to translate the complete Divan into English (1891). The value thereof is that he treats Hafiz as a Sufi initiate. Clark’s translation demonstrates an extensive knowledge of Sufism. It is a pity however that his prose translation is far removed from the lyrical beauty of the original Persian text. The literal translation is so heavily interpolated with notes that it is very hard to read.

That is why Jamiluddin with his rendition of the Divan in elegant English verse has done modern readers a great favour. He has added notes and a glossary to explain specific Sufi concepts, but has done so in a restrained way in order to let the text speak for itself. He is also responsible for the illustrations that add to the beauty of these collected ghazals of Hafiz.