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Hafiz of Shiraz: Thirty Poems, an Introduction to the Sufi Master [Paperback]

Peter Avery
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

31 Oct 2003
"Hafiz--a quarry of imagery in which poets of all ages might mine."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hafiz was born at Shiraz, in Persia, some time after 1320, and died there in 1389. He is, then, an almost exact contemporary of Chaucer. His standing in Persian literature ranks him with Shakespeare and Goethe. A Sufi, Hafiz lived in troubled times. Cities like Shiraz fell prey to the ambitions of one marauding prince after another and knew little peace. The nomads of Central Asia finally overthrew the rule of these princes, and led to the establishment of the succeeding Timurid Dynasty.

It is of utmost literary interest that a poet who has remained immensely popular and most frequently quoted in his own land should, for the universality and grace of his wisdom and wit, be known outside the land of his birth as he used to be, the subject of veneration among literati both in Europe and the United States. The time for revival of interest in a poet of such cosmopolitan appeal is overdue.

His poems celebrate the love, wine, and the fellowship of all creatures. This volume, first published in 1952, brings back into print at last the renderings, the most beautiful and faithful in English, of this greatest of Persian writers.

Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press LLC; 2nd edition (31 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590510704
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590510704
  • Product Dimensions: 19.5 x 13 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 371,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Generous Selection 2 Sep 2010
By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came to this after reading the Bly / Lewisohn transaltion of Hafez/Hafiz The Angels Knocking on the Tavern Door: Thirty Poems of Hafez. There are the same number of poems, some of which overlap making for an interesting comparison. The introducion adds to my knowledge of the poet and the time he lived in. Yet for me, the poems seem less lively in the English.

That may be my fault. Translator and poet in this collection are hardly less distinguished. As an introduction the the great Persian poet (who has a reputation in his own language to match Shakespeare in English) you certainly won't go wrong here. After this volume, they have gone on to translate all all of Hafiz's Dirwan, which may be the next step after reading either or both selections.

Hafez was a great mystic poet, who impressed no less a figure in European literature than Goethe. Like the great German, he has a strong sense of both sensual and the spiritual, plus at times a delicious sense of humour. He is well served here, and you won't go wrong with them.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal translation of Hafiz 16 Nov 2003
By Dr. Richard M. Price - Published on Amazon.com
Hafiz's popularity today arises from the vogue for a quasi-Sufi mysticism of a 'New Age' variety. But Hafiz was not a religious teacher, but a professional poet, who used the same range of images to express love for an adolescent, mystical yearning, and the praise of some grizzled prince or vizier. The ambiguities in reference and meaning, and the variation between different stylistic registers, make him singularly difficult to translate. Very few of the available English versions are anything like adequate in conveying either the subtleties of meaning or the literary form of the originals. Of all the ones I have come across, this seems to me easily the best. Avery's participation ensures accuracy and authenticity, while Heath-Stubbs (a much respected writer of learned and often witty poetry) produces phrasing of exceptional vividness and vitality. The introduction is brief but very helpful. This book has been one of my favourite volumes of poetry in translation for forty years; its reappearance is a cause of celebration.
For those who can read French the perfect companion to this short English selection is the recent translation by Charles-Henri Fouchecour (you'll find it on amazon.fr under 'Hafez'), which offers a meticulously faithful but still readable translation of the whole Divan (486 poems) with full annotation, adding enormously to the accessibility of the work for a modern western reader.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Translation of 30 of Hafiz's poems 14 Sep 2013
By Tree Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the translations of Hafiz's poetry, but was surprised at how few of Hafiz'spoems were included (Pages 25-74). Fortunately, the translations are numbered so one knows which poems are included. (Pages 75-78 cotains a glossary of names. Pages 1-22 are commentary. Pages 79-81 hold footnotes to the poems).
3.0 out of 5 stars then this small book may satisfy your hunger 16 July 2014
By consumer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For a true sense of the beauty of Hafiz's poetry, try to find 'Fifty Poems of Hafiz" - by A.J.Arberry. This books is based on the book by AJA and others. It seems to be a new attempt, perhaps a PHD thesis, to do something new and different. Some of the renditions seem to wonder off in a different direction than the poet may have intended, being interpreted by the translators. In interpreting his poems, the authors seem to imply that they understand Hafiz and the cultural/time context in which he spoke. If their claim be true, then their interpretations will have merit. If not, then they may be missing the boat ( others have to decide if the interpretations are on or off the mark ! ).
If you desire to experience the beauty of Hafiz and 'smell his roses', this book may not help you. But if you want to get a glimpse of Hafiz, and if a few poems ( 30 ? ) is all you want, then this small book may satisfy your hunger.
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