Posted on: 17 July 2013

Digital Rare Book:
Poems from the Divan of Hafiz
Translated by Gertrude Lowthian Bell
Published by William Heineman, London - 1897

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Folio from a Divan (collected poems) by Hafiz (d. 1390); recto: text, Poem of wisdom of love, beauty, and celebration of time; verso: illustration and text, Feast of 'id
1523 ca.

Muhammad Qutbshah
Uzbek period

Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H: 30.0 W: 18.9 cm
Herat, Afghanistan

This illustration belongs to an early-sixteenth-century copy of the Divan of the great Persian poet Hafiz. Known for his ghazals (lyrical odes), Hafiz's verses elaborate on certain abstract themes, such as youth, beauty, love, and wine, that are common to much of classical Persian poetry. His work is also infused with a distinct mystical content, associated with the Sufi sect of Islam.

The Feast of Id is inscribed with the following verses:

It is time to celebrate, the end [of the season] and
friends are waiting,
Saqi (wine bearer), behold the moon in the king's
face and bring wine.

The celebration marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, which begins and ends with the moon's sighting. Here, the crescent is visible in the upper right corner. To translate the lyrical mood of Hafiz's poem into visual form, the artist has created a lush garden setting, where elegantly dressed men are conversing, reading, listening to music, and drinking wine.

Copyright © Smithsonian Institution

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Hafiz is my favourite poet ever. He has a line for every mood I'm in, even the hopeless ones, and he gives me comfort.

"I have learned so much from God That I can no longer call myself A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew. The truth has shared so much of itself with me That I can no longer call myself A man, a woman, an angel, or even a pure soul. Love has befriended Hafez so completely, it has turned to ash and freed me… Of every concept and image, my mind has ever known." - From " I have learned so much" by Hafez (Translated by Daniel Ladinsky) & projected on screens by the rock band, Depeche Mode, as acknowledgement of their credit to Hafez for the inspiration of their classic hit " Precious" . You can see some live versions with the Hafez lyrics on youtube but here is the original video ( )

Some Precious moments for me - Visiting Hafez's tomb at Shiraz, Iran in spring - a surreal experience - gardens by the river-side, trees laden so heavy with flowers & fruits that their branches bend over, young folks sitting in gardens reciting poetry all around - paradise garden exists ; Getting drenched in autumn rain at a Depeche Mode rock concert in Bratislava & suddenly discovering that "Precious" has lyrics inspired by Hafez ; Visiting Rampur's Raza Library to discover that Emperor Akbar's illustrated Divan of Hafez awaits discovery right here ( see a page of it here - Image # 7 of the moving pictures on this URL -> ) - Hafez is all around us ....


Enchanting it