Five Odes of Hafiz

'Transcreated' by Charles Upton from
the (public domain) English translation
of H. Wilberforce Clarke.

1


Come here, Sufi:
Because the mirror of the cup is bright
You can see the ruby light of the wine.

No-one hunts the Anka, so dismantle your trap;
Nothing remains in the hand of the snare
But the wind. Let your struggle live
In the pleasure of the moment, and remember:
When the well ran dry
Adam himself let go of the Garden and the house of safety.

At the banquet of time, have one for host, one for the road
And then go: perpetual union, here
Is not in the cards.

O heart! the strength of youth has gone
Before you could pick even one rose from the garden of life.
Hedonists, libertines,
Drunk as the Mystery that lies hidden in the veil,
For the elevated, self-denying ones
Your state is not becoming.

But as for us, hanging on your doorsill
We are yours to command.
Look again on your slave, Sir; take pity on him! The day this heart placed its reins
In the hand of Your love,
I gave up the desire for an easy life.

I am the disciple of Jamshid's cup: I am Hafiz.
Breeze, take a greeting from this nameless slave
To the Shaikh of Jam.


2


If the Turk of Shiraz takes my heart,
I'll give Bokhara and Samarkand both for the mole on that cheek.

Steward! Bring out what's left of the wine.
In Paradise you will have neither the grassy bank of the Ruknabad
Nor the rose in Musalla's garden.

These sweet, teasing workers, the torment of the city
Steal patience from the heart, just like the Turks
Lift tribute from the tray.

What does the Beloved's beauty
Need with our own flawed beauty?
Loveliness Itself requires neither makeup, nor rouge,
Nor painted mole, nor pencilled eyebrow.

When I saw that every day Joseph became more beautiful,
I knew that love for him would bring out Zulaikha
From behind the curtain of virginity.

Sing the story of troubadour and wine,
Forget trying to catch the mystery of time.
No-one has ever solved it, with all the skill at their command;
And you will fail too.

You insulted me, and I was happy;
Now that you've taken to flattering me,
May God Almighty forgive you.
Bitter words are more appropriate
Coming from that red, succulent, sugar-greedy lip.

You strung pearls on the thread of the night when you sang that lyric;
Maybe, if Hafiz sings sweetly enough,
The thread will break -- scatter the constellation
Of the Pleiades.


3


Speak softly, breeze, to that lovely gazelle;
Tell him it's all because of him
That we dream of steep mountains, of barren deserts.

The sugar-merchant -- may he enjoy long life --
Never asks the fate
Of the parrot who eats his sugar.

When you sit next to the Beloved, drinking wine,
Remember, sometimes, those others you have loved
Whose job is to measure it out.

Rose! Why don't you ask
What ever became of your nightengale?
But I suppose your great beauty
Does not permit of such distractions.

A sweet disposition can catch a cunning bird
Better than a net or trap -- whoever has real insight
Knows this.

Why is it that those dark-eyed, statuesque beauties
With faces like the full moon
Never wear the color
Of constancy?

There is no defect in your beauty, except this one:
That the loveliness of that face can never be divided
Between love, and constancy.

When luck is your friend,
When you're there with all your friends,
When gratitude overcomes you,
Take that opportunity to remember us,
Transients of the desert and the plain.

Look up at the sky -- imagine!
What if the lyrics of Hafiz, and the singing of Zahra
Brought Jesus the Messiah
Dancing on the clouds of heaven?


4


Our Pir abandoned the mosque last night
And headed for the tavern instead!
Now what should his poor disciples do?
How can we face toward the Kaaba
When our Teacher can't face in any direction at all
Except toward the Winemaster?
I suppose we'll have to take up residence
In the Tavern of the Fire-worshipper;
That must have been our destiny
Since before the beginning of time.

Locked in that lock,
In the hangman's noose of that dark hair,
His heart is happy.
(The wise would lose their minds
If wisdom only knew.)

One day, my heart
Caught the bird of peace in its snare --
Then, you let down your hair.
Unaware of the trembling of my hand,
I let the bird go.

When I saw the beauty of your face
Suddenly I understood the meaning of a verse of the Qur'an
That had long eluded me:
Ever since that night, grace and beauty
Have been the whole of my exegesis.

What has one night
Of sighs raining like fire --
What has the fire of the heart
Burning in the blackness of one night ever accomplished
Against the stone of your heart?

When the wind ruffled the mass of your hair,
The world before me turned black.
Passion for that hair of yours (to speak of anything further
Would dishonor me)
Shot my sigh like an arrow
Across the border of the sky.
Have mercy on your soul, Hafiz. Keep silent.
Avoid the arrow of your friends.
Since our Pir has turned into a drunkard,
I'll sleep every night in the doorway of his tavern --
Like Hafiz.


5


The morning of good fortune has come!
Where is the bowl, beaten and polished like the sun?
Bring the cup quickly, for opportunity knocks.

In the house without strife, the Cupbearer is my friend
And subtle wisdom flows
From the minstrel's lips.

It is the season of youth, the hour of ease;
From hand to hand, the cup goes round.

This cup of gold was mixed with ruby elixir
Only to expand the heart, to decorate it with the jewel
Of beauty and of gladness.

The drunken ones are dancing, the Beloved
And his minstrel are waving their arms
In time to the music;
The Saki has stolen sleep from every eye.

This house of safety, this secret cell, this hidden chamber of pleasure
Where best friends meet -
Whoever has found his way into our company
Has found the locked and guarded house
Where a hundred doors stand open.

Thinking to add even further grace to the essence of wine
The subtle breeze, Nature's coutourier
Placed rose-water in the leaf of the rose.

When I knew that the Full Moon had paid with his soul for those pearls of Hafiz,
In that very moment, the sharp twang of the lute
Touched the ear of Zuhra.

2003 - Charles Upton