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Today’s featured poet is a figure out of modern day Iran: the legendary Hafez. Born of the 14th century, this Persian poet performed in the Persian lyric forms (ghazals, in his case–a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing meters), his Diwan–ritualized and often highly symbolic collections of poems popular with the courts of the Middle East–remaining some of the most popularized and influential pieces of Persian writing to this day.

While normally I would weave a bit of history for you here, it’s a sad truth of the world that even the most famous of figures can find their details lost to the sands of time. Hafez, for all that his poetry is remembered, has found the details of his actual life largely lost to legends, myths, and frail human minds. What is known is that Hafez was a poet of many courts, from more localized Shahs to the brutal and expansive regime of the legendary Tamerlane. Where many rose and fell, he was a figure that remained, and his art flourished for it. He was a teacher, and likely quite devout and knowledgeable in the words of the Koran. And of course, we know that he died, and that he is buried today in the city of Shiraz, in the gardens of Musalla.

Translations, as you all well know, lose something of the power of the original, but today I offer to you “All the Hemispheres,” one of Hafez’s many works, with the encouragement that you hear it also in its native tongue–and if you know a good translator, to hear their take on the English version as well.

~Chris Galford

All the Hemispheres

Leave the familiar for a while.

Let your senses and bodies stretch out

Like a welcomed season

Onto the meadows and shores and hills.

Open up to the Roof.

Make a new water-mark on your excitement

And love.

Like a blooming night flower,

Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness

And giving

Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.

All the hemispheres in existence

Lie beside an equator

In your heart.

Greet Yourself

In your thousand other forms

As you mount the hidden tide and travel

Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven

Are sitting around a fire

Chatting

While stitching themselves together

Into the Great Circle inside of

You.

Written by: Hafez

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

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