Friday, June 23, 2006

Lay not reproach at the drunkard's door

Bring the cup in thine hand to the Judgment-seat;
Thou shalt rise, oh Hafiz, to Heaven's gate
From the tavern where thou hast tarried late.
And if thou hast worshipped wine, thou shalt meet
The reward that the Faithful attain;
If such thy life, then fear not thy fate,
Thou shalt not have lived and worshipped in vain.

Hafiz of Shiraz (transl. Gertrude Bell)


I'm gradually finding a little time to start looking at the works, in translation of course, of the great Persian Sufi poets, and I am frankly baffled that so much of their work seems to be in praise of booze though - as far as I can tell - they were and remain Muslim exemplars.

Any ideas?

Bring, bring the cup! drink we while yet we may
To our soul's ruin the forbidden draught
Perhaps a treasure-trove is hid away
Among those ruins where the wine has laughed!--
Perhaps the tulip knows the fickleness
Of Fortune's smile, for on her stalk's green shaft
She bears a wine-cup through the wilderness.

The murmuring stream of Ruknabad, the breeze
That blows from out Mosalla's fair pleasaunce,
Summon me back when I would seek heart's ease,
Travelling afar; what though Love's countenance
Be turned full harsh and sorrowful on me,
I care not so that Time's unfriendly glance
Still from my Lady's beauty turned be.

Like Hafiz, drain the goblet cheerfully
While minstrels touch the lute and sweetly sing,
For all that makes thy heart rejoice in thee
Hangs of Life's single, slender, silken string.

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