Ode 44

By Hafez 1310–1390 Hafez

Translated By Richard Le Gallienne

Last night, as half asleep I dreaming lay,
    Half naked came she in her little shift,
         With tilted glass, and verses on her lips;
Narcissus-eyes all shining for the fray,
         Filled full of frolic to her wine-red lips,
         Warm as a dewy rose, sudden she slips
    Into my bed – just in her little shift.

Said she, half naked, half asleep, half heard,
With a soft sigh betwixt each lazy word,
‘Oh my old lover, do you sleep or wake!’
And instant I sat upright for her sake,
And drank whatever wine she poured for me –   
Wine of the tavern, or vintage it might be
Of Heaven’s own vine: he surely were a churl
Who refused wine poured out by such a girl,
A double traitor he to wine and love.
Go to, thou puritan! the gods above
Ordained this wine for us, but not for thee;
Drunkards we are by a divine decree,
Yea, by the special privilege of heaven
Foredoomed to drink and foreordained forgiven.   

Ah! HAFIZ, you are not the only man
    Who promised penitence and broke down after;
For who can keep so hard a promise, man,   
    With wine and woman brimming o’er with laughter!
O knotted locks, filled like a flower with scent,
How have you ravished this poor penitent!

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Poet Hafez 1310–1390

POET’S REGION Middle East

Subjects Love, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

   Hafez

Biography

Persian lyric poet Hafiz (born Khwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šīrāzī) grew up in Shiraz. Very little is known about his life, but it is thought that he may have memorized the Qur’an after hearing his father recite passages. When his father died, he left school to work at a bakery and as a copyist. Hafiz became a poet at the court of Abu Ishak and also taught at a religious college. He is one of the most celebrated . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION Middle East

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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