Ode 487

By Hafez 1310–1390 Hafez

Translated By Richard Le Gallienne

With last night’s wine still singing in my head,
I sought the tavern at the break of day,
Though half the world was still asleep in bed;
The harp and flute were up and in full swing,
And a most pleasant morning sound made they;
Already was the wine-cup on the wing.
‘Reason,’ said I, ‘’t is past the time to start,
If you would reach your daily destination,
The holy city of intoxication.’   
So did I pack him off, and he depart
With a stout flask for fellow-traveller.

Left to myself, the tavern-wench I spied,
And sought to win her love by speaking fair;
Alas! she turned upon me, scornful-eyed,
And mocked my foolish hopes of winning her.
Said she, her arching eyebrows like a bow:
‘Thou mark for all the shafts of evil tongues!
Thou shalt not round my middle clasp me so,
Like my good girdle – not for all thy songs! –
So long as thou in all created things
Seest but thyself the centre and the end.
Go spread thy dainty nets for other wings –
Too high the Anca’s nest for thee, my friend.’

Then took I shelter from that stormy sea
In the good ark of wine; yet, woe is me!
Saki and comrade and minstrel all by turns,
She is of maidens the compendium
Who my poor heart in such a fashion spurns.
Self, HAFIZ, self! That thou must overcome!
Hearken the wisdom of the tavern-daughter!
Vain little baggage – well, upon my word!
Thou fairy figment made of clay and water,
As busy with thy beauty as a bird.

Well, HAFIZ, Life’s a riddle – give it up:
There is no answer to it but this cup.   


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Poet Hafez 1310–1390

POET’S REGION Middle East

Subjects Activities, Eating & Drinking

Poetic Terms Ode, Rhymed Stanza

   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 Activities, Eating & Drinking

POET’S REGION Middle East

Poetic Terms Ode, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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