"For years my heart inquired of me‚"

By Hafez 1310–1390 Hafez

Translated By Dick Davis Read the translator's notes

For years my heart inquired of me
                   Where Jamshid's sacred cup might be,
And what was in its own possession
                   It asked from strangers, constantly;
Begging the pearl that's slipped its shell
                   From lost souls wandering by the sea.

Last night I took my troubles to
                   The Magian sage whose keen eyes see
A hundred answers in the wine
                   Whose cup he, laughing, showed to me.
I questioned him, "When was this cup
                   That shows the world's reality

Handed to you?" He said, "The day
                   Heaven's vault of lapis lazuli
Was raised, and marvelous things took place
                   By Intellect's divine decree,
And Moses' miracles were made
                   And Sameri's apostasy."

He added then, "That friend they hanged   
                   High on the looming gallows tree—
His sin was that he spoke of things
                   Which should be pondered secretly,
The page of truth his heart enclosed
                   Was annotated publicly.

But if the Holy Ghost once more
                   Should lend his aid to us we'd see
Others perform what Jesus did—
                   Since in his heartsick anguish he
Was unaware that God was there
                   And called His name out ceaselessly."

I asked him next, "And beauties' curls
                   That tumble down so sinuously,
What is their meaning? Whence do they come?"
                   "Hafez," the sage replied to me,
"It's your distracted, lovelorn heart
                   That asks these questions constantly."

Source: Poetry (April 2008).

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2008
   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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Poems by Hafez

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion

POET’S REGION Middle East

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