Gilgamesh dates from as early as 1700 BCE -- a thousand years before the Iliad. Lost for almost two millennia, the eleven clay tablets on which the epic was inscribed were discovered in 1853 in the ruins of Nineveh, and the text was not deciphered and fully translated until the end of the century. When the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke first read Gilgamesh in 1916, he was awestruck. "Gilgamesh is stupendous," he wrote. "I consider it to be among the greatest things that can happen to a person."
The epic is the story of literature's first hero -- the king of Uruk in what is present-day Iraq -- and his journey of self-discovery. Along the way, Gilgamesh discovers that friendship can bring peace to a whole city, that a preemptive attack on a monster can have dire consequences, and that wisdom can be found only when the quest for it is abandoned. In giving voice to grief and the fear of death -- perhaps more powerfully than any book written after it -- in portraying love and vulnerability and the ego's hopeless striving for immortality, the epic has become a personal testimony for millions of readers in dozens of languages.
Kahlil Gibran produced some of the world’s most remarkable poems and philosophical essays throughout his almost thirty-year career. This enriching collection of his works includes more than 150 of his stories, prose poems, verse, parables, and autobiographical essays. From The Broken Wings, about the tragic end of a first love, to A Self Portrait, revealing Gibran’s greatest passions through his personal letters to friends and family, each book in this collection serves as an absorbing and comprehensive introduction to the legendary thinker.
More than any other Persian poet—even Rumi—Hafiz expanded the mystical, healing dimensions of poetry. Because his poems were often ecstatic love songs from God to his beloved world, many have called Hafiz the "Invisible Tongue." Indeed, Daniel Ladinsky has said that his work with Hafiz is an attempt to do the impossible: to render Light into words—to make the Luminous Resonance of God tangible to our finite senses.
a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves
listen to this
With this stunning collection of Hafiz's most intimate poems, Ladinsky has succeeded brilliantly in presenting the essence of one of Islam's greatest poetic and religious voices. Each line of The Gift imparts the wonderful qualities of this master Sufi poet and spiritual teacher: encouragement, an audacious love that touches lives, profound knowledge, generosity, and a sweet, playful genius unparalleled in world literature.
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
'All the men I did get to know filled me with but one desire: to lift my hand and bring it smashing down on his face.'
So begins Firdaus's remarkable story of rebellion against a society founded on lies, hypocrisy, brutality and oppression. Born to a peasant family in the Egyptian countryside, Firdaus struggles through childhood, seeking compassion and knowledge in a world which gives her little of either. As she grows up and escapes the fetters of her childhood, each new relationship teaches her a bitter but liberating truth – that the only free people are those who want nothing, fear nothing and hope for nothing.
This classic novel has been an inspiration to countless people across the world. Saadawi's searing indictment of society's brutal treatment of women continues to resonate today.
Rumi's masterpieces have inspired countless people throughout the centuries, and Coleman Barks's exquisite renderings of the thirteenth-century Persian mystic are widely considered the definitive versions for our time. Barks's translations capture the inward exploration and intensity that characterize Rumi's poetry, making this unique voice of mysticism and desire contemporary while remaining true to the original poems. In this volume readers will encounter the essence of Sufism's insights into the experience of divine love, wisdom, and the nature of both humanity and God.
While Barks's stamp on this collection is clear, it is Rumi's voice that leaps off these pages with a rapturous power that leaves readers breathless. These poems express our deepest yearning for the transcendent connection with the source of the divine: there are passionate outbursts about the torment of longing for the beloved and the sweet delight that comes from union; stories of sexual adventures and of loss; poems of love and fury, sadness and joy; and quiet truths about the beauty and variety of human emotion. For Rumi, soul and body and emotion are not separate but are rather part of the great mystery of mortal life, a riddle whose solution is love. Above all else, Rumi's poetry exposes us to the delight that comes from being fully alive, urging us always to put aside our fears and take the risk of discovering our core self:No one knows what makes the soul wake up so happy! Maybe a dawn breeze has blown the veil from the face of God.
These fresh, original translations magnificently convey Rumi's insights into the human heart and its longings with his signature passion and daring, focusing on the ecstatic experience of the inseparability of human and divine love. The match between Rumi's sublime poetry and Coleman Barks's poetic art are unequaled, and here this artistic union is raised to new heights.
Rūmī produced an enormous body of work — as many as 2,500 mystical odes, 25,000 rhyming couplets, and 1,600 quatrains — some of it instructional, some personal and emotional, much of it sublimely beautiful. The present volume includes over 100 of his finest lyrics, including "The Marriage of True Minds," "The Children of Light," "The Man who Looked Back on his way to Hell," "The Ascending Soul," "The Pear-Tree of Illusion," "The Riddles of God," and many more.
"In some of these poems," says A. J. Arberry in the Introduction, "the mystic's passion is so exuberant, his imagination so overflowing, that we catch glimpses of the very madness of Divine experience."
To Persians , the poems of Hafiz are not "classical literature" from a remote past but cherished wisdom from a dear and intimate friend that continue to be quoted in daily life. With uncanny insight, Hafiz captures the many forms and stages of love. His poetry outlines the stages of the mystic's "path of love"-a journey in which love dissolves personal boundaries and limitations to join larger processes of growth and transformation.
With this stunning collection, Ladinsky has succeeded brilliantly in translating the essence of one of Islam's greatest poetic and spiritual voices.
"If you haven't yet had the delight of dining with Daniel Ladinsky's sweet, playful renderings of the musings of the great saints, I Heard God Laughing is a perfect appetizer. . . . This newly released edition of his first playful foray into Hafiz's divinely inspired poetry is essential reading . . . . Ladinsky is a master who will be remembered for finally bringing Hafiz alive in the West."—Alexandra Marks, The Christian Science Monitor
As a window on the world, Shahnameh belongs in the company of such literary masterpieces as Dante’s Divine Comedy, the plays of Shakespeare, the epics of Homer— classics whose reach and range bring whole cultures into view. In its pages are unforgettable moments of national triumph and failure, human courage and cruelty, blissful love and bitter grief.
In tracing the roots of Iran, Shahnameh initially draws on the depths of legend and then carries its story into historical times, when ancient Persia was swept into an expanding Islamic empire. Now Dick Davis, the greatest modern translator of Persian poetry, has revisited that poem, turning the finest stories of Ferdowsi’s original into an elegant combination of prose and verse. For the first time in English, in the most complete form possible, readers can experience Shahnameh in the same way that Iranian storytellers have lovingly conveyed it in Persian for the past thousand years.
Devour it the moment it is fresh, before the dust settles upon it.
Its place is the warm climate of the heart; in this world it dies of cold.
Like a fish it quivered for an instant on dry land, another moment and you see it is cold.
Even if you eat it imagining it is fresh, it is necessary to conjure up many images.
What you drink is really your own imagination; it is no old tale, my good man.
Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207–73), legendary Persian Muslim poet, theologian, and mystic, wrote poems acclaimed through the centuries for their powerful spiritual images and provocative content, which often described Rumi’s love for God in romantic or erotic terms. His vast body of work includes more than three thousand lyrics and odes. This volume includes four hundred poems selected by renowned Rumi scholar A. J. Arberry, who provides here one of the most comprehensive and adept English translations of this enigmatic genius. Mystical Poems is the definitive resource for anyone seeking an introduction to or an enriched understanding of one of the world’s greatest poets.
“Rumi is one of the world’s greatest lyrical poets in any language—as well as probably the most accessible and approachable representative of Islamic civilization for Western students.”—James W. Morris, Oberlin College
Jonathan Star has assembled selections of Rumi?s verse in a treasury that spans the poet?s life and includes his most celebrated and poignant work. It is an enchanting volume of classic Eastern thought that creates an exhilarating experience for all readers.
Miraculously preserved on clay tablets dating back as much as four thousand years, the poem of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the world's oldest epic, predating Homer by many centuries. The story tells of Gilgamesh's adventures with the wild man Enkidu, and of his arduous journey to the ends of the earth in quest of the Babylonian Noah and the secret of immortality. Alongside its themes of family, friendship and the duties of kings, The Epic of Gilgamesh is, above all, about mankind's eternal struggle with the fear of death.
The Babylonian version has been known for over a century, but linguists are still deciphering new fragments in Akkadian and Sumerian. Andrew George's gripping translation brilliantly combines these into a fluid narrative and will long rank as the definitive English Gilgamesh.
If you enjoyed The Epic of Gilgamesh, you might like Homer's Iliad, also available in Penguin Classics.
'A masterly new verse translation'
'Andrew George has skilfully bridged the gap between a scholarly re-edition and a popular work'
London Review of Books
The traditional stories of a country are invaluable at providing insight into understanding the culture, history and language of a people. A great way to learn Arabic, the sixty-six stories found in Arabic Stories for Language Learners present the vocabulary and grammar used every day in Arabic-speaking countries. Pulled from a wide variety of sources that have been edited and simplified for learning purposes, these stories are presented in parallel Arabic and English, facilitating language learning in the classroom and via self-study. Each story is followed by a series of questions in Arabic and English to test comprehension and encourage discussion.
Arabic Stories for Language Learners brings Arab culture to life colorfully and immediately. Regardless of whether or not you have a working knowledge of Arabic, this book gives readers a tantalizing introduction to the wisdom and humor of these ancient desert-dwelling peoples.
The downloadable in audio helps students of Arabic improve their pronunciation and inflection, and immerses non-students into the uniquely Arabic storytelling style.
Considered by Rumi to be “the master” of Sufi mystic poetry, Attar is best known for his epic poem The Conference of the Birds, a magnificent allegorical tale about the soul’s search for meaning. The poem recounts the perilous journey of the world’s birds to the faraway peaks of Mount Qaf—a mythical mountain that wraps around the earth—in search of their king, the mysterious Simorgh. Attar’s beguiling anecdotes and humor intermingle the sublime with the mundane, the spiritual with the worldly, and the religious with the metaphysical. Reflecting the entire evolution of Sufi mystic tradition, The Conference of the Birds models the soul’s escape from the mind’s rational embrace.
Wolpé re-creates the intense beauty of the original Persian in contemporary English verse and poetic prose, capturing for the first time the grace and timeless wisdom of Attar’s complete masterwork for modern readers.
Kahlil Gibran’s works are known throughout the world for their lyrical grandeur, wisdom, and insights drawn from the everyday sufferings of man. This nine-book collection captures one of modern history’s titanic literary figures at his best. Texts such as “The Secret of the Heart,” “Laughter and Tears,” and “Song of the Flower” reveal the vivid splendor of life through Gibran’s gifted similes and symbolism. Passionate and unforgettable, these verses of lyric prose impart to the reader a grand symphony of sparking joys epitomizing the qualities that have made Gibran one of the world’s most eminent philosophical virtuosos.
Dick Davis—“our pre-eminent translator from the Persian” (The Washington Post)—has revised and expanded his acclaimed translation of Ferdowsi’s masterpiece, adding more than 100 pages of newly translated text. Davis’s elegant combination of prose and verse allows the poetry of the Shahnameh to sing its own tales directly, interspersed sparingly with clearly marked explanations to ease along modern readers.
Originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan in the tenth century, the Shahnameh is among the greatest works of world literature. This prodigious narrative tells the story of pre-Islamic Persia, from the mythical creation of the world and the dawn of Persian civilization through the seventh-century Arab conquest. The stories of the Shahnameh are deeply embedded in Persian culture and beyond, as attested by their appearance in such works as The Kite Runner and the love poems of Rumi and Hafez.
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
“Elegant and exquisite.” —Deepak Chopra, author of Muhammad, Jesus, and Buddha
The Big Red Book is a poetic masterpiece from Jalaluddin Rumi, the medieval Sufi mystic whom Time magazine calls “the most popular poet in America.” Readers continue to be awed and inspired by Rumi’s masterfully lyrical, deeply expressive poems, collected in volumes such as The Illustrated Rumi, The Soul of Rumi, and the bestselling The Essential Rumi. With The Big Red Book, acclaimed poet and Rumi interpreter Coleman Barks offers a never-before-published translation of a crucial anthology of poems widely considered to be one of Persian literature’s greatest treasures.
In this stunning translation, Coleman Barks brings to light Rumi’s theme of “love as religion”—that to reach its most profound depths requires mindful practice—as well as love in its most meaningful form: soul friendship. These short poems by both Rumi and Shams Tabriz, rich in beauty and spiritual insight, capture the delight and the impermanence of these bonds that pierce deep into the human mind, heart, and soul.
Rumi’s poetry is honored and enjoyed by many traditions and cultures. Today, many people from all walks of life have moved beyond traditional notions of spirituality, embracing a sense of the sacred that transcends a singular religion, belief, or text. Rumi’s poetry speaks to them and nourishes their divine yearnings. Joyous and contemplative, provocative and playful, Rumi: Soul Fury is a sterling addition to the modern Rumi oeuvre, and is sure to be embraced by his wide and devoted readership.
Personified animals (snakes, wolves, sheep), natural things (a swamp, a lake, a rainbow, trees), mankind’s creations (trucks, swords, zeroes) are all characters in The Teeth of the Comb. They aspire, they plot, they hope, they destroy, they fail, they love. These wonderful small stories animate new realities and make us see our reality anew. Reading Alomar’s sly moral fables and sharp political allegories, the reader always sits up a little straighter, and a little wiser. Here is the title story:
Some of the teeth of the comb were envious of the class differences that exist between humans. They strived desperately to increase their height, and, when they succeeded, began to look with disdain on their colleagues below.
After a little while the comb’s owner felt a desire to comb his hair. But when he found the comb in this state he threw it in the garbage.
Ecstatic love poems of Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi mystic born over eight centuries ago, are beloved by millions of readers in America as well as around the world. He has been compared to Shakespeare for his outpouring of creativity and to Saint Francis of Assisi for his spiritual wisdom. Yet his life has long remained the stuff of legend rather than intimate knowledge.
In this breakthrough biography, Brad Gooch brilliantly brings to life the man and puts a face to the name Rumi, vividly coloring in his time and place—a world as rife with conflict as our own. The map of Rumi’s life stretched over 2,500 miles. Gooch traces this epic journey from Central Asia, where Rumi was born in 1207, traveling with his family, displaced by Mongol terror, to settle in Konya, Turkey. Pivotal was the disruptive appearance of Shams of Tabriz, who taught him to whirl and transformed him from a respectable Muslim preacher into a poet and mystic. Their vital connection as teacher and pupil, friend and beloved, is one of the world’s greatest spiritual love stories. When Shams disappeared, Rumi coped with the pain of separation by composing joyous poems of reunion, both human and divine.
Ambitious, bold, and beautifully written, Rumi’s Secret reveals the unfolding of Rumi’s devotion to a "religion of love," remarkable in his own time and made even more relevant for the twenty-first century by this compelling account.
Because my love's American,
blisters blossom on my heart.
Afghans revere poetry, particularly the high literary forms that derive from Persian or Arabic. But the poem above is a folk couplet—a landay, an ancient oral and anonymous form created by and for mostly illiterate people: the more than 20 million Pashtun women who span the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. War, separation, homeland, love—these are the subjects of landays, which are brutal and spare, can be remixed like rap, and are powerful in that they make no attempts to be literary. From Facebook to drone strikes to the songs of the ancient caravans that first brought these poems to Afghanistan thousands of years ago, landays reflect contemporary Pashtun life and the impact of three decades of war. With the U.S. withdrawal in 2014 looming, these are the voices of protest most at risk of being lost when the Americans leave.
After learning the story of a teenage girl who was forbidden to write poems and set herself on fire in protest, the poet Eliza Griswold and the photographer Seamus Murphy journeyed to Afghanistan to learn about these women and to collect their landays. The poems gathered in I Am the Beggar of the World express a collective rage, a lament, a filthy joke, a love of homeland, an aching longing, a call to arms, all of which belie any facile image of a Pashtun woman as nothing but a mute ghost beneath a blue burqa.
* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to the epic saga
* Concise introduction to the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’
* Images of how the epic was first written, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts
* Excellent formatting of the texts
* OLD BABYLONIAN VERSION translated by Albert Tobias Clay and Morris Jastrow
* STANDARD VERSION translated by R. Campbell Thompson
* Also includes the first ever English translation of the epic by George Smith, appearing in THE CHALDAEAN ACCOUNT OF GENESIS
* Features Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton’s poetic translation ISHTAR AND IZDUBAR
* Easily locate the sections and tablets you want to read with individual contents tables
* Three contextual books to aid your study of Assyrian and Babylonian literature, including Sayce’s seminal work BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS, LIFE AND CUSTOMS
* Scholarly ordering of texts
Please visit www.delphiclassics.com to see our wide range of poet titles
The Epic of Gilgamesh
BRIEF INTRODUCTION: EPIC OF GILGAMESH
OLD BABYLONIAN VERSION
THE CHALDAEAN ACCOUNT OF GENESIS
ISHTAR AND IZDUBAR
The Contextual Works
BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS, LIFE AND CUSTOMS by A. H. Sayce
BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN LAWS, CONTRACTS AND LETTERS by C. H. W. Johns
ASSYRIAN HISTORIOGRAPHY: A SOURCE STUDY by A. T. Olmstead
Please visit www.delphiclassics.com to browse through our range of poetry titles or buy the entire Delphi Poets Series as a Super Set
Remi Kanazi's poetry presents an unflinching look at the lives of Palestinians under occupation and as refugees scattered across the globe. He captures the Palestinian people's stubborn refusal to be erased, gives voice to the ongoing struggle for liberation, and explores the meaning of international solidarity.
In this latest collection, Kanazi expands his focus outside the sphere of Palestine and presents pieces examining racism in America, police brutality, US militarism at home and wars abroad, conflict voyeurism, Islamophobia, and a range of other issues.
The poems of Hafiz are masterpieces of sacred poetry that nurture the heart, soul, and mind. With learned insight and a delicate hand, Daniel Ladinsky explores the many emotions addressed in these verses. His renderings, presented here in 365 poignant poems—including a section based on the translations of Hafiz by Ralph Waldo Emerson—capture the compelling wisdom of one of the most revered Sufi poets. Intimate and often spiritual, these poems are beautifully sensuous, playful, wacky, and profound, and provide guidance for everyday life, as well as deep wisdom to savor through a lifetime.
"It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest poems in the language. The Earth Gods is, perhaps, a book for the mystic, a poet's book for poets, for the initiate and the dreamer of vast dreams. Yet I have known those who pride themselves on being highly practical and feet-on-the-ground, who disown any bent toward the mystical and the occult, to pronounce it a book of wonder and power. And as a child of seven to whom I read portions of the poem on request, says unvaryingly, 'Read it again!' This, perhaps, for the music and the almost unearthly beauty of rhythm."
—Barbara Young, in This Man From Lebanon: A Study of Kahlil Gibran
In the magic my body becomes, Jess Rizkallah seeks a vernacular for the inescapable middle ground of being Arab American—a space that she finds, at times, to be too Arab for America and too American for her Lebanese elders.
The voice here freely asserts gender, sexuality, and religious beliefs, while at the same time it respects a generational divide: the younger’s privilege gained by the sacrifice of the older, the impossibility of separating what is wholly hers from what is hers second-hand.
In exploring family history, civil war, trauma, and Lebanon itself, Rizkallah draws from the spirits of canonical Arab and Middle Eastern poets, and the reader feels these spirits exorcising the grief of those who are still alive. Throughout, there is the body, a reclamation and pushback against cultures that simultaneously sexualize and shame women. And there is a softness as inherent as rage, a resisting of stereotypes that too often speak louder than the complexities of a colonized, yet resilient, cultural identity.
Rizkallah’s the magic my body becomes is an exciting new book from an exciting young poet, a love letter to a people as well as a fist in the air. It is the first book in the Etel Adnan Poetry Series, publishing first or second books of poetry in English by writers of Arab heritage.
Mahmoud Darwish was that rare literary phenomenon: a poet both acclaimed by critics as one of the most important poets in the Arab world and beloved by his readers. His language—lyrical and tender—helped to transform modern Arabic poetry into a living metaphor for the universal experiences of exile, loss, and identity. The poems in this collection, constructed from the cadence and imagery of the Palestinian struggle, shift
between the most intimate individual experience and the burdens of history and collective memory. Brilliantly translated by Fady Joudah, If I Were Another—which collects the greatest epic works of Darwish's mature years—is a powerful yet elegant work by a master poet and demonstrates why Darwish was one of the most celebrated poets of his time and was hailed as the voice and conscience of an entire people.
* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Rumi's life and works
* Concise introductions to the poetry
* Images of how the poetry books were first printed, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts
* Features translations of both ‘The Masnavi’ and selections of ‘The Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi’
* Excellent formatting of the poems
* Easily locate the poems and section you want to read
* Features two biographies - discover Rumi's literary life
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres
Please visit www.delphiclassics.com to see our wide range of poet titles
JAMES REDHOUSE 1881 TRANSLATION
EDWARD HENRY WHINFIELD 1898 TRANSLATION
The Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi
THE DIWAN-E SHAMS-E TABRIZI
REYNOLD A. NICHOLSON TRANSLATION
THE LIFE AND WORK OF JALÁLU'D-DÍN RÚMÍ by Frederick Hadland Davis
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY by Reynold Nicholson
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Naomi Wallace's award-winning plays, which include One Flea Spare and The Fever Chart, are produced in the United States and around the world. Wallace is a recipient of an Obie Award, the MacArthur Fellowship, and the inaugural Windham Campbell prize for drama in 2013.
Ismail Khalidi is a playwright and poet. His plays include Tennis in Nablus, Truth Serum Blues, and Sabra Falling.
In this magnificent volume, Gibran’s writings have been translated from their native Arabic to English by Anthony Rizcallah Ferris. The collection includes The Broken Wings, an exquisitely tender, poetic love story; The Voice of the Master, a remarkable study of life; and Thoughts and Meditations, containing Gibran’s spiritual message to the world. Each work, studded with gems of wisdom and truth, adds up to a warm, lively, and philosophical portrait of one of the twentieth century’s greatest poetic masters.
The reader sees war, diaspora, and immigration, and hears the marginalized voices of women of color. The poems use lyrical diction and striking imagery to evoke the weight of an emotional and visceral journey. They grow and build in length and form, reflecting the gains the women in the poems make in re-creating selfhood through endurance and strength.
In prose, narrative, and confessional-style poems, Alyan reflects on how physical space is refashioned, transmitted, and remembered. Her voice is distinct, fresh, relevant, and welcoming.
In Kingdom of Olives and Ash, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, two of today's most renowned novelists and essayists, have teamed up with the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence—an organization comprised of former Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied territories and saw firsthand the injustice there—and a host of illustrious writers to tell the stories of the people on the ground in the contested territories.
Kingdom of Olives and Ash includes contributions from several of today’s most esteemed storytellers including: Colum McCann, Jacqueline Woodson, Colm Toibin, Geraldine Brooks, Dave Eggers, Hari Kunzru, Raja Shehadeh, Mario Vargas Llosa and Assaf Gavron, as well as from editors Chabon and Waldman. Through these incisive, perceptive, and poignant essays, readers will gain unique insight into the narratives behind the litany of grim destruction broadcasted nightly on the news, as well as deeper understanding of the conflict as experienced by the people who live in the occupied territories. Together, these stories stand witness to the human cost of the occupation.
Marilyn Booth's fluid translation brings to an English audience one of the Arabic language's finest contemporary novelists. Widely celebrated in France, where she currently lives in exile (from Lebanon), Hoda Barakat writes from personal experience: her novels focus on the civil war in Lebanon and how it shaped the lives of people marginalized by the conflict. Compelling scenarios of war and its aftermath of suffering and destruction are integrated into subtle psychological portraitswith protagonists often propelled into unexpected action.
Poetry is the greatest literary form of ancient Persia and modern Iran, and the fourteenth-century poet known as Hafiz is its preeminent master. Little is known about the poet's life, and there are more legends than facts relating to the particulars of his existence. This mythic quality is entirely appropriate for the man known as "The Interpreter of Mysteries" and "The Tongue of the Hidden," whose verse is regarded as oracular by those seeking guidance and attempting to realize wishes.
A mere fraction of what is presumed to have been an extensive body of work survives. This collection is derived from Hafiz's Divan (collected poems), a classic of Sufism. The short poems, called ghazals, are sonnet-like arrangements of varied numbers of couplets. In the tradition of Persian poetry and Sufi philosophy, each poem corresponds to two interpretations, sensual and mystic.
This outstanding translation of Hafiz's poetry was created by historian and Arabic scholar Gertrude Bell, who observed, "These are the utterances of a great poet, the imaginative interpreter of the heart of man; they are not of one age, or of another, but for all time."