A deeper look at Rumi and Hafez - In the original Persian and English Past

Saturday, Aug 13, 2016 ,
1:00 PM
- Surry Hills, Australia

"Men of sight can lose both worlds in one glance. In love/One can stake the cash of life in the first round of the game." - Hâfez

"Lovers may lose both worlds in one instant/.../They pass a thousand stations for the scent of one breath/They lose a thousand lives for the sake of one heart." - Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi

What can we learn from two master poets from 13th and 14th century Persia? Lessons on:

• Having hope in times of struggle, & reducing worry
• Living in the present moment and savouring the 'Now' (wisdom known 8 centuries before Eckhart Tolle!)
• The significance of suffering and the value of love and beauty
• Maintaining a connection with God, or the Sacred.

This will be an interactive and music filled lecture on the differences and similarities of Rumi (1207-1273) and Hâfez (1327-1390), and how their differences in particular mean that astute readers who are today looking for spiritual wisdom have two unique magisterial and generous voices upon which to draw.

Poems will be read in both Persian and English, in a few different translations. There will be a handout & slide show, with short videos & music. Everyone attending will be asked to participate in small ways, to share views & ask questions.

Questions/topics to be touched upon:

The work of most Persian poets is infused from start to finish with the theme of love: eshgh (from the Arabic). It is a love which, as with the examples above, annihilates. But what is meant by the 'both worlds' which are being thrown away for the madness of love? And do Rumi and Hâfez mean the same thing when they speak of love? Rumi was obviously a Sufi, but was Hâfez? How does the work of Hâfez engage with and draw upon Islamic mysticism, or even other mystical traditions (Zoroastrian, neo-Platonic, etc) as opposed to Rumi's engagement with these paths and traditions?

When these poets are invoked in popular internet-friendly translations, their voices sound suspiciously similar. Persian speakers know that Rumi and Hâfez may speak of similar subject matter, but their use of language, vocabulary, rhythm, melody and a host of other poetic features are very different.

What is the role of metaphor & symbolism in Hâfez? Is Hâfez a poet of earthly joys and social protest as some commentators have argued, is he purely an interior and mystical poet, or is he at once alluding to the earthly and the heavenly? Given that his ghazaliyat (lyrics) have no fixed subject (unlike Rumi) but shift from line to line, how should we read Hâfez?

Hâfez has always been the most highly prized poet of Iran, due to his virtuoso command over the Persian language: including rhetorical devices, harmonic and euphonious lines, and the multiplicity of meaning he wove into his lines, such that each poem can be interpreted in a plethora of ways. In lyric love poems of the highest subtlety, Hâfez gives us a multitude of wisdom still very much relevant to our lives today, among the most important of which is the craft of seeing the world as enchanted and full of signs which, due to their beauty, tell us that the nature of Ultimate Reality itself is beautiful.


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