Four Spring Songs by Hafiz Shirazi

The Iranian Fritillaria
I. SEASON OF THE ROSE

The season comes, that breathes of joy,
In rosy garment drest;
Let mirth, my friends, your care employ;
O, hail the smiling guest!
Old-age now warns us to improve
The vernal hours with wine and love.
To the fond wishes of the heart
How few are gen’rous found!
And the sweet hours, which bliss impart,
Pass on in hasty round:
Then, for the wine I love so well,
My sacred carpet I will sell.
The gale, that smells of spring, is sweet;
But sweeter, should the fair,
With winning elegance replete,
Its grateful freshness share:
By her gay presence chear’d, we pass
With brisker glee the rosy glass.
Soft sweep the lyre of trembling strings;
‘Twill fate’s black rage suppress;
Fate o’er the child of merit flings
The mantle of distress:
Then let loud sorrow’s wailing cry
Be drown’d in floods of melody.

With boiling passion’s eager haste,
Comes forth the blushing rose;
Shall we not wine like water waste,
Soft dashing as it flows?
Now that our throbbing bosoms prove
The wild desires of hope, and love.
O Haufez! thy delightful lay,
That on the wild wind floats,
Resembles much, our poets say,
The nightingale’s rich notes;
What wonder then, thy music flows
In the sweet season of the rose.
Translated by J. NOTT


II. SPRING

Cypress and Tulip and sweet Eglantine,
Of these the tale from lip to lip is sent;
Washed by three cups, oh Saki, of thy wine,
My song shall turn upon this argument.
Spring, bride of all the meadows, rises up,
Clothed in her ripest beauty: fill the cup!
Of Spring’s handmaidens runs this song of mine.
The sugar-loving birds of distant Ind,
Except a Persian sweetmeat that was brought
To fair Bengal, have found nought to their mind.
See how my song, that in one night was wrought,
Defies the limits set by space and time!
O’er plains and mountain-tops my fearless rhyme,
Child of a night, its year-long road shall find.

And thou whose sense is dimmed with piety,
Thou too shalt learn the magic of her eyes;
Forth comes the caravan of sorcery
When from those gates the blue-veined curtains rise.
And when she walks the flowery meadows through,
Upon the jasmine’s shamed cheek the dew
Gathers like sweat, she is so fair to see!
Ah, swerve not from the path of righteousness
Though the world lure thee! like a wrinkled crone,
Hiding beneath her robe lasciviousness,
She plunders them that pause and heed her moan.
From Sinai Moses brings thee wealth untold;
Bow not thine head before the calf of gold
Like Samir, following after wickedness.
From the Shah’s garden blows the wind of Spring,
The tulip in her lifted chalice bears
A dewy wine of Heaven’s minist’ring;
Until Ghiyasuddin, the Sultan, hears,
Sing, Hafiz, of thy longing for his face.
The breezes whispering round thy dwelling-place
Shall carry thy lament unto the King.
Translated by GERTRUDE BELL


III. THE LESSON OF THE FLOWERS

‘Twas morning, and the Lord of day
Had shed his light o’er Shiraz’ towers,
Where bulbuls trill their love-lorn lay
To serenade the maiden flowers.
Like them, oppressed by love’s sweet pain,
I wander in a garden fair;
And there, to cool my throbbing brain,
I woo the perfumed morning air.
The damask rose with beauty gleams,
Its face all bathed in ruddy light,
And shines like some bright star that beams
From out the sombre veil of night.
The very bulbul, as the glow
Of pride and passion warms its breast,
Forgets awhile its former woe
In pride that conquers love’s unrest.
The sweet narcissus opes its eye,
A teardrop glistening on the lash,
As though ’twere gazing piteously
Upon the tulip’s bleeding gash.
The lily seemed to menace me,
And showed its curved and quivering blade,
While every frail anemone
A gossip’s open mouth displayed.
And here and there a graceful group
Of flowers, like men who worship wine,
Each raising up his little stoup
To catch the dewdrop’s draught divine.

And others yet like Hebes stand,
Their dripping vases downward turned,
As if dispensing to the band
The wine for which their hearts had burned.
This moral it is mine to sing:
Go learn a lesson of the flowers;
Joy’s season is in life’s young spring,
Then seize, like them, the fleeting hours.
Translated by E. H. PALMER


IV. SPRING SONG

With sullen pace stern winter leaves the plain,
And blooming spring trips gaily o’er die meads,
Sweet Philomel now swells her plaintive strain,
And her lov’d rose his blushing beauties spreads.

O Zephyr, whilst you waft your gentle gale,
Fraught with the fragrance of Arabia’s groves,
Breathe my soft wishes through yon blooming vale,
Tell charming Leila how her poet loves!
O! for one heavenly glance from that dear maid,
How would my raptur’d heart with joy rebound;
Down to her feet I’d lowly bend my head,
And with my eyebrows sweep the hallow’d ground.
Could those stern fools who steal religion’s mask,
And rail against the sweet delights of love,
Fair Leila see, no paradise they’d ask,
But for her smiles renounce the joys above.
Trust not in fortune, vain deluded charm !
Whom wise men shun, and only fools adore.
Oft, whilst she smiles, Fate sounds the dread alarm,
Round flies her wheel; you sink to rise no more.
Ye rich and great, why rear those princely domes?
Those heaven-aspiring towers why proudly raise?
Lo! whilst triumphant all around you blooms,
Death’s aweful angel numbers out your days.
Sweet tyrant, longer in that flinty breast
Lock not thy heart, my bosom is its throne;
There let the charming flutt’rer gently rest;
Here feast on joys to vulgar souls unknown.
But ah! what means that fiercely-rolling eye,
Those pointed locks which scent the ambient air;
Now my fond hopes in wild disorder fly,
Low droops my love, a prey to black despair.
Those charming brows, arch’d like the heavenly bow,
Arm not, O gentle maid, with such disdain;
Drive not a wretch, already sunk full low,
Hopeless to mourn his never-ceasing pain.
But to the fair no longer be a slave;
Drink, Hafez! revel, all your cares unbend,
And boldly scorn the mean dissembling knave
Who makes religion every vice defend!
Translated by J. RICHARDSON


The translations are from A J Arberry’s Hafiz: Fifty Poems (Cambridge University Press: 1947). [book on amazon]

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