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Muhammad Shams al-din Hâfiz
(1326 - 1389) Persia

Hâfiz

Poet

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Persian gay poet, generally considered the gretest and finest lyric poet of Persia. Born in Shirâz, a city in he south of what is now Iran, the son of a merchant who had moved to Shirâz from Isfahan, died when Hâfiz was young. Although poor, and at some point a baker's apprentice, Hâfiz had a traditional Islamic education, working as a copist into his thirties.

Very little is known about his life, although it is known that he was invited to Bengal and Baghdad courts. At a point he taught in a Dervish college in Shirâz. His Diwan, a collection of short odes, contains some extolling the pleasures of life and others satirizing his fellow Dervishes.

His particular verse form, which he brought to perfection, was the erotic ghazal, a lyric poem of six to fifteen rhymed couplets. He couched his deep mystical revelations in stunning imagery and multilayered metaphors. His name means "custodian" or "guardian" in Arabic.

Burton noted "that almost all the poetry of Hâfiz is addressed to youths = a feature which is obscured by the fact that "Persian has no genders properly so called". However, the occasional introduction of Arabic in the poems leaves no doubts that the beloved is male.

The poetry of Hafiz retains its popularity in the world of Islam - a collection of his works were published by the Ayatollah Khomeni in Iran in 1979.

The interplay of eroticism and mysticism is illustrated by the poems you can read in our "Homoerotic poems" book.

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Some short quotations here following are taken from Flowers Culled from Persian Gardens (Manchester, 1872), about Hâfiz and (his lover?) the poet Saadi:

Hâfiz.

"Everyone, whether he be abstemious or self indulgent is searching after the Friend. Every place may be the abode of love, whether it be a mosque or a synagogue.... On thy last day, though the cup be in thy hand, thou may'st be borne away to Paradise even from the corner of the tavern."

Hâfiz.

"I have heard a sweet word which was spoken by the old man of Canaan (Jacob)-' No tongue can express what means the separation of friends."

Saadi

"Neither of my own free will cast I myself into the fire; for the chain of affection was laid upon my neck. I was still at a distance when the fire began to glow, nor is this the moment that it was lighted up within me. Who shall impute it to me as a fault, that I am enchanted by my friend, that I am content in casting myself at his feet? "

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If you want to read Hâfiz's poems, please go at his page in our book Famous Homoerotic Poems

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