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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly Accessible Love, Light and True Direction
So much Beauty! Hafiz is pure joy and a perfect friend. For Hafiz, Only Love is Real.

I Heard God Laughing, in continuous print for the past eleven years, serves as a beacon of pure light, trueing our compass on our journey to God. In these brilliant, deeply tender, witty, and full hearted renderings, Ladinsky releases the true spirit of this most beloved...
Published on July 24, 2007 by Nancy Barton

versus
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ladinsky poems masquerading as Hafiz
People should be aware that Daniel Ladinsky writes his own original poems, which are inspired by Hafiz, and then calls them "poems by Hafiz". Ladinsky does not translate Hafiz, and his poems do not resemble the legitimate works of Hafiz. THIS IS NOT A COLLECTION OF HAFIZ. They are beautiful poems in their own right, but they are marketed under a deceptive pretense. By...
Published on June 29, 2007 by Nathan Higgins


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly Accessible Love, Light and True Direction, July 24, 2007
By 
Nancy Barton (Charleston, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
So much Beauty! Hafiz is pure joy and a perfect friend. For Hafiz, Only Love is Real.

I Heard God Laughing, in continuous print for the past eleven years, serves as a beacon of pure light, trueing our compass on our journey to God. In these brilliant, deeply tender, witty, and full hearted renderings, Ladinsky releases the true spirit of this most beloved Persian poet and spiritual teacher and makes him fully accessible to our times.

Hafiz has influenced and nourished many writers, poets and scholars through the centuries, including Nietzsche, Byron, Hugo, Lorca, Goethe and Emerson.
If you're interested in knowing more about some of these eminent poets own words about translations/renderings read on, below, following these gems....

Your Beautiful Parched Holy Mouth

A poet is someone
Who can pour Light into a cup,
Then raise it
To nourish
Your beautiful, parched, holy mouth.

an excerpt from " A Golden Compass"

Forget every idea of right and wrong
Any classroom ever taught you,

Because
An empty heart, a tormented mind,
Unkindness, jealousy and fear

Are always the testimony
You have been completely fooled!

Turn your back on those
Who would imprison your wondrous spirit
With deceit and lies.

Come, join the honest company
Of the King's beggars--
Those gamblers, scoundrels and divine clowns
And those astonishing fair courtesans
Who need Divine Love every night.

Come, join the courageous
Who have no choice
But to bet their entire world
That indeed,
Indeed, God is Real.....

Tripping Over Joy

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has made such a Fantastic Move

That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, "I surrender!"

Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think

You have a thousand serious moves.

For anyone interested in the conversation that goes back and forth about the legitimacy of renderings and translations of Hafiz this may be helpful information:

Professor A.J. Arberry's scholarly work with Hafiz has, since the 1940's, been considered the gold standard of Hafiz's literal translations into the English language. In a 1948 review of Arberry's translations, Harvard Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Eric Schroeder, praises Arberry's work and agrees with him concerning the difficulty of presenting this greatest Persian poet to English speaking minds. "For Hafiz' beautiful verbal surface is too complex to retain the felicity of poetry when fully rendered into English. The acoustic structure of English equivalents, it is superfluous to say, could never echo the flawless music of the Persian words." Schroeder's review states too, "the only service of translation is to make the foreign poet a poet of one's own country."

Goethe translated Hafiz and said of him "... Hafiz has no peer!" Of the task of translating, Goethe says, "I revere the rhythm as well as the rhyme, by which poetry first becomes poetry; but that which is really, deeply, and fundamentally effective--what is really permanent and furthering--is what remains of the poet when he is translated into prose ... I therefore consider prose translations more advantageous than poetical ones... Those critical translations that vie with the original seem really to be only for the private delectation of the learned."

Emerson too rendered Hafiz, about whom he stated, "He fears nothing. He sees too far; he sees throughout; such is the only man I wish to see and be." Emerson's translations were both free renderings and translations all made from German sources, for he did not read or speak Persian with any fluency.

Contemporary poet/translator Kenneth Rexroth states, " The writer who can project himself into the exultation of another learns more than the craft of words, He learns the stuff of poetry. It is not just his prosody he keeps alert, it is his heart." One can't find a more alert and exultant heart for our modern world, than Hafiz in the pen of Ladinsky.

If you're drawn to know more, by all means read scholars' translations. If you want to dive into the complex beauty of the Persian language, go there. But if you want immediate holy refreshment, and the encouragement and joy of Hafiz's perfect heart, take _I Heard God Laughing_ home with you!
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ladinsky poems masquerading as Hafiz, June 29, 2007
By 
This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
People should be aware that Daniel Ladinsky writes his own original poems, which are inspired by Hafiz, and then calls them "poems by Hafiz". Ladinsky does not translate Hafiz, and his poems do not resemble the legitimate works of Hafiz. THIS IS NOT A COLLECTION OF HAFIZ. They are beautiful poems in their own right, but they are marketed under a deceptive pretense. By all means, read the poems that Hafiz actually wrote.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Better, February 28, 2008
By 
Zoeeagleeye (Belfast, ME United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
I've read other translators of Hafiz, Rumi, etc. and while I do not speak the original language, I cannot imagine a more truthful and present-time translation of Hafiz totally in keeping with the spirit of his words. I am a poet myself and the good ones make meanings that transcend their own words. Ladinsky taps into Hafiz's meanings and the joy that bubbles up from it is contagious. Every single poem makes Hafiz's spirit come alive garbed in bright shiny eyes and compassionate heart -- looking right at you. It is said that in Arab countries the average person on the street can and will quote Hafiz by heart. You need crucial images to do that. A humdrum or more accurate interpretation in English will not stick to the ears nor the heart. How's this for memorable lines:

"You better start kissing me -- or else!"

"You don't have to act crazy anymore --
We all know you were good at that."

"The stars get clearly drunk
And crazy at night
And throw themselves
Across the sky."

"I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love."

"Do you know how beautiful you are?
I think not, my dear.
Yet Hafiz could set you upon a Stage
And worship you forever!"

"I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question, How are you?"

And finally,
"A poet is someone
Who can pour Light into a spoon,
Then raise it to nourish
Your beautiful parched, holy mouth."

If God is the Light and Hafiz is the spoon, then Daniel Ladinsky is the one holding you upright to receive the gift.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hafiz will touch your heart and make you laugh!, January 28, 2007
This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
I Heard God Laughing, a wonderful book, who could imagine Hafiz from the l4th century would touch us all. The poems can be read over and over and I find I fall deeper and deeper into them, their beauty and love come through in Landinsky's translations. I highly recommend the books, also recommend " The Subject Tonight is Love", and "Love Poems from God" all by Landinsky. I can't say enough about the beauty of his translations, a masterful job he has done.

For anyone wanting to go deeper into relationship with yourself, a partner, etc, turn off the tv, and open one of Landinsky's books and read to your Beloved........it's very sweet, and afterall, isn't that why we are here, to be in relationship and dialogue with each other.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecstatic and Visceral...glorious, September 24, 2007
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This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
What my heart feels when I view a sunset or a baby giggling may differ markedly from what another feels or interprets. Ladinsky's work may leave some cold...which is okay as we all view life through self-adopted filters. But if you startled by an occasional or surprising glimpse of a numinous and swirling piece of the Divine and an unexpected and overwhelming sense of love and compassion, you'll find these poems a homecoming. The 'debate' over the 'accuracy' of Ladinsky's translation of Hafiz is distracting and, in fact, quite irrelevant. It doesn't matter if you dance with Ladinsky or Hafiz or Rabia or Mirabai...the poetry is ecstatic and the dance exquisite.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ladinsky's Ersatz Hafez, May 25, 2014
This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
Translation is complicated in that the veracity of the work must be taken on faith if one does not know the original language. Thus good translators are careful to account for their approach to the craft and take seriously the need to educate their readership. This is especially the case with languages and traditions that are removed from European cultural experience and when translated for an English speaking public which is often monolingual.

Unfortunately, such is not the case with the several publications of Daniel Ladinsky that variously purport to be either translations or versions of the great and inimitable Hafez of Shiraz. Hafez is treasured by Persian speakers as the greatest poet of what is perhaps the world's greatest poetic tradition. To misrepresent him so blatantly, thoroughly and consistently over time as Ladinsky has done, is breathtaking. His work in "translation" does not represent the ghazal form, is not based on the Persian text and can not be referred to extant English translations and versions.

The ghazal in Persian commonly has anywhere from seven to fourteen couplets with an aa, ba, ca, da etc rhyme scheme. The poet "signs" his ghazal with a pen name. Each Persian line in English translation has, on average, about fourteen syllables. The following is my translation of a Hafezian ghazal to illustrate structure, rhyme and typical themes:

Ghazal #332, Khanlari

Although I seethe like a vat of wine from love's ferment,
I drink blood with sealed lips that keep me silent.

It is the soul's resolve to possess the beloved's lips;
Look at me, whose struggle with soul has left me spent!

How can I be free from heart's sorrow when each breath
The idol's black curl rings my ear with the slave's ornament.

God forbid that I fall in love with my own devotion;
This much is true: I drink a glass when the time is cogent.

I hope that on Judgement Day upon the enemy's note,
The burden of His grace doesn't leave me twisted and bent.

My father sold the green of heaven for two grains of wheat;
Why not sell for less this garden that blooms but a moment?

My wearing the dervish frock is not about religion;
It is a covering to conceal a hundred torments.

I who wish to drink only pure and filtered wine, what can
I do but remain with the wise Magian conversant?

If in this way our minstrel plays in the mode of love,
Hafez's verse when heard will create astonishment.

The ghazal is a song composed of couplets which tells a story, but one not based on linear narrative but rather on deeply associated themes. The most consistent theme in Hafez's ghazals is the religion of love.

Ladinsky's work on Hafez does not remotely resemble the ghazal in its Persian line arrangement, as illustrated above. Now, his work need not necessarily mirror the formal qualities of the Persian ghazal in order to convey the meaning and spirit of a given ghazal. However, the problem is much worse than that of form. Ladinsky does not work from the Persian but has claimed to work from various English translations, notably Wilberforce Clark's literal, stilted, Victorian era crib of the Divan-e-Hafez. But since he does not "translate" whole ghazals, but fragments of ghazals, and does not identify what material is the basis for a given "translation/ version", it is impossible to establish even an abstract connection with any text at all. When I read Ladinsky's work, I am not reminded of Hafez in the slightest, and I have translated some eighty Hafez ghazals from the Persian. There is not even a faint echo of Hafez in Ladinsky's work.

So where do Ladinsky's "celebrated" translations come from? Fortunately, Ladinsky has himself supplied the answer. He has been compelled to explain, without the slightest hint of self contradiction or embarrassment, that what he refers to as translation and version is in fact the result of channeling, ie Hafez came to him in some kind of vision and supplied him with the spiritual and linguistic essence of his work.

This being the explanation that Ladinsky has supplied to account for his literary modus operandi, why did he and his publisher not publish his work as New Age spiritual transmission, or the like?

It is abundantly clear that the answer has more to do with marketing and sales than a gift for honest representation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting collection of poetry., September 4, 2007
By 
Mr. B. Sandhu (Herefordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
This is a book of quite short poems that show great playfulness and wisdom.
They are neither nieve or cynical but positive without shying away from the darker side of nature. Also a good translation, the poems flows nicely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absurdly bad translations, January 27, 2014
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This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
This writer is no Coleman Barks... These translations lack all finesse. The language used sounds like these poems were translated by someone in junior high school. Hafiz is exquisite... It would be hard to translate Hafiz into something that sounds ridiculous, but that is the only thing this author succeeded in doing.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confused by question of intellectual property, January 23, 2010
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This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
Landinsky has been described as a reinterpretor of Hafiz' poetry, and that these represent more his own writings than any of Hafiz's compositions. Yet the book is also presented as a representation of Hafiz's writings. This is an important LEGAL question, because we, the readers, are left without information about whether it is permissible to quote these writings in print of public performance. If they are the writings of Hafiz, they are about 650 years old and public domain. If they are Landinsky's own words, decorated with the Hafiz name for status, then it's altogether a different matter. Landinsky, you haven't made this easy. We need to know if this is YOUR work, or Hafiz's. Carify, could you?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, December 6, 2008
By 
C. N. Butterfield (Lima, OH United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy (Paperback)
I've loved Rumi for some time and just recently discovered Hafiz. I see a wonderful similarity in their adoration of the natural world and of the Beloved. The title of this book especially grabbed me because I had an experience of my own recently where I heard the Laughter of God. On my journey sometimes I feel very alone, and it's so comforting to remember other pilgrims have passed this way before. I can't get enough!
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I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy
I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy by Daniel James Ladinsky (Paperback - September 26, 2006)
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