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The Angels Knocking on the Tavern Door: Thirty Poems of Hafez Paperback – March 24, 2009
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
The medieval Persian mystical poet Hafez used sinuous lines and ringing metaphors to write about wisdom, the dangers of repression and the paradoxes of his faith. His blend of simplicity and challenge makes him the most popular poet in Iran today. Bly and Lewisohn (a world-class Sufism expert) present clear and memorable versions of Hafez's renowned lyric meditations, though they forgo the original ghazal form (with its intricate repetitions) in favor of unrhymed pentameters. Sometimes their Hafez offers good advice: Let's be faithful to what we love./ And keep our spirits high. Sometimes he describes his warmth and contentment: The delight of a few words/ With a soul friend for us is enough. Just as often, though, he shows how the ways of his seeking, and the distance between divine immanence and earthly travail, can disturb even the most sincere follower: Don't imagine us to be like the tulip, he concludes; rather look at the dark/ Spot of grief we have set on our scorched hearts. Though Hafez does not (yet) have the immense Western popularity of that other Sufi mystic, Rumi, his verse has all the ingredients to make a similar splash. (Apr.)
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“Robert understands the wild assertions of Hafez and his transparency. Robert’s translations have the nimbleness and daring of the lover. This is the book we have been waiting for.” (Coleman Barks)
This is an amazingly meaningful translation of Hafiz’s poetry that I deeply appreciate. . . . Having understood the original text in both its technical and non-technical senses, they have presented us with a translation shorn of jargon. (—Baha al-Din Khurramshahi, author of Hafiznama, a two-volume Persian commentary on Hafez’s poetry, Tehran, Iran)
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Having read a number of books about Hafez before, I was pleased to find some poems in translation that I had not read before. I am sure that the sense of wonder and joy I get from good translations of Hafez, as if he were right in the room with me and speaking to me, contributed to my sense that the book could have been longer. More poems! Let me drink from that wine goblet again!
I noted that the authors were quite rigorous in their scholarship and in their approach to translation. While it is true that the original words in Farsi may have layers of meaning, alternative meanings, and may have cultural, spiritual and historical references the reader who is not familiar with Hafez''s world may not perceive, I also feel it is possible to convey the essence of Hafez in English. I believe that has been accomplished here.
The only thing that would have improved this book for me would have been to have the poems in their original language on the facing pages.