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The Gift Paperback – August 1, 1999
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I once asked a bird,Like Fitzgerald's version of Khayyam's Rubaiyat, the language of The Gift strikes a contemporary chord, resonating in the reader's mind and then in the heart. Ladinsky's language is plain, fresh, playful--dancing with an expert cadence that invites and surprises. If it is true, as Hafiz says, that a poet is someone who can pour light into a cup, reading Ladinsky's Hafiz is like gulping down the sun. --Brian Bruya
"How is it that you fly in this gravity
Top Customer Reviews
Daniel Ladinsky has done an interesting job of rendering Hafiz's verse into English. Ladinsky has an ear for rhythm and he strikes me as an individual with deep spiritual sensibilities. When he renders one of Hafiz's couplets as "The body a tree./God a wind", one senses that there's more going into this translation than just philological expertise. Landinsky, like Hafiz, is a mystic.
That spiritual bond with Hafiz, as well as a shared joy in the sheer vitality of creation, makes Landinsky's renderings light-hearted, in the sense that they shimmer with what Hafiz would call God's Light. Some of my favorite examples: "Whenever/God lays His glance/Life starts/Clapping"; "What is the beginning of/Happiness?/It is to stop being/So religious"; "All the talents of God are within you./How could this be otherwise/When your soul/Derived from His/Genes!"
But while I can appreciate the lyrical way in which Ladinsky trys to express Hafiz's insights, I do wonder about the reliability of the translations. They're loaded with modernisms that are somewhat grating after a while: we're derived from God's "genes," the sun is "in drag," characters in the poems "dig potatoes," the soul visits a "summer camp." Moreover, many of the renderings make Hafiz sound suspiciously like a Zen master throwing out koans (an obvious example of this is the poem Ladinsky titles ""Two Giant Fat People".Read more ›
If you want to read the poetry of Hafiz in English translation, consider Hafiz of Shiraz by Peter Avery.
Rendering is much less demanding intellectually than translating as well as an easier way of becoming published, and it contains a built-in literary defense mechanism (the plea of subjectivity) against criticism for poor scholarship or inauthenticity. Rendering is not new. Before the Iranian Revolution, one task of Iranian academia was the separation of authentic work of Hafiz from a mass of imitation poetry falsely attributed to him. Now comes this work that bears substantially more resemblance to the tone of Mr. Barks, its apparent stylistic model, than to Hafiz. Even giving the author the benefit of the doubt for sincere devotion and industry, this book and his other two similar works best fit into the category of "spiritual opportunism.Read more ›
Normally, my online reviews of translations take the translation in question and then compare parts of it to the original (I do not do reviews of translations whose original language I am not competent in.) However, in the case of Ladinsky's work, this is just not possible because there really *aren't any* originals being translated! Ladinsky's passages do not correspond to anything Hafiz wrote in Persian. At all. I'm not a Hafiz scholar, but by now I have read probably a couple thousand lines of Hafiz' poetry in Persian, and know a good bit of it by heart. I'm not saying this just to brag. My point is that, given this, as I perused the volume, I could reasonably have expected to at least recognize *some* of what Ladinsky was translating. I didn't.
And it's not that these translations are just so free that I didn't recognize which Persian text they corresponded to.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is not a translation of Hafez. As others have stated, Mr. Ladinsky is using the great poet's name and publishing his own works to his own benefit. Read morePublished 1 month ago by KALF
I love The Gift of Hafiz by Daniel Landinsky
I am Persian and I love the poetry of Hafiz but the book Gift is the first book I read in English language translated by... Read more
Surprisingly disappointing. I expected higher wisdom, better poetry.Published 1 month ago by Jacob Z. Campbell
Gentle, loving and earthy poetry of Muslim metaphysics
Helps us remember the non-violent humanity of the Sufi themes of Rumi and Hafiz