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The Gift Paperback – August 1, 1999
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Hafiz, a secret Sufi, came to prominence in his day as a writer of love poems. That love transformed into an all-consuming passion for union with the divine. In The Gift, Daniel Ladinsky bestows on us the impassioned yet whimsical strains of Hafiz's ecstasy. Never forced or awkward, Ladinsky's Hafiz whispers in your ear and pounds in your chest, naming God in a hundred metaphors.
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
Less well known in the U.S. than his Sufi predecessor, Rumi, Hafiz (Shams-ud-din Muhammad) is also worthy of attention, and Ladinsky's free translations should help see that he gets it. Hafiz is so beloved in Iran that he outsells the Koran. Many know his verses by heart and recite them with gusto. And gusto is appropriate to this passionate, earthy poet who melds mind, spirit, and body in each of his usually brief pensees. Ladinsky has deliberately chosen a loose and colloquial tone for this collection, which might grate on the nerves of purists but makes Hafiz come vividly alive for the average reader. "You carry / All the ingredients / To turn your life into a nightmare--/ Don't mix them!" he advises, and "Bottom line: / Do not stop playing / These beautiful / Love / Games." Nothing is too human for Hafiz to celebrate, for in humanity he finds the prospect of God. In everything from housework to lovemaking, he celebrates the spiritual possibilities of life. A fine and stirring new presentation of one of the world's great poets. Patricia Monaghan
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Beautiful lines of poetry convey incredible wisdom and peace. I found him about a year ago and he was and is a long lost friend.
Having said that, Ladinsky never claims to do anything but make a "free translation" of Hafiz. I am unfamiliar (again) with the metre and rhythms of traditional Persian poetry, and so I cannot even hazard a guess as to whether this collection is accurate in language or in substance.
At best, I'd guess this is an introduction to Hafiz for English speakers --- Hafiz light --- and the poems have a lightness and an affectionate quality that keeps me revisiting them. There is depth here, too --- one can see the influence of Rumi --- and so, whether this is translation, rendering, or invention, it serves a purpose, and that is to make Western readers familiar with Hafiz. To that extent, "The Gift" is well-bestowed.
I bought this book to have it, and read it in context with his other works.
I am in dire need of appreciating Persian poets and Persian wisdom, and becoming humble in the face of his bright light.
Hafiz is a remarkable poet, and someone who knows the life of the spirit quite well.
He has much to teach us, me very much included.
It is wonderful to see such kind, compassionate, funny, and uplifting and contemporary teaching from someone born in Persia in about 1325.
And connection with the Spirit of God brings that brightness, is the lesson for me.