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I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy Paperback – September 26, 2006
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“If you haven’t yet had the delight of dining with Daniel Ladinsky’s sweet, playful renderings of the musings of the great saints, I Heard God Laughing is a perfect appetizer. . . . This newly released edition of his first playful foray into Hafiz’s divinely inspired poetry is essential reading . . . . Ladinsky is a master who will be remembered for finally bringing Hafiz alive in the West.” —Alexandra Marks, The Christian Science Monitor
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"If you havent yet had the delight of dining with Daniel Ladinskys sweet, playful renderings of the musings of the great saints, I Heard God Laughing is a perfect appetizer. . . . This newly released edition of his first playful foray into Hafizs divinely inspired poetry is essential reading . . . . Ladinsky is a master who will be remembered for finally bringing Hafiz alive in the West."
Alexandra Marks, The Christian Science Monitor
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Top Customer Reviews
After looking into it a lot more, I have since purchased a copy of "Faces of Love" by Dick Davis (also includes poetry translations of two other very famous Persian poets who were contemporary with Hafez). While I realize that Hafez's poems cannot really be perfectly translated into an English equivilant, I really appreciate Davis's explanations of the history, culture, and poetic style. The Hafez Davis describes is much more of a sensible human being than the quivering, spiritually insecure figure that Mr. Ladinsky seems to want to make him. Even the pen name "Hafez" did not necessarily mean that he had memorized the entire Qu'ran as Mr. Ladinsky writes, but was also used at that time period to describe a skilled musician. Typical of Hafez, it can be possibly understood as a play on words associating him with either a deep spiritual practice, or a baudy night-life.
I am very glad to have come across Davis's book in the wake of the disappointment of "I Heard God Laughing," because I understand why there are so many upset reviews from people who have actually read the real, untranslated versions of Hafez's poems. Mr. Ladinski's so-so poems are nothing compared to the cleverness, the beauty, the genius of Hafez. In fact, reading the glowing 5-star reviews for this book almost make me cringe - because they just have NO idea. It really is very dishonest of Mr. Ladinsky to have used Hafez's name to sell his own poetry. I would not have bought a book by Daniel Ladinsky if it had not been promoted as Hafez's poetry.
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
Your beautiful, parched, holy mouth.
an excerpt from " A Golden Compass"
Forget every idea of right and wrong
Any classroom ever taught you,
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
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!
I am already recommending this book to everyone, and now gifting it to others.