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Persian Poets (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets) Hardcover – November 14, 2000
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The great medieval Persian poets owe much to the mystical Sufi tradition within Islam, which understands life as a journey in search of enlightenment, and, like their European contemporaries, they combine religious and secular themes. While celebrating the beauty of the world in poems about love, wine, and poetry itself, or telling humorous anecdotes of everyday life, they use these subjects to symbolize deeper concerns with wisdom, mortality, salvation, and the quest for God.
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I will say that many of the other translators whose translations are included here, like Gertrude Bell, E.G. Browne, or Edward Fitzgerald, actually did know Persian very well and their capable and authentic translations reflect that. However, those translations are mostly from the 19th and early 20th century and sometimes feel antiquated. For more recent translations of classical Persian poetry done by real experts, I recommend translations done by Dick Davis or Jawid Mojaddedi, which can easily be found on Amazon.
Washington's selection is an intelligent one, and the poems are on the whole good translations. Often such collections are a mixed bag, but in this case a good job was done. Since there are really no alternatives to a collection of Persian poetry in translation in print at the moment, this volume is recommended!
The mindset of the writers of these gems is clearly different from our own, and that brings an interesting take on daily life.