Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hafiz


The
Great religions are the

Ships,


Poets the life

Boats.


Every sane person I know has jumped

Overboard.


That is good for business

Isn't it


Hafiz?


There's something very seductive about really good Sufi poetry. It's the combination of passion, humour, precision, philosophy and wit - the sense of something that is heartfelt and deeply meaningful, but that it is also laughing and playful. "Teach us to care and not to care" Eliot writes - but it is the sufis who have really mastered that art.

In one of his most beautiful poems, Hafiz writes: "I vote for you to be God". That one line conjurs up so many emotions. On the one hand, it surprises you and makes you laugh. On the other, it makes you think about the nature of God's authority and what it would mean to choose our own Gods. At the same time it is a deeply moving line, a beautiful idea for a love poem.

It is this ability to walk the tightrope between the human and the divine that makes Hafiz special to me. His unique voice is the embodiment of an attitude I have always aspired to; a rich yet easy wisdom that he shares with the other great Sufi / Bhakti poets (witness Kabir). His lines are often taut with meaning, but they are also heartbreakingly simple and display a clarity of thought that rivals the best work of the great Chinese poets (Li Po, Tu Fu).

Good

Poetry

Makes the universe admit a

Secret:

"I am

Really just a tambourine,

Grab hold,

Play me

Against your warm

Thigh."

8 comments:

ravi said...

"Agar tu ittefaqan mil bhi jaaye / Teri furqat kay sadmey kam na hongey /Teri mehefil main lekin hum na hongey..." . A post after my heart sir. Ty!

swar said...

"...warm thigh..." hmmm...Can I please quote Dobby Gibson here? - "And if in another season/you see a beautiful woman/use her bare hands/to smooth wrinkles/from her expensive dress/for the sake of dignity,/but in so doing reveal/the outlines of her thighs,/then you will remember/surprise assumes a space/that has first been forgotten,/especially here, where we/rarely speak of it,..."

Glad that I found your blog.

Karthik said...

Very nice post. (Now, how many times have I said that here!)

The irreverent tone of these poems is what makes them so appealing (to me at least).

Which is why I never fancied old Tamil poetry a lot - the imagery was good, so was the language - but it took itself a little too seriously.

The Black Mamba said...

I don't believe this. not again! you stole yet another post from a fellow blogger. pray tell, why?

btw, nice post, good poetry.

There is something simple yet, warm and fuzzy about his poetry,

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
"You Owe Me."

Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.

Falstaff said...

Thanks all.

bem: "surprise assumes a space / that has first been forgotten". Lovely.

Karthik: Agree, though I wouldn't dismiss old Tamil poetry that readily. But know what you mean about Hafiz and co. having a special sort of whimsical charm.

Black Mamba: Errr..Finders Keepers, I guess. And yes, I love that one too.

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