State Library of Victoria \ Exhibitions \ Love and devotion
Skip to main content
Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond

Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond

A young man and a girl holding hands

A young man and a girl holding hands

From a manuscript of Hafiz, Divan (Collected poems), dated AH 945 (1538 AD)

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Ouseley Add 26, fol 117r

A century after his death Hafiz was referred to as lisan al-ghayb, ‘the Tongue of the Unseen.’ This was in reference to his unrivalled use of language in evoking symbolism that worked on many levels, widely understood by his audience of educated and cultured contemporaries, many of whom were poets themselves.

Hafiz was a master of verse that was grounded in the realities of human love as depicted here in the image of the ideal young loving couple in an earthly setting. Yet Persian poets like Hafiz transcended reality, making the image of devoted human lovers the standard metaphor for spiritual love.

This image appears on the page: Persian poetry

Love & devotion in the UK

The Bodleian Libraries is showing its own presentation of the Love and devotion exhibition at the Exhibition Room, Bodleian Library, in Oxford, England, between 29 November 2012 and 28 April 2013.

Learn more about how you can visit this exhibition on the Bodleian Libraries website.


Love and devotion: Persian Cultural Crossroads

This two-day conference held in April 2012 featured distinguished international guests and Australian specialists exploring cultural convergences in literature, the arts and architecture, history and philosophy within Persia's cultural sphere and Europe, from the 11th century to the present day.

For information on keynote speakers & topics discussed, visit our conference page

Visit the exhibition

The Love and devotion exhibition took place from 9 March to 1 July 2012. In-depth information about the exhibits and themes can be found on this website.

State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Tel +61 3 8664 7000