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A prince and princess feasting on a terrace

A prince and princess feasting on a terrace

From a manuscript of Hafiz, Divan (Collected poems), copied before 1717

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Pers e 53, p 29

A century after his death, Hafiz was referred to as lisan al-ghayb, ‘the Tongue of the Unseen’. His verse was highly ornamented – built of complex wordplay, ambiguity and metaphor that could be read on many levels. Consequently, the lyrics of Hafiz have been notoriously difficult to translate from Persian into other languages.

Yet in his homeland, his poetry is still admired by all levels of society. So much so that it remains common practice to read omens, or fal, from the pages that fall open when handling a copy of Hafiz’s Divan.

Every reader can be revitalised or inspired by his words, which convey universal truths and speak straight to the heart.