The other day I came across this poem by the 14th century Persian poet Hafiz. The words jumped off the page and all of a sudden I found myself crying. Since then I’ve been rereading it, and the words are never far from my mind. Although it’s abstract and mystical, I find that it accesses something that’s universal and profound. Hm, maybe that’s why Hafiz is still so well loved today.
In the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, where Hafiz lived, his majestic shrine is a favorite tourist destination and a sanctuary for those seeking solace. It’s always buzzing with visitors.
I wasn’t prepared for its beauty, or the feeling of serenity and comfort that it exudes. I didn’t want to leave, I just wanted to stay and soak up the good vibrations. I stayed into the evening, so I got to see it glowing softly at sunset, when for me it became even more magical. Here is the poem, as interpreted by the respected Hafiz translator Daniel Ladinsky.
Your Mother and My Mother, by Hafiz
Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions,
For your mother and my mother
I know the Innkeeper
In this part of the universe.
Get some rest tonight,
Come to my verse again tomorrow.
We’ll go speak to the Friend together.
I should not make any promises right now,
But I know if you
Somewhere in this world–
Something good will happen.
God wants to see
More love and playfulness in your eyes
For that is your greatest witness to Him.
Your soul and my soul
Once sat together in the Beloved’s womb
Your heart and my heart
Are very, very old