Gertrude Bell is better known for her work as a diplomat (she was intstrumental in the creation of "Trans-Jordan" and in placing the Hashemites as rulers, and in establishing Iraq following the First World War)and archeologist ( a charter founder of the Baghdad Archelological Museum) rather than as a translator. Still, Bell was fluent in both Arabic and Farsi, and having lived in the Near East and Persia for much of her life, she was intimately familar with Arabic and Persian culture. As such, her credentials as translator are impeccable.
Purists will of course bemoan any sort of poetry in translation, and perhaps rightly so; however, given the challenges and priorities of learning a language (made more diffuclt when reading and understanding poetry), allowances must be made. That this collection is dual language is all the better. Being unable to speak to the original Farsi, I will limit my remarks and review to Bell's interpretation. In brief, Bell's translated Hafez is a jewel. Hafez is considered a national treasure by Iranians, and is revered there as much (perhaps more, given the Persian love of poetry) than Shakespeare in English-speaking countries. In this spirit, Bell has captured the ornate and flowery formalism of the Near East while capturing the themes one associates with poetry of the Middle East: its magnificent metaphors, vivid imagery and recurrent themes of love and passion. Added to this, Bell has succeeded in maintaining the ghazal form of the original. To some, the language Bell uses may sound a bit "dated" and overly formalized, and the ghazal structure is at times, a bit clunky. Rather than detracting from the translation, though, this added to the feel of the original.
What clinced this collection (above others by Hafez - most notably The Gift) are the translator's notes at the end of the collection, detailing the editorial decisions, literal meanings and allusions made in the original Farsi. This is pure gold, as it adds not only to the depth of one's understanding of the poetry, but also gives insight into the challenges and choices Bell made in presenting the poetry as she does. Hafez, like Rumi, is beautiful, moving and speaks to the eternalness of the human experience. This collection certainly does the poet justice, and I give it my strongest recommendation. If you own only one copy of Persian poetry, this is the copy I would have.