on May 10, 2003
Drunk on the Wine of the Beloved is a collection of 100 Poems by the Persian Sufi poet Hafiz. Hafiz, properly Shamsuddin Muhammad-i-Hafiz-i-Shiraz, lived in the 14th century and is generally acknowledged to be the greatest poet of the Persian culture. Hafiz writes in a form known as the Ghazal, which is a short poem of 8 or so rhyming couplets, which was often set to music. The translations in this work are by Thomas Rain Crowe, who has many credentials as a translator of Eastern poetry.
Hafiz's poems are beautiful and have an enchanting cadence. They are full of hope, faith and conviction. He writes movingly of down-to-earth topics, but his underlying message is ever-present and positive. In one poem he writes: "If your life has hit hard times, go to the Winehouse and enjoy some Wine."
Wine and drinking are Hafiz's metaphor for overwhelming love of God. The image of drunkeness suggests both reckless abandon and a frustrating and intoxicating lack of control over human life. Whether you choose to embrace or pass over his symbolic message, you will enjoy the poetry. It's language is as simple as it is powerful and compelling. This is a splendid book of poems, and I highly recommend it. Enjoy.
on November 14, 2001
In this 100-poem collection of his Winehouse poems, Hafiz tells us, "this bitter wine that the Sufi calls the mother of all grief and pain, is a far sweeter wine than even a virgin's kiss" (p. 65). Goethe, Emerson, and Lorca have all praised Hafiz. Meher Baba called the fourteenth century Sufi poet "a fully realized Perfect Master" (p. xiii). His poems are inspired by his love of God, and they may be read as an expression of that love (p. xiii). It has also been said, "if God had taken form as a Poet, it seems He would have been happy to write as Hafiz wrote" (p. xiv). Meher Baba says that the Sufi poet is "a fish thrown up on the beach, leaping and squirming to regain the ocean. He sees God everywhere and in everything, but he cannot find the gate of union" (p. xx). Thomas Rain Crowe is perhaps better known as a poet, translator, editor and recording artist, than a Hafiz scholar. But his "transformative work" (p. xvii), as he calls it, in rendering Hafiz, succeeds in capturing all the divine sentiment of his subject's verse.
The ghazals collected here are vibrant and full of heart. They are the lyrical poems of a poet drunk with divine love. Hafiz uses wine as a metaphor of God's love. Both intoxicate. Both elate the spirit (p. xix), allowing the soul to take flight. Both allow us to forget the world, at least for awhile. Both loosen our affections, allowing us "to burn in blissful agony" (p. xx). Drink a cup of Hafiz. "Like a laughing candle," his poems will allow you to "abandon the life you live in your head" (p. 26). Although I found myself gulping them down like a wino, I say savor these poems slowly. They will leave your heart dancing like a dervish.