sobota, 12. oktober 2013

What does Hafiz have to say?

One of my very good friends was telling me about the Persian poet Hafiz. Not long ago, a book of his poems was published in Slovenian and was very quickly sold out. She managed to buy a sample. I remembered I heard about Hafiz during our literature class in high school. But I didn’t remember much. He lived a long time ago in ancient Persia... that was about it. So I wanted to know more.
He lived in the 14th century and supposedly wrote around five thousand songs. Most of them were destroyed by the conservative authorities that opposed their content. However, around five to seven hundred of them survived.
So this friend of mine told me that, especially after his death, Hafiz's poems were considered like an oracle. It started like that: When Hafiz died, the conservative clergy didn’t allow him to be buried in the Muslim cemetery. Hafiz’s followers then started to argue what to do and where to bury him when someone suggested that they should ask the poet himself. Everybody agreed. They tore his poems apart, divided them into single verses. They put them in a jug and asked a boy in the crowd to draw a piece. It was the seventh verse of the 60th ghazal: “Do not walk away from Hafiz’s grave because even though he is buried with his weaknesses, he is now on his way to Heaven.” [1] From then on, his poems were and are still today often used as oracles.

Taken from

Even though I don’t really believe in such “fortune telling” I found this really, how should I say. Cool. And interesting. So I said to myself, I have an impression my life has come to a turning point, let’s try and ask Hafiz what I am to do with it. I took the book and opened it at a completely random page. And look what I have found:

To Build a Swing

Postaviti gugalnico
You carry
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare-
Don’t mix them!
vse sestavine,
da spremeniš svoje življenje v moro –
nikar jih ne zamešaj!

You have all the genius
To build a swing in your backyard
For God.
V sebi imaš genija,
ki lahko na tvojem vrtu zgradi gugalnico
za Boga.

That sounds
Like a hell of a lot more fun.
Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.
To je slišati
vražje bolj zabavno.
Začniva se smejati, risati osnutke,
posvetujva se z nadarjenimi prijatelji.

I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.
Jaz ti bom pomagal
z mojo božansko liro in bobnom.

Will sing a thousand words
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Sliver hammers,
bo zapel tisoče besed,
ki jh lahko vzameš v roke
kot zlate žage,
srebrna kladiva,

Polished teakwood,
Strong silk rope.
zloščen tikov les,
močne svilene vrvi.

You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,
Imaš vse sestavine,
da spremeniš svoje bivanje v radost,

Mix them, mix

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky
zmešaj jih, zmešaj

Prevedla Barbara Škoberne

[1] My own translation.