Hafiz

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hafiz

Hafiz (häfēz´) [Arab.,=one who has memorized the Qur'an], 1319–1389?, Persian lyric poet, b. Shiraz. His original name was Shams al-Din Muhammad. He acquired the surname from having memorized the Qur'an at an early age. A teacher of the Qur'an who associated with mystics, his lyrical poetry is acclaimed as the finest ever written in Persian. His lyrics are always vehement, especially his amatory verses, his drinking songs, and his invective. Muslim critics interpret his passionate lines as allegorical, while critics in the West incline to construe them literally. Hafiz enlivened the conventional imagery of the ghazal, a form of love poetry in rhyming couplets, comparable to the sonnet. His poetry, in ghazal and in the other poetic forms of qasida (long rhyming poem), mathnawi (couplets), and rubaiyyat (quatrains), survives in his Divan or Diwan, a collection that prompted numerous commentaries. His Diwan was so popular that it is used for bibliomancy: predictions are made from randomly selected verses. Goethe's Westöstlicher Diwan (1819) was inspired by Hafiz. Hafiz is buried in a splendid tomb near Shiraz, Iran.

See his News of Love (tr. 1984).

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