Who is on the plum tree?
It is my very great pleasure to introduce to you, Jennifer Brookins. Jennifer is one of those strong women whose inner strength and wisdom is apparent in all she does and all she writes. A spiritual force surrounds Jennifer. I don’t need to meet her to know that. She has seen things in life come and go, learned to relinquish and move on. She is minimal in her choice of words and as straight-forward as they come. Thank you, Jennifer for introducing us to Hafez ( Hafiz). I love Persian poets, and he is one I have not yet read.
No spot exists that mystic poetry does not raise her head to speak a language of its own. That which works the bellows of our lungs, which urges flocks of geese to fly southward for winter then gifts them a leader to follow, is the impetus for such verse. For those with the eye to see and the ear to hear, it is all part of a Divine Romance. Those great Sufi masters, Rumi, Kabir, Shams, Francis of Assisi and other realized souls, have shed light upon earth’s shoulders, writing poetry that lives on today. My favorite would have to be Shams-ud-din Muhammad, who chose Hafiz (meaning memorizer) as a pen name when he began writing poetry (c.1320 – 1389). Most of his life was spent in the Persian city of Shiraz with the exception of the middle years which were riddled with loneliness when first his son died, then his wife. Many found his poetry irreverent, bold and … romantic, while those in power viewed it heretic and forced him into exile to live in abject poverty. Some years later, a more tolerant regime came to power and Hafiz was allowed return to Shiraz. The poetry of Hafiz tenderly embraces the mystic perspectives – that all of creation has soul from the lowest to the highest, one grain of sand to man, therefore all should be in harmony in the oneness of this universe; that we are all members of the same family, and to consider ridding ourselves of preconceived ideas and prejudices, having no foundation outside of empty words written on the subject of enlightenment rather than actually teaching the manner by which it may be achieved. His use of metaphor to describe the Divine Romance is unique and without exception. It is no surprise that his Divan-i-Hafiz sells more copies in Iran than the Quran. His verse is often outrageous, sometimes raunchy, even offensive to some – still, the subject is always the same: The Divine Romance. His love poetry reflects this deep mystic insight. Although Hafiz became one of the great poets of his day, he also struggled as a spiritual student on the mystic path for many years, mentored by his teacher, also a poet, Muhammad Attar who was quite stern and demanding of him. It has been said that Hafiz, “broke his head, so to speak, at the feet of his master for forty long years,” until his ego was dissolved. After remaining in his service for so long a while, Attar opened his inner vision and Hafiz became a Sufi master, renowned throughout the world for his poetry, and offering help to seekers with struggles of the heart. Ralph Waldo Emerson referred to Hafiz as, “a poet for poets,” and wrote in his journal, “He fears nothing. He sees too far; he sees throughout; he is the only man … I wish to be.” Goethe wrote of him, “In his poetry, Hafiz has inscribed truth indelibly …this is a madness I know well. Hafiz has no peer.”
The Ambiance of Love By Hafiz, from “The Gift” – translations by Daniel Ladinsky
“We all Sit in His orchestra
Some play their fiddles,
Some wield their clubs.
Tonight is worthy of music.
Let’s get loose With Compassion,
Let’s drown in the delicious Ambiance of Love”