Written by Iraj Bashiri
|the Pir's admonitions and teachings on the nature of the phenomenal world, and on man's inborn gift of love, reveal the Murid's inner conflict. He is attracted more to the world of reason than to the world of the beloved.|
|The Murid, having learned the importance of his gift of love, rejects the phenomenal world to cultivate his gift of love instead. The Saqi assists him.|
|The Murid, having experienced satisfaction in the Tavern without being harassed by reason, decides to join the world of the beloved. He praises the threshold of the beloved as the only place where loyalty and trust belong.|
Here is the Persian text of the ghazal. For the sake of completeness, I have included all the possible readings suggested for this ghazal. These readings are on the authority of Mas'ud Farzad (ghazal No. 617) and in keeping with the Qazvini/Ghani (ghazal No. 406) edition. The text to be used in the analysis is the one presented here as the main text:6
bayt 1: a paraphrase7
The beloved said: "Thou didst go forth for the spectacle
of the crescent moon:
Go, be ashamed of my [crescent] moon eyebrows [that are more glorious]
Let us look at some of the vocabulary. The three key words in the first misra' (hemstitch) are burun, tamasha, and mah-i nau. Burun is used in contradistinction to darun or andarun, both meaning inside, or the inner part (of a circle). Shudan is used in the sense of raftan, "to go (away), to depart or to abandon." Burun shudi thus implies that whoever is involved in the activity of going must have belonged to the circle from which he has now defected. The preposition ba- (to) in this context shows movement away from the speaker. Burun shudi ba- thus means "you left the circle for...." Tamasha means a theatrical act, a performance; hence the word tamashakhana, the predecessor of the modern borrowed form teatr (live theater). During the time of Hafiz, a tamasha could refer to the acts that gypsies put together and presented on the outskirts of the village. Tamasha itself possesses a special attraction that lures one to the outskirts of the village to see the spectacle; one goes there willingly, and from seeing the spectacle one derives a certain amount of pleasure and satisfaction. Mah-i nau, the new or crescent moon, refers to the waxing and waning of the moon, the beauty of the "newness" of which brings many out to view it. These words are then assigned Sufic significance. The waxing and waning of the moon (mah-i nau) points to the ever-changing physical appearance of the phenomenal world on the one hand, and to the ever-constant essence of the same world on the other. The essence of worldliness like the body of the moon, remains always the same. That we see the moon as a crescent moon, a full moon, and so on, merely points to our limited perspective upon the moon. Were we to expand our horizons, the mystery of the moon would disappear and the real face of the moon would appear. This enlightenment is the function a Pir performs for a Murid. He unmasks the cosmos.
It seems that the Murid, after spending some time on the Way (cf., the discussion of the next bayt, below) becomes disenchanted and is lured away from the Way by reason, the antithesis of "true knowledge."8 The fact that the Murid is back on the Way, and further that he is listening to the Pir, indicates that the "new moon" had, as is always the case with the phenomenal world, led him sheepishly from one attractive object to another until he had become bewildered enough to once again seek assistance from the Tavern.9 It is not clear at this point whether he intends to remain on the Path, but it is clear that he needs to know more about the nature of the phenomenal world before he can face it again. The Pir, however, is displeased with the Murid, and he spells out his displeasure in no uncertain terms (sharm bad, rau). Mah-i abruan is used in contradistinction to mah-i nau. While it is in the nature of the moon to wax and wane, the eyebrow is a permanent and unchangeable part of the body. Mah-i abruan thus refers to the teachings that the Pir had invested in the Murid before his disenchantment, as well as to the love that the beloved invests in every human being from birth (see 'umr, below).
To sum up, this bayt uncovers the intimate relationship that binds the Murid to the Pir and points to the former's need for constant guidance if he is to be prevented from succumbing to the lure of the worldly phenomena in the initial stages. It points as well to man as a potential candidate for nurturing the love of the beloved. The Pir comes through as an angry "father" figure, voicing his concern for upholding the ethical and spiritual requirements of the Way. The speaker below is not the beloved, because it is not in the nature of the beloved to turn a Murid away :10
bayt 1: interpretation
"You abandoned the Tavern for the spectacle of the new moon," he said.
"Didn't you feel ashamed of the crescent moon of my eyebrows?" [he asked.] "Go away...Go!"
bayt 2: a paraphrase
'Tis a life (-time) that thy heart has been among the captives of our tress;
Be not careless in keeping the side of thy friends.
In this bayt the words 'umr, meaning life-span, and asir meaning captive, are of special importance. They refer, I believe, to the primordial covenant whereby man is invested with the love of the beloved; an investiture, however, that is not realized for all, but only for those who cultivate this love. In other words, the potential to be a Sufi is in everyone, but only a few gain insight enough to cultivate this gift and bring it to full fruition. In this sense, man's heart has been, and always will be, a captive at the threshold of the beloved. Thus it is up to man to hear the call to become a Murid and to cultivate this love (symbolized by zulf or tress) until he is annihilated in it.
The word ghafil is probably the most appropriate word to describe those who pass their life in ignorance, and who unknowingly ignore their potential to the end. When finally they do realize that they had been endowed with the gift for a glorious life here below and in the hereafter, it is already too late. These people are known as the ghafil. The Murid who joins the circle of the friends (yaran) is usually spared this life of ignorance unless he makes an attempt to break away and rejoin the world of reason. The Pir, by using the prohibitive word mashau, is pointing to the grave consequences that departure from the Way will have for the Murid. Hifz-i janib is a reference to the struggle between good and evil. If the Murid continues on the Way, he will perpetuate the side (janib) of good; namely, the side of the friends of the beloved. Otherwise, he will assist in promoting the kingdom of evil.
To sum up, in this bayt the Pir points to the cosmic struggle between good and evil. He warns the Murid not to misuse his great potential as a "player" on this spiritual chessboard of time and space, advising him to "be significant." He tries to invoke in the Murid that primordial covenant which gives man the zeal to live, and which distinguishes the Murid from the multitude who are ghafil and who allow their opportunity to pass away unrealized.
bayt 2: interpretation
In you is invested the gift of love from the beginning of eternity.
Assist those who combat evil, join the circle of the friends, cultivate your potential.
bayt 3: a paraphrase
For the blackness of our tress, do not sell the 'itr of reason;
For there [they sell] a thousand pods of musk for half a barley-corn.
Bayt 3 discloses, for the first time, the reason for the Pir's dissatisfaction with the Murid's performance. Apparently, disenchanted with the teachings in the Tavern, the Murid has sought assistance from reason (cf., mah-i nau) for a solution to his spiritual bewilderment. The Pir now rebukes him for having abandoned (mafrush, literally, do not sell) the Way for the fragrance of 'aql or reason. Hafiz sets up a dialogue between the Pir and the Murid to illustrate man's struggle with reason, as the intellectual faculties try to dispute the need for total spiritual surrender to the teachings of the Pir. Man is torn between his gift of reason and his gift of love. The former gives him the potential to solve his own problems within his own sphere without recourse to the Almighty or the beloved, while the latter asks for unquestionable and total surrender. The Sufi struggles to suppress his mental faculties and cultivate his gift of love. This, then, is the message of the Pir to the Murid; he is told that he should not try to reach a spiritual end with the aid of a terrestrial one, i.e., reason. No matter how powerful reason ('itr-i 'aql) may be, at the threshold of love even the best of reason (nafa-yi mishkin) is worthless (ba-nimjau).
bayt 3: interpretation
Do not be attracted to the perfume of the mind, and do not
compare (sell) it to our gift of love.
Were reason to be a thousand times as powerful as this, it would not be worth half a barley-corn.
bayt 4: a paraphrase
In this old sown-place (this world), the seeds of fidelity and of love
Become manifest when the season of harvest arrives.
From a structural point of view, bayt 4 rounds out the octave and concludes the teachings of the Pir. Now we discover more reasons for the Murid's departure from the Path. The cosmic conflict between good and evil referred to in bayt 2, and developed implicitly in bayt 3 (cf., 'itr-i 'aql and hindu-yi zulf), eventually reaches the stage of retribution. If the Murid has sown the seeds of loyalty and love (wafa-u mihr), and if he has waited patiently (angah 'ayan shawad ki), he will easily attain salvation. If, on the other hand, like this Murid he has become disenchanted with the Way, or if, like the multitude, he has never had a chance to recognize his potential for love and has consequently failed to realize it, he will be damned and will remain unenlightened.
The Pir, comparing human life here below (kuhna kishtzar), to an ancient field in which the seeds (tukhm) of loyalty, trust, and love are sown, points to the Murid's failure to practice patience, and to his expectations of reward for pious deeds on earth. What pays in the world beyond (mausam-i dirau), says the Pir, is the patience of the farmer during the long months of winter ('umr, "life-span"); it is this patience that brings the seed into fruition.
To sum up, in the octave the Pir reviews for the initiate the good and evil for which man has an inborn capacity. He also explains the rewards and punishments that the Murid may consequently receive in this world or in the hereafter. The seeker is then left to decide on his own which path he will follow.
bayt 4: interpretation
The seeds of loyalty and of love that you sow in this
ancient field (your life here below)
Appear (bear fruit) only when the appropriate time for harvest arrives (in the hereafter).
bayt 5: a paraphrase
Saqi! bring wine: for I will tell thee a mystery,
The mystery of the age-old wanderings of the stars and the new moon.
The call for wine is usually expected to appear in one of the initial bayts of a Sufic ghazal, because when the Murid joins the Path, he needs wine (knowledge) to guide him through the valleys of love. If the poet assumes that the Murid is already on the Way, the poem will start with the call for wine (cf., the opening ghazal of Hafiz' diwan, for instance); otherwise, the first bayt is an introduction to the Path followed by the cry for wine in the second bayt (cf., "sina malamal" or the "Shirazi Turk," for example).
Since the first call for wine failed to enlighten the Murid, a second appears in bayt 5. The call for wine is the antithesis to the Murid's thesis that reason may be the key to unlocking those spiritual mysteries of which the Pir had spoken before the Murid's departure. Now, by initiating a dialogue with the Saqi (ki ramzi biguyamat), the Murid rejects reason. The phrase "ramzi biguyamat" (that I confide a secret in you) is used to emphasize the irony of the situation. It is not the Murid who teaches, or inspires the Saqi, but vice versa. And in reality, the Murid does not mean what the spoken words superficially convey. What he wants to do is to recite for the Saqi the lesson of the Pir, so that he may regain the confidence of the Saqi. The latter must be convinced that the Murid has fully comprehended the extent of his mistake. The reference to the word akhtar in the plural indicates that neither the moon nor any other body of such nature can conceal from the Murid the secret or the mystery (sirr) that lured him away from the Way the first time around.
bayt 5: interpretation
"O Saqi, bring the wine and let me confide in you a secret
About the ever-revolving (changing) planets and about the new moon." [I said.]
bayt 6: a paraphrase
At the end of every month the [waning] form of the
moon giveth trace,
Of the [end of] the diadem of Siyamak, and of the abandoning of the crown of Zav.11
Bayt 6 is a continuation of the fifth bayt. The word shakl clearly points to the changing form of the moon from crescent to full. The word mah, short for maah (month), combined with har (every), points to the regularity and the predictability of phenomenal events; but more than that, it points to the Murid's newly gained awareness of this predictability--an awareness he did not have before. Afsar-i siyamak-u tark-i kulah-i Zav are astronomical terms indicating the limits of the Kingdoms of these mythical figures in celestial terms. They also refer to the way that the mere movement of the earth seemingly obliterates such transient traces.12
This bayt assures the Saqi that the Murid is now aware of his potential; a recognition of which the world of reason tried to deprive him. It is time, thus, for the Saqi to synthesize the efforts of the Pir with the insight of the Murid and to inspire the latter to seek salvation at the threshold of the beloved.
bayt 6: interpretation
"At the beginning of each month the crescent moon symbolically
The ever-present crown of Siyamak and the diadem of Zav" [I continued.]
bayt 7: a paraphrase
Hafiz! The threshold of the Pir of the Magians is the fortress
To him read the lesson of the lovers tale; and from him [counsel] hear.
The phrase ma'man-i vafa (the fortress of fidelity) sums up the meaning of this three-way dialogue that Hafiz creates between himself, the Saqi, and the Pir. The fundamental question has been, where should man place his loyalty and trust? In the octave, the phenomenal world is rejected in favor of the world of the beloved. At the beginning of the sestet the world of the beloved is accepted and in the latter part of the sestet the world of the beloved is introduced as the only "school" (ma'man) in which the lessons of love and loyalty are taught "correctly." The implicit sense of uniqueness that pervades the words of this bayt leaves no door but the door of the beloved open to the Murid. It also allows no other teacher than the beloved himself. Implicit in this bayt is a sense of Oneness that was to be repeated over and over by Hatif of Isfahan; as he traversed the many paths of love only to find that no matter where he went, he saw no one but the beloved. He is the One. To Him we go and in Him we trust.13
bayt 7: interpretation
Hafiz, only to the threshold of the beloved do your loyalty and
Learn the ways of love from Him and follow His decree only.
The second most debated ghazal of Hafiz, the first being the "Shirazi Turk," is the "Harvest Moon," with the matla': mazra'-i sabz-i falak didam-u das-i mah-i nau. This is ghazal 407 in the Qavini/Ghani edition and 616 in the Farzad edition. Like the "Shirazi Turk," the "Harvest Moon" has been the subject of controversy in the East as well as in the West. As a result it, too, has developed a sizable inventory of emendations and "corrections." These, as is the case with most of the ghazals of the diwan, include amplification of the ghazal through the addition of similar, seemingly fitting bayts, shifting the order of the bayts to achieve ghazals of varying emphases, and through marked changes in the vocabulary to justify certain readings of the ghazal, or to create context-independent bayts.
To date, the scholar who by far surpasses all others in presenting a comprehensive compendium of opinions and readings on this, and on other ghazals of Hafiz, is Mas'ud Farzad. Muhammad Qazvini and Qasim Ghani, however, are the Iranian scholars with the keenest insight and the most reliable commentary on the aspects of authenticity and change in the verses of Hafiz. We shall make extensive use of their efforts in determining the number of bayts as well as in suggesting a structural framework for analyzing this ghazal.
In the West this ghazal is discussed by two scholars, Wickens and Hillmann. We shall review their analyses and comments below in the context of a structural analysis of the ghazal. First, however, let us look at a popular version of the "Harvest Moon" as it appears in the Qazvini/Ghani edition (Farzad's recorded readings are added). The reader will notice that in addition to the eight bayts currently considered original to Hafiz, there exist three controversial, or "floating," bayts as well; some, but not all, editors attribute these to Hafiz, and there are some substantial reading differences not supported by everyone. In this preliminary look at the ghazal, an attempt will be made to present all the data and let the process of elimination by deduction weed out whatever is less likely to be original to Hafiz. Here is the popular version of the ghazal, along with the controversial additions and the supplemental readings recorded by Farzad.14
The following three bayts are also attributed to Hafiz and included in this ghazal by some editors of the diwan:
As the "full" form of the ghazal indicates, there is need for some editing before an analysis can be proposed. Let us proceed under the assumption that, like the "Shirazi Turk" and "gufta burun shudi," this ghazal may include only seven bayts. This means either that the three floating bayts and one of the authentic bayts do not belong to the original ghazal, or that the ghazal needs to be restructured in such a way that some of the floating bayts can be included in it. The best way to proceed is to examine the three questionable bayts which are proposed by some to be part of this ghazal first, then to see if any of the bayts currently thought to be Hafiz' actually do not conform to the style of Hafiz at this apparently late stage in his career. The contribution of the seven-bayt "gufta burun shudi" is to clarify the sequence of the underlying thematic breakdowns so that unfitting thematic concepts may be forced to the surface. Rather than present an overt, step by step correlation between the details of these two ghazals, we shall limit the analysis to a correlation of the fundamental and critical elements in each.15
Let us concentrate our attention first of all on the three floating bayts. Har ki dar mazra'-i-khud...seems to be a bayt proposed as an alternate or an explanation for the opening bayt of the ghazal.16 As such, it is a thoughtful suggestion because this bayt parallels the fourth bayt of "gufta burun shudi" on the theme of the need for cultivating one's love in this world and reaping the harvest in the hereafter. In the central bayt of "gufta burun shudi," the concepts of vafa and mihr, used overtly, gave the uninitiated something upon which to concentrate his efforts. In this ghazal, as we shall see, we are not dealing with an initiate, but with a Sufi elder. Examined with an awareness of this fact, the bayt fails even to approximate the elevated diction of the poet at this stage of his career. Zard ru'i in this context would necessarily have to be interpreted as maturity, but the bayt conveys only a physical description, a pale face indicative of a lack of worldly success. Besides, as it was mentioned in the context of "gufta burun shudi," the concept of "seed" is inherent in the kishta; it is the cultivation of the seed that is important (cf., tukhm-i vafa-u mihr..., and mazra'-i sabz-i falak didam-u..). In both these cases the seed is already sown (not necessarily by the speaker); it is the patience of the Murid and the harvest that are significant. This bayt fails to show that. Indeed, it fails to show any indication of the author's knowledge of the Sufic concept of the primordial covenant implicit in the matla' of the "Harvest Moon" (see below).
This bayt, I believe, is an interpretation of the ghazal by someone with a superficial understanding of Hafiz, but who has not been made aware of the many factors that make a bayt a Hafizian bayt.
The bayt beginning with andar in daira... seems to be an alternate to bayt 5, or it could be an addition by the same person who has added bayt 5 to the ghazal. The dexterity of the poet composing this bayt is exemplified in his implicit pun on daira, daff and dariya, the latter being invoked by the word daff. 17 As a structural and semantic contribution to the ghazal, however, the bayt fails. There is nothing that meaningfully ties this bayt to the "Harvest Moon" other than its resemblance to bayt 5, and the status of that bayt is questionable (see below).
There is little need for evidence to support an argument that the bayt beginning with jam-i jamshid ba-man dih is a substitute for bayt 7 (asman gu mafarush...). It is a more meaningful alternate or addition than the one for bayt 1, but its shortcomings in illuminating the cosmic/Sufic connotations make it an unlikely candidate to replace asman gu mafarush... (see below).
Having discussed the three floating bayts in some detail, let us look at bayt 5 of the Qazvini/Ghani edition upon the authenticity of which some doubt has already been cast. The bayt reads: gushvar-i zar-u la'l archih giran darad gush/daur-i khubi guzaran ast nasihat bishnau (a very literal translation reads: the earring of gold and ruby may weigh heavily on the ear, but it becomes the ear and must be worn; the same is true about the counsel of the learned, it too may be heavy on the ear but it should be heeded). Firmly ensconced as this bayt is among the eight bayts of the ghazal, it would be hard to dismiss it without a good justification. The precedence factor established in the case of the "Shirazi Turk" and its two extra bayts exists for this bayt also, but it would be the easy way out. The best way is to view this bayt on its own in the context of the whole ghazal, a process that forces us to look at the structure of the "Harvest Moon" now. In terms of structure and thematic breakdown the "Harvest Moon" is an exact replica of "gufta burun shudi" (if bayt 5, which appears at the break between the octave and the sestet, is removed). Here is a graphic layout of the ghazal. The bayts are numbered according to the current number of bayts (1-8) as well as without bayt 5 (I-7).18
|the poet debates his success in the cultivation of the love of the beloved, but is heartened to know of man's potential.|
|the poet praises man for his potential to surpass the bindings of the cosmos to reach the beloved.|
|the poet abandons the world (reason) to join the beloved.|
There is a curious affinity between the vocabulary of this extra bayt of the "Harvest Moon" and the two extra bayts of the "Shirazi Turk." It is worthwhile to study these bayts, for they may provide some indication of the type of bayts that may appear in other Sufic ghazals of Hafiz. The word la'l, for instance, seems to be a common word in such bayts as are those words pertaining to ornaments and to physical appearance. Also frequent are words related to parts of the human body, such as ears, where ornaments are worn, or parts which can be metaphorically created as such (gushwar, zar, la'l lab, gush [used twice] are among such words). The predominant concept in these bayts, advice, appears four times in the three extra bayts thus far so marked: jawab-i talkh, nafrin, nasihat and pand.
In terms of diction, the addressee, who is normally referred to by the intimate terms tu or dust in Hafiz' Sufic ghazals, is elevated in these bayts in a physical and social sense only: dushnam farma'i, for instance. Ironically, while the status of tu in Hafiz is beyond the poet's ken, the status of the addressee in these bayts is, at best, that of a Murid. There is, in other words, a distinct disparity in identity between the addressee in the extra bayts and in those of the authentic verses.
The discussion of such additional bayts can fill pages. It is sufficient to add here that since these bayts are intended to fit the ghazal perfectly, there will always exist at least a vague relation between an additional bayt and the superficial text of a ghazal. But while such bayts fit the ghazal in this superficial way, they fail to contribute to the structural soundness, the thematic unity, and the fluidity of the ghazal as a unit. This latter reason, if it is discovered through a convincing analysis, should prove more than adequate evidence for the analyst to discard these bayts without hesitation.
Besides the alternate bayts discussed above, some of the authentic bayts have alternate readings resulting from suggestions by editors struggling with the illegible manuscripts of the diwan. Most of the suggestions do not influence an overall assessment of the structure and the meaning of the ghazal significantly. Bikhuftidi/bikhusbidi, baidaq/baidhaq are such readings. There are, however, some readings that to a certain extent influence the meaning. We shall discuss these below in the context of our discussion of the text of the ghazal. But first let us look at the edited version of the ghazal used in this analysis:
The "Harvest Moon" has been critically studied by Wickens and Hillmann. In his refutation of Wickens' views on unity in this ghazal, Hillmann says: ...Wickens' description of the "two principal focal points" does not demonstrate "the essential unity" of this ghazal because his discussion does not include the questions of how the focal concepts are themselves patterned or of how they participate in the theme of the poem...19 Then, curiously enough, he concludes: ... this ghazal, as Wickens argues, does not seem to develop organically or "dramatically" out of its initial premise or situation.20
In his dissertation on this and other ghazals of Hafiz, Hillmann not only does little by way of finding a solution to the problem of unity, but his comments are enough to close any and all avenues of research on this ghazal for centuries to come:
...even if all of the ghazal's bayts relate and contribute to a single tone, a patterning of images, and a thematic statement about the ultimate lack of importance owing to impermanence of things of this world, including romantic love and the dictates of orthodoxy in religion, and the admonishment not to trust the possibly apparent but deceptive and temporary beneficence of fate, an appreciation of a structure in the ghazal does not result. For in an attempt to account for the completeness of the poetic whole or for the interrelationships among the constituent bayts, that is, for unity, it is discovered that the hypothetical subtraction or addition or change in the order of any one or two or three of the internal bayts does not radically alter what one scholar calls the "drift" of the poem.21
Hillmann complains that Wickens does not explain how the two focal points (the heavens and cultivation) contribute to the understanding of a unity in the ghazal. The problem, as far as this author sees it, rests more with Hillmann than with Wickens, who has painstakingly marked, in some cases excessively, every word and concept in the poem for the theme in which it participates.22 He has also explained the mechanism through which he has arrived at his suggestions. Wickens' understanding of an organic unity in the ghazal is an aesthetic appreciation and he develops it extremely well. To Wickens' aesthetic appreciation, this author proposes the addition of a Sufic dimension, because this dimension will bring the seemingly disparate elements to a focus, and it will include cultivation of the love of the beloved in the context of the rejection of the heavens for that love. Wickens' analysis (not so much his concept of all-meaning participation of vocabulary) is thus quite advanced. He does not explain his thought structures overtly but then we cannot expect every structural analysis to be supplemented by pages of description. It is in the nature of a structural analysis to take the readers' knowledge of the fundamentals of such analyses for granted.
In what follows, I shall introduce each bayt of the "Harvest Moon" with Wickens' analytical translation of that bayt. (For a full appreciation of Wickens' use of brackets, italics, etc. the reader is referred to the text of Wickens' article, a reference to which is included in the bibliography.)23 This will be followed by a full discussion of the range of meaning(s) of important vocabulary items and structures in each bayt. The Sufic theme of the ghazal is developed alongside the discussion of vocabulary as the latter gives the poet's desired shape to the verse. Interrelationships among the bayts of the ghazal are also discussed here. The discussion ends with an interpretation that I feel brings out the Sufic meaning of the bayt. The text of the interpretation does not necessarily have a one to one vocabulary correspondence with the superficial reading of the bayt.
Before discussing the vocabulary of bayt 1, I would like to comment briefly on a fundamental concept, the maintenance of which literally tears the Sufi's life apart. This concept is love, which is thought to be invested in man in the primordial covenant by the beloved, quite in the same way that the farmer sows a seed in the ground. Alongside love, man is also awarded the gift of reason, a faculty that is considered "physical" and which is usually referred to as cosmic reason.
The conflict between love and cosmic reason is what Sufism is all about. If, while traveling on the Path, the Murid withstands the vagaries of cosmic reason and arrives at the end of the Path, he becomes an elder and eventually is annihilated in the love of the beloved. If he fails to cultivate the love of the beloved, falling victim to the allure of cosmic reason, he will remain a cosmic entity in the grip of life and death.
In the ghazal that follows, these two fundamental components of human existence are juxtaposed and studied in a philosophical and eschatological setting. The poet tries to "annihilate" cosmic reason so that he can welcome the love of the beloved without barriers. Thus in the octave we find him considering the worthlessness of the cosmos and the importance of the cultivation of the love of the beloved. In the sestet, the antithesis is devoted to praise of man, a minute drop in the ocean of the love of the beloved; and the synthesis or the result is devoted to the flight of the alone (devoid of cosmic reason or human body) to the alone (the beloved).
bayt 1: a paraphrase
I beheld the green acres of Heaven and the sickle of the new-moon
And was reminded of my own sowing and the time of harvest.
The word mazra', usually translated as "a field," is not synonymous with mazra'a, the actual word for field. Mazra' is a compound of ma- (place of) and zar' (cultivating, planting). In essence it is a place in which seeds are or can be sown; namely a stretch of land ready for cultivation. Compounds such as mazra'-i khak (bodies of men and animals, the grave) signify Hafiz' intent to begin the ghazal with this inevitable reminder. Sabz ordinarily means green, but it also refers to a color between black and yellow or to a combination of the two colors.24
The image of mazra' is thus meant to invoke the image of stretches of cultivable land in which the yellow seed is present as well as the black expanse of the sky and its constellations. Both images refer to the beginnings of life, the life of a seed on the one hand and the life of man as a cosmic entity on the other. If night is the beginning, and if the sickle of the moon (mah-i nau) is an indication of the coming day (the moon reflects the light of the sun), then it is inevitable that there exists a day for every night and a harvest (hangam-i dirau) for every seed.
The two words kishta and mazra' are not synonymous since the former is a stretch of land already sown by the farmer who cares for that land, while the latter is a stretch of land cultivated by the community. Kishta is spiritually oriented, while mazra' is cosmic. Kishta-yi khish is a reference to the primordial covenant, during which the beloved invested man with the seed of his love, an investiture that distinguished man from the rest of the cosmos (mazra'). Hangam-i dirau in an eschatological sense applies to kishta only and not to mazra'. The word didam is used more in the sense of "I recognized" than in the sense of "I saw, I beheld" or even "I observed."
In this bayt, the poet is acquainting us with a fundamental concept that has dawned on him: the distinction between man and the cosmos. Man dies and in the afterlife he is responsible for his acts on earth. The cosmos does not die; it accepts change.
bayt 1: interpretation
Looking at the dark sky and the herald of the coming day,
I wondered if I have fulfilled my mission of love.
bayt 2: a paraphrase
I said: "O Fortune, thou sleepest while the sun has risen
It replied: "Despite all that has happened, despair not."
Before discussing bayt 2, it is necessary to discuss the importance of lack of sleep for a Sufi, since lack of sleep, as Annemarie Schimmel points out in her Mystical Dimensions of Islam, is considered the most effective means to success on the mystical Path. The ascetic spent his nights at prayer and, through them, enjoyed blessed conversation with his Lord. Many mystics avoided stretching out their legs or lying down when slumber overcame them, for they hoped for some revelation after the long nights of sleeplessness, which extended over years. The following is an illustrative story:
Shah Kirmani did not sleep for forty years, but eventually he was overwhelmed by sleep--and he saw God. Then he exclaimed: "O Lord, I was seeking thee in nightly vigils, but I have found Thee in sleep." God answered: "O Shah, you have found Me by means of those nightly vigils: if you had not sought Me there, you would not have found me here."25
Bayt 2 clearly illustrates this stage in the life of the Sufi and confirms our premise that ghazals such as this one and the "Shirazi Turk" must have been written very late in the poet's career. Let us look at some of the vocabulary first, keeping in mind that bayt 1 runs directly into bayt 2.
Guftam is a statement of helplessness, and as such it is supported by ai bakht, another statement of bewilderment (cf., ai bakht-i bad in modern Persian, for instance). Bikhuftidi or bi-khusbidi (both mean basically the same thing) should not be interpreted as you (bakht) slept, but as I slept; "slept" itself being used in the sense of possible negligence in the cultivation of the kishta from bayt 1.26 Khurshid damid is an allusion to mah-i nau above; here it means the approach of death. Guft refers to the inner enlightenment of the elder Sufi who now can respond to some of his own pressing questions (the Pir or the Saqi in the poet, that is). Sabiqa 27 is a reference to the body of knowledge and to the vigil that has brought about the dawning of the concept expressed in bayt l. The poet is worried that his terrestrial existence could be the result of his negligence in the cultivation of love, a negligence that has nurtured reason (khurshid).28 His trust in the beloved, acquired through self-perfection, assures him that his cosmic existence shall not hinder him much longer, that his "record" is good, and that salvation is at hand.
Once again, as was the case in "gufta burun shudi," the poet places himself in the middle of a conflict between the phenomenal world, represented by the heavens, and the world of the beloved. The style of the poem, however, is complex and not comparable to the easy dialogue of "gufta burun shudi" discussed earlier.
bayt 2: interpretation
Scanning the night sky, I regretted the existence of my cosmic
life (at the expense of love).
"Despair not," l was told, "don't lose sight of the love that you have cultivated."
bayt 3: a paraphrase
If thou goest pure [bright] and untrammelled [locust-stripped]
as the Messiah to Heaven,
From thy light a hundred rays will reach the sun.
Bayt 3 elaborates on the words sabiqah, precedence (from bayt 2), and kishta (from bayt 1). Masiha is given as an example of man's ability to break away from the world of matter and ascend the heavens, reaching the world of the beloved, pure and untra1llmeled. Gar points to the uncertainty of man, as one is never sure if one has achieved the status one seeks on the Way, or if one's efforts upon the Way have all been sanctioned with approval. The supplementary reading of this bayt, an-chunan shau shab-i rihlat chu masiha ba-falak as well as the forced reading, kaz instead of az, in no way support the intentions of the poet; nor do they prevent a break in the thought structure of the ghazal as a unit. It is apparent from our discussion thus far that man has no control over his destiny, and that his only hope for salvation is in the reward that he may receive in the hereafter for his patience. Hafiz' use of gar illustrates this total surrender in the best way: an-chunan shau has a sense of control; it indicates that the poet can choose between two things, one of which is a way of ascension that parallels that of the Messiah.29 The word khurshid in this bayt refers back to the construction mah-i nau in bayt 1 as well as to khurshid damid in bayt 2. Khurshid signifies the transience of earthly life, which is reflected in the cosmos as a whole. The word chiragh is then used in contrast to khurshid in the same way that kishta was used in contrast to mazra' in bayt l. The inner light invested in man on the day of the covenant, the light that has the potential to be cultivated to fruition in the love of the beloved, is termed chiragh.30 In contrast, the worldly life that recognizes earthly life and death as its limits is termed khurshid.
bayt 3: interpretation
If Man cultivates his potential for love, and thereby ascends
to the heavens untrammeled as Christ did,
His inner, spiritual light is enough to outshine all the cosmic luminaries.
bayt 4: a paraphrase
Rely not on the night-snatching star, for that charlatan
Bore off the crown of Kaus [sky] and Kaikhusrau's belt [vault].
The construction akhtar-i shabduzd is usually interpreted as the moon,31 but a close examination of the bayt in the context analyzed so far makes it clear that once again we are discussing the cosmic sun. In bayt 4, the last bayt of the octave, Hafiz rounds out the thesis of the ghazal. He reminds himself that the existence of an earthly life should not be (takya makun) as much a source of concern for him as the cultivation of the love, because life on the earth-plane is bound to the vagaries of the heavens (akhtar-i shabgard and 'ayyar), and consequently it is not reliable. Taj-i Ka'us and Kamar-i Kaikhusrau are apparently astronomical values indicating the extent of the rule of those mythological kings who believed they were terrestrial as well as celestial monarchs.32 Their kingdoms, covering vast expanses of the sky (worldly) have long since fallen (biburd).
To sum up, in the octave, the poet makes a sharp distinction between the world of matter, in which human life and reason prevail, and the world of the beloved, of which a seed is invested in every human being. There remains the cultivation of this seed to a harvest of light on the one hand, and an attachment to worldly values (later summed up in the word din (institutionalized religion) on the other. The poet now must recognize the value of each world and eventually make a decision between them.
bayt 4: Interpretation
Do not rely on the cosmic sun for guidance, because this charlatan
Lured away Kau's and Kaikhusrau and took their kingdoms.
bayt 5: a paraphrase
May the evil-eye be far [cycle] from your beauty-mark [cloud,
lightning], for in the lists [space, chessboard] of loveliness
A squire [star, chessman] has entered, taking the prize [endive] from moon and sun.
The poet's approach in the rest of the ghazal, the sestet, is predictable. In "gufta burun shudi," the Murid, having just been enlightened by the Pir, asked for inspiration from the Saqi. Here the poet, having reached the status of the Pir, praises the Lord for having endowed him with the drop of love that can expand to an ocean. The word khal refers to man (the poet) as a fault on the face of the beloved. It is, however, a fault that, compared to the sun and the moon of the phenomenal world, is beyond value.
The image of the chessboard that Hafiz invokes in this bayt is certainly as profound and masterly a stroke as his image of Yusif and Zulaykha in the fifth bayt of the "Shirazi Turk." The key word of the bayt is the word rand from the infinitive randan "to play."33 It is the rule in the game of chess that if a player can move his pawn (baidaq or baidhaq), the smallest piece on the board, in such a way that it can pass the seven squares unharmed, it will turn into the most powerful piece on the board, the queen.34 The player is the beloved, the pawn is man and the seven squares are the seven fathers that constitute the Solar System. With the guidance of love, says the poet, man is able to transcend the limits of the phenomenal world (chashm-i bad) and enter the abode of the beloved. The meanings of husn and girau are implicit in the rules of the game of chess explained above.
bayt 5: interpretation
May the fault on the face of the beloved, man, remain unharmed:
He is the pawn with the potential of outshining the cosmic luminaries.
bayt 6: a paraphrase
Say Heaven vaunt [sell] not such splendour, for in Love
The harvest [halo] of the moon [mist] is to be had for one barleycorn, the constellation [cluster, corn-ear] of the Pleiades for two corns.
The word jau (barley) in this bayt has two meanings. First, it is a type of corn, and jau is thought to be the most worthless (cf., bi-jau-i namiarzad, meaning "it is worthless") of the corn crop; in terms of size, too, compared to the kharman (harvest), a barley-corn is quite insignificant. Secondly, jau is used as a reference to khal in the previous bayt which signified man, an association that necessarily pairs kharman with the moon and the sun as representatives of the cosmos. Indeed mah and parvin are used overtly to drive this point home. The worth of man as a grain of barley, the poet says, is much more than the value of a harvest of cosmic crops such as the halo of the moon, or the cluster of the Pleiades.
In this ghazal the seeming insignificance of man symbolized as kishta, chiragh, baidaq, khal and jau is juxtaposed with the immensity of the solar system, symbolized by the sun, the moon, and the Pleiades. Then it is shown that, because man is invested with the love of the beloved, he has the potential to outshine the cosmos.
bayt 6: interpretation
Were it not for the love of the beloved invested in man,
The sky could take pride in its insignificant luminaries.
bayt 7: a paraphrase
The fire of asceticism [crop-estimate] and hypocrisy [aspect]
will burn the harvest [perihelion] of the Faith [debt].
Hafiz, cast-off [broadcast, measure] this woollen cloak [purslane] and go!
Recall that the ghazal begins at a moment in the life of the poet when he questions the effectiveness of his nights of vigil and his life of self-sacrifice. His view of man, expressed in the octave, is not as much devoid of worldly concerns as it is in the sestet. In the sestet, he realizes man's cosmic value and juxtaposes that value with that of man as a cultivator of the love of the beloved. He finds man's position with the beloved to be above that of the universe. Bayt seven is the result bayt, the bayt in which the poet's decision as a result of his comparisons is materialized.
The word atash in this bayt is an allusion to mazra', mah-i nau, khurshid, akhtar-i shabrau, etc. It is a "physical" entity ruled by reason. It has the potential to destroy the universe as we know it. On a more abstract level, atash is the sum of the hypocrisy and the feigned sufferings that constitute religious thought (din). If the poet were to remain in his khirqa-yi pashmina, symbol of worldly values (or din), he too would be consumed like the rest of the cosmos.35 But, aided by his own cultivated potential, he is able to cast away the worldly and ascend to the beloved.
bayt 7: interpretation
Asceticism and hypocrisy, like a fire, burn the harvest of religion.
Hafiz, abandon this last cosmic vestige (reason), ascend to your beloved untrammeled.
The Lughat-Nama sums up the ghazal genre in the following statement:
The major shortcoming of the ghazal genre lies in the fact that its approach and discussion of the problems and facets of love and affection are not focussed; rather each shi'r (verse or couplet) of the ghazal is an independent entity; i.e., each couplet of a ghazal expresses one single thought or explains one separate incident.36
Most Western scholars who study the ghazal agree with this traditional view. Indeed, they refer to the ghazal as a love poem composed of five to fifteen bayts in any meter other than that of the ruba'i. One statement, made by Sir William Jones, dominates the analyses of Western scholars: that each verse of a ghazal conveys a complete thought. Interpreting Jones's statement in the negative sense only, critics have analyzed the bayts of the ghazal as if they were pearls strung at random. The fact that even "complete" thoughts may further combine systematically and form complete statements is ignored.
In an essay elicited by Arberry's "Oriental Pearls at Random Strung,"37 Wickens argues that the Eastern mind is too advanced to produce bayt-independent ghazals. He postulates that ghazals such as the "Harvest Moon" may have a structure as intricate as the massive religious constructions scattered throughout the Islamic world.38 To solve the problem of unity in the "Harvest Moon," Wickens proposes an intricate way of relating the essential thought structures in the ghazal to each other, focusing them on two themes. In this way, he argues, some light is shed on the focal nature and the technical manipulation of the threads of symbolic imagery with which Persian poems are woven.
Wickens' "focal theory" is different from Arberry's "string of pearls" theory, since in the latter the bayts are thought to be independent entities brought together in a haphazard manner; a manner, however, that imparts to the string of bayts a special aesthetic value both to the individual bayts and to bayt clusters. The "focal theory," on the other hand, regards the bayts as related entities that share a focal point. They come together in the same way that the spokes on a wheel converge at the hub. This theory leaves the arrangement of the bayts open as long as the focal points are not taken away. Wickens' theory has this merit: it admits the existence of unity in the ghazal and refutes previous contentions that each bayt is composed independently at different times, under different circumstances, and thereby possibly for different reasons. Wickens does not, however, grasp the main source of unity in the "Harvest Moon," a device that would allow the analysis of the ghazal in the traditional Western way where the arate of a staircase, or the sequential order of images in preordered bayts, convey a sense of unity; consequently, he implies the analogy of the ghazal to the intricate patterns of Islamic architecture.
To assert that the structural analysis of the ghazal is summed up in the above quotation, in the "string of pearls" theory, or in the "focal theory" would be to ignore the matla' (first bayt of a ghazal) with its special rhyme scheme, and the maqta' (last bayt of a ghazal) which, since Sa'di's time, has accommodated the takhallus of the poet. Furthermore, to say that all the bayts of the ghazal are always independent (as the Lughat-Nama would have us believe), would be to deny the existence of such poetic devices as the muqatta' which expresses the explanation of thought processes exceeding one bayt.39 It is fair to say at this point that there are two types of ghazals: the ghazal per se (which is not the subject of this study), and the Sufic ghazal--a form in the ghazal genre. A lack of systematic recognition of this distinction has created some controversy because the rules of ghazal as we know them have proven to be inadequate to accommodate the structure of the well-formed Sufic ghazal.40
The Sufic ghazal is different from other ghazals because it focuses on a special theme, and because it strives to present that theme in a perfectly unified manner. A Sufic ghazal is not necessarily composed to be aesthetically pleasing, but it is. It draws on a mysterious and elevated theme, a theme from which man has received inspiration since the dawn of his creative age. The popularity and longevity of the Sufic verse may be related to this unique source of its strength. The combination of the profound laments of the soul of the Murid and the attraction of the love of the beloved, expressed in the context of rejection of the world of matter, gives the Sufic ghazal a curious aura of simultaneous unity and diversity, a confounding sense that has persuaded some scholars to make astonishing remarks about the structure and content of these verses. Some ghazals of Hafiz, by and large, fall within the Sufic ghazal tradition.
It is increasingly evident that the structure of a Sufic ghazal is a "blueprint" from which similar ghazals are composed. As we have seen already, this does not mean that all ghazals use the same "blueprint," but that its structure remains a predictable feature no matter how complicated the ghazal. What makes the structure of a Sufic ghazal predictable is the motive for which the Sufic ghazal is composed: unity.41 Unity is the cornerstone of Sufic thought, and for the Sufi poet it dictates the form and the content of any expression of praise of his only beloved. Thus, one can conclude that in a perfect Sufic ghazal the concept of unity plays a unique role. Indeed, the relation of structure to unity in these ghazals is comparable to the relation of cosmic reason to love; they are interrelated in such a way that one is inconceivable without the other, although one may be expressed in overwhelming terms at the expense of the other. It can be asserted with confidence now that unity in diction is the mainstay of the theme of Hafiz' Sufic ghazals, and that the well-worked-out structure of the verses is a necessary consequence of the organizational tendencies of a unifying thought structure.
The question of unity in individual ghazals leads to the question of unity in the whole diwan. Issues such as Hafiz' incorporation of the Sufic stages that transform a Murid into a Pir in his diwan, however, are difficult and complex questions defying any single, simple answer. What is evident is that some ghazals overtly, others implicitly, point to the inner feelings, the disenchantment, and the disappointments of a bewildered Murid, while others reveal glimpses of his exaltation and thrills at the end of the Way. At least one-quarter of the Sufic ghazals chosen at random from different parts of the diwan should be carefully analyzed, and the information therein processed and categorized, before these questions find a satisfactory resolution.
If our hypothetical findings are an indication of the existence of unity in the diwan, these four ghazals stand with respect to each other and in relation to the poet's writing career in this way. "Sina malamal" seems to be one of the early ghazals, because it suffers from structural and stylistic deficiencies. The fact that it is thematically whole relates more to the nature of its theme than to the dexterity of its composer. "Gufta burun shudi" is a second milestone on the way to perfection; it evinces stylistic shortcomings as "sina malamal" did, but structurally it is sound. In other words, the calculated attempt that we observed taking place in converting "sina malamal" into the "Shirazi Turk" is already accomplished in "gufta burun shudi." This positioning is supported as well by the development of the Murid's awareness of the Way. While in "sina malamal" the Murid yearns for union with the beloved and asks for wine, in gufta burun shudi, as expected, he is dejected and confused. However, we did not expect him to abandon the Tavern and seek distance from the Pir and the Saqi.
Both "sina malamal" and "gufta burun shudi" are systematically relatable to Hafiz' early attempts to versify his inner sentiments. While the early ghazals convey a vague understanding of the Way, the later ones convey a thorough grasp of the Way and a refined sense of direction. Indeed, the "Harvest Moon" culminates in the "flight" of the Sufi and the "Shirazi Turk" initiates his ascent to the abode of the beloved. Graphically, a skeletal view of the diwan would look something like this: 42
|poet's career||ghazals composed|
Once such systematic information on the ghazals is gathered, processed and categorized, then begins the difficult and painstaking job of correlating this information with historical, social, and cultural data. Viewed in this light the diwan of Hafiz becomes as much a source of information as it is a source of pleasure and satisfaction.43 So far scholars have been concerned more with the latter aspect only.
In the long history of Iranian literature, the case of the ghazals of Hafiz and the controversy over the existence or lack of existence of a definite structure in them is not unique. For decades we have tried to systematically ignore the existence of unity and structure in the works of well-known Iranian writers. The present assessment of the works of Sadiq Hidayat, 'Umar Khayyam, Hafiz, and others is indicative of this treatment. It is only natural that disciplined men such as Hidayat, mathematicians such as 'Umar Khayyam, and Sufi elders like Hafiz, after years of acquisition of knowledge from their predecessors, would strive to create well-balanced works of art.44