Poems (Emerson, 1847)/From the Persian of Hafiz

Poems  (1847)  by Ralph Waldo Emerson
From the Persian of Hafiz


The poems of Hafiz are held by the Persians to be allegoric and mystical. His German editor, Von Hammer, remarks on the following poem, that, 'though in appearance anacreontic, it may be regarded as one of the best of those compositions which earned for Hafiz the honorable title of "Tongue of the Secret."'

Butler, fetch the ruby wine
Which with sudden greatness fills us;
Pour for me, who in my spirit
Fail in courage and performance.
Bring this philosophic stone,
Karun's treasure, Noah's age;
Haste, that by thy means I open
All the doors of luck and life.
Bring to me the liquid fire
Zoroaster sought in dust:
To Hafiz, revelling, 'tis allowed
To pray to Matter and to Fire.
Bring the wine of Jamschid's glass,
Which glowed, ere time was, in the Néant;
Bring it me, that through its force
I, as Jamschid, see through worlds.
Wisely said the Kaisar Jamschid,
'The world 's not worth a barleycorn:'
Let flute and lyre lordly speak;
Lees of wine outvalue crowns.
Bring me, boy, the veiled beauty,
Who in ill-famed houses sits:
Bring her forth; my honest name
Freely barter I for wine.
Bring me, boy, the fire-water;—
Drinks the lion, the woods burn;
Give it me, that I storm heaven,
And tear the net from the archwolf.
Wine wherewith the Houris teach
Souls the ways of paradise!
On the living coals I'll set it,
And therewith my brain perfume.
Bring me wine, through whose effulgence
Jam and Chosroes yielded light;
Wine, that to the flute I sing
Where is Jam, and where is Kauss.
Bring the blessing of old times,—
Bless the old, departed shahs!
Bring me wine which spendeth lordship,
Wine whose pureness searcheth hearts;
Bring it me, the shah of hearts!
Give me wine to wash me clean
Of the weather-stains of cares,
See the countenance of luck.
Whilst I dwell in spirit-gardens,
Wherefore stand I shackled here?
Lo, this mirror shows me all!
Drunk, I speak of purity,
Beggar, I of lordship speak;
When Hafiz in his revel sings,
Shouteth Sohra in her sphere.

Fear the changes of a day:
Bring wine which increases life.
Since the world is all untrue,
Let the trumpets thee remind
How the crown of Kobad vanished.
Be not certain of the world,—
'Twill not spare to shed thy blood.
Desperate of the world's affair
Came I running to the wine-house.
Bring me wine which maketh glad,
That I may my steed bestride,
Through the course career with Rustem,—
Gallop to my heart's content;
That I reason quite expunge,
And plant banners on the worlds.
Let us make our glasses kiss;
Let us quench the sorrow-cinders.
To-day let us drink together;
Now and then will never agree.
Whoso has arranged a banquet
Is with glad mind satisfied,
'Scaping from the snares of Dews.
Woe for youth! 'tis gone in the wind:
Happy he who spent it well!
Bring wine, that I overspring
Both worlds at a single leap.
Stole, at dawn, from glowing spheres
Call of Houris to my sense:—
'O lovely bird, delicious soul,
Spread thy pinions, break thy cage;
Sit on the roof of seven domes,
Where the spirits take their rest.'

In the time of Bisurdschimihr,
Menutscheher's beauty shined.
On the beaker of Nushirvan,
Wrote they once in elder times,
'Hear the counsel; learn from us
Sample of the course of things:
The earth—it is a place of sorrow,
Scanty joys are here below;
Who has nothing has no sorrow.'
Where is Jam, and where his cup?
Solomon and his mirror, where?
Which of the wise masters knows
What time Kauss and Jam existed?
When those heroes left this world,
Left they nothing but their names.
Bind thy heart not to the earth;
When thou goest, come not back;
Fools squander on the world their hearts,—
League with it is feud with heaven:
Never gives it what thou wishest.

A cup of wine imparts the sight
Of the five heaven-domes with nine steps:
Whoso can himself renounce
Without support shall walk thereon;—
Who discreet is is not wise.

Give me, boy, the Kaisar cup,
Which rejoices heart and soul.
Under wine and under cup
Signify we purest love.
Youth like lightning disappears;
Life goes by us as the wind.
Leave the dwelling with six doors,
And the serpent with nine heads;
Life and silver spend thou freely
If thou honorest the soul.
Haste into the other life;
All is vain save God alone.
Give me, boy, this toy of Dæmons:
When the cup of Jam was lost,
Him availed the world no more.
Fetch the wineglass made of ice;
Wake the torpid heart with wine.
Every clod of loam beneath us
Is a skull of Alexander;
Oceans are the blood of princes;
Desert sands the dust of beauties.
More than one Darius was there
Who the whole world overcame;
But, since these gave up the ghost,
Thinkest thou they never were?

Boy, go from me to the shah;
Say to him, 'Shah, crowned as Jam,
Win thou first the poor man's heart,
Then the glass; so know the world.
Empty sorrows from the earth
Canst thou drive away with wine.
Now in thy throne's recent beauty,
In the flowing tide of power,
Moon of fortune, mighty king,
Whose tiara sheddeth lustre,
Peace secure to fish and fowl,
Heart and eye-sparkle to saints;—
Shoreless is the sea of praise;
I content me with a prayer:—
From Nisami's lyric page,
Fairest ornament of speech,
Here a verse will I recite,
Verse more beautiful than pearls:
"More kingdoms wait thy diadem
Than are known to thee by name;
Thee may sovran Destiny
Lead to victory day by day!"'