Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Purloining Versifier's Lament [ghazal]

O when might Hafez find himself   in English perfectly?
couplets he's scrawled & signed himself   in English perfectly?

'twill never happen!  say   the savvy never-happen-sayers
(though he'd ne'er be unkind himself   in English perfectly)

he's said to be the Farsi poet   perfectly unwilling
to drunkenly unwind himself   in English perfectly

what is this reticence Poet abstemious!   mere shyness?
you've never wined nor dined yourself   in English perfectly?

if senseless Raphael he'd lend   Suleiman's storied goblet
Hafez might heart-&-mind himself   in English perfectly


Suleiman's goblet:  the chalice of King Solomon, which (in Islamic literary lore) is ascribed wonderful properties.

[Admittedly, this poem is merely a sort of intellectual amusement -- written in response to discussions about the various attempts by English-language poets to give translations and "versions" from the celebrated 14th century Persian poet Hafez.]

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