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Poems from the Divan of Hafiz, by Getrude Lowthian Bell, [1897], at


Stanza 2.—I have found no explanation of these difficult lines, and, for want of a better, I venture to suggest the following: the Garden of Irem, as has been said in the Note to Poem II., was a mimic Paradise constructed by a certain fabulous King Shedad, who wished to be considered a rival to his Maker by his fellows, for which temerity a swift and sharp judgment fell upon him; the River of Life is one of the many streams which waters the divine Paradise. To my thinking, Hafiz takes the one as a type of the wildest human ambition, the other as a part of the most beautiful vision which the mind of man has conceived. And to what does it all amount? he asks. Only to this: that we are like to one who sits and dreams upon the banks of a mighty and resistless river, fed from many sources, and sings, if he be wise, his song of praise, and so departs.

Stanza 4.—The river Kausar is another of the streams of Paradise; indeed, it is said to be the central spring from whence all the others flow. A part of its waters are led into a great square lake, a month's journey in compass. On the banks of this lake the souls of good Mahommadans rest and find refreshment after they have crossed the terrible bridge, sharper than the edge of a sword, which is laid over the midst of Hell. The waters of the lake are whiter than silver and sweeter than musk. Round it are set as many cups as there are stars in the firmament, and he who has drunk of it shall thirst no more.

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