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


Stanza 2.—See Note to Stanza 1 of Poem III.

Stanza 5.—"Narrow-eyedness" is the exact translation of the Persian word for greed, and there is consequently, in the original, a play of meaning between the physical and moral attributes of the Tartars.

It is significant that Hafiz should choose the "narrow-eyed" Tartar robbers as types of cruelty. Just as the Anglo-Saxons prayed to be delivered from the Danes, so a clause in the Persian litany of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries might have been: "From the power of the Tartars, good Lord, deliver us!" First under Hulagu, and then under Timur, they overran and devastated Persia. The destruction wrought by them was very similar to that wrought by the Arab conquerors in the Roman provinces of North Africa. They rased to the ground great cities; they reduced populous and fertile regions to a barren desert by breaking down the old reservoirs and destroying the irrigating system, completely changing the physical conditions of parts of the country. In the mountains to the north of Tehran, for instance, there are villages bearing names the etymology of which points to their having stood at the outlet of a reservoir of which no other trace remains, and it is said that the country surrounding the town was far more thoroughly irrigated before the Tartar invasion, and supported a larger population. The invaders completely destroyed the ancient city of Rhages, which lay at a distance of about three miles from the modern capital. The same thing happened in North Africa. The ruins of Roman towns are to be found in country which must once have been fertile, but which is now reconquered by the sands of the Sahara.

"One poor robe." The Persian runs "man dervish-i-yek kaba "—i.e. I, a poor man of one robe—dervish signifying in its primary sense, it is hardly necessary to say, poor. I should think that the double meaning is significant. In its mystical sense, the poem describes how Hafiz found consolation in the ecstatic drunkenness of the Sufis, in the minstrel's song, or divine message, which brought him a word from God; and when finally the last shred of his orthodoxy had been tom from him, when in his desperate struggle with existence he was forced to abandon even his dervish robe, Heaven mercifully showed him a safe refuge in the Sufi doctrines.

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