Sacred Texts  Islam  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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


Stanza 2.—For Djemshid, see Note to Stanza 2 of Poem II. He was the fourth king of the First or Pishdadian dynasty, and is supposed to have flourished eight hundred years before the Christian era. Firdusi says he reigned seven hundred years. Kaikobad was the founder of the Second dynasty, the Kayanian. He was set upon the throne by the hero Rustum, son of Zal. It was in his reign that Rustum overcame Afrasiab's arrny, killing his own son in the battle "by the great Oxus stream, the yellow Oxus," a story which all readers of Matthew Arnold know. Kaikobad is said to have reigned one hundred and twenty years. Bahman, another member of the Kayanian house, is better known to the Persians as Ardisher Dirazdast, the Artaxerxes Longimanus of the Greeks. He came to the throne in B.C. 464. He was the grandson of Darius, the Persian Gushtasp. He is supposed to have been the Ahasuerus of Scripture who married Esther. Persian historians ascribe to him also remarkable longevity, and state that he reigned one hundred and twelve years. Kaikaus, mentioned in the next stanza, was the son of Kaikobad, second king of the Kayanian dynasty; Kai may be Kaikhusro, the third king of the same dynasty.

Stanza 3.—The loves of Ferhad and Shirin are famous in Persian legend. Shirin is called by some Mary, and by others Irene. The Greeks describe her as a Roman by birth and a Christian; the Turks and the Persians say that she was a daughter of the Emperor Maurice, and wife of Khusro Parwiz, who came to the Persian throne in A.D. 591. It was Khusro Parwiz who conquered Jerusalem, and carried off, say the Persians, the true Cross, which had been enclosed in a gold box and buried in the ground. He was devotedly attached to his wife Shirin, but she had given her heart to her humble lover Ferhad. He, despairing of ever reaching one whose rank had placed her so far above him, wandered through the deserts and the mountains of Persia calling upon her name, and in order to beguile his weary hours executed the sculptures upon the rock Behistun—so says the legend. At length the King sent to him and told him that if he would cut through the rock and cause a stream upon the other side of the mountains to flow through it, he would relinquish Shirin to him. Ferhad set himself to the task, and had almost accomplished it when Khusro sent him the false news of Shirin's death. On hearing it, Ferhad threw himself from the top of the rock and so died. Shirin's end was scarcely less tragic. Khusro Parwiz was put to a violent death by his son, who proceeded to make proposals of marriage to his father's widow. Shirin promised to marry him if he would allow her to see once more her husband's corpse. She was led to the place where the murdered King lay, and drawing a dagger, she stabbed herself and fell dead across his body.

It is difficult to conceive anything more exquisite than the little scarlet tulip growing upon a barren Persian hillside. On the top of a bleak pass over the mountains between Resht and Tehran, I have seen companies of tiny tulips shining like jewels among the dust and stones.

There is a tradition that this poem was sent to the King of Golconda.