Persian poets


We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show;

And David’s Lips are lock’t; but in divine
High piping Pelevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine!”—the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek of hers to incarnadine.

Yesterday This Day’s Madness did prepare
To-morrow ’s Silence, Triumph, or Despair
Drink! for you not know whence you came, nor why
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where. A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine,
a Loaf of Bread and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness

Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

You know that you have
no power or choice regarding your fate.
So why should the uncertainty about what
may happen tomorrow fill you with fear? If you
are truly wise, live now! The future?
Who knows what it will bring.

Our days pass as fast
as the water of the river
or the wind of the desert.
But there are two days that
do not interest me: yesterday
and tomorrow.

I am old. My passion
for you leads me to the grave,
as I continue filling my cup with wine.
My passion for you is my reason for living.
Time strips without pity the beautiful
rose of its petals...

Omar Khayyam (~1040-~1123)


Its red roses were like the cheeks of belles, Its hyacinths like the ringlets of mistresses Protected from the inclemency of mid-winter Like sucklings who have not yet tasted the nurse’s milk. And branches with pomegranates upon them: Fire suspended from the green-trees.

Affairs succeed by patience and a hasty man fails. I saw with my eyes in the desert
That a slow man overtook a fast one.
A galloping horse, fleet like the wind, fell back
Whilst the camel-man continued slowly his progress.

Saadi (1184-~1291)


Kei Khosro sat in a garden bright
With all the beauties of balmy Spring:
And many a warrior armor-dight
With a stout kamand and an arm of might Supported Persia's King
With trembling mien and a pallid cheek,
A breathless hind to the presence ran;
And on bended knee, in posture meek,
With faltering tongue that scarce could speak
His story thus begun...

Ferdowsi (~940-~1390 )

HAFIZ   close 

At dawn, to the garden, to inhale the perfume of the rose
Like the nightingale loudly exhale the cure of my head and nose.
I was watching the beautiful unfolding of the rose
Like a light, the secrets of the night disclose.
Proudly its own youth and beauty would transpose
Its songs, the nightingale to the peaceful rose owes.
Jealous tear of the narcissus ceaselessly flows
The tulip submits itself to the heart’s throws.
The lily’s sharp and reproachful tongue grows,
The rebellious poppy would loudly oppose.
One, in worship of the wine, to the jug, goes on tip-toes
One, the drunk bearer, cup in hand, knows with repose.
The one who knows joy, youthfully glows
Hafiz’s is the message the prophets propose.

Let your face color, your cheeks blush,
Your beauty, the rose bud, aside brush;
Let your stature rise up tall and lush,
And the tallest cedars simply crush.

Hafiz (~1325-~1390 )

Persian poets

Famous poets have resulted in Persia. It is obvious, reading these extracts, that poetry can be subversive (Persia was Muslim at the time of these poets). Wine is often celebrated, it must be said that Shiraz wine was known beyond the borders (it gave its name to "sirah" grape in French vineyards).

Saadi "Shirazi" wrote "Golestan" ("rose garden") and "Bostan" ("fruit garden").

Khayyam is author of "Ruba'iyyat" ("quatrains"), a funny poetry in honor of wine and life. Khayyam was not only poet but mathematician and astronomer, he created the persian solar calendar still in use.

Ferdowsi (ou Firdousi ou Ferdosi) wrote "Shahnamah " ("the king's book"), epic poem about persian history.

Hafiz "Shirazi" is author of "Diwan", a famous book of poetry.
Every iranian knows him and his tomb is a particuliar place where shiraz people like to go on week-end. Today, he is the most popular poet in Iran.

Download Omar Khayyam's Rubayiat (PDF,translated by Edward Fitzgearld)