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Thus said the Poet: " When Death comes to you,
All ye whose life-sand through the hour-glass slips,
He lays two fingers on your ears, and two
Upon your eyes he lays, one on your lips,
Whispering: Silence!" Although deaf thine ear,
Thine eye, my Hafiz, suffer Time's eclipse,
The songs thou sangest still all men may hear.

Songs of dead laughter, songs of love once hot,

Songs of a cup once flushed rose-red with wine,

Songs of a rose whose beauty is forgot,

A nightingale that piped hushed lays divine :

And still a graver music runs beneath

The tender love notes of those songs of thine,

Oh, Seeker of the keys of Life and Death !


While thou wert singing, the soft summer wind
That o'er Mosallds garden blew, the stream
Of Ruknabad flowing where roses twined,
Carried thy voice farther than thou could 'st dream.
To Isfahan and Baghdad's Tartar horde,
O'er waste and sea to Yezd and distant Ind;
Yea, to the sun-setting they bore thy word.

Behold we laugh, we warm us at Love's fire,
We thirst and scarce dare tell what wine we crave,
We lift our voices in Griefs dark-robed choir ;
Sing thou the wisdom joy and sorrow gave !
If my poor rhymes held aught of the hearts lore,
Fresh wreaths were theirs to lay upon thy grave
Master and Poet, all was thine before !


SHEMSUDDIN MAHOMMAD, better known by his poeti-
cal surname of Hafiz, was born in Shiraz in the early
part of the fourteenth century. 1 His names, being
interpreted, signify the Sun of the Faith, the Praise-
worthy, and One who can recite the Koran ; he is
further known to his compatriots under the titles
of the Tongue of the Hidden and the Interpreter
of Secrets. The better part of his life was spent
in Shiraz, and he died in that city towards the close
of the century. The exact date either of his birth
or of his death is unknown. He fell upon turbulent
times. His delicate love-songs Avere chanted to the
rude accompaniment of the clash of arms, and his
dreams must have been interrupted often enough by
the nip of famine in a beleaguered town, the inrush
of conquerors, and the flight of the defeated.

1 For the history of the times of Hafiz, see Defre"mery in the
Journal Asiatique for 1844 and 1845, Malcolm's " History of
Persia," Price's "Mohammedan History," Markham's "His-
tory of Persia." For the life of the poet, see V. Hammer ;
Defremery in the Journal Asiatique for 1858 ; Sir Gore Ouseley
and Daulat Shah, whose work is mainly a string of anecdote
I have been told that Lutfallah's is little better.



The history of Persia in the fourteenth century
is exceedingly confused. Beyond a succession of wars
and turmoils, there is little to be learnt concerning
the political conditions under which Hafiz lived.
Fifty years before the birth of the poet, Hulagu,
a grandson of the great Tartar invader Chinghis
Khan, had conquered Baghdad, putting to death the
last of the Abbaside Khalifs and extinguishing the
direct line of the race that had ruled over Persia
since 750. For the next 200 years there is indeed
a branch of the family of Abbas living in Cairo,
members of which were set up as Khalifs by the
Mamluk Sultans of Egypt ; but they were destitute
of any real authority, and their position was that
of dependants in the Mamluk court.

The sons and grandsons of Hulagu succeeded him
as lords of Persia and Mesopotamia, paying a nominal
allegiance to the Great Khan of the Mongols in Cam-
balec or Pekin, but for all practical purposes inde-
pendent, and the different provinces of their empire
were administered by governors in their name.
About the time of the birth of Hafiz, that is to say
in the beginning of the fourteenth century, a certain
Mahmud Shah Inju was governing the province of
Fars, of which Shiraz is the capital, in the name of
Abu Said, the last of the direct descendants of
Hulagu. On the death of Mahmud Shah, Abu

Said appointed Sheikh Hussein ibn Juban to the



governorship of Fars, a lucrative and much-coveted
post. Sheikh Hussein took the precaution of order-
ing the three sons of Mahmud Shah to be seized
and imprisoned ; but while they were passing through
the streets of Shiraz in the hands of their captors,
their mother, who accompanied them, lifted her
veil and made a touching appeal to the people,
calling upon them to remember the benefits they
had received from their late ruler, the father of
the three boys. Her words took instant effect ; the
inhabitants rose, released her and her sons, and
drove Sheikh Hussein into exile. He, however,
returned with an army supplied by Abu Said, and
induced Shiraz to submit again to his rule. In
1335, a year or two after these events, Abu Said
died, and the power of the house of Hulagu crumbled
away. There followed a long period of anarchy,
which was brought to an end when Oweis, another
descendant of Hulagu, seized the throne. He and
his son Ahmed reigned in Baghdad until Ahmed
was driven out by the invading army of Timur.
But during the years of anarchy the authority of
the Sultan of Baghdad had been considerably cur-
tailed. On Abu Said's death, Abu Ishac, one of
the three sons of Mahmud Shah Inju who had so
narrowly escaped from the hands of Sheikh Hussein,
took possession of Shiraz and Isfahan, finally oust-
ing his old enemy, while Mahommad ibn Muzaffav,


who had earned a name for valour in the service of
Abu Said, made himself master of Yezd.

From this time onward the governors of the
Persian provinces seem to have given a nominal
allegiance now to the Sultan of Baghdad, now to
the more distant Khalif. The position of Shiraz
between Baghdad and Cairo must have resembled
that of Venice between Rome and Constantinople,
and, like Venice, she was obedient to neither lord.

Abu Ishac had not steered his bark into quiet
waters. In 1340 Shiraz was besieged and taken by
a rival Atabeg, and the son of Mahmud Shah was
obliged to content himself with Isfahan. But in the
following year he returned, captured Shiraz by a
stratagem, and again established himself as ruler
over all Fars. The remaining years of his reign
are chiefly occupied with military expeditions against
Yezd, where Mahommad ibn Muzaffar and his sons
were building up a formidable power. In 1352,
determined to put an end to these attacks, Ma-
hommad marched into Fars and laid siege to Shiraz.
Abu Ishac, whose life was one of perpetual dissipa-
tion, redoubled his orgies in the face of danger.
Uncertain of the fidelity of the people of Shiraz,
he put to death all the inhabitants of two quarters
of the town, and contemplated insuring himself of
a third quarter in a similar manner. But these
measures did not lead to the desired results. The


chief of the threatened quarter got wind of the
King's design, and delivered up the keys of his gate
to Shah Shudja, son of Mahommad ibn Muzaffar,
and Abu Ishac was obliged to seek refuge a second
time in Isfahan. Four years later, in 1357, he was
given up to Mahommad, who sent him to Shiraz and,
with a fine sense of dramatic fitness, had him beheaded
in an open space before the ruins of Persepolis.

The Arab traveller Ibn Batuta, who visited
Shiraz between the years 1340 and 1350, has left
a description of its ruler : " Abu Ishac," says he,
"is one of the best Sultans that can be found"
(it must be confessed that the average of Sultans
was not very high in Ibn Batuta^s time) ; " he is fair
of face, imposing of presence, and his conduct is
no less to be admired. His mind is generous, his
character remarkable, and he is modest although his
power is great and his territories extensive. His
army exceeds the number of 30,000 men, Turks and
Persians. The most faithful of his subjects are the
inhabitants of Isfahan ; but he fears the Shirazis, who
are a brave people, not to be controlled by kings,
and he will not trust them with arms." 1 This view
of his relations with the two towns tallies with Abu
Ishac's subsequent history, and points to a consider-
able power of observation on the part of Ibn Batuta.

1 The "Travels of Ibn Batuta," edited by Defre"mery and



But he relates a tale which would seem to show that
Abu Ishac was not unpopular even in Shiraz : on a
certain occasion he wished to build a great gate in
that city, and hearing of his desire the inhabitants
vied with each other in their eagerness to satisfy it ;
men of all ranks turned out to do the work, putting
on their best clothes and digging the foundations
with spades of silver. Abu Ishac shared the passion
of the age for letters, and was anxious to be ac-
counted a rival to the King of Delhi in his generosity
to men of learning ; " but," sighs Ibn Batuta, " how
far is the earth removed from the Pleiades ! " The
Persian historian who describes Abu Ishac's execu-
tion, quotes a quatrain which the Atabeg is supposed
to have written while he was in prison :

" Lay down thine arms when Fortune is thy foe,
'Gainst Heaven's wheel, Wrestler, try not a throw,
Drink steadfastly the cup whose name is Death,
Empty the dregs upon the earth, and go."

So perished the first patron of Hafiz.

From 1353 to 1393, when Timur conquered Shiraz
for the second and last time, the greater part of
Persia was ruled by members of the house of
Muzaffar. Scarcely a year passed undisturbed by
civil war, scarcely a year in which one of the sons
or grandsons of Mahommad did not suffer imprison-
ment or worse ills at the hands of his brothers.


Mahommad himself was the first to fall. Shah
Shudja seized his father while he was reading the
Koran aloud with a poet of his court, and caused
him to be blinded. A few years later the grim life
beat itself out against the prison walls of Ka'lah-i-
Safid. "Without just cause," sings Hafiz, "the
victor of victors suffered imprisonment; guiltless,
the mightiest head was laid low. He had overcome
Shiraz and Tabriz and Irak ; at the last his own hour
came. He who, in the eyes of the world, was the
light he had kindled (i.e. Mahommad' ) s son, Shah
Shudja), through those eyes which had gazed vic-
torious upon the world, thrust the hot iron."" A
stern and pitiless man was this Mahommad, brave
in battle, wise in council, ardent in religion, but
hard and cruel beyond measure, a perfidious friend
and a relentless enemy. The Persian historian, Lut-
fallah, relates that on several occasions he had seen
criminals brought before Mahommad while the
Amir was engaged in reading the Koran. Laying
the book aside, he would draw his sword and kill
the offenders as they stood, and then return unmoved
to his devotions. Shah Shudja once asked his father
whether he had killed 1000 men with his own hand.
"No," replied Mahommad, "but I think that the
number of them that I have slain must reach 800."
After his death, Shah Shudja reigned in Shiraz,

and his brother Shah Yahya in Yezd. Shah Shudja



was a man of like energy with his father, but it was
an energy directed into different channels ; the stern
religious ardour of the elder man was changed into
a spirit of frenzied dissipation in the younger.
Whenever he was not engaged in conducting ex-
peditions against his brothers and nephews, he was
taking part in the wildest orgies in Shiraz. He
was scarcely less cruel than Mahommad. In a fit of
drunkenness he ordered one of his own sons to be
blinded, and though, at the instance of his vizir,
he repented and sent a second messenger hot foot
after the first, it was already too late to save the
boy. Before Shah Shudja's death the knell of the
house of Muzaffar had sounded Tamberlain and his
Tartar hordes had advanced into Northern Persia.
In 1382 Shah Shudja sent a propitiatory embassy
to him with gifts jewels and silks, horses, a scarlet
dais, a royal standard, and a Chinese umbrella ; and
Timur in return sent the King a robe of honour
and a belt studded with jewels.

Worn out before his time with riotous living, Shah
Shudja did his utmost to secure the welfare of his
family before he died. He sent letters both to Timur
and to Sultan Ahmed of Baghdad recommending to
their protection his son Zein-el-Abeddin, his brothers,
and his nephews. The curtain is drawn aside for a
moment from the death-bed of the King, and an anec-
dote, such as Oriental historians love, reveals to us the



fearless and terrible face. Hearing that his brother
Ahmed was preparing to dispute the succession with
Zein-el-Abeddin, he sent for him in order to per-
suade him to withdraw his claims. But when Ahmed
entered the room where Shah Shudja lay sick to
death, both brothers burst into tears, and Ahmed
was so much overcome by emotion that he was
obliged to withdraw. Thereupon Shah Shudja sent
him a letter by the hand of a faithful servant. " The
world," he said, " is like unto the shadow of a cloud
and a dream of the night ; for the one has no resting-
place, and when the dreamer awakens there remains
to him but a vain memory of the other. I foresee
much disturbance in Shiraz ; Kerman is the home of
our fathers. I have no complaint to lay at your
door ; but now that I am about to fare upon a long
journey, if you were to become a sower of discord,
not I alone would reproach you, but God also ; and
our enemies would rejoice. Go therefore to Kerman
and renounce this unhappy city." And Ahmed

Shah Shudja died in the odour of sanctity. Ten
holy men were with him continually, reading the
Koran aloud from end to end each day. He left
behind him a name renowned for courage and for
liberality. He was a poet, after the fashion of
kings, and from boyhood he could repeat the Koran

by heart.



The son, whose future he had spent his last hours
in assuring, was not to remain for long upon the
throne bequeathed to him by his father. During
his short reign, Zein-el-Abeddin was engaged in
defending himself from the attacks of his cousin
Mansur, but in 1388 he was obliged to flee before
an enemy more terrible than any he had yet known.
Timur, who for several years had been hovering
upon the borders of Fars, overran Southern Persia
and took Shiraz. Zein-el-Abeddin sought refuge
with Mansur, who repaid his confidence by imprison-
ing and blinding him. It must have been in the
year 1388 that the celebrated interview between
Hafiz and Timur took place (see note to Poem V.),
and not at the time of the second conquest of Shiraz
in 1393. The confusion between the two dates has
led several writers to doubt the truth of the story,
since it is almost certain that the poet had died
before 1393. Timur bestowed Shiraz upon Shah
Yahya, uncle to Mansur, and some time governor of
Yezd ; but no sooner was the Tartar army called
away by disturbances in the northern parts of the
empire than Mansur overthrew his uncle and pos-
sessed himself of Shiraz. Hafiz did not live to see
the end of the drama, but the end was not far off.
In 1393 Timur advanced with 30,000 picked men
against Mansur. The Muzaffaride, with only 3000

or 4000 men, twice charged into the heart of the



Tartar force, and at one moment Timur's own life
was in danger. Mansur, who was himself fighting
in the thickest of the battle, sent a message back to
the wings of his army, ordering them to support his
desperate charge; but they did not obey his com-
mand. He fell fighting beneath the sword of Shah
Rukh Mirza, Timur's son, leaving the conqueror to
"march in triumph through Persepolis." Courage
was a quality in which the descendants of Mahommad
ibn Muzaffar were not deficient, but among a race of
soldiers Mansur seems to have been distinguished
for his reckless bearing. He, too, like the other
members of his family, was a patron of learning, and
it is related that he used to distribute 200 tomans
daily among the poor scholars of Shiraz. Both on
account of their popularity and of their bravery,
Timur saw that there would be no peace for him in
Shiraz while one member of the house of Muzaffar
remained alive ; Mansurs survivors were put to the

Through all these changes of fortune, Hafiz ap-
pears to have played the prudent, if rather un-
romantic part of the Vicar of Bray. The slender
thread of his personal history is made up for the
most part of more or less mythical anecdote. He
was the son, according to one tradition, of a baker
of Shiraz, in which city he was probably educated.
The poet Jami says that he does not know under

17 B


what Sufi doctor Hafiz studied. As a young man,
however, he was one of the followers of Sheikh
Mahmud Attar, who would seem to have been some-
what of a free-lance among the learned men of
Shiraz. Sheikh Mahmud did not give himself up
completely to the contemplative life, but com-
bined the functions of a teacher with those of a
dealer in fruit and vegetables. " Oh disciple of the
tavern ! " sings Hafiz, " give me the precious goblet,
that I may drink to the Sheikh who has no monas-
tery."" Sheikh Mahmud's attitude doubtless brought
him under the condemnation of the stricter Sufis,
of the disciples of a certain Sheikh Hassan Asrak-
push in particular, who, as the title of their master
denotes, clad themselves only in blue garments, and
declared that their minds were filled with heavenly
desires, just as their bodies were clothed in the
colour of heaven. Hafiz falls foul of this rival
school in several of his poems. " I am the servant,' 1
he says, "of all who scatter the dregs of the cup
and are clothed in one colour (that is, clothed in
sincerity), but not of them whose bodies are clad
in blue while black is the colour of their heart."
And again : " Give me not the cup until I have
torn from my breast the blue robe," by which he
means that he cannot receive the teachings of
true wisdom until he has divested himself of the

errors of the uninitiated. From Sheikh Mahmud,



perhaps, he learnt a wholesome philosophy which
enabled him to see through the narrow-minded
asceticism of other religious teachers, whether Sufi
or orthodox, and he was not unmindful of the debt
he owed him. "My Grey-Beard,' 1 he sings, "who
scatters the dregs of the wine, has neither gold nor
power, but God has made him both munificent and
merciful." And indeed if he succeeded in un-
chaining the spirit of his disciple from useless preju-
dice, it may be admitted that the Sheikh went far
towards providing him with a good equipment for
life. Although he never submitted to any strict
monastic rule, Hafiz assumed the dervish habit of
which he speaks so contemptuously. We must
suppose that he took the precaution, which he
himself recommends, of washing it clean in the
wine that Sheikh Mahmud provided for him; in
other words, that he tempered his orthodoxy with
the freer doctrines he had derived from his teacher.
He also became a sheikh.

How he first revealed his inimitable gift of song
is not known. There is a tradition that upon a
certain day one of his uncles was engaged in compos-
ing a poem upon Sufiism, and being but a mediocre
poetaster, could get no further than the first line.
Hafiz took up the sheet in his uncle's absence and
completed the verse. The uncle was not a little

annoyed ; he bade Hafiz finish the poem, and at



the same time cursed him and his works. "They
shall bring insanity, 11 he declared, "upon all that
read them. 11 Men say that the curse still hangs over
the Divan, therefore let no one whose reason is not
strongly seated venture to study the poet. What-
ever were his beginnings, it was not long before the
young man rose into high repute. Abu Ishac was
his first patron. " By the favour of the victorious
standards of a king, 11 says Hafiz, "I was uplifted
like a banner among the makers of verse. 11 There
is a long poem addressed to Abu Ishac, in which
he is called the King under whose feet the garden
of his kingdom bursts into flower. " Oh great and
holy ! " cries the poet, " every man who is a servant
of thine is uplifted so high that the stars of Gemini
are but as his girdle. 11 Hafiz must have been in
Shiraz when Abu Ishac was brought thither, a
prisoner, from Isfahan ; he may even have witnessed
his execution outside Persepolis. "Fate overtook
him, 11 he sighs, "all too speedily alas for the
violence and oppression in this world of pitfalls !
alas for the grace and the mercy that dwelt among
us ! Hast thou not heard, oh Hafiz, the laugh of
the strutting partridge ? Little considered be the
clutching talons of the falcon of death. 11

From the protection of Abu Ishac, Hafiz passed
into that of Shah Shudja, but the relations between
the two men seem to have been somewhat strained.


Shah Shudja may have distrusted the loyalty of one
to whom Abu Ishac had been so good a patron;
moreover, he nursed a professional jealousy of Hafiz,
being himself a writer of occasional verse. The his-
torian Khondamir tells of an interview Avhich cannot
have increased the goodwill of either interlocutor
towards the other. Shah Shudja reproached Hafiz
with the discursiveness of his songs. " In one and
the same," he said, " you write of wine, of Sufiism, and
of the object of your affections. Now this is contrary
to the practice of the eloquent."" " That which your
Majesty has deigned to speak," replied Hafiz (laying
his tongue in his cheek, though Khondamir does not
mention the fact), " is the essence of the truth ; yet
the poems of Hafiz enjoy a wide celebrity, whereas
those of some other writers have not passed beyond
the gates of Shiraz." But an occasional bandying
of sharp speeches, in which the King usually came off'
second best, did little harm to a friendship which
was based upon a marked correspondence in tastes.
" Since the hour," declares Hafiz, " that the wine-cup
received honour from Shah Shudja, Fortune has put
the goblet of joy into the hand of all wine-drinkers " ;
and in several poems he welcomes Shah Shudja's
accession to the throne and the consequent removal
of an edict against the drinking of wine : " The
daughter of the grape has repented of her retire-
ment ; she went to the keeper of the peace (i.e. Shah


Shudja) and received permission for her deeds. Forth
came she from behind the curtain that she might tell
her lovers that she has turned about. 1 ' Partly out
of gratitude, partly with an eye to future favours,
Hafiz proclaimed the glory of Shah Shudja, just as
he had proclaimed that of the hapless Abu Ishac,
and the King was not averse from such good wishes as
these from the most famous poet of the age : " May
the ball of the heavens be for ever in the crook of
thy polo stick, and the whole world be a playing-
ground unto thee. The fame of thy goodness has
conquered the four quarters of the earth ; may it be
for all time a guardian unto thee ! "

One of Shah Shudja's vizirs, Hadji Kawamed-
din Hassan, was also a good friend to Hafiz.
In the poems he is frequently alluded to as the
second Assaf (the first Assaf having been King
Solomon's vizir, renowned for his wisdom), while
Shah Shudja masquerades under the title of Solomon
himself. On his return from a journey, probably
to Yezd, Hafiz spent some months in the house of
the Vizir induced thereto by a cogent argument.
In one of the poems there is a dialogue between
himself and a friend, in which the friend says to
him, "When after two years' absence thy destiny
has brought thee home, why comest thou not out
of thy master's house ? " Hafiz replies that the
road in which he walks is not of his choosing : " An



officer of my judge stands, like a serpent, in ambush
upon the path, and whenever I would pass beyond
my master's threshold he serves me with a summons
and hurries me back into my prison." He goes on
to remark that under these painful circumstances he
finds his master's house a sure refuge, and the ser-
vants of the Vizir useful allies against the officers of
the law. " If any one proffers a demand to me
there, I call to my aid the strong arm of one of the
Vizir's dependants, and with a blow I cause his skull
to be cleft in two." A summary manner, one would
think, of dealing with the law, and little calculated to
incline the heart of his judge towards the offender.

There is another Khawameddin who is frequently

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