Hafez would without a doubt be one of the most influential people in Persian history. Born in the 14th century, he was a poet, historian, philosopher and literarian. He is so revered where till this present time, most households in Iran will possess a copy of the Quran as well as a book of poetry by Hafez.
The interest in his poetry stems from its ambiguous nature and how it could be interpreted a number of ways. His verses target a broad spectrum of emotions as he writes of love, enjoyment of life, drinking, sorrow and loss – basically, all aspects of life. Many Iranians believe that his poems have fortune telling capabilities and during the holidays, they would open the book of poems to a random page and that the chosen poem would provide clues on future events.
His tomb is located in his home city of Shiraz and is a popular destination for visitors as well as locals, who are known to spend more time there than any other place in the city. My exposure to his poetry only began as I was amidst last minute research prior to arriving in Iran, and for the same reasons why people love him, I found a sense of intrigue and enjoyment from his poetry and felt compelled to visit his tomb.
I arrived just prior to sunset and it was already busy, with a lengthy queue waiting to enter as the temperature cooled down late in the afternoon. As I entered, the voice of a male singing Hafez poems was being broadcasted at an uncomfortably loud level over a distorted sound system, to which nobody seemed to be bothered by. A large rectangular pond split the courtyard down the middle of the grounds and occupied the space between the entrance and the tomb. Surrounding the tomb within the gardens were manicured rose bushes and orange trees, providing a form of seclusion and privacy, in which couples were using as a retreat from the crowds.
The actual tomb is located at the rear of the grounds, under a dome in the shape of a dervish’s hat, lined with intricate tile work and supported by eight slender support columns. The tomb itself is constructed of marble, where inscriptions of his poems are intricately carved in Farsi script that resemble vines, intertwined in a repetitive pattern surrounding his tomb.
Throughout the afternoon, people of all ages would sit, kneel or stand surrounding the tomb, reciting his poems whilst touching his tomb. I will be the first to admit that I’m not really the type of who pray or ask a higher being for some form of divine intervention or whatever. However, for one moment I took out my Kindle and recited in my mind a verse from the book that I was currently reading.
My relationship with the poetry of Hafez has been all but brief, and two weeks in Iran is no where near enough time to further my understand of the people’s relationship with him. However, it’s not hard to feel that immediate connection as some of the poetry that I read, easily triggered flashbacks to certain moments passed that I thought were deeply buried.
Prior to this, I never read much poetry at all, but I couldn’t help but feel there was a repetitive theme speaking to me. A message resonating from the stories of God, love and wine, telling me that no matter what I did or regardless of how wonderful or difficult things may become, it’s important to pursue it with a wild and free spirited nature.
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