Black and white image of Persian lyric poet Hafez.


(c. 1320 - c. 1390)

Guided by a devotion to Sufism, Hafez produced some of Persia’s finest lyric poetry. A student and teacher of theology, his name means “Qur’an memorizer.” At the time of his death, he was Persia’s most famous poet, beloved for his use of colloquial language and musical cadence. Among the earliest Western writers influenced by Hafez’s works were Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Ralph Waldo Emerson; the latter wrote that “Hafez is a poet for poets,” the former that “Hafez has no peer.” As for the poet’s view of himself: “Don’t call Hafez witty, wise,” he once said, “I’ve seen Hafez, I know him well; he’s ignorant.” Every year in Iran, October 12 is celebrated as Hafez Day.

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