“Ghazal 10.” Hafez as a young man is said to have worked as both a baker’s apprentice and manuscript copyist. In his twenties he became a court poet, composing verse for local rulers in Shiraz. One of the great Persian lyric poets, he is beloved for his colloquial language and musical cadence.
Curls disheveled, sweating, laughing, and drunk,
shirt torn, singing ghazals, flask in hand,
his eyes seeking a quarrel, his lips saying, “Alas!”
last night at midnight he came and sat by my pillow.
He bent his head to my ear and said, sadly,
“O my ancient lover, are you sleeping?”
The seeker to whom they give such a cup at dawn
is an infidel to love if he will not worship wine.
O ascetic, go, and don’t quibble with those who drink the dregs,
for on the eve of Creation this was all they gave us.
What he poured in our cup we drank,
whether the mead of heaven or the wine of drunkenness.
The wine cup’s smile and his knotted curl
have broken many vows of repentance, like that of Hafez.