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Shiráz where a person should pass forty successive nights without sleep in order to become a poet. Hafis spent the forenoons before the house of his mistress, but went for thirty-nine nights to The Green Old Man. On the morning of the fortieth the girl beckoned to him and declared her love. She pressed him to stay, but remembering his vow he broke away from her. On the next morning he was met by the Old Man in a green mantle, Chiser himself, who gave him a cup of the immortal draught.

Goethe has a note on Hafis. Alluding to Protestant Germany in the 18th century, he says: "Not only clergymen, but laymen as well, made themselves so familiar with the Holy Scriptures that they were live concordances, and used to account for every sentence and to tell where and in what connection to find it; they knew leading passages by heart, and were always ready to make any application of them. We must confess that a great source of culture was thus opened to such men, because the memory was constantly engaged with worthy objects; thus it preserved for the feeling and judgment good stuff for their use and enjoyment. They were called Bible-fast, and this surname conferred special dignity and a conspicuous recommendation.

"This practice, which originated among Christians in good-will and natural disposition, was a duty among Mohammedans. As they esteemed it a great merit in a fellow-believer to multiply, or cause to be multiplied, copies of the Koran, it was one no less to learn it by heart, to adduce appropriate texts on every occasion, for edification and the settlement of controversy. Such persons received the title of honor, Hafis, the chief name that designates our poet."

Goethe had a lively appreciation of the Bible, which ran far beyond its literary excellence. In the notes to the "Divan" he reit was

produced an old treatise upon "Israel in the Desert; written with respect and care, and attempted to verify Scripture places and persons. But in many points it would now be considered obsolete. He says of the Bible, "Let a place in this connec

tion be conceded to it. For as all our wanderings in the East have been occasioned by the Holy Scriptures, we are always reverting to them as fountain-waters of the most refreshing kind, although they become turbid here and there, run underground, but spring forth again fresh and clear." So that he may be allowed his figure of St. Veronica's handkerchief in this little poem on Hafis's surname.


As Dervish, Sufi, Scheik, Hafis taught in the place of his birth. He was employed upon theological and grammatical labors, and gathered a great concourse of scholars."

The poems of Hafis have frequently a sensuous and sceptical tone which seems to contradict the seriousness of his pursuits. I will translate Goethe's remarks upon this point, as a contribution to his idea of the poet's mission. "The reproach is lifted when we reflect that the poet need not strictly think and live all that he expresses; not he, at least, who is modernly involved in complicated circumstances which require some rhetorical simulation and a setting forth of matter that will be pleasantly heard by his contemporaries. This seems to me throughout the case with Hafis. Just as a story-teller has no faith in the enchantments which he mirrors forth, but is only bent upon enlivening and presenting them in the best way to delight his hearers, so the lyric poet has no need to practise all the details of the art that pleases and flatters the lofty or the common mind. Hafis seems to have very lightly appraised his easily flowing verses, for they were not collected till after his death."

Goethe should have recognized the genuine truth of Nature which appeared in the poems of Hafis, as it did in Omer Khayam, and as it does in his own. The sensuousness and the scepticism belonged to Hafis and to his period. Shakspeare, whose lines were also collected after death, would break the warning that is lettered over his grave, and move his bones against such an apology for having been a child of Nature.

In the notes upon the "Book of the Cup- Bearer" are some

considerations upon the extravagant glorifying of tippling which is found among the Persian poets.

2 As Hafis held the position of religious teacher, his contemporaries were sure to be scandalized at the freedom of his verse and manner. Frequently they made a jealous point of it to destroy his popularity. A Prince who made some pretension to poetic composition, and therefore disliked Hafis, was more embittered still by an imprudent retort of the poet who never calculated his independence. So he pounced upon a couplet which might be wrested into a denial of a future life. It ran thus: "If this be the true faith that Hafis professes, Alas! that to-day should be followed by a to-morrow!"

The Prince cited the poet to appear before the Ulema and pressed his condemnation. But a friend learning of the plot to ruin his character gave him warning. The poet adroitly prefixed the offending couplet with a fresh one: "How sweetly the song stole on my ear this morning from the Christian cup-bearer at the door of the tavern, accompanied by the drum and flute, when he said," &c. And the complaint was turned against the Prince.

When Hafis died, the ecclesiastical people at Shiráz refused to say prayers over him as an infidel. After much expostulation of friends the matter was submitted in true Oriental fashion to the Fál, the Book-Oracle, which in this case was tried by the drawing of a lot. Different verses of his were written upon slips of paper and put into an urn: a child who could not read drew one forth. It happened to run thus, and settled the matter: "Fear not to approach the corpse of Hafis; for, although sunk deep in sin, he will rise to Heaven." *

At the tomb of Hafis at Shiráz, a copy of his poems is kept which visitors customarily use to try their luck with the Fál. The ordinary method is by closing the eyes and opening the leaves with the finger, observing the ode which stands on the

*Sir Gore Ouseley's "Notices of Persian Poets."

right hand. If the ode does not begin there, the page is turned to find it. Kings, princes, all classes, have preserved this custom for centuries. Nadir Shah, in the presence of his army, sought a Fál, and probably managed to have an encouraging one turned up. The verse ran, "Cathay and Tartary tremble at the glance of thy vivid eyes: China and India must pay tribute to thy curled locks."

In this poem, "Indictment," Hafis alleges as his apology the fine frenzy in which the poet must always write.

But the verse contains an allusion to Mohammed's spite against poets which he expressed in chap. xxvi. of the Koran, entitled "The Poets." Did the infidels declare that the Devil descended with the Koran? The Koran is not for infidels: they can neither compose nor understand such a book which is inspired by Allah. But I'll tell you upon whom the devils do descend: upon lying and knavish persons, who conform to what the devils impart. "And those who err follow the steps of the poets: dost thou not see that the poets rove as bereft of their senses through every valley, and that they say that which they do not, except those who believe?"—i.e., poets who are genuine Moslems.

Plato fabled that Homer was in hell because he imputed so many immoral transactions to the gods: in his scheme of educa tion he went so far as to reject Homer on the ground of the injury which this charming looseness would do to the youthful mind.

But there was an especial reason for this outburst of the Prophet against the poets, about whom at other times he could speak more sanely: "With God rest treasures beneath the throne itself, and the keys thereto are the tongues of poets." When he said that "poetry is the Devil's psalter," he was smarting under the attacks of the epigrammatists of the old religion. When at the battle of Bedr he defeated his own tribe, which was opposed to him, it revenged itself very neatly with feathered satire of his peculiarities, the epilepsy, the amorousness, &c. And maddening dirges were improvised in memory of the slain. An old Jewish

lady, who liked her own monotheism better than his, — perhaps on account of the Houris, is still remembered for her squibs which so annoyed him. "By Him in whose hand my soul is," he cried, "these satires wound me more than arrows." For he was indeed of a most delicate and sensitive nature which did not know how to contrive some protective shelter. He called the poets of his own side to his aid, but they could not cope with the piquancy of the other party. After his death all the poets and story-tellers derived abundant authority for their gift from the Sunnah, that is, oral tradition, transmission of the Prophet's sayings, which was valued next to the Koran, and sometimes above it.

8 Fetwa is a Turkish word meaning decree, decision, as to agreement with the doctrine of the Koran. Ebusuud, a pious Mufti of great consideration, is here represented as issuing his Fetwa concerning Hafis.

4 In Persian poetry the tall, slim beauty is always called a cypress. "A cypress, whose root was nourished by the limpid stream of pure affection." The Persians do not appear to have relished the buxom and bounteous style. Their poets celebrate slenderness: the waist must be nearly invisible, and the form "straight as the equinoctial line." "Take care not to put a hair around Suleika's waist, lest it be sundered." If the mouth was scarcely large enough to give exit to her honeyed speech it was considered to be an advantage, possibly with a view to matrimony. But the lips must be of a hue to force "the red cornelian to hide himself in his parent rock."

The cypress was first brought from Paradise by Zoroaster and planted at Furmud. Another mythological cypress exists in


Heine preserves the Oriental flavor when he says of a beautiful face which he saw, "It was a sweet, transparent incarnation of summer-evening air, moonshine, nightingale's notes, and roseperfume."

Nizami, describing a woman's dejection, says, "That beautiful

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