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Research: Iran

Hatef

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Literature: Iranian Poet, Hatef
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by M. Alexandrian
Seyed Ahmad Hatef Isfahani is the famous poet of the 18th century AD, skillful in the composition of elegies, lyrics and fragments. But his reputation lies in his excellent strophes of mystical nature. Hatef employs simple metaphors and reverts to Khorassani and Araki styles and closely imitates Sadi and Hafiz. He was trained in the school of Moshtaq, who discarded the Indian style, which had been distorted and debased by the Safavid poets. Yet, Hatef rose above Moshtaq, Sholeh, Azar, Nasir and Sabahi. 

Seek your beloved with the flame of love, yet see
That you are provided for the tempting journey;
All things difficult to reason becomes easy
When with full goblets of wine you are dizzy;
Then to such lofty constellations you will rise
That neither fancy nor thoughts can visualize,
And to such an assembly you will enter
That even Gabriel was forbidden to saunter!
This is the path that love ploughs and this is the end,
If you are a true lover, be manly and attend!

Hatef's poems are smooth, clear and flowing and free of ambiguities. He follows Sadi and Hafiz particularly in the composition of his odes. 

Because of his fine strophes, Hatef is when known in Europe and specially in Italy.
Strophes, Translated to English by M. Alexandrian
Let me sacrifice my soul and heart to you,
And lay it under your feet, O symbol of virtue;
Let me bestow my heart to you, you are my love, whole,
Let me sacrifice my life to you, O soul of the soul.
It is not easy to sever my heart from you
But it is easier for myself to perish for you;
The path to union with you is perilous, obscure,
For the pain of love no balsam can cure;
We are your slaves, all soul and flesh, O dearer,
My eyes look at your command, my ear is your hearer;
If you seek peace of heart, here is my heart,
And if you choose war, come, my soul is prepared.
Last night with love aflame and charmed with passion,
I wandered here and there in a puzzled fashion;
At last the love of your alluring face
Led me to the magicians' tavern in distress;
Far from the evil eye, I saw a secluded cell,
Bright with truth's light, not with flames of hell;
Everywhere I saw furnaces of fire in that night
Like the fire that Moses at Mount Tour did sight.
A man was tending the fire, worn with age,
And students circled courteously around the sage;
Fair maidens with silvery and rosy face,
And small mouths and sweet tongues the feast did grace.
Lute, harp, cymbals and baritone were played
With candles, sugar plumes, wine and basil arrayed.
The moon-faced wine-bearer bedecked with sable hair,
And the jocund sweet singing minstrel was there.
The magician, his son, the priest, sat in order,
All were prepared for the rituals within the border.
Ashamed of being a Muslim and vain prayers, I
Hid myself at a corner from inquisitive eye.
"Who is this man," says the hoary sage. - "This
Is a listless wandering lover, seeking bliss."
- "Give him a full cup," he says, "of purple wine,
Though uninvited he has come to feast and dine."
The fire-worshiping cup-bearer, with wine like fire,
Filled the cup with burning wine full and entire.
When I drunk the cup, neither faith remained nor sense,
In blasphemy and faith it was consumed and in suspense;
I fell down drunk yet in intoxicated I could hear
Words with such a music that I can't describe here;
And such in the festive gathering were they saying
(Even their veins and their arteries were echoing):
That there is God only and none but God,
God is the sole Being and none but God.
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I won't break my tie with you, O my fair,
Even if all my joints with sharp swords they tear;
A hundred lives is worthless for you, O you lovely, 
If you will open your mouth with a smile to cheer me.
O father, cease to advise me about my love, cease!
For your son will not be tamed with this disease.
Those who give counsel, alas, it is better,
To teach me about your love by word or letter.
I know the road to the place of happiness, I know!,
But, alas, I have fallen in fetters of sorrow.
In the church, to the Christian charmer, I muttered:
"O fairy to whom my poor heart is fettered,
Till when you must fail to achieve divine unity?
Till when be damned to impose on One the Trinity?
How can you call the Single One (with reason lost) 
A father, a Son and the Holy Ghost?"
The Christian opened her sweet lips and thus she said,
While from her smiling mouth candy melted:
"If you know the secret to unity, 
Why do you blame us with blasphemy?
In three looking glasses the everlasting maid of grace
Sends rays of radiant light from her shinning face;
Silk shall not be three things if you call (she vented)
Shot silk, pure silk or a silk painted."
While thus we were discoursing near the door
I heard this song being chanted by the choir:
That there is God only and none but God,
God is the sole Being and none but God.
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Last night to the wine-seller's tavern I paced
With a fire that turned my heart to tumult and tempest;
A marvelous feast I beheld brilliantly lighted,
A hoary wine-seller presided and delighted;
The servants stood all attentive in a line
And wine drinkers sat in order for the wine.
The Pir sat at the top and cup-bearers were around,
Some were drunk, some lay senseless on the ground;
Their breasts were free of malice, their selves pure,
Their hearts brimful of talk yet their mouths shut secure;
All favored by the eternal blessing there,
Had eyes that could see and ears that could hear.
One was asking the other a relief to design,
The other was saying: "O cease and drink the wine!"
Listening the lute and eying the ministerial fairness
And with a fire which drew both worlds into my embrace,
I advanced politely to the Pir and thus I did cry:
"O you who know all the ways to the Paradise,
I am an anguished lover, needy and poor,
Look at my pain, O sage, and prescribe a cure!"
Laughingly and with taunting words, thus the sage said:
- "O you to whom the hoary guide is slave, tell me,
What are you and what are we? For ashamed of your grace,
The rose-cheeked maid has veiled her body and face.
- "My body is burning of this flame, give me water,
Extinguish this fire on my flesh, by liquid matter.
Last night I was burning from this fatal flame,
O that I could burn like yesterday, when last I came."
Said he laughingly: "Take a goblet of wine, take!,
But be careful, drink not too much, for God's sake."
I took a gulp of the nectar and thence,
I was freed of pain of reason and ache of sense.
When I came to my senses I saw one image of all,
The rest were mere lines and images in the hall;
Suddenly from the secret cloisters of heaven I
Heard this happy chorus sung by angles of the sky:
That there is God only and none but God,
God is the sole Being and none but God.
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Open your heart's eye to behold the living core,
Whatever is hidden there you will score;
If in the realm of love you plough, the bowers
From pole to pole you will see clustered with flowers.
To all lovers this realm, obedient does roll,
And globes in globes circle from pole to pole.
What you see is that which your heart wants,
And that which you behold is what your heart pants;
The footless beggar in this realm of passion
Will see a world of wealth and of fashion.
Here the feet of all the bare-footed are pressed
On the head of the pompous and the mightiest.
Each atom of your tender heart you bore,
You will see a sun smiling within the core;
And if in the furnace of love you expire whole,
You will find love the alchemy of the soul;
And if you forsake the cares of life, beyond
A vast empire you'll see which has no bound;
That which is barred to your ear you will hear
And that blurred to your eye will appear;
Fired you soar high and reach a sphere boldly
Where one you see of the world and the worldly.
Love One only with all your heart and soul
And see with surety and clear and full
That there is God only and none but God
God is the sole Being and none but God.
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Unveiled your love shines everywhere, wise man,
You who have a keen insight to see and scan;
You seek a candle in the radiant sun of light,
While day shines clearly you tread in the dark night.
Look on this garden of flowers at break of morn,
See the luster of the clear brook in rose and thorn;
In the colorless liquid see in thousand colors
Roses and lilies adorn the stately bowers.
Seek your beloved with the flame of love, yet see
That you are provided for the tempting journey;
All things difficult to reason become easy
When with full goblets of wine you are dizzy;
Then to such constellations you will rise
That neither fancy nor thought can visualize,
And to such an assembly you will be bidden
That even sacred Gabriel is forbidden!
This is the path that love ploughs and this is the end,
If you are a true lover, be manly and attend!
Hatef, who men of knowledge consider different,
Some call him drunkard and some intelligent,
When talking of wine, minstrel, cup-bearer, banquet,
The magician, the tavern, the girdle, or the goblet;
Aims to point at the secrets and the hidden -
Sometimes by allusion, sometimes boldly written.
If you happen to learn these secrets you'll descry
That here one answer to all these secrets does lie:
That there is God only and none but God,
God is the sole Being and none but God.
Lyrics, Translated to English by M. Alexandrian
Summon me and I'll sacrifice my life to you,
I shall lay it at your feet, I must tell you;
Say, O bird of dawn, from which garden you come in haste
That I can fetch your sister's message from yonder nest;
I am silent, why you ask my health, O friend, why,
Must I again lament my suffering and make you cry?
Why you complain of age, O hermit, come!, come along,
I will take you to the tavern and bring you back young;
What useless groan, what vain lamentation avails you?
What further I must bemoan to move your mercy oh;
If I don't speak of strangers, what must I design
To make you speak to me, O you cruel maid of mine?
Don't be vexed of my doings in spring O gardener if
I remind you of the leafless trees that in Autumn grieve:
Why be silent of the tales of Hatef's love idols, why?
I must speak again of these tales; again I shall try.
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My cry of "O God, O God" reaches the heaven even,
What happened, O God, of my nightly pleadings to Heaven?
Many things I had stored to tell her when I went to her,
But I remained silent fearing her ill nature;
Thousand complaints of your ill temper in our lips did hung 
But a smile from you sealed every lip among the thong.
If you don't know the pain of thirsty souls who for you pant,
See how fishes jump at the shore of desire and want;
Apart from your fair face your lovers with wet eyes
Weep tears of stars till stars drop down from skies;
O Hatef, who can keep his faith and heart whole, O say,
When in schools the naughty children are taught to play?
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The youth is passing, O God in pursuit of youthful fire,
Who can make an old man fulfilled of youthful desire?
You try to kill me, fair maid, yet I wonder fond she!
What will you gain by slaying an old man like me?
I made all kindhearted souls unkind to me,
In the hope of making you kind, O cruel lady!
Why not give me shelter under your shade, O love?
I am a homeless blackbird and a nest-less dove;
Flay not Hatef's frame who suffers, dearest,
For you can't make a tired soul more tired, fairest.
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How can lovers mate, where are lovers, where is love?
This is an atom and that a sun, what's this here and that above?
Attraction may help me to reach your bend, 
Else where is me and where this endless path will end?
I gave up my life, stepped into the desert of desire,
To see where in that desert I will perish and expire;
How can my grief-torn body bear the separation's pain,
What is this frail frame, what's the weight of separation?
From my darling's sweet lips flows the water of living,
I wonder where Khezr was seeking the living spring?
Since a lifetime expires till the firmament rolls,
How can Hatef reach the lovers' that strolls?
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O tame less gazelle who at each step scared you fly,
How I can chase you in this endless plain to get nigh?
Each night you snore in peace content with one to meet,
Yet every night I suffer waiting in tumult and heat;
I gave you many good counsels but you would not hear,
What will happen of these unheard counsels, O my fair?
All my feathers dropped in this cage with regret filled,
Happy was I when I roamed in the garden and the field.
Now if she looks at me, she eyes with scorn and spite,
What happened to her shyness when she blushed at my sight?
Her indifference in the strangers' feast would kill me
If there were no stolen glances by Hatef at the beauty.
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Yesterday my mistress came, but with my rival she came,
I stayed one night with her but lied apart from the dame;
How can you prescribe patience without her, O friend?,
I know patience cures separation but who is patient?
Ask not lovers the secrets of love of the flower,
You can't learn the secret but from the bulbul at the bower;
Each thirsty soul drinks from the lip of the cunning fair,
From the same fountain I drink but sometimes I err;
O good nurses Hatef is on the brink of death,
Could his doctor arrive sooner on his death-bed.

Literature

Iranian Poets: Afshar & Zand eras

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