A spontaneous trip to Iran (Part 2 of 3) - Hafez

Part 2 - The grave monument of Hafez

While in Shiraz we paid a visit to the great poet Hafez’s grave monument. To get to know more facts about the poet I’ve read an article of Ashk Dahlén, who’s been translating his poems to Swedish, who also happens to be the first to translate these poems from its original language to any Scandinavian language.

By the grave monument of Hafez.
Photo by Helia Bandeh.

The poet Hafez lived during the 14th century and could be one of the most influential poets in Persian literature, both during and after his life. His full name was Shams al-din Hafez and he lived 1324-1390. He grew up in Shiraz, which during this time of history was the cultural and literary heart of Iran. The city was also the centre of the Acamenidian and Sasanian empires that ruled Asia Minor before the introduction of Islam.

As a young man, Hafez studied the Quran and later theology, grammar, literature and rhetoric by a theology school and in early years he showed a talent for language and poetry. It is believed that Hafez wrote nearly 600 poems, whereof 486 are so called ghazals – short lyrical poems of 5-15 rhyming verses. The ghazal is to be derived from the old Arabian poetry but its content has its origin in the song and music traditions of the Sasanian era. Dahlén describes him first of all as a lyricist and not a mystic.

The stair that separates the two gardens.

In honour of Hafez’s memory a monument was made in one of the big gardens of Shiraz in 1452. To get to the pavilion where the big coffin of marble is placed, the visitor will walk a really wide stair and in to another garden. At the coffin of marble one should – according to the customs – place one’s hand on the coffin and read a part from the Quran. Helia’s friend Hassan, who is a literary, gladly did this part. With the deepest of reverence of this poet and what he has given the Persian literature, I placed my hand on top of the coffin and listened to Hassan’s words of the Quran.

Hassan reading a part from the Quran by the grave monument of Hafez.
Photo by Helia Bandeh.

There’s also something called “Hafez reading”. Briefly it means that a person will place her/his hand on top of Hafez’s poem collection Diwan and ask the poet's advice when faced with hard decisions. By randomly opening the book and read the poem that shows, the question will be first defined and then answered. We took a seat at the wide stair in between the two gardens and asked our questions – as it was said – and they became defined and answered.

To sum up I’d like to say that this monument shows the important role that Hafez has had in the Persian literature. He’s been inspiring authors and poets in both Iran and the rest of the world. It also shows that the literature is – and for a really long time has been – a big part of the Persian culture.