While Hafiz’s lyrics have widely been considered the most nearly perfect examples of this genre, his poetry has an ineffable quality that seemingly eludes exact analysis. For that matter, specialists have contested whether cohesiveness may be found in specific poems and whether shifting levels of meaning may account for abrupt transitions in topical content. In a technical sense, however, the felicitous union of diction, metric length, emphasis, and rhyme is everywhere in evidence. Hafiz’s appeal is veritably universal: Romantic, often lighthearted, and alive to the joys of this world, his poems reveal sublime attributes in the experiences and perceptions felt on this earth. It is from this point of departure that metaphysical or theological speculation may begin, but while concerns of this sort are taken up in the author’s writings, they are far from obtrusive. Indeed, in some connections they may appear inscrutable. The poet’s philosophical interests, though immanent, do not impede the measured, melodious currents that guide his thoughts across specific series of lines.
In some quarters, Hafiz was reproached as a hedonist and a libertine; he has been charged as well with the use of blasphemous motifs, both in his attitude toward the clergy and for poetic symbolism suggesting affinities with mystical schools of thought. The cast of mind revealed in his verse is effulgent and slightly irreverent; in calling for the wine bowl or in depicting...
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