Apart from manuscripts he is known to have copied, the only existing works that Hafiz (HAH-feez) is known to have written are poetry. Other Persian writers have referred to prose works by the author, but no such writings are extant.
In the hands of Hafiz, the lyric poem, or ghazal, reached its highest level of development as the author combined technical virtuosity with sublime poetic inspiration. With subtle, meticulous craftsmanship, this literary form, which otherwise could be reproached as stilted and artificial, reached under Hafiz the zenith of its expressive qualities. The author’s spiritual and romantic quests are evoked in delicate tones that are admirably suited to the Persian metric forms. The exquisite aspects hidden in everyday experience merge with elements of the author’s larger vision, which is tinged with mystical yearnings in places as well. It is a measure also of Hafiz’s unexpected depth that simple odes, with their seemingly transparent imagery, upon closer examination reveal multiple patterns of meaning that reflect the timeless qualities of daily joys and sorrows. At its finest, the poetical raiment of Hafiz’s work displays meticulous, seemingly effortless construction as the diverse, multicolored threads of thought and feeling are interwoven in bright and perennially appealing designs.
In addition to the odes, or lyric poetry, Hafiz wrote elegies (qasa՚id), of which two are included in his collected verse; he also wrote a certain number of shorter works (qitaՙ) and at least forty-twoquatrains (rubaiՙyat). These forms, with their own harmonic and metrical requirements, demonstrate the author’s attainments with other kinds of poetry. Although outwardly the entire corpus of Hafiz’s known work does not exemplify a single unitary or holistic theme, the various elements of his poetical canon combine patterns and topics that are in keeping with the standards of versification upheld by classical Persian prosody.
During his lifetime, Hafiz earned the title khwajah, or learned man. It would appear that he was honored, as well as tolerated, by some of the rulers of his day. The claims of some writers that, possibly with the support of the shah, he was at one time a professor of Qur՚nic exegesis at an institution of religious learning have not been confirmed. Hafiz never obtained an appointment as a court poet; while he gained some renown during his lifetime, the honor with which his name is held was conferred largely by subsequent generations of poets and literary men.
Hafiz. The Divan of Hafez: A Bilingual Text, Persian-English. Translated by Reza Saberi. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2002. Presents a translation of Hafiz’s The Divan, with facing Persian-English pages. Hafiz’s life and work are discussed in the introduction. Includes a glossary.
_______. The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master. Translated by David Ladinsky. New York: Penguin Putman, 1999. Ladinsky is a well-known translator of Hafiz, and his translations are playful, contemporary, and rich in surprising metaphors. His introduction surveys the life and work of Hafiz.
Hillmann, Michael C. “Classicism, Ornament, Ambivalence, and the Persian Muse.” In Iranian Culture: A Persianist View. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1988. An attempt to discern enduring Iranian cultural attitudes in an examination of aesthetic aspects and criteria discernible in Hafiz’s ghazals, among them appreciation of tradition, formality, and ceremony, a penchant for embellishment and the ornamental, and a capacity for ambivalence in attitudes, ideas, beliefs, and standards. Bibliography.
_______. Unity in the Ghazals of Hafez. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1976. A formalist analysis of sixteen Hafizian ghazals in a response to long-standing charges by Iranian scholars and scholars of Asia that Hafiz’ poems lack unity. Includes an extensive list in notes and bibliography of writings on Hafiz in European languages. Bibliography, index.
LeMaster, J. R., and Sabahat Jahan. Walt Whitman and the Persian Poets: A Study in Literature and Religion. Bethesda, Md.: Ibex, 2009. Hafiz and Walt Whitman are examined for the religious content of their poetry.
Loloi, Parvin. Hafiz, Master of Persian Poetry: A Critical Bibliography—English Translations Since the Eighteenth Century. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2004. A bibliography of Hafiz’s works that helps the researcher sort out the many translations.
Pourafzal, Haleh, and Roger Montgomery. The Spiritual Wisdom of Haféz: Teachings of the Philosopher of Love. Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2004. A good introduction to Hafiz’s poetry. Explores how his work speaks to scholarship in philosophy, psychology, social theory, and education. Bibliographical references, index.