|sunrise Nov 30, 2017|
While in Hafez' Tavern
When I have an argument with God,
I go to my horse, to the ocean edge,
to leaping poetry of Hafez.
I won’t ride in a rage
but must settle the wild current
before risking the broken leg.
I won’t dive in the riptide
but listen for the turn, in fire,
making the red stain disappear,
The hot wine of stolen kisses
washing away desire, and I
am right into nothingness.
To read Hafez is to be drawn into the wonder of love’s abandonment, the paradoxical simultaneous double of passion: going beyond the rules of safe office chairs into the literalist lie, the fundamentalist sin while also drinking the blood-red love of that which surpasses human mind, out beyond “ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing.” It helps to read “Hafez’s Theology of Sin” and “The Way of Blame” (Lewisohn in The Angels Knocking on the Tavern Door: Thirty Poems of Hafez, p. 78). It’s to launch into “leaping poetry” where stanzas break free from being in control and thus allow one to taste divine intoxication without wetting the lips.
This mystic wine helps me live simultaneously in and out of “Pray without ceasing” in my personal land of broken promises and the between world of a diivine power both All-Powerful and All-Loving, when the material world reeks of injustice, loveless power, and apparently indiscriminate death-dealling suffering. How else but to “sin boldly” and trust in mercy.
1. Leaping Poetry of Hafez. Robert Bly opens his book Leaping Poetry with a section called “Dragon Smoke” that begins “In ancient times, in the ‘time of inspiration,’ the poet flew from one world to another, ‘riding on dragons,’ as the Chinese said. Isaiah rode on those dragons so did Li Po and Pindar. . . a leap from the conscious to the unconscious and back again, a leap from the known part of the mind to the unknown part and back to the known.” In The Angels Knocking on the Tavern Door: Thirty Poems of Hafez, Bly and Leonard Lewisohn describe how the ghazals of Hafez work this way with the jumps that prompt our movement from one world to the other. It’s a style that invites controversy and the confusion that sometimes marks the tidal edge of a surge in consciousness. One of the ghazals they translate ends “The grace of the teacher is often stained with rebukes” (p. 21). James R. Newell shows the diversity and even disagreement in translation of Hafez in the comparison of 8 versions of the same ghazal and samples from twelve publications: http://www.thesongsofhafiz.com/hafizpoetry.htm
My interest in Hafez and Rumi and in leaping poetry builds especially from the potential to dispel barriers to peace that often show up in ideas connected to differences in religion and that are used to justify war, oppression, and superiority. Daniel Ladinsky (The Gift, p. 32) translates Hafez:
I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer call myself
a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.
Those lines echo Rumi who lived about a hundred years before Hafez. Coleman Barks in A Year with Rumi includes his version of a poem from Rumi’s Divan. It begins
Ah, true believers, what can I say?
I no longer know who I am
Not Christian or Jew or Moslem
Not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen
2. out beyond ideas. Coleman Barks uses this phrasing in his version of Rumi. (See p. 36 in Essential Rumi. Also shown in https://poemfortoday.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/out-beyond-ideas-by-rumi/ ).
The complexity and perplexity of the beyond-mind space is elaborated by Ibrahim Gamard & Rawan Farhardi (The Quatrains of Rumi) and translated as “‘place’ beyond the world of belief and unbelief” (p. 407. No.1314 & 1315). They further discuss the complex notion in a reference note (#154 on p. 665) where they describe this space as “a state in the mystical journey where the presence of God’s Reality is so evident that mental concepts about belief or unbelief can seem irrelevant.” Gamard and Farhardi also note that “A dervish who realizes the limitations of outward religious forms is not supposed to stop required religious practices, such as daily prayers…”
3. Surpasses human mind. See Ephesians 3, especially verses 17-19:
17 aso that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being brooted and cgrounded in love, 18 may have strength to dcomprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and eheight and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ fthat surpasses knowledge, that gyou may be filled with all hthe fullness of God.
4. Pray without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17.
4. sin boldly. Martin Luther. “Let Your Sins Be Strong: A Letter From Luther to Melanchthon.” Letter no. 99, 1 August 1521, From the Wartburg (Segment) Translated by Erika Bullmann Flores from: _Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften_ Dr, Johannes Georg Walch, Ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, N.D.), Vol. 15,cols. 2585-2590.
13."If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life in not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. . . . Pray boldly--you too are a mighty sinner.” (Weimar ed. vol. 2, p. 371; Letters I, "Luther's Works," American Ed., Vol 48. p. 281- 282) http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Luther-Sin-Boldly.html