Reading Hafez, part 2 – حافظ خوانی، یادداشت دوم

Amanat’s reading of the poem, in “Iranian Idenity Boundaries: A Historical Overview:”

In this masterful ghazal Hafez seems to be lamenting the tragic fall of his beloved patron, Abu Eshaq the prince ruler of the house of Inju. In AH 758/1357, a violent client of the Mongol Ilkhanids murdered him and brought his house to an end. The wordplay here between the “city of friends” and the “prince rulers” may well be taken as a reminder of how in Hafez’s view Persian camaraderie, specifically that of the Fars province, was tied to the institution of the state, in this case a princely house that was indigenous to Fars.
Mention of the “fire priests” (mehr-banan) and the ritual of “sun worship” (mehr-bani) moreover should be taken as the poet’s reference to the Zoroastrian pre-Islamic past; a fire that was extinguished in Fars with the collapse of the Sasanian Empire. Hafez laments that the vitalizing ray of the sun, symbolically the “mine of brotherhood” (kan-e morovvat); a notion that may be taken as communal or even national solidarity. The passage of the Time and its historical cycles, he admits, is a divine mystery that cannot be fathomed by the mortals.

The poem was re-popularized and re-signified after the 1979 Revolution when the master singer Shajarian performed it in a particularly heartwrenching piece, aptly titled سوز و گداز (sooz va godaz meaning burning and melting). In those dark days when the newly formed Islamic regime was at the height of its crackdown against dissent, the poem once again stood for an idealized Iranian past, lost to the ravages of Time and of non-Iranian (aka Muslim in hyper-nationalist discourse) violence.

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