Friday, October 28, 2016

Goethe and Hafiz: West–Eastern Diwan & The Ghazal


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"Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832).....The encounter of Goethe with Hafiz's ghazals became so inspiring to Goethe, that he produced his own West-östlicher Diwan and "led the way to the discovery of Persian poetry by the Romantics", ....His west-ostlicher, and collection of poetry in general, gradually came to function as "an influential model for religious and literary syntheses between the ‘occident’ and the ‘orient’ in the 19th century"....Shusha Guppy, Three Journeys in the Levant, 2001

"West–östlicher Divan (West–Eastern Diwan) is a diwan, or collection of lyrical poems, by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It was inspired by the Persian poet Hafez....West–Eastern Diwan was written between 1814 and 1819, the year when it was first published. It was inspired by Goethe's correspondence with Marianne von Willemer and the translation of Hafez' poems by the orientalist Joseph von Hammer. An expanded version was printed in 1827. It is part of Goethe's late work and the last great cycle of poetry he worked on.....The work can be seen as a symbol for a stimulating exchange and mixture between Orient and Occident. The phrase "west–eastern" refers not only to an exchange between Germany and the Middle East, but also between Latin and Persian culture, as well as the Christian and Muslim cultures. The twelve books consist of poetry of all different kinds: parables, historical allusions, pieces of invective, politically or religiously inclined poetry mirroring the attempt to bring together Orient and Occident.....For a better understanding, Goethe added "Notes and Queries", in which he comments on historical figures, events, terms and places."

English Version Online.....

"The Ghazal (Arabic/Persian/Urdu: غزل) is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in Arabic poetry in Arabia long before the birth of Islam. The term ghazal is of North African and Middle Eastern origin. Its root term in Arabic is " gh-zl " and is derived from the Arabian panegyric qasida. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarchan sonnet. In style and content it is a genre that has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation...Understanding the complex lyrics of ghazals required education typically available only to the upper classes. "

"Ghazals were written by Rumi and Hafiz of Persia; the Azeri poet Fuzûlî in the Ottoman Empire; Mirza Ghalib and Muhammad Iqbal of North India; and Kazi Nazrul Islam of Bengal. Through the influence of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), the ghazal became very popular in Germany during the 19th century; the form was used extensively by Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866) and August von Platen (1796–1835). The Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali was a proponent of the form, both in English and in other languages; he edited a volume of "real Ghazals in English". Ghazals were written by Moti Ram Bhatta (1866 - 1896 A.D.), the pioneer for Ghazal writing in Nepali language."

"Sufism....It is not possible to gain a full understanding of ghazal poetry without at least being familiar with some concepts of Sufism.[citation needed] Many of the major historical ghazal poets were either avowed Sufis themselves (like Rumi or Hafiz), or were sympathizers with Sufi ideas. Most ghazals can be viewed in a spiritual context, with the Beloved being a metaphor for God or the poet's spiritual master. It is the intense Divine Love of Sufism that serves as a model for all the forms of love found in ghazal poetry.....Most ghazal scholars today recognize that some ghazal couplets are exclusively about Divine Love (ishq-e-haqiqi). Others are about "earthly love" (ishq-e-majazi), but many of them can be interpreted in either context."

"Hafiz represented to Nietzsche a prime example of Dionysian ecstatic wisdom, which he extolls so extensively in his philosophy. Goethe's admiration for Hafiz and his "Oriental" wisdom, as expressed in the West-östlischer Divan, has been the main source of attracting Nietzsche's interest in this Persian poet. There is even a short poem in Nietzsche's Collected Works, entitled An Hafis. Frage eines Wassertrinkers (To Hafiz: Questions of a Water Drinker)."

"Nietzsche held very high interest and respect for Persians. For example, where he speaks about the Persian notion of history and cyclical Eternal Time, he writes: "I must pay tribute to Zarathustra, a Persian, for Persians were the first who thought of history in its full entirety." and further adds: ""It was much more fortunate if Persians became masters of the Greeks, than the very Romans."

"The study of Avestic and ancient Persian literature in the west began in the 18th century with scholars investigating Zoroastrian texts brought in from Bombay, India. It was the Frenchman Anquetil Duperron who first translated the Vendidad in 1759, followed by works of Sir William Jones and Sylvestre de Sacy, who worked on Pahlavi texts."


"Amir Khusro's Persian ghazal Nami danam chi manzil buud shab:

nemidanam che manzel bood shab jayi ke man boodam; be har soo raghse besmel bood shab jayi ke man boodam. pari peykar negari sarv ghadi laleh rokhsari; sarapa afat-e del bood shab jayi ke man boodam.

I wonder what was the place where I was last night, All around me were half-slaughtered victims of love, tossing about in agony. There was a nymph-like beloved with cypress-like form and tulip-like face, Ruthlessly playing havoc with the hearts of the lovers."


Northern New Mexico

October 2016


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