notes about persian and hafez…

persian language does not indicate gender by pronoun or verb inflection. in the ghazal, the beloved as a trope is usually a woman, yet typically refers to a man! for example, the (male) beloved, the murshid and royal patron might all be described with feminine qualities, i.e., like the moon, graceful as a cypress, coy, treacherous, etc., these being conventional figures. in addition to the complicated subject of who is the beloved- and what is the relationship with him- or her, wine as a trope is ambiguous. the courts often supported wine drinking, but sufi poets use the metaphor of wine to indicate intoxication with the divine beloved’s love and beauty (who might be an actual person!). in the context of fundamentalist islam, all of this is either dubious or heretical. hafez was both a court poet and sufi master and brought the ghazal with all its ambiguities to lyrical perfection.



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