Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:05 PM PDTThe Night of Power, or Å¡ab-i qadr (laylatu l-qadr in Arabic) is the night on which, according to Islamic mythology, the first revelations of the Qur'an were made to the prophet Muhammad via the angel Gabriel. Hafez toys with the the term by putting it in an amatory context, while also reinforcing its religious aspect (three of the lines are actually written in Arabic, one of which is an almost exact quotation from the Qur'Än.) The Sufi overtones which had been forced on the Persian lyric vocabulary by the mystical tradition allow both the religious and amatory implications to coexist in quite harmonious yet paradoxical, and surely intentional, balance and tension. The age-old question of whether Hafiz is being amatory or spiritual is badly framed and worse than useless when it comes to poems of his like this one, and the reader would be well-advised to keep in mind that a key feature of Hafez' aesthetic is to undermine notions of consistency. You don't know what the meaning of the poem really is, because there really isn't any one meaning. Hafiz would be the first to remind us that trying to make too much sense of something, like why I seem to have spelled his name two different ways in this paragraph, might just ruin the fun, and that the meaning of a poem, like the meaning of life itself, does not need to be completely understood for you to enjoy it.
Ghazal 246: The Night of Power
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Persian
It is the Night of Power, the scroll
Of loss is rolled away.
Peace be unto this sacred night.
Peace until break of day.
My heart in travel on the path
Of love, be strong and true.
You are to be requited for
Each step along that way.
And even though you wound me with
Banishment and disdain,
I'll not repent of what I am:
A wanton debauchÃ©.
My heart is gone. I caught not one
Glimpse of its sweet thief's face.
Such tyranny! Such heartlessness!
What else is there to say?
Dear God, Oh God! Restore the light
Of morning to my heart.
The dark of separation's night
Has wiped my sight away.
Hafiz, endure this faithless torment
If you seek love and faith.
Before a merchant turns a profit,
There's first a cost to pay.