About the Book
This bilingual edition of Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz has the original Persian verses facing the English translations. The three Shirazi poets whose work is featured here, Hafez, Jahan Malek Khatun, and Obayd-e Zakani, lived at the same time (the mid fourteenth century), and certainly knew of one another – Obayd wrote at least two poems about Jahan Khatun, and Jahan Khatun quotes Hafez in one of her poems. It’s extremely likely that, during the 1340s and early 1350s at least, they also knew one another personally. The poetic life of the city during this period centered on the court of the ruling family, the Injus; Jahan Khatun was an Inju princess, while her uncle, Abu Es’haq, the head of the family and the ruler of the city, was a great patron of poets.
“Davis [is] widely acknowledged as the leading translator of Persian literature in our time…Faces of Love has made the Persian originals into real and moving English poems.”
—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“Davis has done something I’d thought impossible: given us an Englished Hafez whose verses retain an intimation of what all the fuss is about…this anthology is a revelation.”
—Michael Robbins, The Chicago Tribune
“Radiant…Davis expertly elucidates the conventions these poets worked within and played against.”
—A. E. Stallings, The Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year
- Introduction ix
- Hafez 1
- Jahan Malek Khatun 261
- Obayd-e Zakani 379
- Explanatory Notes 445
- Appendix: Poems on Translating Hafez 489
- Index of English First Lines 496
- Index of Persian First Lines 501
About the Author
Dick Davis brings a unique array of gifts to the challenges of translating Hafez and his contemporaries. In his own right, he is a poet of great technical accomplishment and emotional depth. He is also the foremost English-speaking scholar of medieval Persian poetry now working in the West. Numerous honors testify to his talents. In the U.K., he received the Royal Society of Literature’s Heinemann Award for his second book of poems, Seeing the World, in 1981; his Selected Poems was chosen by both the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph as a Book of the Year in 1989; and his collection Belonging was selected as the Poetry Book of the Year by The Economist in 2003. In the U.S., A Kind of Love—the American edition of his Selected Poems—received the Ingram Merrill prize for “excellence in poetry” in 1993. He has received awards for his scholarship from the Arts Council of Great Britain, The British Institute of Persian Studies, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and he is the recipient of grants for his translations from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Twice, in 2000 and 2001, he received the Translation Award of the International Society for Iranian Studies, and in 2001 he received an Encyclopedia Iranica award for “services to Persian poetry.” His translation of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh: the Persian Book of Kings was chosen as one of the “ten best books of 2006” by the Washington Post.
Davis read English at Cambridge, lived in Iran for eight years (he met and married his Iranian wife Afkham Darbandi there), then completed a PhD in Medieval Persian Literature at the University of Manchester. He has resided for extended periods in both Greece and Italy (his translations include works from Italian), and has taught at both the University of California and at Ohio State University, where he was for nine years Professor of Persian and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages, retiring from that position in 2012. In all, he has published more than twenty books and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Among the qualities that distinguish his poetry and scholarship are exacting technical expertise and wide cultural sympathy—an ability to enter into distant cultural milieus both intellectually and emotionally. In choosing his volume of poems Belonging as a “Book of the Year” for 2006, The Economist praised it as “a profound and beautiful collection” that gave evidence of “a commitment to an ideal of civilized life shared by many cultures.” the Times Literary Supplement has called him “our finest translator of Persian poetry.” In 2009 Mage published a book of Dick Davis’s own poems about Iran: At Home and Far From Home: Poems on Iran and Persian Culture. His book about the Shahnameh, Epic and Sedition was published by Mage in paperback in 2006. His books of translations are: Borrowed Ware: Medieval Persian Epigrams (1998), The Shahnameh (2004); The Legend of Seyavash (2004); Rostam: Tales of Love and War from Persia’s Book of Kings (2007); Vis and Ramin(2008); Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz (2012).