HAFEZ: Emerson and Thoreau


HAFEZ: Emerson and Thoreau
by Hafez for Beginners

Thoreau, Emerson and the New England Transcendentalists (Whitman et al.) were all indelible American poets and thinkers. They were all memorable players of my graduate school dissertation, that traced their thoughts and influences on the thinking of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Emerson Loved Hafez. My favorite quote of his on Hafez is: "Hafez - a quarry of imagery in which poets of all ages might mine." (Emerson also penned a great Essay on "Persian Poetry" - do check it out!)


OK... so today's Blog: Hafez and Thoreau are both reminding us how the essence of life can fall through the cracks if we were to live it through the mundane, while missing out on that which connects us to our authentic self.

Thoreau hated "business" - the soulless world of endless calculations, and we have Hafez here reminding us that figuring out "where to sleep and what to eat" - can make us forget who we truly are.

THOREAU: Thoreau's essay - "Life Without Principle" beautifully captures the sense of lament and loss over a life that has been surrendered to the world of "business." In one part, Thoreau describes a day where he can't even buy a blank note-book to jot his thoughts in. The notebooks he comes across are all ruled for accounting and financial calculations. As if man's sole purposse in writing anything was to note his material gains and losses in the immaculately lined margins of these books: "This world is a place of business... nothing but work, work, work. I cannot easily buy a blank-book to write thoughts in; they are commonly ruled for dollars and cents." There's a little scene he describes where an Irishman had seen him scribbling in the fields and assumed Thoroeau must be counting his earnings: "An Irishman, seeing me marking a minute in the fields, took it for granted that I was calculatingmy wages." To Thoreau, the soul of man is devoured by this commitment to the "infantile bustle."

HAFEZ: "This infantile bustle" resonates in Hafez's poetry, too. Today's Beyt (couplet) has Hafez pointing to a person whose mundane daily life-tasks have overtaken their authentic soul. Hafez reminds the subject of how his preoccupation with figuring out what he will next eat, and where he will next sleep, have bereft him of his connection to a higher, purposeful existence. He goes on to recommend an abondonment of such "needs" such as what to eat and where to sleep, in order to invite in a higher actuality:

خواب و خورت ز مرتبه خویش دور کرد

آنگه رسی به خویش که بی خواب و خور شوی 

Your "sleeping and feeing" have disjoined you from your true rank and sovereignty

Only when thoughts of sustenance and slumber have all but left your mind, would you  grasp your unfeigned self



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Hafez for Beginners

nice quotes

by Hafez for Beginners on

Soosan Khanoum: Nice, inspired quotes - thank you. Also what I took from Thoreau's "notebook" story was a life that is led less "functionally" ......

Soosan Khanoom

“I'm going to paraphrase

by Soosan Khanoom on

“I'm going to paraphrase Thoreau here... rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness... give me truth. ” 
― Jon KrakauerInto the Wild

Soosan Khanoom

Another thoughtful blog,

by Soosan Khanoom on

Another thoughtful blog, thanks Afsaneh.  I think in today's world it is getting harder and harder to be independent but the desire is still there to become not necessarily religious but spiritual...  


Eddie Vedder - Society 

"Society, you're a crazy breed

I hope you're not lonely without me"

Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on


PS: I can't more highly recommend: the readings of all the Transcendentalists - they resonate deeply with the Iranian spirit.

And of course, a little window onto our "Learning from Hafez" gatherings: