HAFEZ: Robert Bly in Shiraz


HAFEZ: Robert Bly in Shiraz
by Hafez for Beginners

"ROBERT BLY and the "little children" at Hafez's Tomb in Shiraz, Iran - 2007" 

ROBERT BLY - Amerian Poet:  inspired my Blog today. He is an incredibly poetic soul, and I recommend digging up his work and his interviews - there are a few gems on YouTube, too. He also translates poetry and in 2009 translated a collection of 30 of Hafez poems, titled: "The Angels Knocking at the Tavern Door."

In a 2007 interview with Bill Moyers (award winning US journalist and public television broadcaster), Robert Bly recalls his visit to Hafez's tomb in Shiraz, and witnessing school children at the grave. I've posted this segment of the interview below. How Robert Bly champions having poetry and literature enter our hearts vs. our minds in say, graduate school  when we "study" literature. Those who create art, whether it is to write, paint, or compose music, will also tell you the process is very different to "studying" these arts.

HAFEZ: always gets the importance of accessing Eshgh/Love via your heart, rather than your mind. And all of these arts, require the conduit of the heart as a passage to their creation. In today's Beyt, Hafez is reminding us of how "Love" is not something to be known, to be studied from the book of the mind. It resonated beautifully, with the few words Robert Bly had to say about taking children, creatures with open hearts, to the tombs of poets, rather than leaving the poets to dusty halls of graduate school and academia, to be peered into and "studied." That isn't the door the poetry enters the soul and sharing with you a PHOTO: Robert Bly and the "little children" at the Tomb of Hafez, 2007 

ای که از دفتر آیت عشق آموزی        ترسم این نکته به تحقیق ندانی دانست  

Ey keh as daftar-eh ayat eshgh amouzi

Tarsam in nokteh beh tahghigh nadani danest

"It is not through the head that we discover the signs of the miracle of Love

My fear is that these studies will lead you astray from the whole point of Love" 


PBS INTEVIEW: August 31, 2007 

Bill Moyers: You went to Iran a few months ago. Tell me about that.

Robert Bly: Yes, they flew us to Shiraz where Hafez's grave is. So, we got up in the morning, and went to the grave. And about 8:00 in the morning, you know, children started to come. Maybe third grade children. And they stood around the little tomb and sang a poem of Hafez's. Really charming. And then they went away, and now some fifth graders came. And they stood around the tomb and sang a poem of Hafez. ... So, I said to myself, "Isn't that unbelievable? And why don't we do that ? Why don't we go to the grave of Walt Whitman and have children come there? Do you understand what it is?

Bill Moyers: I do. I don't have an answer. Why don't we? 

Robert Bly: Because we don't love -- we don't bring Walt Whitman and love him in the way that the Iranians bring in their poets and love them. So, that's be great if children could go to Walt Whitman's grave and recite little poems.

Bill Moyers: What do you think it would mean if we went to the graves of our poets?

Robert Bly: You'd bring the poets into the heart, instead of having them in your head in graduate school. And that's what you do with children. You bring chldren in and they get associated with the heart when they're very small, and then they can feel it all through their lives.


Finally, I do know that with most of us, the seeds of "poetry" were indeed planted in us at a very early age. I remember listening to recordings of Shamloo reciting Hafez in our home, when I was around 9 and  clueless as to what was being said. But the recordings never failed to leave me in  a state of trance that I later visited and re-visited in my adult life. So, in my own case, indeed - the child's open heart can indeed grasp, even if not fully not understand, the magnitude of the beauty. And what a wonderful place to start poetry, childhood.


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more from Hafez for Beginners
Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on

Iraj Khan: 2 sets of 2 wise men indeed. Glad you enjoyed the video of Robert Bly: 


The Iran parts are at 7:00 sec and 13:45 sec. for those who want to watch it, too. 

iraj khan


by iraj khan on

wise persons, Bill Moyers and Robert Bly, 

sitting down together and talking about

two other wise men who asked through poetry:

what is this life all about?

Afsaneh, I watched the video, thanks for posting this blog.

Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on

Mahvash: What a lovely and inspired post. Thank you! 


Free these lines!

by Mahvash Shahegh on

Robert Bly is one of the pioneer in introducing Rumi and Hafez to modern American era. I remember in one of the older interview that Bill Moyers had with Coleman Barks, the most famouse translator of Rumi, Barks said one day Robert Bly gave me a book and told me these poems are prisoners in this book, make them free. Barks continued that it was the beginning of my interest in translating poems of Rumi and introduce them to English spoken world.

Thanks, Afsaneh jaan for updating us on Robert Bly and his wonderful works. 


Hafez for Beginners

his own words

by Hafez for Beginners on

Do Not Shoot Me: You are welcome. Again, I'm reposting the YouTube link to Robert Bly's interview for you to hear his own lovely, gentle words. At 7:00 sec. he speaks of Persian Poetry and at 13:45 he speaks of his visit to Shiraz and Hafez's tomb.




Do Not Shoot Me

Very Inspirational.

by Do Not Shoot Me on

Very Inspirational.

Thank you for posting this interview. 

Hafez for Beginners

Keeping politics out

by Hafez for Beginners on

Oon Yaroo: So, until politics change, in whatever shape different people fancy, no one is allowed to visit Hafez's tomb? 

Remember: If artists had to wait for Democracy, then Iran wouldn't have had any Art, Poerty, Architecture, Gardens, Carpets  in centuries, maybe millenia!!  

Let's allow a dignified American Poet to visit Shiraz and Hafez's tomb. I encourage comments to be about the Beyt at hand in this post, or the poet Robert Bly if some of you are familiar with him. 

Oon Yaroo

Poet Robert Bly vividly recalls the early morning's

by Oon Yaroo on

vividly recalls the early morning's poetry recitation around Hafez's shrine by the 3rd and 5th grade students as an indication of Iranians loving their poets.

I wonder if in that well-choreographed trip of his to Iran and Shiraz he was lucky enough to observe the other side of IRR's cultural love and affection where people gather around big cranes early in the morning to witness and cheer hangings of their compatriots.....!?

Or, maybe his IRR hosts and hostesses preferred that he wouldn't see those events...!

Or, was it that Mr. Bill Moyers very conveniently forgot to ask that question from Mr. Bly!?

Just wondering!

Hafez for Beginners

PS - Robert Bly's YouTube PBS Clip:

by Hafez for Beginners on

YouTube clip of the above interview:   7:00 sec.  - Starts talking of Persian Poetry   13:45 sec. - Starts talking of his visit to Shiraz   //www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9by9LB-tqY