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Beloved: 81 poems from Hafez


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Little in the life of the great Persian mystic poet Hafez (or Hafiz) is known for certain. Various dates for his birth and death are cited, generally between 1310-1326 and 1388-1390 respectively, and the many stories posing as biography are mostly unverified traditional anecdote. For all his success as a court poet, he faced (it seems) a number of political, professional and personal upheavals, including war, self-imposed exile, unrequited love, and the death of his wife and son. Nonetheless, he brought to Persia's already mature romantic lyrical tradition perhaps the most consummate and inventive realisation of the ghazal. In Iran, his Divan is to be found in the majority of homes. The poetry is recited by heart and is used in bibliomancy. Translations and imitations of his works flourish across the world, and his tomb in the Musalla Gardens (in Shiraz, his birthplace) is a famous site of pilgrimage. The book's translator Mario Petrucci was born in 1958 to Italian parents. His collection Shrapnel and Sheets (Headland, 1996) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, while Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl (Enitharmon, 2004) secured the Daily Telegraph/Arvon Prize and was made into an internationally award-winning film. i tulips (Enitharmon, 2010) takes its name from Petrucci's 1111-strong Anglo-American modernist sequence, of which the waltz in my blood (Waterloo, 2011), anima (Nine Arches, 2013) and crib (Enitharmon, 2014) are also parts. His translations include Sappho (2008), Catullus (2006) - both with Perdika Press - and Eugenio Montale's Xenia (Arc, 2016), winner of a PEN Translates award. His immense 3D poetry soundscape, Tales from the Bridge, spanned the Thames for the 2012 London Cultural Olympiad and was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award. Petrucci has held major poetry residencies at the Imperial War Museum and with BBC Radio 3. He is also an ecologist, PhD physicist and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.


'The challenges of translating elaborate poems from medieval Persian to modern English are legion... But Mario Petrucci takes on the task with gusto here, and is to be applauded.' - Henry Shukman, poet, novelist, Zen teacher

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