The Gift: Poems by Hafiz The Great Sufi Master

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Chosen by author Elizabeth Gilbert as one of her ten favorite books, Daniel Ladinsky’s extraordinary renderings of 250 unforgettable lyrical poems by Hafiz, one of the greatest Sufi poets of all time

More than any other Persian poet—even Rumi—Hafiz expanded the mystical, healing dimensions of poetry. Because his poems were often ecstatic love songs from God to his beloved world, many have called Hafiz the "Invisible Tongue." Indeed, Daniel ...

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The Gift

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Chosen by author Elizabeth Gilbert as one of her ten favorite books, Daniel Ladinsky’s extraordinary renderings of 250 unforgettable lyrical poems by Hafiz, one of the greatest Sufi poets of all time

More than any other Persian poet—even Rumi—Hafiz expanded the mystical, healing dimensions of poetry. Because his poems were often ecstatic love songs from God to his beloved world, many have called Hafiz the "Invisible Tongue." Indeed, Daniel Ladinsky has said that his work with Hafiz is an attempt to do the impossible: to render Light into words—to make the Luminous Resonance of God tangible to our finite senses.

I am a hole in a flute that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music!

With this stunning collection of Hafiz's most intimate poems, Ladinsky has succeeded brilliantly in presenting the essence of one of Islam's greatest poetic and religious voices. Each line of The Gift imparts the wonderful qualities of this master Sufi poet and spiritual teacher: encouragement, an audacious love that touches lives, profound knowledge, generosity, and a sweet, playful genius unparalleled in world literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Sandra Marshall
For those initiated in colder faces of worship, this Sufi's passionate freedom as God's loving partner is beyond heartwarming; reinvigorate yourself y opening any page and accepting its call. >br>— Napra Review
Kirkus Reviews
The Gift ( paperback original; Aug.; 326 pp.; 0-14-019581-5): A worthy companion volume to Coleman Banks's new translation of Rumi (The Glance, see below). It collects 250 poems written by Muhammad Hafiz (1320–89), the most popular and highly revered poet in Persian history, and renders them into a fresh translation from the Farsi. Like Rumi, Hafiz writes out of the Sufi tradition, and his work bears the Sufi hallmarks of ecstatic spirituality conveyed at once through lush imagery and verbal restraint. His fabulistic, almost didactic style can sound a bit flat at times ("How / Do I / Listen to others? / As if everyone were my Master / Speaking to me / His / Last / Words"), but there is a religious intensity in his work that is equally fresh and naive ("When no one is looking and I want / To kiss / God / I just lift my own hand / To / My / Mouth") and quite unlike anything found in the Western tradition (though modern minimalists such as Robert Lax come close). A fine preface by Ladinsky and an excellent introduction by Henry S. Mindlin.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140195811
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Series: Compass Series
  • Edition description: Gift
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 100,291
  • Product dimensions: 8.32 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Ladinsky has published three previous translations of Hafiz's poems, The Gift, The Subject Tonight Is Love, and I Heard God Laughing, as well as a collection of translations of poems by twelve mystics and saints, Love Poems From God. His most recent collection is The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi. For six years, he made his home in a spiritual community in western India, where he worked and lived with the intimate disciples and family of Avatar Meher Baba. He lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Table of Contents

Preface Introduction: The Life and Work of Hafiz

One: Startled by God
Startled by God Let's Eat When the Violin Looking for Good Fish A Hunting Party This Sane Idea We Have Not Come to Take Prisoners I Can See Angels You're It I Rain

Two: I Have Learned So Much
I Have Learned So Much God Just Came Near The Sun Never Says The Seed Cracked Open Why Just Ask the Donkey Who Wrote All the Music Your Mother and My Mother Mismatched Newlyweds Your Seed Pouch That Magnificent Storm

Three: Removing the Shoe from the Temple
Removing the Shoe from the Temple Against My Own Hand Out of This Mess If God Invited You to a Party To Build a Swing A Crystal Rim This One Is Mine Curfews The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish An Infant in Your Arms

Four: I Hold the Lion's Paw
I Hold the Lion's Paw If the Falling of a Hoof What the Hell Someone Untied Your Camel When I Want to Kiss God For a Single Tear That Shapes the Eye So Many Gifts Love Is the Funeral Pyre Allah, Allah, Allah

Five: Don't Die Again
Don't Die Again Like a Life-Giving Sun The Great Work Effacement Some Fill with Each Good Rain The Vintage Man Everywhere Lifts beyond Conception God's Bucket Just Looking for Trouble

Six: The Gift
The Gift Laughing at the Word Two Life Starts Clapping The Foundation for Greatness Courteous to the Ant His Winter Crop The Scent of Light No Conflict Stop Calling Me a Pregnant Woman A Strange Feather

Seven: I Am Really Just a Tambourine
I Am Really Just a Tambourine The Stairway of Existence What Do White Birds Say?
How Do I Listen?
The Earth Braces Itself The Difference Between The Angels Know You Well Crooked Deals The Millstone's Talents Let Thought Become Your Beautiful Lover

Eight: Get the Blame Straight
Get the Blame Straight Rewards for Clear Thinking Please This Constant Yearning The Sad Game That Regal Coat Stop Being So Religious Friends Do Things Like This It Felt Love Look! I Am a Whale Two Bears The Sky Hunter Forgive the Dream

Nine: The Prettiest Mule
The Prettiest Mule Today Wise Men Keep Talking About Back into Herself The Mule Got Drunk and Lost in Heaven Why Abstain?
The Warrior Dividing God I Saw Two Birds Muhammad's Twin

Ten: Tiny Gods
Tiny Gods This Union When You Can Endure This Talking Rag Who Will Feed My Cat?
Burglars Hear Watchdogs A Still Cup That Lamp That Needs No Oil Too Wonderful

Eleven: Elephant Wondering
Elephant Wondering An Old Musician The Fish and I Will Chat The Heart Is Right Out of God's Hat The Clay Bowl's Destiny I Hope You Won't Sue This Old Man Faithful Lover Now Is the Time

Twelve: Counting Moles
Counting Moles Hafiz The Body a Tree A Great Need There Could Be Holy Fallout Trying to Wear Pants This Sky It Is Unanimous Two Puddles Chatting His Ballet Company

Thirteen: Reverence
Reverence That Tree We Planted I Vote for You for God A One-Story House The Great Religions What Happens to the Guest I Want Both of Us Like Passionate Lips Cucumbers and Prayers

Fourteen: A Cushion for Your Head
A Cushion for Your Head These Beautiful Love Games The Bag Lady The Ambience of Love Tired of Speaking Sweetly A Root in Each Act and Creature Our Hearts Should Do This More Turn Left a Thousand Feet from Here Imagination Does Not Exist Throw Me on a Scale The Hatcheck Girl Damn Thirsty

Fifteen: Two Giant Fat People
Two Giant Fat People Scratching My Back If You Don't Stop That Elegance A Hole in a Flute Until Why Aren't We Screaming Drunks?
Dropping Keys All the Talents of God The Great Expanse I Imagine Now for Ages

Sixteen: Spiced Manna
Spiced Manna A Hard Decree And For No Reason Sometimes I Say to a Poem The Suburbs She Responded We Might Have to Medicate You The Idiot's Warehouse When You Wake This Teaching Business Isn't Easy The Mountain Got Tired of Sitting

Seventeen: Where Is the Door to the Tavern?
Where Is the Door to the Tavern?
Becoming Human In Need of the Breath The Heart's Coronation The Thousand-Stringed Instrument Then Winks And Then You Are The Intelligent Man The Chorus in the Eye Find a Better Job The Lute Will Beg

Eighteen: When the Sun Conceived a Man
When the Sun Conceived a Man A Mime The Quintessence of Loneliness Needing a Mirror Zikr The Tender Mouth Greeting God Reaching Toward the Millet Fields

Nineteen: Lousy at Math
Lousy at Math The Sun in Drag Between Our Poles Stay Close to Those Sounds An Invisible Pile of Wood It Has Not Rained Light Berserk No More Leaving Wow What Should We Do about That Moon?

Twenty: Cupping My Hands Like a Mountain Valley
Cupping My Hands Like a Mountain Valley Why Not Be Polite

Twenty-one: The God Who Only Knows Four Words
The God Who Only Knows Four Words You Were Brave in That Holy War Bring the Man to Me Too Beautiful My Eyes So Soft The Diamond Takes Shape That Does Perish Chain You to My Body Covers Her Face with Both Hands Dog's Love

Twenty-two: Stay with Us
Stay with Us I Am Full of Love Tonight Many Lives Ago It Will Stretch Out Its Leg Some of the Planets Are Hosting What Is the Root?
The Same Suntan For Three Days

Twenty-three: A Clever Piece of Mutton
A Clever Piece of Mutton Who Can Hear the Buddha Sing?
Buttering the Sky How Fascinating Where Great Lions Love to Piss A Potent Lover An Astronomical Question I Wish I Could Speak Like Music In a Circus Booth Maybe Even Lucrative Troubled

Twenty-four: The Silk Mandala
The Silk Mandala A Forest Herb Your Camel Is Loaded to Sing Stealing Back the Flute Where the Drum Lost Its Mind Every City Is a Dulcimer Ruin Between Your Eye and This Page Practice This New Birdcall

Twenty-five: I Know I Was the Water
I Know I Was the Water With That Moon Language Without Brushing My Hair Integrity There When Space Is Not Rationed Birds of Passage Act Great The Only Material I Got Kin Only One Rule Your Thousand Limbs And Love Says

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2007

    A reviewer

    The reason I give this work only one star is not because the poems aren't enjoyable, but that they are not from the collection of poems by Hafiz. As an Iranian academic once pointed out in a review of this book, there is not a single poem in the Divan of Hafiz that bears any resemblance to any poem in this book. It would be far more accurate to say that these poems were 'inspired' by Hafiz, rather than being translations. The author may be an inspired poet, but he does not know Persian, and has not translated any of these poems, nor has even stayed relatively true to the English translations available. For individuals looking for the real poetry from Hafiz, look at 'The Grean Sea of Heaven' or Peter Avery's new collection 'The Collected Lyrics of Hafiz of Shiraz.'

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    "The Gift" Speaks Timeless Beauty

    The poems of Hafiz are beautiful, timeless and life-affirming. I usually read one or two poems at a time and then savor them for the rest of the day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Beyond Rumi

    Hafiz has a gift for finding the Cosmic in the beauties of nature and the most delicate of human emotions -- and also in very mundane, ordinary-life circumstances. Sometimes he presents it all in terms as esoteric as Rumi, and sometimes with rich, earthy humor all his own; but always with a grace that delights both eye and ear. This book is truly A Gift....(pun intended).

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  • Posted November 1, 2011

    My Favorite Book!

    I love this collection. It runs the gamut of feelings about connection and life. I reference it often, and find inspiration and comfort in every page. It is especially wonderful to have on my Nook and iPhone, where I have it always available.

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    My absolute favorite book of poetry!

    I love this book so much that I've given it as a gift several times to friends I knew would (and did) love it. I love Hafiz (and Rumi, and many other inspired poets) and I find myself enjoying Landinsky's translations the best. For me, he captures the passion of the composer and conveys it to the reader.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Ecstatic Poetry at its best!

    This is the most moving poetry I have yet to find.
    "Even after all this time
    Does the Sun ever say to Earth
    You owe me?"
    A totally new way to see how mankind fits into the big picture.

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  • Posted November 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A favorite

    Hafiz swept into my life about 10 years ago. I had seen him in my peripheral vision growing up. But one day he burst through the doors and strode into my life never to leave! And I am glad.

    The wisdom and beauty of this translation has help me through many a rough time. The constant reminder from so many points of view, that no one can stop you from carrying god, or saying the name of god, sometimes is all that we need to make us lift our eyes from the mud to see the wonder of creation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2007

    The Christ's Breath is Here

    Hafiz (c.1320-1389) sometimes spelled 'Hafez', says in this book, 'I am a hole in a flute that the Christ's breath moves through--listen to this music.' What an extraordinary claim that is, that my heart feels is true--for the wonder and magnificent gift of any great poet is to somehow touch our souls with God's hand--with divine music. The Gift has been considered one of the best-selling spiritual poetry books in the English language for nearly a decade now. It's showing all the signs of becoming a lasting, well-deserved classic. In these brilliant, deeply tender, witty and full-hearted renderings, Ladinsky releases the true spirit of this most beloved Persian poet and spiritual teacher and makes him fully accessible to our times. Hafiz has influenced and nourished many writers, poets and scholars through the centuries, including Nietzsche, Byron, Hugo, Lorca, Goethe and Emerson. If you're interested in knowing more about some of these eminent poets own words about translation/renderings, please read on, below, following some of these shorter gems from THE GIFT..... THE SUN NEVER SAYS: Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, 'You owe me.' Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky. THE SCENT OF LIGHT: Like a great starving beast my body is quivering, fixed on the scent of Light. YOU'RE IT: God, disguised as a myriad things and playing a game of tag, has kissed you and said 'You're it --- I mean you're Really IT! Now it does not matter what you believe or feel, for something wonderful, major-league wonderful, is someday going to happen. I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH: I have learned so much from God that I can no longer call myself a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew. The Truth has shared so much of Itself with my heart that I can no longer think of myself as a man, a woman, an angel or even pure soul. Reality has befriended me so deeply -- it has freed my mind of every concept and image I have ever known. For those interested in the conversation that goes back and forth about the legitimacy of renderings and translations of Hafiz, this may be helpful information: Professor R. A. Nicholson's scholarly work with Hafiz in the late 1800's and later, that of Professor A.J. Arberry, have long been considered the gold standard of Hafiz's literal translations in to the English language. In a 1948 review of Arberry's translations, Harvard Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Eric Schroeder, praises Arberry's work and agrees with him about the difficulty of presenting this greatest Persian poet to English speaking minds. 'For Hafiz' beautiful verbal surface is too complex to retain the felicity of poetry when fully rendered into English. The acoustic structure of English equivalents, it is superfluous to say, could never echo the flawless music of the Persian words.' Schroeder's review states too, 'The only service of translation is to make the foreign poet a poet of one's own country.' Goethe translated Hafiz and said of him...'Hafiz had no peer!' Of the task of translating, Goethe says, 'I revere the rhythm as well as the rhyme, by which poetry first becomes poetry but that which is really, deeply and fundamentally effective--what is really permanent and furthering--is what remains of the poet when he is translated into prose... I therefore consider prose translations more advantageous than poetical ones... Those critical translations that vie with the original seem really to be only for the private delectation of the learned.' Emerson too rendered Hafiz, about whom he stated, 'He fears nothing. He sees too far he sees throughout such is the only man I wish to see and be.' Emerson's translations were both free renderings and translations all made from German sources, for he did not read or speak Persian with any fluency. Contemporary poet/translator Kenneth Rexroth states, 'The writer who can project himself into the exultation of another learns more than the craft of words, he lear

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2002


    His words made me a positive person...Took all the negativity away from my heart..with him I found the connection and peace with my inner self...thanks for the individuals who made these books available ...It is a true treasure and doesn't cost much to own it...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2002

    Hafiz the Mystic Guide still rings true in the 20th century

    This is a book that as a student of the Sufi path I keep going back to again and again for inspiration and comfort. Hafiz never fails to surprise me. Deeply felt and sometimes acerbic, his words resonate still in the 21st century. This book is a blessing to anyone on any spiritual path or those who simply need a 'pick-me-up' now and then. Namaste

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2001

    Drunk with the words of Hafiz!

    This is the best gift I ever gave myself. Hafiz is the greatest love. I find myself melting away under my covers or perched on a park bench completely mesmerized. This Gift is one that doesn't just stick to words in a book. The words are leaping off the pages longing to be be sung. Hafiz brings the heart to life and gives it verse to dance to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2001


    Forget what you think you know about poetry. Hafiz has no peer. This collection is wonderfully translated by somebody who has obviously gotten fully into the spirit of the work. There is more light in these pages than in volumes of other works... It is a joy which will continue to give you pause to think and appreciate for the rest of your life. Perhaps the best book I have ever had the good fortune to read. Buy it! Buy it and be thankful that you FOUND it! No reservations whatsoever *****+

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    Posted March 27, 2010

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    Posted April 17, 2010

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    Posted October 21, 2009

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