consisted of lands that are today known as Iran. (We in the West
hard-headedly maintained the designation of this area as “Persia”
well into the 20th century, long after Iranians referred to their
country as “Iran”. )
area and this culture has a long history of wine poetry, represented
the poets Omar
(1048-1131) and Hafiz (c.
1320-1389). Objections to including these poets on this
website might come from
the Muslim world, where the orthodoxy take issue with any support of
alcohol. Critics point to a long history of religious
metaphorically link wine with mystical union with God, and
intoxication with spiritual awakening and fervor (including a rich
Sufi tradition within Islam). However, no matter the
this poetic tradition undeniably speaks favorably about the everyday
use of wine and denounces those who would seek to deny such
pleasures. I would align these religious critics with those
fundamentalists from my own Christian tradition who would claim that
Jesus’ wine miracle at Cana or the goblet he held at the Last
Supper involved some substance other than an alcoholic beverage.
Persian poets have been widely translated and promoted in the West
for generations. There have been those who have used these
poems for political purposes, in a convoluted attempt to brand the
Islamic world with the label of hypocrisy. I view such
maneuvers with the same disdain and skepticism as I hold for those
theologies that would have us reverse Jesus' miracle at
Cana and turn wine into water.
of your political motivation, your religious affiliation, or your
poetic interpretation, a poem
that employs wine as a metaphor, whether that finger points to
heaven, hell, or mere earthly delights – by my definition – is a
– S.H. Bass
see the Special Notes: Hafiz and Omar Khayyam.
Essay On Persian
Poetry” by Ralph Waldo Emerson in Rubaiyat
of Omar Khayyam and
Salaman and Absal (1909)
by Edward FitzGerald.
English Readers (1883) by Samuel
|The Rhyme Makers