Hegira (1814)

North and West and South are breaking,
Thrones are bursting, kingdoms shaking:
Flee, then, to the essential East,
Where on patriarch’s air you’ll feast!
There to love and drink and sing,
Drawing youth from Khizr’s spring.

Pure and righteous there I’ll trace
To its source the human race,
Prime of nations, when to each
Heavenly truth in earthly speech
Still by God himself was given,
Human brains not racked and riven.

When they honored ancestors,
To strange doctrine closed their doors;
Youthful bounds shall be my pride,
My thought narrow, my faith wide.
And I’ll find the token word,
Dear because a spoken word.

Mix with goatherds in dry places,
Seek refreshment in oases
When with caravans I fare,
Coffee, shawls, and musk my ware;
Every road and path explore,
Desert, cities and seashore;

Dangerous track, through rock and scree:
Hafiz, there you’ll comfort me
When the guide, enchanted, tells
On the mule’s back, your ghazels,
Sings them for the stars to hear,
Robber bands to quail with fear.

Holy Hafiz, you in all
Baths and taverns I’ll recall,
When the loved one lifts her veil,
Ambergris her locks exhale.
More: the poet’s love song must
Melt the houris, move their lust.

Now, should you begrudge him this,
Even long to spoil such bliss,
Poets’ words, I’d have you know,
Round the gate of Eden flow,
Gently knocking without rest,
Everlasting life their quest.

Translated by Michael Hamburger

Selected Poems of Goethe

Persian version of Goethe’s “West-East Divan” republished


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