I’m grateful to be able to open and close National Poetry Month with two of my all-time favorite poets. The first week, Mary Oliver drew us into the beauty of poetry through the beauty of nature. These last days, Hafiz will usher us out with exuberance, humor and irreverent conversation. Hafiz references nature, but Love is his drug. So without further ado, here is the first poem by Hafiz.
“The Woman I Love”
Because the Woman I love lives inside of you,
I lean as close to your body with my words as I can –
and I think of you all the time,
Because the One I love goes with you wherever you go,
Hafiz will always be
If you sat before me, wayfarer, with your aura bright from
your many charms,
my lips could resist rushing to you, but my eyes, my eyes
can no longer hide the wondrous fact of who
you really are.
The Beautiful One whom I adore
has pitched His royal tent inside of you,
so I will always lean my heart
as close to your soul
as I can.
Yesterday, Rabi’a testified about our dissolution into the Divine at the end of our lives, but Hafiz doesn’t want us to wait that long. In almost every poem, he begs his readers to recognize God’s presence in ourselves, and our fellow humans, right here and right now. We shouldn’t worship the Holy as something “out there,” but as something “in here.” That recognition will change our lives.
Too often Christianity has taught that too much love, grace, mercy, or forgiveness will lead us astray, into dissolution and laziness, but as a Sufi mystic, Hafiz, has a different perspective. While it’s true that might happen, “So what!” he seems to say. It is far more dangerous to live in a world of Divine scarcity and judgment. Look where that’s gotten us! What do we have to lose?
“Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being,” Rumi wrote a hundred years later, echoing Hafiz. True human beings, true believers, don’t become arrogant and grasping, but ever more humble, recognizing the Beauty in others that they carry within themselves and their life’s mission becomes sharing that vision, as in this poem. Clearly Hafiz loves the woman, her aura and charms, but what he truly Loves is the Woman within. Call it the True Self; call it God. Call it what you want, but I call it good.