Monday, July 27, 2009


Author's Note:

The Conquerors of Persia, at least a part of it, such as Alexander the Great discovered that this engrained mysticism, spirituality, ferocity, resilience, endurance, poetry and song all contained inside a warrior's heart and soul could never be conquered. That is as true today as it was then.
A civilization that produced Zoroaster, Firdausi who wrote the Shah Nameh ( an epic poem about their heroes, heroines, warriors, holy men countless poets and ghazals) Rumi, Omar Khayam, and Hafiz - cannot be so easily beaten down, not even with numerous nuclear weapons.


Rose petals let us scatter,
And find the Cup with red wine.
The Firmament let us shatter,
And come with a new design.
By: Hafiz

And so it goes. Nuke Iran back to the Stone Age. Poor Iranian women forced under penalty of death to wear the veil. Tortures, slaughters, stoning, flagellating. Look here. That sounds more like things we in the West would (and are engaging) committing in the wink of an eye. Why? We are used to it. We have been doing it to each other and to others for at least a millennia.

Where are the so called US politicos, pundits and crap spewers getting this well ... crap? Most 0f it is clearly disinformation, misinformation, and malicious deception.

In contrast to our past acts of terrorism, genocide, ethnic cleansing and massacres of Muslims and other races - however for the sake of this essay let us concentrate on Persia/Iran.

I am going to briefly mention three of the most extraordinary Persians. I would be in a bind if I were to mention three poets in the West who touched our souls, hearts and desires so deeply as these individuals did and still do to millions upon millions throughout the planet.

1. OMAR KHAYAM-mathematician, astronomer, poet, tentmaker and mystic. His algebraic tracts were recently translated by the French from classical Arabic. Anyone interested can find them at the Institute of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Omat Khayam lived in the 11th century. That's nearly a thousand years ago. His theorems are still studied today at MIT, CAL State, Sorbonne, University of Padua, University of Toledo, Universities of Cairo and Alexandria. Lest we forget those brilliantly curious Russians and the eternally intellectually hungry Chinese.

His metaphors are mystical and erotic. "How is that possible?" you ask.

Read on and you will see and perhaps understand.

An important mention must be made of the spectacular English/Irish Orientalist, Edward Fitzgerald,who transliterated the exquisite quatrains of Omar Khayam known as the Ruba'iyat. They have never ever been equaled though many brave souls have tried. I think Fitzgerald must have indulged in some form of out of body or soul experience to have captured these quatrains for all eternity.

Quatrain VIII:

Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet and bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

Quatrain Vll:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread and Thou,
Beside me singing in the Wilderness,
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow.

Quatrain XX:

I sometimes think that never blows as red,
The rose as when buried Caesar bled,
That every hyacinth the Garden wears,
Dropt in it's Lap from some lovely head.

Quatrain XXll:

Ah! My Beloved, fill the cup that clears
Today of past Regrets and future Fears.
Tomorrow,Why tomorrow, I may be
Myself with yesterday's seven thousand years.

N.B. On my 28th birthday I was asked by Baron Philippe de Rothschild a fond and erudite friend "Ma chere, what would you like for your birthday?"

Philippe was an Aries like me. I suggested he hire a gondola with a gondolleer in Venice. April can still be chily in Venice particularly after eleven in the evening. Swathed in furs and lying on thick woolen cushions, Philippe read Omar Khayam, Rumi and Hafiz to me as the gondolleer silently glided through the canals, the calles and the caletas of La Serenissima. As the bells of San Marco chimed midnight, Philippe turned to me and said ''Happy Birthday Isabel."

2. JALA DIN RUMI - born in Tadjikistan of Persian origin, in the 13th century on December 17, 1273. Tradition ascribes his birth in Waksh, Afghanistan and because the Afghans used to be the most poetic of Muslims, I shall follow that tradition.

Jala ud Din Rumi founded the Mevlevi Sufi Order. He settled in Turkey because the Ottoman Sultan invited him there and offered him anything he wanted for his Sufi School in Konya, Anatolia. Rumi was one of the most dazzing religious scientists and advisors the world has ever seen. Pythagoras influenced him no doubt for he believed in the power of certain words and music to attain ecstasy. Clearly Masters like Rumi went beyond the ecstasy and communicated directly with God and who knows? other stars and planets and beings in the Cosmos, while in a trancelike state. Need I say, no drugs of any kind were used. The "drugs" came from ones own juices in one's own body and soul.

During the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent in the Renaissance, he restored the school, built yet more schools and left the Sufis with an endowment which lasted until Kemal Ataturk's time. Ataturk was a Godless man masquerading as a secular Ruler, and banned all religious observances -indeed, he drove most of them away from Turkey when he didn't actually persecute them and closed down mosques, churches, synagogues, and temples. Therefore Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Zoroastrian and Hebrews could not celebrate and observe their respective religions.

I have found several references to Sultan Suleyman and the weeks he spent in Konya, meditating, singing, chanting, praying and dancing the Cosmic Dance with the Sufis. We shall never see his like again.

JALA-UD DIN is perhaps the greatest of all Sufis.

Whoever has heard of me, let him prepare to come and see me.
Whoever desires me, let him search for me.
He will find me then let him choose none other than I.

Mathnawi 3

As waves upon my head the circling curl,
So in the sacred dance weave ye and whirl.
Dance then, O heart, a whirlig circle be
Burn in their flame - is not the candle hot?

I asked for a kiss, you gave me six.
Whose pupil were you to become such a master?
Full of kindness, generosity -
You are not of this world

Mathnawi 21

Love is reckless,not reason.
Reason seeks profit
Love comes on strong
Consuming herself unabashed.

Yet in the midst of suffering
Love proceeds like a millstone
Hard surfaced and unabashed.

Having died of self-interest
She risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.

Mathnawi Vl

Passion makes the old medicine new,
Passion lops off the bough of weariness.
Passion is the elexir that renews.
How can there be weariness when Passion is present?
Seek Passion, seek passion, seek passion.

Mathnawi VI

Love has nothing to do with the five senses and the six directions.
Its goal is only to feel the attraction exerted by the Beloved.
Afterwards, perhaps, permission will come from God.
The secret that ought to be told will be told
With an eloquence nearer to the understanding
That their subtle, confusing allusions.
The secret is partner with none
But the Knower of the secret:
In the skeptical ear -
The secret is no secret at all.

Mathnawi lll

ODE 314

Those who don't feel the Love
pulling them like a river,
Those who don't drink the dawn
like a cup of spring water
or take in sunsets like suppers.

Let them sleep.

This Love is beyond the study of Theology.
That old trickery and hypoctisy.
I, you want to improve your mind that way.

Sleep on.

I've given up on my brains.
I've torn the cloth t shreds and thrown it away.
If you're not completely naked
wrap your beautiful robe of words around you.

And Sleep.

A Lifetime without Love is of no account.
Love is the Water of Life.
Drink it down with heart and soul.

From Rumi's sacred Sayings.


Hafiz is Arabic for "He who knows" meaning he who is an outstanding Master of the Qu'ran. He was born in Shiraz, one of the most beautiful cities in God's creation. Just alighting from the plane in Shiraz you are suffused with roses, roses roses. The Ghazalzad or songs/poems written by Hafiz make up what is known as the DIVAN or Song. There are almost 500 pieces in the Divan.

The city of Berlin has dedicated a statue to Hafiz in the midst of myriad roses and fountains.
Hafiz was supposed to be a physically ugly man, but the Mongols and the Chinese who cherish him as much as Rumi and Omar Khayam don't have a word for ugly. They say "That which is not beautiful." That is more apropos.

His ghazals were so entrancing no one really gazed at him. They listened enchanted and ensorceled by his words.

May they watch over us in the Universe and protect us all from the Malevolent forces plotting to destroy Iran and the rest of the world.

Below is Gazal 1

O beautiful wine-bearer, bring forth the cup and put it to my lips

Path of love seemed easy at first, what came was many hardships.

With its perfume, the morning breeze unlocks those beautiful locks

The curl of those dark ringlets, many hearts to shreds strips.

In the house of my Beloved, how can I enjoy the feast

Since the church bells call the call that for pilgrimage equips.

With wine color your robe, one of the old Magi’s best tips

Trust in this traveler’s tips, who knows of many paths and trips.

The dark midnight, fearful waves, and the tempestuous whirlpool

How can he know of our state, while ports house his unladen ships.

I followed my own path of love, and now I am in bad repute

How can a secret remain veiled, if from every tongue it drips?

If His presence you seek, Hafiz, then why yourself eclipse?

Stick to the One you know, let go of imaginary trips.

To read more of Hafiz's poetry go to:


  1. Beautiful choice of poets and their poetry, Isabel. Thank you so much for this lovely gift.

    Omar Khayam has been a favorite of mine since I stumbled upon him at the age of eight. I found "The Rubiyat" and unbeknownst to anyone in my family, brought it to school. Unfortunately, the book did not sit well with my teachers (perhaps because of slightly suggestive accompanying drawings) and I was chastised for bringing such scandalous material to the classroom.

    Lovely recollection about Baron Philippe de Rothschild and your 28th birthday in gondola, Venice. It must have been a rare occasion for the gondolier as well.

    A quote from your entry on Rumi: "During the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent in the Renaissance, he restored the school, built yet more schools and left the Sufis with an endowment which lasted until Kemal Ataturk's time. He was a Godless man masquerading as a secular Ruler..." The second "He," as in "He was a Godless man," etc. refers to Ataturk, not Rumi, but some readers might think you were still talking about Rumi. To clarify, could you say "Ataturk was a Godless man," etc.

    Beautiful words... thank you.



  2. I discovered Hafiz when I was 20. Ever since then (if not before) he's been an occasional kindred spirit of mine in dark times:

    Bring the cup in thine hand to the judgment seat;
    Thou shalt rise, oh Hafiz, to Heaven's gate,
    From the tavern where thou has tarried late,
    And if thou hast worshiped wine, thou shalt meet
    The reward that the faithful attain;
    If such thy life, then such thy fate;
    Thou shalt not have lived and worshiped in vain.
    ...And when the spirit of Hafiz has fled,
    Follow his bier with a trainful of sighs;
    Though the ocean of sin has closed over his head,
    He will yet find a place in Paradise.

  3. Years ago I came across an Afghani Dervish in Hyde Park in London. I've no idea why he was there. An ostensibly "Christian" heckler asked him, "Don't you want to go to Heaven?" He replied, "I am in Heaven right now!"


Isabel Van Fechtmann

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