Jul 26 2017

Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky) – The Great Religions

Published by at 8:58 am under Poetry

The Great Religions
by Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)

The
Great religions are the
Ships,

Poets the life
Boats.

Every sane person I know has jumped
Overboard.

That is good for business
Isn’t it

Hafiz?

— from The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master, by Daniel Ladinsky


/ Image by Erik Hansen /

This is one of my favorite poems by Ladinsky. It winks knowingly at us, inviting us in on the joke. Without saying much, it suggests a lot about the relationship between formal ideas of religion, genuine insight, freedom, and the poetic impulse.

Ready, one, two, three — JUMP!


Recommended Books: Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)

The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West The Subject Tonight Is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz I Heard God Laughing: Renderings of Hafiz


Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)

US (1945? – )
Muslim / Sufi

People sometimes wonder why I don’t feature more of Hafiz’s poetry from Daniel Ladinsky’s book, The Gift. They are such delightful, ecstatic, irreverent poems that have inspired so many people…

Ladinsky’s books put me in an awkward spot. I really like the poetry from Ladinsky’s books… but, well, they aren’t actually by Hafiz. His collection of poetry entitled The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master actually contains no lines of poetry written by the great Sufi poet Hafiz!

Daniel Ladinsky seems to acknowledge this in his introduction to the book, when he writes, “I feel my relationship to Hafiz defies all reason… I had an astounding dream in which I saw Hafiz as an Infinite Fountaining Sun (I saw him as God), who sang hundreds of lines of his poetry to me in English, asking me to give that message to ‘my artists and seekers.’”

You might say that Ladinsky’s poetry is “inspired by” Hafiz. Or, if you prefer a broader interpretation, you could say Ladinsky channels Hafiz. But his “translations” are not the historical writings of Hafiz. From the more limited scholar’s definition, these are poems by Daniel Ladinsky, not Hafiz.

So here’s what I do: I enjoy Ladinsky’s playful, profound poetry, but I look to other books to savor the historical poetry of Hafiz that Sufis and seekers have delighted in for centuries.

If you’d like to explore and compare them, here are some links to start with:

More of Ladinsky’s Hafiz
Historical Hafiz.

More poetry by Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky) – The Great Religions”

  1. Olga T.on 26 Jul 2017 at 9:46 am

    So, if the poets are life boats and people jump overboard, do we still need poets? Does one need to be sane to be religious? I have never heard of this person before but to call himself Hafiz when he isn’t, makes me wonder if I have really missed anything, especially in this era of “fake news”.

  2. marrobon 26 Jul 2017 at 10:47 am

    Ha! Love it.

    Just enjoyed a mid-summer lunch ( well OK , with Chardonnay)
    by a northern lake with sail boats bobbing by.

    Excellent timing.

    Don’t know about good for business
    but VERY good for the digestion. Thank you Hafiz/Ladinsky, whoever you be.

  3. Sylviaon 26 Jul 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you Ivan for clarifying the relationship between Ladinsky and Hafiz, I had often wondered. best wishes to you. PS I enjoyed the poem also!

  4. Kris Hineson 26 Jul 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Ivan,

    I like your call on this regarding Daniel’s poems. I too love the flying pleasure of them and also feel that Hafiz is Hafiz! and his words can’t be messed with and still called Hafiz. Translations are always problematic I guess, but Landinsky’s ‘versions’ no doubt inspire many people to read more orthodox translations of Hafiz, so that’s gotta be a good thing. The poems of the great Sufi masters seem to have such authentic depth and beauty and it’s great to see their being much loved by a wider audience now.

    Wishing you a very blessed day, Kris.

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