Joseph Gone Astray < یوسف گمگشته

Hafez has a special place in the hearts of literate Persian speakers, since his writing is so entwined in their lives, essentially because of the custom of divining the future by opening a page at random and interpreting it in terms of ones immediate situation (fāl-e hāfez فال حافظ). In fact, this very text could be asked whether it should be translated, a privilege accorded very few others..

I came to it without any hocus-pocus. Nasrin Rahimieh asked me to translate its first two lines to use as an epigraph to her book on Persian travelers, Missing Persians. I had always promised myself to return to the whole ghazal and was spurred to do so by an invitation to talk about translation theory and translation studies at a one day conference on Literary Translation in Iran at UC-Irvine in December.

For those interested, I have posted the Handout with references and link to the Powerpoint I’ll be using for that talk. Much of what I’ve said about the first two lines applies to the rest of my translation. The original Persian with a transcription follows. 


Grieve not! Joseph gone astray
will find his way to Canaan.
From the cell where sorrows dwell
will spring a stand of flowers.

O grieving heart, do not despair,
you will mend and heal.
These frenzied thoughts will
calm and still. Grieve not!

If life comes like Spring to grace
the green throne of meadows
you will bear a crown of flowers.
Grieve not, rather sing.

Distant spheres turn not around
our fleeting daily wants.
Steady states of time do
not abide. So grieve not!

Do not abandon hope. Hidden
games play out behind an opaque
screen. What can’t be seen
remains unknown. Grieve not!

O heart, should a deluge wash away
the fundaments of being,
grieve not, if Noah’s at the helm
to steer your bark through storm.

Crossing the scorching desert,
yearning to reach the Ka’aba,
grieve not, though thistles
score you with their thorns

Home is fraught with danger,
journey’s end out of grasp.
Grieve not! No path exists
which does not reach an end.

We are exiled from friends, cut off
and riven by our rivals’ threats.
But grieve not. God alone knows how
the spheres will set our fate.

O Hafez, trapped in poverty,
alone in the darkness of night,
draw your words from the Quran.
Recite. Then you will not grieve.



یوسف گمگشته بازآید به کنعان غم مخور
yusef-e gomgashteh bāz āyad beh kan’ān gham makhur
کلبه احزان شود روزی گلستان غم مخور
kolbe-ye ahzān shavad ruzi golestān gham makhur
ای دل غمدیده حالت به شود دل بد مکن
Ei del-e gham-dideh hālat beh shavad del-e bad makon
وین سر شوریده بازآید به سامان غم مخور
vin sar-e shurideh bāz ayād beh sāmān gham makhur
گر بهار عمر باشد باز بر تخت چمن
gar bahār-e omr bāshad bāz bar takht-e chaman
چتر گل در سر کشی ای مرغ خوشخوان غم مخور
chatr-e gol dar sar keshi ei morgh-e khoshkhān gham
دور گردون گر دو روزی بر مراد ما نرفت
dor-e gardun gar do ruzi bar morād-e mā naraft
دایما یک سان نباشد حال دوران غم مخور
dāyema yek sān nabashad hal-e dorān gham makhur
هان مشو نومید چون واقف نه‌ای از سر غیب
hān masho nomid chon vāqef neiy az ser-e gheyb
باشد اندر پرده بازی‌های پنهان غم مخور
bāshad andar pardeh bāzi-hā-ye penhān gham makhur
ای دل ار سیل فنا بنیاد هستی برکند
ay del az seyl-e fanā bonyād-e hasti bar kanad
چون تو را نوح است کشتیبان ز طوفان غم مخور
chon to-rā nuh-ast keshtibān ze tufān, gham makhur
در بیابان گر به شوق کعبه خواهی زد قدم
dar biābān gar beh shoq-e ka’abe khāhi zad qadam
سرزنش‌ها گر کند خار مغیلان غم مخور
sarzanesh-ha gar konad khār moghiylān gham makhur
گر چه منزل بس خطرناک است و مقصد بس بعید
gar cheh manzel bas khatarnāk-ast o maqsad bas na’yid
هیچ راهی نیست کان را نیست پایان غم مخور
hich rāhi nist kān rā nist pāyān gham makhur
حال ما در فرقت جانان و ابرام رقیب
hal-e mā dar firqat-e jānān va ibrām-e raqib
جمله می‌داند خدای حال گردان غم مخور
jomleh midānad khodāye hal-e gardān gham makhur
حافظا در کنج فقر و خلوت شب‌های تار
hāfezā dar konj-e faqr o khalvāt-e shab-ha-yeh tār
تا بود وردت دعا و درس قرآن غم مخور
tā bovad vardat do’ā o dars-e qurān gham makhur