“I am really just a tambourine” & seven other poems by Hafiz

The book The Gift is a compilation of 250 poems by the legendary Hafiz (1325–1389), arranged by Daniel Ladinsky. Hafiz has a knack for being witty and sincere at the same time, a quality that has made him one of my favorites. Here are eight selections from The Gift about love, art, and yes, tambourines.


CURFEWS

Noise
Is a cruel ruler

Who is always imposing
Curfews,

While
Stillness and quiet
Break open the vintage
Bottles,

Awake the real band.


THIS SANE IDEA

Let your intelligence begin to rule
Whenever you sit with others

Using this sane idea:

Leave all your cocked guns in a field
Far from us,

One of those damn things
Might go

Off.


Fun fact: Ralph Waldo Emerson called Hafiz called a ‘poet for poets’ and spent fourteen years studying his poetry.

THE SUN NEVER SAYS

Even
After
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe
Me.”

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the
Whole
Sky.


SOME FILL WITH EACH GOOD RAIN

There are different wells within your heart.
Some fill with each good rain,
Others are far too deep for that.

In one well
You have just a few precious cups of water,
That “love” is literally something of yourself,

Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Stranger,

Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife

Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.

There are different wells within us.
Some fill with each good rain,
Others are far, far too deep
For that.


THE VINTAGE MAN

The
Difference
Between a good artist
And a great one

Is:

The novice
Will often lay down his tool
Or brush

Then pick up an invisible club
On the mind’s table

And helplessly smash the easels and
Jade.

Whereas the vintage man
No longer hurts himself or anyone

And keeps on
Sculpting

Light.


THE FOUNDATION FOR GREATNESS

Greatness

Is always built upon this foundation:

The ability

To appear, speak, and act

As the most

Common

Man.


I AM REALLY JUST A TAMBOURINE

Good

Poetry

Makes the universe admit a

Secret:

“I am

Really just a tambourine,

Grab hold,

Play me

Against your warm

Thigh.”


CROOKED DEALS

There is

A madman inside of you

Who is always running for office—

Why vote him in

For he never keeps the accounts straight.

He gets all kinds of crooked deals

Happening all over town

That will just give you a big headache

And glue to your kisser

A gigantic

Confused

Frown.


Smile. The Gift contains two-hundred and forty-two more poems by Hafiz.

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