How important is poetry in an Iranian’s life?

Poetry is highly valued in Persian culture and lives at the heart of every Iranian from a very young age. Children at school learn classical poems by heart which accompany them throughout their lives.

When in Iran, you will be quite amazed by how much poetry lives in Iranians’ everyday lives. It is common to use poetry in order to describe things during conversations. Often references to these poem are used as way of describing feelings or situations.

You may hear references to poetry during speeches, daily communication, or even over business transactions and politics. Most people know at least some lines of poetry and they bring about the poem when is needed. 

People with more knowledge of poetry have an easier time expressing themselves, and thus can be more influential. Many lines of poetry are now passed along as proverbs within the population. 

Hafez (hafiz) and his Mystic poetry

Hafez is one of the most celebrated Persian poets of the 14th century who lived in the city of Shiraz, Iran.  His mystic poetry mainly speaks of ‘love’ of God and becoming one with the Absolute. His love poems are considered a major influence in ‘Sufism.’  He wrote mostly in the genre of ghazal غزل.  

Fal e Hafez, what it means and how it works? فال حافظ

ِAlmost every Iranian owns a copy of Hafez’s book of poetry (called Divan’e-Hafez) دیوان حافظ, at home. 

Haafez’s poetry is popular in Iran as is often used as an entertaining ritual during gatherings, called faal-e-Haafez (or fal e hafez فال حافظ). 

You ‘ask’ Hafez a question asking him for guidance. Then you open his book of poems دیوان حافظ (Divan’e-Hafez) randomly. Hafez will ‘answer’ you through his poetry on that pag

This type of poetry reading called also ‘fal giri’ فال گیری happens often during gathering with friends and family in Iran. Particularly in the celebration Shab e Yalda شب یلدا, the night of Winter Solstice (or the longest night of the year), fal e Hafez is a common ritual and can go on all night. 

Interpretation of ‘Divan e Hafez’ 

Since ‘Divan’ is written in a highly sophisticated language, normally a person with the most knowledge of the poetry, helps “interpret” the poem. Hafez’s poetry has always a surprising and mystical meaning ‘behind’ the words.

A whole new world

The interpreter ‘opens’ the door to Hafez’s poetry for you. The dazzling handling of symbols, images, and analogies will let you in a world you would’ve never imagined. 

You will be amazed by his spiritual view through these beautiful metaphors. Hafez will literally lead you to a different dimension of life (particularly if the interpreter is good.) His skillful use of words in such perfect rhythm and rhyme will mesmerize you.  

What does ‘ghazal’ غزل mean in Persian poetry?

Ghazal is a rhyming short poem which normally speaks of love and its beauty in spite of the pain that brings upon. This ‘love’ is generally for a higher being, but it can also be directed to a man or woman. 

Ghazal غزل is a poem, used often in Persian traditional music, that consists of perfectly rhymed couplets, called Beit بیت

What does ‘Khalseh’ خلسه mean in poetry world?

In Persian mysticism, getting in touch with the sublime ‘love’ will rise human being to his highest rank. This elevated level of spiritualitly in Persian poetry is called ‘khalseh’ خلسه (or ‘Khalsa’ with Arabic pronunciation). 

In the world of ‘Erfaan’ عرفان (mysticism), Khalseh خلسه is a state of consciousness in which mind and body have become ‘One’ with the ‘Absolute’. Once in “khasleh”, one’s mind, body, and soul are totally calm and in complete harmony. Khalseh might be translated to spiritual ‘ecstasy’ in English.

Visiting poets’ shrines: A spiritual journey 

The tomb of Persian classical poets are important architectural and spiritual landmarks in Iran. These sites are frequently visited not only by tourists, but also by local Iranians who pay a visit on weekends or holidays as a relaxing pastime or a spiritual endeavor. 

The tomb of Hafez حافظ and Sa`di سعدی in shiraz, Ferdousi فردوسی in Tus, and khayyam خیام in Neishabur are examples of these historical attractions. 

 If you travel to Iran, make sure you visit Hafez’s tomb in Shiraz. While walking around this beautiful garden (called “Hafez.ieh”) you find scholars who spend their entire lives studying Hafez. (They can be recognizable because they usually wear long beards :). They often know Hafez’s poems by heart. If you ask them, they will do a ‘faal-e-Haafez’ فال حافظ for you. It is a very special treat and a poetic way to get you to your spiritual self. 

See also our related article: