“When love is faithful, and it seems Nothing can hurt you, Know that the world is faithless still And will desert you… remember this.”
The thing is, even“When love is faithful, and it seems Nothing can hurt you, Know that the world is faithless still And will desert you… remember this.”
The thing is, even if all the other Little Black Classics were terrible and not worth the paper they’re printed on, then this, this one book, would have made it all worthwhile.
I read it and I fell in love. Simple as that. Without this series I most likely would never have read a single word of Hafez and I am so infinitely, so deliriously happy that I have, because I have loved every word so far.
I’m having trouble putting into words exactly what it is that moves me so in his writing. There’s a lightness to it and at the same time a gravity, an understanding of life and what it means to live, in a world that can be both cruel and kind. There’s self-awareness, there’s beauty, so much beauty, but the kind you find in simple things, in the smallest of gestures.
It was also a venture into non-European, non-Western poetry for me. Normally I’d be intimidated (and I still am, with everything I read from somewhere else), because I think poetry from my own country can be difficult enough to grasp without a guide, imagine how little I’d understand without any knowledge of the tradition, the country and the culture Hafez comes from.
But I decided to embrace the chance for diversity, the opportunity to read Persian poetry, because when else would I do it? I decided to collect this small, manageable sample, and I fell in love. Yes, there’s a hell of a lot I didn’t catch, of course, but so much of poetry is universal I’m reminded. So much of it can be grasped, when you find the right poem or poet, in the feeling you get while reading. Not an understanding, necessarily, more like you’ve shared something with someone, across time, across space, despite the wall of flesh separating minds, something significant.
I admitted my cowardice, tried to do better, and I fell in love. Irrevocably, I fear.
“Good news! The days of grief and pain won’t stay like this – as others went, these won’t remain or stay like this.
In words of gold they’ve written on the emerald sky, ‘Only Compassion does not die but stays like this.’”...more
I regret spending money on this book. I’m not a woman of many regrets, but this is one of them.
Criticising art is always difficult, because what is aI regret spending money on this book. I’m not a woman of many regrets, but this is one of them.
Criticising art is always difficult, because what is art, and when is something art? How do you put value on it? And is there such a thing as bad art, bad poetry? Yes and no.
Not objectively, perhaps. But subjectively? Certainly, yes.
To me, this is bad poetry.
There were occasional lines and phrases I liked and considered for more than a moment, but I finished the book in less than 20 minutes. Something that is only possible with poetry (with ANYTHING), when what you read is incredibly simple and very bland. I never had to stop to re-read something or think about the meaning behind the words. It also rhymes, which is also occasionally nice, but when it’s every poem it feels unnatural. And unless you’re very, very good at rhyming, you end with a ton of clichés or worse; the reader is left with the feeling certain things were written simply so it would rhyme, not because it has meaning.
“He makes me turn he makes me toss; his words mean mine are at a loss.
He makes me blush!
He makes me want to brush and floss.”
It honestly doesn’t feel natural.
I also am a firm believer that art should move you in order for you to call it art, and I’m especially picky when it comes to poetry. I want words that stab and soothe, that wrap around me like clammy fingers or a deep hug. I want my brain to be rattled and shaken and stirred. The degree to which this happen varies, depending on the poet or the subject or where you are in your life. But it should always elicit some sort of reaction.
Reading this book I only felt indifferent. The feelings that Leav pries open and investigates seem very shallow. If poems were injuries, you want the kind that send you straight to the ER, not… light bruising.
The whole book is too easy. It’s written in statements, not with feeling. It’s very sweet, but it’s the sort of poetry you put on cards and not the kind you whisper to your lover in the middle of the night when you’re half-awake and the words won’t come.
“If you love me for what you see only your eyes would be in love with me.
If you love me for what you’ve heard then you would love me for my words.
If you love my heart and mind then you would love me, for all that I’m.
But if you don’t love my every flaw then you mustn’t love me not at all.”
See, that poem would be great on a card or something. Or for a lovesick teenager to post on their facebook wall. It’s where I’d expect to see poems like that.
There are, as I said, sporadic highlights. Sentences that show what this book could have been, but very sadly isn’t.
Such as “I hold my breath and count to ten, I stand and sit, then stand again.”
“I see you now with someone new I stare, I stare, I blink.
Someday I’ll be over you I know, I know – I think.”
Not exactly great poetry, but there’s definite potential. It’s also some of the few instances where the rhyming felt natural to me, and not something artificial.
I still can’t recommend it, and I do regret buying it, because I won't ever read it again. But if you're intrigued, I suggest you find some of her poems online and read them, and if you like it, then maybe get the book. ...more