Life and love are intertwined. In Persian poetry, the ecstatic joy of passionate love is inextricably linked to longing, heartache and loss it's the thorn upon a rose or the shadow that follows the light.
Love, lovers, and the beloved (both physical and spiritual) are prominent themes in Persian poetry. For over a thousand years, like facets upon the finest diamond, the heart-wrenching agony that accompanies a deep, passionate love and the loneliness that accompanies its departure, have been examined.
The language of love is both simple and profound, universal and unexpected. Love knows no linguistic boundaries. Etymologically, ishq, the Persian word for love, likely originates from the Arabic Ishaqeh (meaning Ivy or Hedera, a plant with heart-shaped leaves that engulfs other plants); Ishaqeh thrives when it devours the object of its affection passion itself leading to loss.
Thematically, this compilation covers two categories of love, the debate between the head (aql), and the heart (ishq), longing, loss, and loneliness. Two approaches to love are manifest in Persian poetry: the corporal, romantic, earthly, or what some poets call "apparent love" (ishq-e-majazi) contrasted with the divine, or "real love" (ishq-e-haqiqi). While there is much debate about what defines love, and how to express its all-consuming power, neither of these approaches is able to offer a single irrefutable, thorough and distinct definition for love. In fact, some verses that may clearly depict physical love for some, are considered ultimate expressions of the divine by others. One of the most cited examples of this dual interpretation can be found in the poems of Hafez the sacred and profane brought to life in his words.
Those who know the history of Persian poetry will find old flames rekindled; those who are new to these passionate verses will discover the first sparks of what we hope will be an eternal love. With each page you will be drawn into language that illuminates and inspires, language that reveals ineffable power and captures the essence of the human condition.