A giant of world literature, an eloquent princess, a dissolute satirist these are the three voices translated from fourteenth-century Persian by Dick Davis in Faces of Love. Together, they represent one of the most remarkable literary flowerings of any era. All three--Hafez, Jahan Malek Khatun, and Obayd-e Zakani--lived in Shiraz, a provincial capital in south-central Iran, and all drew support from arts-loving rulers at a time better known for invasions and political violence. Love was a frequent subject of their work: spiritual as well as secular, in varieties embracing every aspect of the human heart.
They could hardly have been more different. Hafez--destined to win fame throughout the world--wrote lyrical poetry that was subtle, elusive, and rich in ambiguity. Jahan largely forgotten until recent decades was a privileged princess who could evoke passion, longing and heartbreak with uncanny power. (As Davis says: To have this extraordinary poet's fascinating and often very beautiful poems emerge from six hundred years of virtual oblivion seems almost miraculous. ) Obayd a satirist and truth-teller celebrated every pleasure of the flesh in language of astonishing and occasionally obscene honesty.
In his introduction, Davis himself a gifted poet as well as an acclaimed translator and scholar of Persian literature describes the turbulent world of the three poets and recounts what is known of their lives. His scene-setting includes explanations of poetic conventions of the day: the rules of rhyming and meter, the stylized relationship between author and subject, and the way language sometimes hovers between male and female or between sacred and secular meanings. Detailed explanatory notes follow the poems, along with some personal reflections on the challenge of trying to catch the poetic genius of a culture distant in space and time. Dick Davis does it brilliantly: Faces of Love is a bridge that carries us to another age.
• 175 English metrical verse translations of the fourteenth-century Persian poems of Hafez, Jahan Khatun, and Obayd-e Zakani.
• Poet/scholar Dick Davis considered the finest living translator of Persian poetry.
• The poems of Hafez, acclaimed as the greatest Persian poet, translated for the first time ever in forms that mirror the technical requirements of Persian poetry while functioning as English poems in their own right.
• Rediscovery after almost 600 years of a great Persian woman poet, Princess Jahan Khatun.
• Detailed, brilliant explanatory notes about the poems.
• Indexes of the first lines of the poems in English and the original Persian.