Shiraz: a city with poetic roots

So deep is the admiration for the 14th century poet, Hafez that citing his poetry is often used as emphasis in expressing a particular point of view. His poetry is even consulted for Estekahre: a poetic way of fortune telling. When faced with difficult decisions, it is common for Iranians to pull out a copy of Divan-e Hafez and make a wish or have a question in mind before opening a page at random. The selected poem is interpreted as a guiding compass: shall we or shall we not embark on a particular path ahead? Hafez’s poems are also popular on Shab-e Yalda, a winter solstice celebration on the longest night of the year.

Both the Hafez and Saadi mausoleums are places my daughter and I are sure to visit on every trip to Shiraz. My favorite time to visit Hafezieh is just before dusk. Once I sat on the steps across from the tomb site for hours as I watched all the visitors file through. They spanned all ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. This is hallowed ground that serves as a window to cultural diversity in Iran.

The gardens at Saadieh are unique in their tranquility. At the mausoleum, visitors often linger to read Saadi´s words of wisdom gracing the walls and mosaics surrounding the tombstone. Quoting Richard Jeffrey Newman’s translation from Saadi’s Gulistan:

“Speak only when you know your words will work as you intend them to.

The gift of speech lifts us closer to God-in-heaven. Don’t waste it on words that will ruin your life.”

from the chapter Adabeh Sohbat (principles of social conduct) in the book Selections from Saadis Gulistan (New York: Global Scholarly Publications, 2004): 132.

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