The Green Sea of Heaven: Fifty Ghazals from the Diwan of Hafiz (Library of Persian : Text and Contexts in Persian Religions and Spirituality)

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Hafiz is the preeminent poet of Persian Sufism and one of the great poets of world literature. The Green Sea of Heaven is regarded as the finest English translation of his poetry. Elizabeth Gray’s translations are informed by her thorough knowledge of Persian and the Persian poetic tradition. (Many recent books attributed to Hafiz have been produced by persons who do not know Persian at all!) This bilingual edition also includes two brilliant studies of Hafiz by Gray and Daryush Shayegan, plus helpful notes to the translation.

Product Details

  • Series: Library of Persian : Text and Contexts in Persian Religions and Spirituality
  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: White Cloud Press (February 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883991064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883991067
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces

Customer Reviews

Read it!

4 people found this helpful.
 on December 13, 2013
By mac maven
I purchased this book for a friend who has traveled all over the world. He loves the book’s name and found the writing inspirational.

The only English translation of Hafiz worth reading

11 people found this helpful.
 on October 3, 2014
By ask57
Short of learning to speak Farsi, this is the best way to experience Hafiz. The ambiguities inherent to Persian language are in fervent display in the work of this master, inviting his readers to interpret the hidden meanings which are often transitory. That in part explains the reason for his enormous popularity in his native land and the difficulties in translating his work. Each reader, depending on his or her frame of mind and life experiences, will get something different from the reading of his poems. Iranian people often open his book seeking guidance, more so than any holy book. Given the multifaceted nature of his poems, almost all translations of his work have failed by presenting just one interpretation, that of the translator. I would go as far as saying all but one, Elizabeth Gray. Ms. Gray should be commanded for her service to Persian language. I challenge anyone to name a better translation or for that matter a more qualified translator of Hafiz. Five stars does not do justice to this work.

Beautiful work

2 people found this helpful.
 on April 5, 2017
By Akbar Akbar
My only qualm with this book is that I had to settle for 50 translations. I hope Gray will one day get around to translating at least another 50.

Go Gray

53 people found this helpful.
 on September 9, 2001
By John Monastra
Elizabeth T. Gray is one of the very few translators who can come close to doing justice to Hafiz. Forget Ladinsky; if you want to get an idea what Hafiz really said, get Gray. To correct a misconception, the convention in Sufi poetry is to invoke Allah as a woman, lover of the male human Sufi. That’s why so many Sufi poems are about love for women named Layla or Salma. The Sufi vision of God tends to be female. This is more explicit in Arabic Sufi poetry, because Arabic uses gender unlike Persian. Muhyi al-Din ibn al-`Arabi said in Arabic we can call Allah either huwa ‘He’ or hiya ‘She’, the latter because the ultimate Divine Essence (al-Dhat) is Feminine. The genderless Persian pronoun leaves an interesting ambiguity that you can’t duplicate in English, but by calling God “She,” Elizabeth T. Gray is well within the authenticity of the Sufi poetic tradition. I have heard her speak about how she discovered these poems, and read Hafiz aloud; she told of her deep spiritual connection with these poems and the divine love they inspired in her, and of her visit to Hafiz’s tomb in Shiraz. The poet himself must be smiling from Heaven upon seeing her presenting his poems to us moderns with such love and care.

This book is worth more than your money.

13 people found this helpful.
 on July 30, 2007
By Nathan W Higgins
I strongly recommend this book. The translations are beautiful (and are direct translations, not renderings). The notes on each poem are extensive, and I find them alone interesting to read. My only qualm is that I think the cover’s a little ugly, but I suppose you can always tape a nice picture over it.

A beautiful work

23 people found this helpful.
 on May 31, 1999
I really enjoy reading this book. A warning though is in order when one encounters Sufi poetry. Often one might draw a false conclusion from reading Sufi poems that men like Hafez are nothing more than a drunk, alcoholic womanizers who can think of nothing but wine and women and whatever else that comes with these combinations. Those who understand Sufis and Sufi poetry in this manner are most likely projecting their own selves into Hafez and his like. Proper understanding of Sufis is possible only if one takes time to understand their “language”, a language which all great Sufis have chosen very carefully to express their inner being, and unlike most modern men, their inner being was/is not confined behind the zipper though this may be impossible to imagine for 21st century men.

Five Stars

 on July 15, 2017
By Peter Booth
The best translation in print

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