Poems From the Divan of Hafiz

Translated By Gertrude Lowthian Bell

BELL, Gertrude / HAFIZ, Shams al-Din Muhammad

Love is simply creation's greatest joy.

BELL, Gertrude Poems From the Divan of Hafiz Translated By Gertrude Lowthian Bell

William Heinemann, 1897.

First edition. 8vo. Publisher's olive green buckram, lettered and decorated in gilt. Publisher's presentation copy, with blind stamp to title page. 16pp. Publisher's advertisements to rear. Three lines from Poem IX inscribed to front endpaper by previous owner: "He cannot perish whose heart doth hold/ The life love breathes-though my days are told/ In the Book of the World lives my constancy." A very good copy indeed, tanning to the spine and boards, but internally fresh and with sound hinges. Contemporary ownership inscription, and later bookplate, to front pastedown.

The first edition of Gertrude Bell's very rare second book, the first to be published under her own name. The poetry of Hafiz, the 14th century Sufi poet, is regarded as the pinnacle of Persian poetry, lauding the joys of love and the intoxicating oneness of union with the divine. Bell had studied Persian since her trip to the region in 1892, and continued on her return to London under Sir Edward Denison Ross who was director of the School Of Oriental and African Studies. The culmination of this study was the translation of Hafiz and accompanying biographical introduction.
Both aspects of the book are notable - the latter because she had to piece together the biography from manuscript sources, the former for receiving "as large an acclaim as a book of poetry can elicit" (Georgina Howell, Daughter Of The Desert, 2006). Indeed, the leading Persian scholar Edward G. Browne wrote at the time that with the exception of Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Bell's work was "probably the finest and most truly poetical renderings of any Persian poet ever produced in the English language".

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