The name of Hafez is closely associated with that of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (q.v.) in German literature. This is directly attributable to the status Goethe accords Hafez in his West-östlicher Divan, first published in 1819(Tafazoli, 2000, p. 88ff.). It is because of Goethe’s work that since the early 19th century the Di-vān of Hafez has been an important source within the framework of “international literature,” and that there have been so many scholarly studies of the poetry of Hafez published in Europe. A glance at Hilmar Schmuck and Willi Gorzny’s Gesamtverzeichnis des deutschsprachigen Schrifttums, 1700-1910 (Munich, etc, 1982, vol. 53, pp. 181-82), reveals nine translations of the Divān of Hafez between 1800 and 1880, offering clear evidence in support of this claim.

The first complete German translation was made by the Austrian orientalist and diplomat, Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856). This translation, which is still regarded as one of the most important works in German, began to appear in 1812, though it was conceived 14 years earlier (Hammer, 1812, pp. I-III). During his stay in Constantinople (1799-1806), Hammer studied two Turkish translations of Hafez, those of “Schemii” (i.e., Šamʿi) and Soruri, in the library of Sultan ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid. He also had his own copy of Sudi’s translation and commentary (Hammer, 1812, p. IV). In total, Hammer translated 576 ghazals, 6 maṯnawis, 2 qaṣidas, 44 qeṭʿas, 72 robāʿis and 1 taḵmis (Hammer, 1812, p. II f.). The distinctive quality of Hammer’s translation lies, on the one hand, in his method of translating the poems, and on the other, in his allusions and comparative references to Latin and Greek literature in his explanatory notes, which demonstrate the translator’s attempt to make Hafez’s poetical world comprehensible to contemporary readers more at home with classical poetical forms. Hammer is persistently faithful to both form and content of the ghazals (Tafazoli, 2000, pp. 81-91).

Hammer’s translation was highly influential on Goethe’s understanding of Hafez. Its effects were such that all of the German translations of Hafez made in the second half of the 19th century were indebted to Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan (it was during this period that two more complete translations of Hafez were published, those of Rosenzweig and of Brockhaus; see below).

Almost at the same time as the definitive edition of Goethe’s work (1827), August Platen (1796-1835), one of the most important poets of the Restaurationsepoch, translated a selection of Hafez’s poems. In his selection, titled Nachbildungen aus dem Diwan des Hafis, Platen succeeded in portraying the multi-layered texture and depth of Hafez’s poetry. Taking Hafez as his model, Platen composed original ḡazals in German, as well as translating 26 ḡazals and 11 single bayts from Hafez (Platen, 1853, pp. 334-55). In a later book, under the rubric “15-20 Oktober 1822,” there appear fifty more ghazals in translation (Plate, 1880, pp. 551-90) and an introduction (1880, pp. 209-13).

Between 1854 and 1858, Herman Brockhaus (1806-77), then professor of Indo-Iranian languages at Leip-zig, published the first complete translation of Hafez since that of Hammeṛ. This three-volume edition, based on Sudi’s edition and commentary, is well laid out and the original text (given at the end of the book) and the translation can readily be compared. Although Brockhaus changed his method of translation in the second and third volumes (Brockhaus, 1854, p. V ff.), it nevertheless retains its scholarly value.

Following in the footsteps of Brockhaus, another orientalist diplomat, Vincenz von Rosenzweig (1791-1865), published a further complete translation of Hafez (Vienna, 1858-64). Rosenzweig presented translations and originals on facing pages, and included explanatory notes at the end of his translation. This version is notable for its study of Persian poetical meter in general and that of Hafez in particular. It has become the basis for almost all modern German studies on Hafez.

Paramount among selections from Hafez in German is that of Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866). A contemporary of Goethe, he imitates the ghazal form and its meter and rhyme scheme. The translation retains some of the elegance of Hafez. Although Goethe’s relation with Hafez is very different to that of Rückert, the latter takes precedence in scholarly studies of Hafez (see Rückert, 1988, p. 13 ff.). One selection of Rückert’s translations of shorter poems (qeṭʿa) by Hafez was published in 1877 (Lagarde, 1877, pp. 177-208) and another appeared in 1926, comprising 86 ghazals and qeṭʿas (Rückert, 1926, pp. 11-33). The Rückert Society published 63 translations of his in 1988, and there have been subsequent publications (see Bobzin; Rückert, 1992, p. 53; Radjaie, p. 46 ff.), most recently, an illustrated edition of Rückert’s translations (Rostami Goran, 2002). These translations show Rückert’s literary relation to Hafez (Rückert, 1998, p. 316), as well as demonstrating the artistic elegance of the Persian poet, especially as regards his use of metaphorical language.

One of the most popular selections of Hafez’s ghazals in German was that of Georg Friedrich Daumer (1846, 1852 and numerous reprints); Daumer was a prolific composer of Lieder, and his Hafez translations were subsequently set for voice and piano (Streicher, 1907; see also HAFEZ vii). Other selections of note are by Resselmann (1856), Bodenstedt (1877), Fischbach (1898), Keil (1957), Bürgel (1972), and Atabay (1980). In addition, there are many single poems translated in various literary works in German.



CyrusAtabay, Hafis, Liebesgedichte, Frankfurt-am-Main, 1980. Hartmut Bobzin, “Zur Geschichte der Hafis-Übersetzungen Rückerts,” in H. Bachmann, ed., Friedrich Rückerts Bedeutung für die deutsche Geisteswelt, Coburg, 1988, pp. 52-74.

Friedrich Bodenstedt, Hafis, der Sänger von Schiras, Berlin, 1877.

Hermann Brockhaus, Die Lieder des Hafis, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1854-58 (with Sudi’s commentary).

Johann Christoph Bürgel, Drei Hafis-Studien, Bern and Frankfurt-am-Main, 1975 (includes his translations of Ḥāfeẓ, pp. 55-80).

Georg Friedrich Daumer, Hafis. Eine Sammlung persischer Gedichte, Hamburg, 1846, repr. 1856, Leipzig, 1906, Jena, 1912, Munich, 1920, Basel, 1945.

Idem, Hafis. Neue Sammlung, Nuremberg, 1852, repr. 1868.

Friedrich Fischbach, Rosen aus Schiras, Mainz, 1898.

Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, Mohammed Schemsed-din Hafis.Der Diwan, 2 vols, Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1812-13.

Rolf-Dietrich Keil, Hafis: Gedichte aus dem Diwan, introduction, commentary, and tr., Düsseldorf and Cologne, 1957.

August von Platen, Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bän-den, Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1853 (Hafisübersetzung in vol. II, pp. 334-55).

Idem, Werke, ed. Carl Christian Redlich, Berlin, 1880-82 (Hafisübersetzung in vol. I, 1880, pp. 551-90; III, 1882, pp. 209-13).

Ali Radjaie, Das profan-mystische Ghazel des Hafis in Rückerts Übertragungen und in Goethe’s "Divan,” Würzburg, 1998.

G. H. Resselmann, Schems-eddin Muhammed Hafis: Der Diwan, selected tr., Berlin, 1865.

Vincenz von Rosenzweig-Schwannau, Der Diwan des grossen lyrischen Dichters Hafis, Persian text and tr., 3 vols., Vienna, 1858-64.

Jalal Rostami Goran, ed., Ghase-len aus dem Diwan Muhammad Schams ad-Din Hafis. Persische Gedichte aus dem 14 Jahrhundert mit deutscher Übertragung von Friedrich Rückert und Bildern von Shahram Karimi, Bonn, 2002.

Friedrich Rückert, “Aus Friedrich Rückerts Nachlasse,” in Paul de Lagarde, Symmicta, Göttingen, 1877, pp. 177-208.

Idem, Ghaselen des Hafis, Munich, 1926 (inc. 42 poems previously unpublished).

Idem, Dreiundsech-zig Ghaselen des Hafis, with a preface by Christoph Bürgel, Wiesbaden, 1988.

Idem, Östliche Rosen: Drei Lesen, ed. Hartmut Bobzin, Frankfurt-am-Main, 1992.

Idem, Gedichte, ed. Walter Schmitz, Stuttgart, 1998.

Theodor Streicher, Hafis-Lieder, Leipzig and New York, 1907, repr. Huntsville, Tex., 1991 (musical score, with German and English words by G. F. Daumer).

Hamid Tafazoli, “Negāreš-i bar jāygāh-e Ḥāfeẓ dar Divān-e šarqi-ḡarbi-e Gute,” Irān-nāma 18/2, 1379 Š./2000, pp. 87-103.

(Hamid Tafazoli)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: March 1, 2012

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Vol. XI, Fasc. 5, pp. 500-501