In Search of a Remedial Philosophy: A Consecutive Study of Hafez and Goethe. By Ismail Baroudy
Abstract Despite a sharp gap historically segregating Hafez and Goethe from each other, the researcher justifiably finds them to merit sharing common spiritual, social, cultural and literary characteristics. This advocacy mainly stems from the fact that the former (Hafez) exercised an unfathomable strand of multidimensional impact on the latter (Goethe). Admittedly, based on findings approached in this study, the occidental Europe, at the time of Goethe, bitterly suffered from the absence of a remedial philosophy to make up for the ethical disadvantages befell upon the Europeans then. The researcher accordingly asserts that Goethe intelligently took Hafez’s oriental and Islamic tenets and values and had them frankly and furtively included in his mystical and transcendental expectations in poetry. He efficiently worked them out as a healing remedy for the losses and damages incurred upon the fellow-Europeans due to some utilitarian wars almost ravaged the whole continent. On the whole, exponent gurus such as Hafez and Goethe are undeniably privileged to be the inevitable product of some historical, cultural and social exigencies. They themselves have been indispensably trapped into such a narrow shave to eventually emerge in the scene as a couple of unforeseen sublimes consecutively matching up each other in every true sense of the word and practice. Never was the saying “great men think alike” more aptly rendered applicable than it is of the immortal Hafez of Persia (Iran) and Goethe, the multi-dimensional genius of Germany. Hafez was born about the year A.H. 720/C.E. 13201 in the city of Shiraz the capital of Pars (from which the name of Persia itself is derived) at a distance of about 38 miles (about 57 Kilometers) from the ancient Achaemenian Capital, Perspolis (Takht-e-Jamshid). He then lived there all his life of above 70 years till his death about the year A.H. 792/ C.E. 1390. Goethe, on the other hand, was born in 1749 (28th August) at Frankfurt-am-Main and died in 1832 (22nd March) at Weimar, formerly in East Germany. Although there is a time gap- distance of about four and quarter centuries between the two, there is a remarkable likeness of thinking amongst them. Further, the circumstances of their life-spans are also notably similar. For instance:
1- Both Hafez and Goethe lived during periods of great political turmoil and disturbance. About half a century earlier Shiraz, and for that matter, the whole of Iran 1
The abbreviation C.E. stands for the Christian Era
Baroudy: A Consecutive Study of Hafez and Goethe
Nebula4.3, September 2007
had seen the devastations of the Mongol invasions, and their wars of consolidation. Even the local dynasty (the Injus) had indulged in much fratricidal wars, and his patron Shah Shuja to whom he has made references in his poetry, was himself the product of much intrigue, crime and bloodshed. Then the vicinity of Shiraz was infested by bands of ferocious and heartless robbers who presented a great problem of law and order to the local rulers. To crown, above all, hardly had Shah Shuja settled down to a peaceful life when the country had to face the ravages of the invasions of the world conqueror, Timure-Lang. Goethe, in this respect, was far more fortunate than his ‘twin’ Hafez, whose began when he was about 45 (in 1364 A.D.), and ended nearly twenty years later when his patron Shah Shuja was deterred by the expanding empire of Timur (early 1380s). Based on poems and anecdotal accounts during Shah Shuja’s reign, Hafez served as a teacher at the local madrasa, to provide a modest living for himself, and some additional revenue from the panegyric in his oeuvre. Thus, similar to Goethe, he enjoyed a reasonably stable pattern of occupation. Hafez and Goethe both enjoyed considerable international reputation in their own lifetime, and the...