The Tangled Braid
99 Poems by Hafiz of Shiraz
Khwaja Shams ud-Din Hafiz-i Shirazi
Translators: Jeffrey Einboden and John Slater
The Tangled Braid offers a fresh and distinctive translation of one of the world’s supreme spiritual poets – Hafiz of Shiraz. A unique collaboration between a Cistercian monk (John Slater) and an Islamic scholar (Jeffrey Einboden), this volume combines precision and understanding, giving voice in English to Hafiz’ powerful esoteric verse.
As suggested by its title, The Tangled Braid interweaves a variety of discrete literary strands, knitting together spiritual meaning and sensual image; Muslim source and Western reader; classical Persian verse and modern English poetics. This translation aims to wed aesthetics and erudition, presenting a work of pleasure that is also intellectually enriching and spiritually invigorating.
Generated through conversation and exchange, these poetic translations provide an authentic means of crossing religious and cultural borders, admitting contemporary audiences into the illimitable world of Persian Sufism.
Translations of Sufi poetry in the West continue to attract wide, diverse readerships. In 2002, Time magazine recognized Coleman Barks’ The Essential Rumi to be ‘easily the most successful poetry book published in the West in the past decade’.
Jeffrey Einboden is a graduate of Magdalene College, Cambridge where he completed a doctorate concerning Ralph Waldo Emerson’s translations of Persian poetry (2005). Currently an Assistant Professor at Northern Illinois University, Einboden’s most recent publications include the 2008 ‘Composing a Persian Letter: Simin Daneshvar’s Rendition of Hawthorne’ (Nathaniel Hawthorne Review; 34:2); the 2009 ‘Washington Irving in Muslim Translation: Revising the American Mahomet’ (Translation & Literature; 18:1); and the forthcoming ‘Stoicism or Sufism?: Hammer-Purgstall’s Persian Meditations’ (Middle Eastern Literatures; vol. 13; 2010).
John Slater’s poems have appeared in various journals in the U.S. and Canada including Queen’s Quarterly, Drunken Boat and Brink Magazine. His poem ‘Lost and Found’ won the 2007 Foley Poetry Award in America magazine. A first collection of his work is forthcoming from The Porcupine’s Quill. A contemplative (Cistercian) monk, he is currently pursuing a graduate degree in theology at Catholic University of America.
The Tangled Braid is many translations at once: a scholar’s, a monk’s, and a poet’s. Hafiz’ poems contain worlds, showing a remarkable ability to beckon translations and diverse forms of response. Yet few translations have managed to match their exquisite combination of pristine clarity and insistent openness. Ultimately, Hafiz calls for a translator with many minds, and this translation answers.
-Michelle Gil-Montero, Assistant Professor of English, Saint Vincent College.
"What a wonderful stimulus for interfaith dialogue, which too often founders on dull platitudes and grim debates. “The Tangled Braid” restores the imagination to its rightful place, enabling us to laugh and cry with Hafiz as he pursues the divine and the mortal."
-George Dardess, author of Meeting Islam: A Guide for Christians,
and Do We Worship the Same God? The Bible and the Qur'an Compared.
"The verses of Hafiz have long inspired poets, and now Einboden and Slater have wedded accurate translation to an elegant, poetic simplicity, that brings the clarity and mystery of the Persian's compact stanzas, that sing once again in English."
-Sidney H. Griffith
author of The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque:
Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam.
John ( Br. Isaac) Slater