Daniel Ladinsky, the renowned American poet and interpreter of mystical poetry, asserts that the 14th-Century Persian poet Hafiz’s work is not just very beautiful—it is useful too. It can teach us how to get the most out of our lives:

Two stories of Hafiz come to mind that my own teacher told me, and here again, these show the great range of Hafiz, and to me his rather incredible ability to never bore. To constantly engage and give. And so creatively lead.

Once a young woman came to Hafiz and said, “What is the sign of someone knowing God?”

And Hafiz became very quiet, and stood in silence for nearly a minute… lovingly looking deep into the young woman’s eye, then softly spoke,

“My dear, they have dropped the knife. The person who knows God has dropped the cruel knife most so often use upon their tender self—and others.”

Hafiz was one of the finest lyricists in the Persian language. His poetry, in rhyming couplets, handles sensual pleasures. Hafiz was a pious Sufi and dervish, and much of his poetry is religious in subject matter.

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