We are told in the Persian histories that when Tamerlane, on his vicotorious progress through the East, had reached Shiraz, he halted before the gates of the city and sent two of his followers to search in the bazar for a certain dervish Muhammad Shams-od-din, better known to the world by the name of Hafez. And when this man of religion, wearing the simple woollen garment of a sufi, was brought into the presence of the great conqueror, he was nothing abashed at the blaze of silks and jewelry wich decorated the pavilion where Tamerlane sat in state. And Tamerlane, meeting the poet with a frown of anger, said, "Art not thou the insolent verse-monger who didst offer my two great cities Samarkand and Bokhara for the black mole upon thy lady's cheek?"     "It is true," replied Hafez calmly, smiling, "and indeed my largess has been so great throughout my life, that it has left me destitute, so that I shall be hereafter dependent upon thy generosity for a livelihood." The reply of the poet, as well as his imperturbable self-possession, pleased the Asiatic Alexander, and he dismissed Hafez with a liberal present.
This story, we are told, cannot be true, for Tamerlane did not reach Shiraz until after the death of the greatest of Persian lyric poets; but if it is not true in fact, it is true in spirit.


Omar Khayyam      House of Persia       Hafez Shirazi