An Old Musician
Those who know of God
An old musician
Greets his beloved
And will take special care,
As a great artist always does,
To enhance the final note
“The Gift” – versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky
A note from Rulik
An Old Musician by Hafiz, rendered by Daniel Ladinsky, makes me wonder: Who are those people who know of God? Do you know of God?
Hafiz is calling on all of us, who know that what is real, is beyond appearances. Or as the Fox told the Little Prince: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
We meet and part all day long, usually without giving it much attention. What if we meet each other with the awareness that we might never meet again? Or that this very meeting might be life changing. Can you recall such encounters that were life changing? Did you know at the time the long-lasting impact that will ensue?
For an old musician, the instrument feels as any part of the body, just like a hand or a foot. Yet, it rests for long periods of time in its felted soft box.
Can you meet a fellow human being like that? Can you consider that we are all one? And yet we all have boundaries to be respected, just like the instrument in the box.
The heart of the poem is the care, special care. Again, the Fox:
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
The special care creates meaning in the moment of encounter. The care focuses on the meeting or the parting, framing them as a piece of art to be cherished.
The etymology of ‘Enhance’ suggests raising or elevating. Instead of looking down on the daily meeting and parting as mundane events to be dismissed, one could see them as a special occasion, something to look forward to, and then remembered. Put carefully in the box of memories, so that later it can be retrieved to find further joy in the recollection.
You might think “But I am not a great artist…” Think again. It is not the fame or the technique that makes a great artist. It is the special care; to be fully in every moment.
People who know Hafiz’ poetry in its native Persian, often complain about such modern renderings. They claim that the original cannot be recognized.
In Ladinsky’s defense; he does not even call his writing ‘translation.’ He says that his writing is simply inspired and informed by Hafiz. I am grateful to Ladinsky for warming my heart and for deriving great pleasure, insight and wisdom from his writing.