Sunday, February 12, 2017

Joseph Lisowski writes


A moment or
A week later
You are outside
The sheer stubble
Of a mountain.
You climb
Over roots, weeds, flowers,
Crumbling red clay.
For breath.

Inside, there’s shiraz
Dark like blood
In a crystal glass,
A clean,
Well lighted
For a quiet drink,
Perhaps another.
Image result for shiraz wine painting 
Shiraz -- Filomena de Andrade 


  1. Shiraz, on the Roodkhaneye Khoshk (The Dry River), a seasonal river in Persia, was known as the Elamite city Tiraziš as early as 2000 BCE, but Iranian writers derived the city's name from Tahmuras (Taxmoruw, Taxma Urupi) Diveband or his son. Tahmuras the third shah (king) of the world according to the 10th-century "Shahnama" of Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi, the world's longest epic poem created by a single poet but derived in part from the "Avesta," the primary collection of Zoroastrian religious texts. Like his father Hushang, Tahmuras was a great inventor of arts such as the spinning and weaving of wool, and he learned to domesticate chickens, to store fodder for livestock instead of grazing them, and to train dogs and falcons to hunt. With the aid the wind god Vayu and his own possession of the mystic "khvarenah" (kingly glory), he subdued and enslaved Ahriman (Angra Mainyu, the Avestan "destructive spirit") and rode him like a horse from one end of the earth to the other throughout his 30-year reign, but Ahriman's divs (demons) rebelled; with his mace, Tahmuras crushed 1/3 of them, and with his magic he bound the other 2/3; after their defeat they taught him the art of writing in 30 scripts. The 8th-9th century cosmological treatise known as the "Bundahishn" ("Primal Creation") also described how of "Takhmurup" had the three atar (Great Fires) brought from Khwaniratha on the back of Srishok, an ox. According to a late Parsi rivayat, Ahriman gave Taxmoruw's wife jewels in exchange for the knowledge that Taxmoruw feared a certain place along their daily ride. The next day Ahriman bolted at that place, threw the shah to the ground, and ate him whole. The king's successor, his brother Jamshid (or son, according to the "Shahnameh") eventually learned from Srosh, the nearly omniscient confidant of Ahura Mazda ("mighty" plus "wisdom," the chief Zoroastrian god and creator) that Taxmoruw's body was still in Ahriman's bowels and that Ahriman loved music and anal sex above all else. Jamshid went to Ahriman's abode and began to sang, causing the destructive spirit to dance about and masturbate. When he presented his anus to Jamshid, he plunged his hand up his rectum, pulled Taxmoruw's corpse out, and fled. Jamshid later returned, built the prototypical Tower of Silence, and placed Taxmoruw's body on it to be eaten by birds of prey (the proper Zoroastrian manner of disposing of the dead). But the hand that Jamshid had used to recover the body began to stink and fester; it withered and grew more painful, causing Jamshid to shun human society until he was healed by gomez, the urine of an ox.

  2. Shiraz fell into ruin but was restored, and according to Ferdowsi, came under the control of the Parthian emperor Ardavan V (Artabanus V) in 217 but was slain against Ardashir-e Bābakān (Ardashir I the Unifier)in 224, who established the the Sasanian dynasty in the land he called Iran. Shiraz became a provincial capital in 693, after the Arabs conquered Istakhr, the Sassanian capital. By the 9th century it produced the world's finest wine. The Buwayhid dynasty (945 — 1055) made it their capital, and it was ruled by the Seljuks and the Khwarezmians before the Mongol conquest. The city was spared when it submitted to Genghis Khan and again in 1382 when it submitted to Timur-e Lang ("Tamerlane") in 1382. In the 13th century, it was an important cultural center, nicknamed "Dar al-Elm" (the House of Knowledge); two of Iran's leading poets, the 13th-century Abu-Muhammad Muslih al-Din bin Abdallah Shirazi ("Sa'di") and the 14th-century Khwaja Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Ḥafeẓ-e Shirazi ("Hafez," the memorizer, the safe keeper) resided there. In 1504 it was captured by Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid dynasty. After the fall of the Safavids in 1722, the city went into decline du to Afghan raids and ite rebellion against Nader Shah, who besieged the city for months before sacking it. By the time Nader was murdered in 1747 most of its historical buildings were damaged or destroyed, and its population had fallen to 50,000, a quarter of its 16th-century high. The Zand dynasty then made Shiraz its capital from 1762 until 1800. However, its fortifications were destroyed by Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Qajar dynasty, who moved the capital to Sari. In 1844 Sayyid `Ali-Muhammad Shirazi (the the Báb) began the Babi movement in Shiraz, which was the forerunner of Baha'i. Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, up to 300 wineries existed in Iran, but since then the vineyards have produced just table grapes and raisins. The traditional white shiraz wine has no connection to the Australian "Shiraz," a homonym for the red grape variety Syrah, which originated in the northern Rhône valley in France.

  3. Hafez devoted many of his poems to wine. Here are two:

    Ode 44 (tr. Richard Le Gallienne)

    Last night, as half asleep I dreaming lay,
    Half naked came she in her little shift,
    With tilted glass, and verses on her lips;
    Narcissus-eyes all shining for the fray,
    Filled full of frolic to her wine-red lips,
    Warm as a dewy rose, sudden she slips
    Into my bed – just in her little shift.

    Said she, half naked, half asleep, half heard,
    With a soft sigh betwixt each lazy word,
    ‘Oh my old lover, do you sleep or wake!’
    And instant I sat upright for her sake,
    And drank whatever wine she poured for me –
    Wine of the tavern, or vintage it might be
    Of Heaven’s own vine: he surely were a churl
    Who refused wine poured out by such a girl,
    A double traitor he to wine and love.
    Go to, thou puritan! the gods above
    Ordained this wine for us, but not for thee;
    Drunkards we are by a divine decree,
    Yea, by the special privilege of heaven
    Foredoomed to drink and foreordained forgiven.

    Ah! HAFIZ, you are not the only man
    Who promised penitence and broke down after;
    For who can keep so hard a promise, man,
    With wine and woman brimming o’er with laughter!
    O knotted locks, filled like a flower with scent,
    How have you ravished this poor penitent!

    Ghazal No. 377 (tr. Thomas Raine Crowe)

    O Beloved, upon this river of wine, launch our boat-shaped cup,
    And into this river throw those weeping with envy, too.

    Winebringer, throw a cask of wine into my boat,
    For without that–for forty days and nights on the open sea–
    I will die of thirst.

    I am lost in this city and can no longer find the Winehouse door.
    Please help me to find that street again where Love resides.

    Bring me a cup of wine that is dark red and smells like musk.
    Don’t bring me that expensive brand that tastes like money
    and smells like lust.

    Even though I am drunk and worthless, be kind to me,
    And on this dark heart shine the light of Your smile.

    If it’s sun at midnight that you desire, throw the veil from
    The face of the rose, and you will have all the light you need.

    If I die, don’t let them bury me in a dusty grave;
    Take my corpse to the Winehouse and throw me into a cask of wine!

    Hafiz, if you have had enough of this world and all its violence,
    Then take up the cup, and from the inside let this liquid love make peace.

  4. Joe wrote, "I love the poems of Hafez—rich, full-bodied, a delight on the palette. I’m reminded of my good friend and mentor in classical Chinese poetry J.P. Seaton. His book of translations: THE WINE OF ENDLESS LIFE: TAOIST DRINKING SONGS is delicious."


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