Hafiz (d.1390) is honoured as the greatest lyric poet of Iran and its greatest writer of 'ghazals', the form which he perfected. Peter Avery is one of the most eminent scholars of Persian poetry of the West and it was his late friend, the great Iranian scholar Parviz Natil Khanlari, who edited what is often accepted as the most reliable collection of poems, or Divan-i Hafiz. It is this complete collection, 486 poems in all, that Avery has translated here into English for the first time with extensive annotation. A primary aim has been to render them as literally as possible while trying to convey some sense of the poetry of Hafiz, the Shakespeare of Persian literature, to the reader who lacks knowledge of Persian - as this Divan is without doubt one of mankind's greatest literary achievements. Iranians call their great poet the 'Lisanu'l-ghayb', the Tongue of the Invisible. Thus are the poems' divinity recognised. To this day a copy of the Divan may be found in many households where it is used for the purpose of divination.
Peter Avery, OBE, born in Derby, England, in 1923, has devoted his life to Persian literature and history. As a child he was introduced to Fitzgerald's paraphrase of Omar Khayyam's quatrains which lead to a lifelong interest in Persian poetry. He began to learn Persian during the Second World War when he was stationed in India because he wanted to be able to read Hafiz in the original. Having taken a degree at the London School of Oriental and African studies, after living in Iran and the Middle East until 1957, he became Lecturer in Persian Studies in the University of Cambridge. He is now retired but continues to live in King's College, Cambridge.