Just ahead of Valentine’s Day, we visited the tomb of a poet who wrote often of love.
The 14th century Persian poet Hafez is buried in Shiraz, the city where he lived almost 700 years ago. He remains venerated in Iran, even though he wrote of romance and other topics that are not obviously embraced in the modern-day Islamic Republic.
One of his lines: “Oh Cup-bearer, set my glass afire with the light of wine!”
We reached the tomb of Hafez — the pen name for the man born Khwaja Shamsuddīn Muhammad Hafez e-Shirazi — at the end of the day. The setting sun still shone on the mountainsides just beyond a courtyard. The poet’s tomb is at the center, beneath a roof held up by pillars.
People placed their hands on the carved stone. One was a woman wearing loose black clothes, a purple knitted cap and a Wilson-brand backpack. She kept her hands there, both of them, for what seemed like several minutes.
Afterward, we asked her what she was doing.
“It’s really a thing of my heart,” she said. “I think you have to connect with him to understand what happened with us, between us.”
Firoozeh Mohammad-Zamani said that when her hands were on the tomb, she was having a conversation with Hafez. They talk a lot.
Photos: JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images and Steve Inskeep/NPR