Recommended Translations of Persian Poetry:


Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz translated by Dick Davis

  • Davis has done an excellent job translating Hafez into English poetry. After a series of Hafez translations that have been a hit and a miss (at best) or a blunder (at worst), Davis’ Hafez is a much-needed step in the right direction.

  • Translations of the lesser-known poets Obayd Zakani and Jahan Malek Khatun also appear.

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The Masnavi of Rumi, Books One - Four translated by Jawid Mojaddedi

  • Though the Masnavi has been fully translated before into prose, Mojaddedi has ventured into uncharted waters by producing a poetic translation. Though his rhyme and meter constraints occasionally produce less than literal translations, the work is sound overall.

  • Readers who find the existing prose translations of the Masnavi difficult will benefit from this new poetic translation.

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Book One - Book Two - Book Three - Book Four

The Masnavi of Rumi, Books One - Two translated by Alan Williams

  • Williams’ new rendering of the Masnavi is a much-needed replacement for the Nicholson translation that is now a century old.

  • Readers who are learning to read the original Persian text can use this work as a guide to read the original.

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Book One - Book Two

‘Love Is My Savior’ and ‘Wine of Reunion’: The Arabic Poems of Rumi translated by Akhtarkhavari and Lee

  • Though I prefer poetic translations of ghazals, I make an exception for these two prose renderings of Rumi’s Arabic poems because of their content. The Arabic poems by Persian poets are very rarely read, let alone translated. On one hand, the Arab world is unaware of Rumi’s Arabic poetry, and on the other, most Persian speakers dont know Arabic well enough to read medieval poems. This two-book series is a welcome step in the right direction.

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Book One - Book Two

The Quatrains of Rumi translated by Ibrahim Gamard and Rawan Farhadi

  • Like his Arabic poems, Rumi’s quatrains are overshadowed by his more famous works. As far as I am aware, this is the first full translation of Rumi’s quatrains. This literal translation is more useful for a student hoping to understand the Persian original rather than a reader only accessing the English translation.

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Sa‘di’s Gulistan translated by Wheeler Thackston

  • Though Sa‘di’s Gulistan has been translated many times, the existing renderings are quite archaic and usually contain errors. Thackston’s new Gulistan is a welcome update, containing a side-by-side Persian text that notes manuscript variants.

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Sa‘di in Love: Lyrical Verses of Persia's Master Poet by Homa Katouzian

  • Very little attention (if any) is paid to Sa‘di’s ghazals, so I'm happy to see this book in print, despite the aforementioned dislike I have for prose translations of ghazals.

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The Mirror Of My Heart: A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women by Dick Davis

  • In The Mirror Of My Heart Davis has translated many nearly-forgotten poems for the first time, breathing life into quatrains and couplets languishing in manuscripts or neglected academic books. This work is a much-needed step in the right direction.

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English Only Edition - Bilingual Edition