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A list of English imitations of oriental poetry


"Hafiz (c. 1320-1390) is decidedly the greatest Iyric poet of Iran, praised by the critics for the inimitability of his style and the broad sweep of his meanings. He has enjoyed the esteem and admiration not only of his fellow countrymen but also of Persian scholars and poetry lovers outside Iran. The poet came to the notice of English readers for the first time in 1771 when Sir William Jones published one of Hafiz's poems in his book A Grammar of the Persian Language. The tradition initiated by Jones was carried further by such translators of the 18th and 19th centuries as John Richardson, Thomas Law, John Nott, John Haddon Hindley, Herman Bicknell, E. H. Palmer, Gertrude Bell, Walter Leaf, and Henry Wilberforce Clarke." > > [1911 Encyclopedia Britannica]
  1. William Collins, The Persian Eclogues, 1742.
  2. John Richardson, A Specimen of Persian Poetry, 1774.
    • [BL catalogue: A Specimen of Persian Poetry, or odes of Hafez with an English Translation and Paraphrase. Chiefly from the Specimen Poeseos Persicæ of Baron Revizky ... With historical and grammatical illustrations ... By J. Richardson. Pers. and Eng. pp. xx. 86. London, 1802. 4o.]
  3. John Nott, Select Odes from the Persian Poet Hafiz, 1787.
    • [BL catalogue: Kita¯b-i La¯lahza¯r az Di¯va¯n-i H?a¯fiz?. Select Odes from the Persian poet Hafez translated into English verse; with notes critical, and explanatory by J. Nott. Pers. and Eng. pp. xii. 131. London, 1787. 4o.]
  4. John Haddon Hindley, Persian Lyrics; or Scattered poems from the Diwan-e-Hafez, 1800. >
    • [BL catalogue: Persian Lyrics, or scattered poems, from the Diwani-i-Hafiz: with paraphrases in verse and prose, a catalogue of the Gazels as arranged in a manuscript of the works of Hafiz in the Chetham Library at Manchester, and other illustrations. Pers. and Eng. pp. 54. London, 1800. 4o.]
  5. Poems from the Arabic and Persian; with notes. By the author of Gebir [Walter Savage Landor]. Printed by H. Sharpe, Warwick and sold by Messrs. Rivington, London, 1800.
    • The work is in fact a poetical hoax: the poems are by Landor himself and imitations not of originals but of the imitations of Sir William Jones, and John Nott's Select Odes from the Persian Poet Hafiz (1787).
  6. Robert Southey, Thalaba the Destroyer, 1801.
    • "Thalaba, a young Muslim, sets himself to destroy the kingdom of the magicians, Domdaniel, under the sea. With the aid of a magic ring he overcomes his enemies, and destroys the sorcerers and their kingdom. He sacrifices his life in doing so, but is reunited in Paradise with his wife. The poem was attacked by the Edinburgh Review, and sales were poor." >
  7. R. Southey, The Curse of Kehama, 1810.
    • "relating the story of Kehama, the cruel Raja of the world, and the peasant Ladurlad, who is cursed for his endeavour to protect his daughter Kailyal from the lust of Arvalan, Kehama's son. After many vicissitudes, based on complex Hindu mythology, Kehama finds himself under the dominion of the lord of Hell, while Ladurlad and Kailyal are transported to heaven. Mme de Staël, writing to Byron on the subject of oriental tales, refers to 'Southey's unsaleables'." >
  8. Thomas Moore, Intercepted letters or the Twopenny Post-bag, by Thomas Browne the Younger, 1813.
    • this went through upward of fourteen editions
    • OED: "1813 Moore Post-bag vi. 69 The tender Gazel I enclose Is for my love, my Syrian Rose."
  9. Th. Moore, Lalla Rookh. An Oriental Romance, 1817. >
  10. P.B. Shelley (1792–1822), From the Arabic: An Imitation, written 1820, published 1824 (Posthumous Poems).
    • "The internal rhyme followed by a refrain captures the music of the ghazal." >
    • "R. M. Hewitt points out another ghazal device in a poem of Shelley's that is not otherwise oriental:
      Less oft is peace in Shelley's mind
      Then calm in waters seen.
      Whether accidental or intentional, this verse has the poet's takòallosá (pen-name) woven into the last couplet of the ghazal." (ibid.)
  11. James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849), The Karamanian Exile, Kincora, And then no More (Rückert) [more].
  12. Hermann Bicknell (1830-1875), Hafiz of Shi´ra´z: selections from his poems translated from the Persian [Edited by A. S. Bicknell.], London, 1875. >

Also see:

Lettres curieuses sur la Renaissance Orientale des frères Humboldt, d'August Schlegel et d'autres, Cromohs, 6, 2001.

Iranian Literature and its influence on Europe and America from 17th Century up to the present time


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