Poetry and History in the "West-östlicher Divan</I>
Chapter 3 The Present behind the Past: Hafiz in Shiraz
The poet-court relationship, as indicated in the previous chapter, has a long history going back to pre-Islamic times in Persian courts. This seems to have been still intact during the lifetime of Hafiz in the fourteenth century. The courts were still involved in promoting – or censoring – the art of poetry. Although I have not come across records to clearly indicate in what ways the courts might have been involved in shaping the art of poetry in Shiraz during the lifetime of Hafiz, one can still safely assume that the institution of poetry was not what it is today. After all, the court as audience of poetry does seem to have played a very significant role in conditioning what could be said and by what means it was articulated. Against this backdrop, the poet’s achievement and work cannot be grasped comprehensively without recognizing the historical situation and context that surrounded the poet. This, however, is not to say that the value of a poem by Hafiz, for example, would be contingent upon its relationship to the historical events and political, moral, and religious institutional structures surrounding it. The ideal situation from a literary-historical and critical perspective, however, would be to come to an understanding of a poem as a field of negotiating forces. The poetic forms, too, has to be considered from such a viewpoint. Aside from being a source of pleasure, the poem is also a textual locus transforming views, ideas, feelings, thoughts, judgments, sense impres- sions, or simply life...
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