Metaphors of Wine, Cup and Tavern in Poetry of Rumi and Hafiz

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Bibliographic Information
Journal Al-Idah
Title Metaphors of Wine, Cup and Tavern in Poetry of Rumi and Hafiz
Author(s) Saeed, Amna, Madad Sabri
Volume 36
Issue 1
Year 2018
Pages 65-80
Full Text Crystal Clear mimetype pdf.png
Keywords Mysticism, Metaphors, Hermeneutics, Rumi, Hafiz.
Chicago 16th Saeed, Amna, Madad Sabri. "Metaphors of Wine, Cup and Tavern in Poetry of Rumi and Hafiz." Al-Idah 36, no. 1 (2018).
APA 6th Saeed, A., Sabri, M. (2018). Metaphors of Wine, Cup and Tavern in Poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. Al-Idah, 36(1).
MHRA Saeed, Amna, Madad Sabri. 2018. 'Metaphors of Wine, Cup and Tavern in Poetry of Rumi and Hafiz', Al-Idah, 36.
MLA Saeed, Amna, Madad Sabri. "Metaphors of Wine, Cup and Tavern in Poetry of Rumi and Hafiz." Al-Idah 36.1 (2018). Print.
Harvard SAEED, A., SABRI, M. 2018. Metaphors of Wine, Cup and Tavern in Poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. Al-Idah, 36.
عصمت أنبیاء سے بظاہر متعارض صحیحین کی بعض أحادیث کا علمی جائزہ
نقد رجال میں امام بوصیری كا منہج مصباح الزجاجہ کی روشنی میں
اسلامى بىنکارى مىں تنگدست مقروض سے وصولیابی کے شرعی اختیارات
بیوی کے نفقے کاقضیہ: شرعی اور عصری (پاکستانی) قوانین کے تناظر میں ایک علمی جائزہ
بلڈ بینک کا قیام اور انتقال خون کے مسئلہ کا ایک تحقیقی جائزہ قرآن و سنت کی روشنی میں
مشترکہ و جداگانہ خاندانی نظام کے معاشرے پر اثرات
تفسیر روح المعانی میں امام آلوسی کا منہج: ایک تحقیقی جائزہ
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Poetry is one of the most prominent spiritual genres of mystic literature. Most of the mystics have expressed their thoughts in poetry. Mystic poetry is replete with metaphors of “wine”, “cup”, “tavern” and “wine-bearer” although, in Islam, the use of wine is strictly prohibited. However, the mystic poets make repeated use of such metaphors. This paper aims to compare the use of the metaphor of wine, cup, and tavern in the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. Further, it spotlights the hidden meaning of mystical metaphors to make it expressible. The current research is based on Ricoeur’s hermeneutic model of understanding text which Ricoeur calls the Hermeneutic Arc. This study concludes that the cornerstone ideology beyond the use of metaphors is to awaken the sleeping souls, the negation of material pursuit, and realization of spiritual truth---Divine love and unity with God. Hafiz focuses on freedom, an eternity of soul, joy, and immortality; further. While Rumi talks about enlightenment of soul, union with Beloved and strong faith. Rumi’s use of language, imagery, and ideas are more powerful than Hafiz.


Mysticism has been influencing the spirituality of mankind for a long span of time. Mysticism fundamentally reflects a pathway that makes a man free from self-pride which leads to the evils of the existing world. According to Dehlvi1 mysticism guides a person how to achieve a higher level of spirituality. The body holds secondary value in mysticism and it is merely considered the container of spirit that is why soul and spirituality are the primary concerns of all mystic poets. They emphasize more on spiritual development as compared to the physical development of the self. It is a quest for finding the ultimate truth that is God or love of God.

The Islamic tradition of mysticism involves metaphysics, ethical discipline, devotional practices, music, poetry and mystical experiences.2 Mystic poets make excessive use of metaphors since mystic meanings cannot be represented by ordinary language use. The mystic metaphor ‘transcends’ its own meaning beyond itself.3 Teasdale4 claims that mystic poets use worldly symbols and figurative language such as similes, metaphors, allegories to share the experience of the mystical realm and spiritual journey towards the Divine Beloved. Metaphors exist to convey, evoke and create sensibilities that cannot be conveyed using direct terms.5 Thus, mystic poets use metaphors with the aim to share their spiritual experiences and to open the channels of spirituality for their readers.

Rumi (1207-1273) is considered as one the most prolific poet across the world. He is known as the greatest Persian and mystical poet of all ages. Rumi’s work has been translated into many languages including German, English, Russian, Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, and much more. Rumi's major work is Masnavi. It is considered by many to be one of the greatest works of mystical poetry. It contains approximately 27,000 lines of Persian poetry. His other work includes; the Diwan-e-Kabeer. The Divan contains 90 Ghazals and 19 quatrains in Arabic a couple of dozens or so couplets in Turkish.

Hafiz Shirazi (1350-1390) is the most famous Persian mystic poet across the globe. Hafez is the most popular poet in Iran, and his works can be found in almost every Iranian home. Hafiz’s poetry has been translated almost all major languages of the world. Hafiz’s mystical ideas and philosophy left an everlasting influence on the writing of many poets and author of different languages. His masterpiece is Divan – e Hafiz, which consists of 500 ghazels, 42 Rubaiyat, and few Qaseedas, composed over a period of 50 years.

This research critically compares the poetry of Maulana Rumi and Hafiz Sherazi on the use of mystical metaphors. The ideas of “wine”, “cup”, and “tavern” are prohibited in general sense in Muslim philosophy. Some people have an objection as to why mystic poets use these terms when in Islam wine is strictly prohibited. However, the mystic poets make repeated use of such metaphors. This study aims to locate the underlying ideological basis of the mystic meanings of the metaphors and also analyses the similarities and differences in metaphorical language use by Hafiz and Rumi respectively. As supporting data the most frequently repeated metaphors are also analyzed to appropriate the above context of Islamic mysticism.

The rationale for the selection of the metaphors of wine, cup,and tavern is that these are the most contested metaphors in mystic poetry. While in western poetry the metaphors of wine, cup etc. are used for imagery and sensuous appeal, in mystic philosophy, they hold different ideological meanings. For instance, Keats uses wine in Ode to Nightingale for forgetfulness:

“Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,

With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,

And purple-stained mouth;

That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade away into the forest dim”.6

While Rumi uses the metaphors for awakening the spiritual light and sleeping soul. As he states:

“Any wine will get you high.

Judge like a king, and choose the purest,

Not the ones adulterated with fear,

Or some urgency about “what’s needed”

Drink the wine that moves you

As a camel moves when it’s been united,

And is just ambling about”.7

In the above lines by Keats and Rumi, the metaphor of wine is used differently. Keats as an English romantic poet uses wine as a metaphor for forgetfulness; while Rumi uses the same metaphor for spiritual enlightenment. Thus, the use of metaphor in poetry varies from poet to poet. So, the meaning of metaphors can only be understood when interpreted according to the specific context. This research will present an in-depth vision of mystic poets through their use of metaphors in specific--according to the mystical context.

Metaphor in Persian Poetry

Language is a powerful tool to share and express what we feel, think and desire. It helps to understand the world around us. Most of the time meaning of utterances is delivered indirectly. Every utterance conveyed by people contains a hidden meaning, especially, in literature writers use figurative language: which consists of symbols and images. It is simply a fascinating style to express deep, strong, sad and happy feelings. Poets are fond of using figures of speech, especially metaphors. According to Frost poetry begins in trivial metaphors, pretty metaphors, grace metaphors and goes on to the most profound thinking that we have.8 Hence, Metaphors are used in poetry to explain and elucidate emotions, feelings, relationships other elements that could not be described in ordinary language.

The history of Persian mystic poetry known as “the golden era of literature”.9 The term golden era was coined because the greatest mystic poets who created the most influential poems all lived in Persia. We can claim that mystic poetry is the most fruitful product of Persian poetry that has had such a superb effect in Persian literature being called the mine of Persian literature. Persian mystical poetry is essentially symbolic in nature. This is reflected in the abundant use of rhetorical figures. Persian poets have used various literary devices to embellish their writings and to make them more persuasive. Metaphors are at the heart of Persian poetry. Persian poetry became permeated with metaphors and novel imagery. The growing rhetorical virtuosity is related to stylistic development in Persian poetry.

Karimi-Hakkak 10 states that Hafiz shows the world of love through his poetic art. Hafiz explains the state of mind of the lover through the powerful metaphors. Hafiz shares the experiences of a lover; what they felt and thought. By the help of metaphors, Hafiz tells readers about the mystery of Divine love. Nicholson11 says Hafiz is regarded not only a mystic poet but also a great lover of God. Ḥāfiẓ emphasizes that the existence of love predates the creation of mankind and the world. Like the Persian mystic poets before him, Ḥāfiẓ equates love with God, who is also the absolute Beloved, longing fervently to reveal His beauty. The concept of love is one of the most important concepts discussed by Hafiz. He talks about the relation between God and Universe in general, and between God and Mankind in particular.

Lewisohn 12 believes that by going through the poetry of Hafiz, one comes to know that he has shown a longing for the tavern. He attached great importance to the tavern in his poems. Lewisohn is right by uttering that Hafiz attaches a great significance for the tavern. It seems that Hafiz’s soul is thirsty and it longs to quench the thirst by visiting the tavern. Hence, Hafiz’s metaphor stands by itself, distinct and peculiar in its character. It is both admired and criticized for its peculiarity. Star 13 writes that the poetry of Rumi, like other mystic poets, is full of symbolism. He has shared different experiences of the spiritual journey through the use of metaphorical language. Rumi’s catchy and incomparable metaphors leave never ending effect on minds of readers.

Helminski 14 holds the view that concepts, images, and metaphors based on Rumi’s teachings could, therefore, constitute a meaningful background and the basis for a more open encounter between therapist and client in the interpretation of adversity, and especially in transcultural therapy with Muslim clients. The lyrics of Rumi work as medicine to treat the wounds of the soul. Rumi as a most acclaimed and prolific mystic poet presents his ideas in a more spiritual way through metaphorical language. His ideas and thoughts have a magical effect which leaves the reader to think and act accordingly. Einboden15 writes Rumi’s poetry in America and Europe has brought Sufism to the attention of many liberal western people and has made them realize the very nature and message of Islam that is peace and love for all.

When it comes to the tradition of mystic metaphorical use of language in poetry, it is found that the metaphor of wine, although the use of wine is prohibited in Islamic tradition, is excessively used in different contexts to express mystic love. Sultan Bahu uses the metaphor of wine to express his extreme passion for the love of God and since this cannot be achieved through ordinary material means the idea of wine and its pure intoxication leading to spiritual ecstasy is maintained.16 Similarly, the South Asian Qawwali also uses the metaphors of wine and cup -bearer frequently to refer to the intoxicated state of soul which is touched by the love of God.17 Hoffman-Ladd18 writes that in mystic poetry wine is not a symbol of sinful indulgence in mystic poetry but “of the intoxicating presence of God.” In Persian mystic poetry, wine is used as a metaphor for different symbolic situations of the lover of God. It is also symbolic of different states of consciousness of the lover ultimately leading to fanna or annihilation of self.19 Similarly, Masciandaro & Booth 20 observe that in Persian mystic poetry the tavern is “a metaphorical spiritual state where man’s lower self is annihilated… is where spiritual advancement takes place through the ruin of one’s spiritual state brought about by the intoxication of God’s love (wine).” Hafiz typically uses the metaphors of wine, tavern, and cup etc. to express the spiritual form of the Beloved and the spiritual encounter of the lover with the Beloved.21 In Rumi’s poetry the metaphors of wine, cup and tavern are used to create and reinforce the idea of divine intoxication of God’s love for which the essential seat is the human heart and ultimate motive divine state of ecstasy.22

The Hermeneutic Arc

This study is qualitative in nature. For this comparative study three metaphors: wine, cup, and tavern are selected. The selected metaphors are frequently used by Rumi and Hafiz. The present research is based on Ricoeur’s (1976) hermeneutic model of understanding text: it consists of three levels of interpretation: Explanation, Understanding, and Appropriation, which Ricoeur called the Hermeneutic Arc. Although the element of subjectivity cannot be ignored in a hermeneutic interpretation of any text, this study focuses on the use of metaphors in relation to the linguistic, stylistic and the literary context in which the metaphors are used in order to interpret the embedded ideological meanings associated with the mystic tradition of Persian poetry.

Metaphor of Wine (شراب،می،بادہ،بگماز،مل)

Wine is not an only beverage, but it is an ideal literary metaphor used by several poets across the world belonging to different languages and cultures to express their profound feelings. Further, the wine has remained a favorite metaphor for the poets of all ages. Wine and poetry enjoy a good relationship. Thus, wine is a classic metaphor which acquires great significance in the world of poetry. Hence, the metaphor of wine is central to mystic poetry too.Rumi emphasizes the role of Divine love in the following lines:


Choose the love of that Living One who is everlasting,who gives you to drink of the wine that increases life.Choose the love of Him from whose loveall the prophets gained power and glory”23

It can be interpreted that Rumi expresses the significance of Divine love in our life which is everlasting. Also, he focusses on the point that only love and affiliation with God is enduring, while other all worldly things fade away. Poet claims that as God is eternal so is His love eternal. Rumi affirms that only go for the love of Allah, which is worthy and eternal and from whose love all prophets got honor and prestige. It is the only door of Almighty God where all people are beggars. Rumi relates the idea of wine directly with the love of ‘living one”, which shows that the wine which Rumi is talking about is not an ordinary drink which intoxicates but it is symbolically used as the divine inspiration that intoxicates and fill one with the spiritual drink for the “Ever Living” which is, of course, only God. So, the physical notion of love is temporary, nature spiritual love for God is eternal. Inviting towards the eternal love of Almighty, Hafiz expresses the same views:

می کند حافظ دعایی بشنوآمینی بگو"

روزی ما باد لعل شکر افشان شما

Hafiz says a prayer, listen, and say amen,

May you sweet wine daily pour upon my lips and my face”24

In above lines poet associates the idea of wine with prayer which is sacred wishing for something. This manifests poet’s longing for the wine of God. It can be interpreted that wine is used as a metaphor which symbolizes blessings of God Almighty continue forever. Here, it seems that poet’s heart longs for the favor and blessings of God Almighty. The reader gets the idea that poet in metaphorical expressions seeks the blessings of Allah Almighty. Here, Hafiz prays for the God’s protection and favor in his everyday affairs. Hence, the poet thus highlights the importance of mystic prayer; While, Rumi used metaphors for “Divine love” Hafiz adds the quality in the idea of Divine love that is “eternal blessings” of God, both physical and spiritual, which come along the love of Allah. While comparing ordinary wine with sacred wine Rumi says:


The spiritual quest is on another plane:the spiritual wine has another consistency”25

The poet differentiates between the spiritual expedition, spiritual wine, and its consistency. In contrast to the physical quest for worldly desires, a spiritual expedition is a different plane which requires determination and firm belief and spiritual wine and its consistency is different. Here, Rumi has used word باده wine as a metaphor, which gives the meaning of spiritual love. Rumi claims that spiritual love is unconditional and constant. It is eternal and everlasting love, totally different from worldly love. It can be interpreted that the spiritual journey of love remains constant effort on parts of lover and consistency to reach one’s goal. This consistency can be equated with the concept of patience صبر(sabar) in spiritual ideology; one can find the spiritual wine, which is the love of God. Hafiz Shirazi again talks about wine, love, and joy in the following lines:

حافظ منشین بی می و معشوق زمانی"

کایام گل و یاسمین و عید صیام است

Hafiz wine in hand, always your lover embrace

Cause flowers and joy this festive time and space”26

Hafiz expresses the joy of lover with wine in his hands and relates this joy with the idea of festivity and flowers to heighten the aesthetics of this ecstatic relationship between God and His seeker. We become aware that Hafiz as a mystic poet does not talk about the ordinary beverage. Wine is used as a metaphor which symbolizes spiritual love. The reader comes to know that heart which if full of love with God is always in a state of peace and happiness. God embraces the one who loves Him because God is the greatest lover. Those who are in love with Almighty they have always a joy and rejoice in their life. Hence, love of God brings peace, satisfaction, and happiness in life. Going deep still, Rumi associates the luminosityنور of God Almighty with the idea of drinking the wine of spirituality.


The light of dawn has shone forth, and from Your light, we are engagedin drinking the morning-drink with the wine of Your Mansur”27

Here, morning- drink with the wine, is a metaphorical expression which suggests the intoxication of Divine love. Rumi claims that dawn of light is a small part of the light‏نور of God while seeing this beauty all the people start their day. In the second line, the poet gives a reference of wine of Mansur which is also a metaphor. Wine of Mansur symbolizes the love of Mansur Al-haj, who set a great example of sacrificing his life for the sake of God. Mansur Alhaj: was a Persian poet and mystic best known for saying “I am the truth” Anal Haq. Rumi says that with that intensity of Mansur we need to love God. The reader understands that Rumi talks about the light نور of God and express his feeling of love for Him. It can be interpreted that in associating the “"نور of God with drinking of wine Rumi clearly demands from the general understanding of drinking it gives it a highly spiritual thirst. Here, drinking can be understood as a process of becoming spiritually enlightened. Hafiz talks about the intoxication of wine in the following lines:

مستی بہ چشم شاہد دلبند ما خوش است"

زان رو سپردہ اند بہ مستی زمام ما

Intoxication pleases my Beloved and my Lord

To the wine, they would assign, my life’s design”28

In the above lines, it can be interpreted that as spiritual wine serves the purpose to seek the love and praise of God. However, worldly wine diverts people and causes violence in society. Contrary, to the worldly wine, the spiritual wine kills the نفس“nafs” human desires, which promotes peace and harmony. It is true that all the problems in human life come from human desires. Further, the spiritual wine is essential for the spiritual development of disciple

Metaphor of Tavern(میخانہ)

A tavern is a place of business where people gather to drink alcoholic beverages and be served food, and in most cases, where travelers receive lodging. The metaphor Tavern occupies an essential place in mystical poetry. Most of the mystic poets showed affiliation with the tavern. However, the tavern is not only a place where people drink but in the poetic language. It expresses a deeper meaning. It has been used as a metaphor in mystical poetry. The mystic poet shows longing and yearning for the tavern. Since, it is, for them, a place considered to be the source of Divine inspiration.

Rumi, however, directly associates the شیخ“Shaikh” (spiritual teacher) with the tavern in the following lines.

در خرابات آمدى شیخ اجل"جمله مىها از قدومت شد عسل

You came into the tavern, O most exalted Shaykh,

and in consequence of your coming all the wine have turned to honey”29

In above lines poet expresses his feelings of happiness which he acquires at the coming of Shaikh. He rejoices that the coming of his spiritual master is a blessing for him. The tavern is a metaphor which symbolizes the place where mystics gather for the zikir of Allah Almighty. Rumi shares his profound feelings that at the arrival of Shaikh “the spiritual master” his feelings of reverence have changed into the feelings of love. At the level of appropriation, the reader gets the idea that presence of Shaikh at the place of Zikir is beneficial for all mystics. Hence, the presence of the spiritual master is blessing and honor for mystics, because only with the company of friends of God, one can be the friend of God. It can be also interpreted that the tavern is significant because the meeting of teachers and disciples to share the intoxicating inspiration to find inspiration to find God’s love, is found in the place termed as a tavern (میخانہ) by both poets. Hafiz expresses his feelings for the space of tavern in the following lines:

در خرابات مغان نور خدا می بینم"

این عجب بین کہ چہ نوری زکجا می بینم

جلوہ برمن مفروش ایں ملک الحاج کہ تو

خانہ می بینی و من خانہ خدا می بینم

In the tavern of the Magi I see the bright light of the Divine

O what a light, such a delight, how can it so brightly shine?

Stop showing off to me, O pilgrim of the House of the God

In that place you see the house, while I see God’s grand design”30

Above lines indicate that poet talks about the Divine light which he sees in the tavern of the Magi. Here, مغان Magi is a metaphor which symbolizes the “Sheikh” spiritual teacher. Further, the metaphor of tavern symbolizes the place where Sheikh worships and guides disciples. It is a spiritual school where a transformation of heart takes place in the hands of the spiritual teacher. So, in the above lines, Hafiz as a mystic poet states that he sees the Divine light at the Meykhana of Sheikh. The tavern in this sense is revered and respected by all mystics. And from that place, he learns the lesson of spiritual life. So, the reader understands that only under the guidance of spiritual teacher one can reach the desired destination of the spiritual journey. Hence, guidance on the spiritual path plays a vital role to seek the Divine love and tavern (میخانہ)become the metaphor for the source of inspiration to achieve spiritual teaching.Rumi talks about the condition of a drunken lover in the following lines:


When the drunken man has gone astray from a tavern,he becomes the children’s laughing-stock and plaything” 31

In the above lines the poet states that when a disciple moves away from the right path and right teaching, he loses the direction and becomes the laughing stock of people. Rumi focuses on the fact that with the guidance of the spiritual teacher “Sheikh” one can walk on the path towards God. Here, poet highlights the grand importance of spiritual teachers and the meetings of them. The company of spiritual teacher shapes the character and personality of the disciple. It is a tradition of mystics to spend more time with their Sheikh to have spiritual enlightenment. Otherwise, it is not an easy task to surrender one’s self to God and show top commitment in actions and words. Hence, poet emphasizes on the fact that to achieve the desired destination, it is important for a disciple to follow the instructions of Shaikh.Hafiz further highlights the importance of tavern in the following lines.

بھشت عدن اگرخواہی بیا با ما بہ میخانہ"

کہ از پائی خمت روزی بہ حوض کوثر اندازیم

If Eden is what you need

To the tavern let us speed

The jug of wine let us heed

And paradise will be thine”32

In the above lines, poet implores us to move towards tavern and wine. It seems that poet is drunk and totally intoxicated with wine. Here, the tavern is a metaphor which symbolizes the place of spiritual gathering. Further, a jug of wine is also a metaphor which symbolizes the zikir of Almighty God. In the above lines, Hafiz as a great master, advises the reader that if you wish to enter in paradise then walk on the path of God and seek guidance from those who are closer to God. It is the only way, where one can get the happiness of both worlds. Hafiz invites us to gather to the place of zikir and acquire the love of Almighty God. The reader comes to know the importance of spiritual gathering of mystics. It can be interpreted from these lines that for the achievements of spiritual rewards, it is essential to meet with the spiritual teachers for guidance. It aims to find the right path to God’s love.In the following lines Hafiz implores readers to visit the tavern:

بر آستانہ میخانہ ھر کہ یافت رھی"

زفیض جام می اسرارخانقہ دانست

ھر آن کہ راز دو عالم زخط ساغر خواند

رموز جام جم از نقش خاک رہ دانش

Whoever finds his way into the tavern,

From the bounty of the wine, temple’s secret unlocks.

He who reads the secret of this wine,

Founds the secrets in the dust upon which we walk” 33

It can be interpreted here that poet emphasizes on the idea that one who visits the tavern and drink wine he knows the secrets of life. The metaphor of tavern symbolizes the place where mystics gather for the worship. In above lines, Hafiz says that the person who visits the tavern of mystics and drink the wine of Divine love he comes to know the secrets of the universe. Hafiz claims that with the blessings of God Almighty all the secrets of the universe for the true lovers are open book. The reader understands that the one who dwells in the love of God, he becomes aware of the secrets of the world. So, the reader understands that meeting with the friends of God at the spiritual gathering is much important for one’s spiritual development. Rumi talks about the song of ministerial and tavern in the following lines:

آن سر ميدان و اين پايان اوست"دل شده چون گوى در چوگان اوست

They that are full of crop- sickness feed on the songs of the minstrel:

the minstrels bring them to the tavern”34

In above lines poet talks about the songs of minister and tavern. The minister in the above lines illustrates spiritual master, while tavern is (میخانہ)where the mystics worship. Rumi discusses the idea that when mystics are drunk with love the spiritual master brings them to the(میخانہ)to teach the methods of a spiritual journey and to achieve the love of God. It can be interpreted as “meykhana” is not a place for drinking, but a place of meeting of mystics. So, tavern (میخانہ) plays a vital role in the spiritual development of the mystics. It is here interpreted that tavern is the place where spiritual teaching takes place and love of God executed in the hearts of human as a force that makes them forget the material world.

Metaphor of Cup (فنجان،استکان،پنگان)

The metaphor used by Rumi and Hafiz is not an ordinary cup of coffee or tea, but this cup holds elixir of life and occupies great significance in the verses of mystic poets. The metaphor of cup is frequently used by Rumi and Hafiz in their poetry. When a metaphor is discussed in the context of Persian mystical poetry, the cup of wine can be understood as the heart of lover which holds the unconditional love of Allah Almighty, the consumption of which leads union with Eternal Beloved. The empty cup of a mystic is ready to be filled with the sacred wine of Divine love. It is the task of mystics to become empty enough to be a suitable receptacle for the wine of love.

Rumi expresses the significance of wine-cup in the following lines:

. “لذت‏انعام‏خود‏را‏وامگيرنقل‏و‏باده‏و‏جام‏خود‏را‏وامگير

Take not away the delightfulness of your bounty;take not away your dessert and wine and wine-cup” 35

In above lines poet talks about willfulness of wine and wine-cup. Poet intends to drink more wine; he does not want to stop drinking. Poet talks about the delightfulness of wine-bearer and sweetness of the wine. In above lines, wine and wine-cup are used as metaphors. Wine symbolizes the concept of spiritual love and wine-cup symbolizes the true faith. In above lines, Rumi seeks the bounty and blessings of God Almighty. Since real happiness lies in the blessings of God. He prays God to shower blessings upon his soul. Further, he prays God not to take away the beautiful things which have been given to him. The reader understands that how a mystic seeks the blessings of God, and how the soul of a mystic yearns for the love of God Almighty. Because mystics know that the actual joy and delightfulness reside in the bounty of faith which leads to the love of God. When Hafiz uses the metaphor of cup, he gives a new dimension to its meaning by associating it with a mirror.

دید مش خرم و خندان قدح بادہ بہ دست"

و اندر آن آینہ صد گونہ تماشا می کرد

Found him wine in hand and happy face

In the mirror of his cup would watch a hundred detail”36

In the given lines poet says that in the mirror of cup one can see and observe all the universal things. Poet seems enthusiastic about wine and wine cup. It can be interpreted that Hafiz as a mystic poet, has used the mirror of the cup as a metaphor which symbolizes heart of lover that holds the love of Divine Beloved. If one looks at the heart of a true lover which remains busy in Divine remembrance, one can understand the secrets of life. The heart of God-drunken is a mirror where the whole universe can be seen. Here, the reader understands that heart of a mystic reflects the many colours of the unconditional love of God Almighty where the whole world can be seen. And things which are difficult to understand for us can be understood by dedication to God. Hafiz here adds the idea of the reflection of a happy face with the idea of a cup. Rumi further associates the idea of spiritual fulfillment with the metaphor of cup.


Lovers drain the cup of joy at the moment

When the fair one slay them with their own hands”37

In above lines, the poet says that lovers give up every cherished moment in their life in the separation of beloved. They abstain from every luxury which diverts them. Cup of joy is a metaphor which symbolizes the unlimited desires of human beings. Rumi states that a true lover gives up all the desires when he enters the realm of spiritual love. He totally surrenders to the Beloved God and resigns from the lust of worldly things. God Almighty wants to see the highest commitment of lovers. So, that spiritual love demands complete dedication and sincerity, and self-denial is a prerequisite for spiritual love. It is pre-requisite to surrender to God. In the following lines Hafiz talks about the reality of cup:

من آنم کہ چوں جام گیرم بہ دست"

بینم در آن آینہ ھر چہ ھست

And when I hold the cup in my hand

In the mirror everything I understand”38

The cup in the above lines can be interpreted metaphor which symbolizes spiritual love which is a reflection of one’s soul. And in this reflection when one sees the reflection of one’s life one understand the ultimate meaning of life. Hafiz says that when the Divine love enters in his heart he becomes aware of the reality of the world. Through the mirror of heart, he comes to know the eternal Beloved. So, the heart of a mystic is a mirror to see the reality. When one enters the realm of the spiritual world his heart is enlightened with the Divine beauty, which further brings patience to the mystic.


Both poets hold the identical opinion on the idea or concept of the tavern. The metaphor of tavern in Hafiz and Rumi’s poetry symbolizes the spiritual place where mystics gather to seek the guidance of the “Shaikh” (spiritual teacher). It is a kind of meeting place of Sheikh with his disciples. Also, it is interpreted to be a symbol of a place to get divine inspiration. Further, the tavern symbolizes the universe, while God is Saqi (ساقی)(wine-bearer) in the tavern. Approaching and connecting with the Saqi (ساقی)is the goal of a mystic’s life. Rumi focuses on the idea of wine which can be used for spiritual enlightenment. He highlights the effects of spiritual wine; and consistency of spiritual love, which can be equated with the concept of patience صبر(sabar). For Hafiz, spiritual wine brings the enlightenment of soul and beauty to life. He associates the idea of wine with prayer and highlights the joy and sweetness of the wine. By consuming the wine of spiritual inspiration, Hafiz and Rumi describe themselves as servants of Divine Beloved. They seem intoxicated with the wine of Divine love and their soul longs for the eternal unity with Beloved. Hence, in the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz wine serves as a metaphor for insight, knowledge and spiritual interpretation leading to experiencing divine truth.For Rumi, the cup means true faith; he focuses on the point that true faith brings happiness and satisfaction. He considers cup as a source of joy and delightfulness. One who holds strong faith can be successful in both worlds. Further, Rumi also talks about the significance of wine and cup together. While Hafiz attributes an extra feature with the cup being a mirror: a device for having one’s spiritual self in check. It reflects one’s spiritual self or soul, where one can see the reality of being and understand himself in a better way. Further, Hafiz adds the idea of the reflection of a happy face with the idea of a cup. Hence, the wine and cup are used metaphorically, which provides the meaning of Divine love. Thus, both poets stress the importance of true faith, a reflection of one’s soul and patience in our life. In conclusion, Rumi and Hafiz have used worldly symbols to explain the realm of the spiritual world to stimulate faith and love for Divine Beloved. However, ordinary language does not contain such power to define the concepts of spiritual love, so mystic poets have used metaphor to symbolize love, insight, and faith, or to describe the state of mind when one is in love and different milestones in the journey towards connecting with God. They have used worldly symbols to elucidate faith and special insight into viewing the worldly life more vigilantly which is merely a path to the destination – the life hereafter.


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38 Pourafzal, H., Montgomery, R,(1998), The spiritual wisdom of Haféz: Teachings of the  Philosopher of love, Inner Traditions – Bear & Company, p.144