Mohammed Shems Ed-Din Hafiz, a Persian poet, born in Shiraz near the beginning of the 14th century, died about 1300. He early devoted himself to Mohammedan jurisprudence and theology, in which he became profoundly versed, and which he taught publicly. He then lived as a dervish, in luxurious pleasure, in the quarter of Shiraz called Mosella, under the dynasty of the Mosafferids, whose eulogist he was. The sultan Ahmed Hkhani vainly invited him to his court at Bagdad. When in 1387 Tamerlane conquered Shiraz, he treated the poet with the greatest distinction. In his old age he abandoned luxury for austerities, and employed his talents in celebrating the unity of God and the praises of the prophet. This conversion did not secure him the pardon of zealous Mussulmans for his previous songs of love and wine, and they persisted in deeming him an infidel, an atheist, or a Christian, and after his death denied him the honors of sepulture. His admirers, however, maintained his orthodoxy, and, it being at length agreed to leave the decision to chance, the lot fell on a passage from his odes which avowed his faults, but at the same time affirmed that he was predestined to paradise.

A magnificent tomb was then erected to his memory; it stands amid scenery described in his poems, and is still a favorite rendezvous of the young men of Shiraz, who resort thither to sing his verses and to drink wine. His only work is the Divan, a collection made after his death of 571 detached odes, called gazels, and seven elegies. His most licentious and passionate verses are regarded by the Persians as inspired by divine love, and are read as a devotional exercise by pious Mussulmans; and the principal oriental commentators occupy themselves with allegorizing and spiritualizing his expressions. A Persian edition was published at Calcutta in 1791; and later eastern editions are those of Bombay (1828 and 1850), Cairo (1834), and Constantinople (1840), with the commentary of Sudi. Dr. Thomas Hyde, the first English orientalist who studied the poems of Hafiz, translated into Latin his first gazel, with the Turkish commentary of Feridun. Others of them were translated into Latin by Rzewuski and Sir William Jones. The whole Divan was translated into German by Von Hammer (2 vols., Tubingen, 1812-'15), and several of the gazels into English by Richardson (1774), Nott (1787), and Hindley (1800).