The Middle Ages saw an extraordinary flowering of Persian poetry. Though translations began appearing in Europe in the nineteenth century, these remarkable poets--Omar Khayyam, Rumi, Saadi, Sanai, Attar, Hafiz, and Jami--are still being discovered in the West. The great medieval Persian poets owe much to the mystical Sufi tradition within Islam, which understands life as a journey in search of enlightenment, and, like their European contemporaries, they combine religious and secular themes. While celebrating the beauty of the world in poems about love, wine, and poetry itself, or telling humorous anecdotes of everyday life, they use these subjects to symbolize deeper concerns with wisdom, mortality, salvation, and the quest for God.
Peter Washington is the editor of many of the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets, includingLove Poems, and is the author of Madame Blavatsky'sBaboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America.