green / fine / pleasant /
it gets bitter /
days / nights / get hot / get cold / days / nights / red / dark / misery / days / nights / misery pours /
Not every tree can withstand the cruelty of Autumn
I would eagerly serve the resolve of the steadfast cypress
Hafiz – ghazal 119
The cypress is evergreen. Is this simple distinction the actual reason it is held in such great esteem by Iranians? Perhaps. However, Hafiz and many of his contemporary poets considered the cypress a symbol —a tree with a unique significance: its tall figure evoked that of the beloved, thus representing the toils of love, and it was also considered the only kind of tree that has drank a drop of the Water of Khizr which, as Hafiz has attested, granted it the power to endure the cruelty of Autumn.
Thanks to the accurate depictions of the cypress in works of Persian miniature, the image of the tree remains fresh in our mind as the tree that has an allegorical presence in the highly notional context of Persian miniature. The cypresses we see in these drawings, however, have been created not in the intricate miniature style, but through elaborate hatching and cross-hatching, appearing both as the continuation of a centuries-old tradition and a testament to the intense concentration and unfailing patience of the artist who has drawn them. Nevertheless, rather than an emphasis on or repetition of the Persian miniature tradition, the contrast between these painstakingly created hatching lines and the red lines appearing in the corners – which sometimes bring to mind an obscure image of a castle in a nineteenth century painting – remind one of the passage of time and the cruelties that we and our cypresses have endured, the blood-red traces of which can always be seen on white pages, and even in our everyday life where it seems possible to kill even a cypress with utter brutality.
In Persian literature, the term stands for ‘Water of Life’ or ‘Fountain of Youth,’ that is, a source of immortality.
Hafez Rohani (Iranian former journalist and art critic)