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Weston, Rebecca

Implications of Mystic Intoxication in Chinese and Iranian Poetry. R. Weston.
The Undergraduate Historical Journey, 1 (2014) 1, pp. 5-9.

In analyzing the works of Chinese Tang poet Li Bo (701-762),1 one notices the reoccurring reference to “drunkenness” or drinking of wine; though it can be taken at face value to represent a state of being in the literal sense—that is, what appears to be an intoxicated stupor—it seems more practical to consider a more figurative meaning. Namely, it is possible to interpret themes of wine and drunkenness as allegories for spiritual enlightenment, be it found in nature or simply life in general. Likewise, Persian poets Omar Khayyam (ca. 1048-ca.1124/1129), Fakhroddin al-Iraqi (1211-1289), and Shams al-Din Mohammed Shirazi (ca. 1315-ca. 1390), or as he is known by his nom de plume “Hafez,” exhibit work that can be aptly applied to this metaphorical structure, albeit keeping in mind that the consumption of alcohol is forbidden within Islam. In this respect, wine and intoxication within Persian or Sufi poetry can thus represent a state of ecstasy—an expression of love or passion2 that is often translated into a spiritual union with God.