[Denver Diaries. June 2012.]
Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, ever since the day I first heard of her, has been a source of utter fascination to me. She was a lot of things – writer, traveller, political officer, an influential woman in a man’s domain – but she is perhaps best known for her contribution to British policy-making with regard to the Middle East, where she worked alongside the likes of Lawrence of Arabia and King Faisal of Iraq.
Today, on the bus ride home, I was engrossed in “The Letters of Gertrude Bell” – thirty minutes of beautiful prose were enough to breathe life into a deadening week of work, work, work. In 1897, Gertrude Bell published a translation of the Diwan (collection of poems) of the magnificent Persian poet Hafez. Here are stanzas from a few of the translations:
To Hafiz of Shiraz
Divan of Hafiz
He left the harder pilgrimage to me!