Ever since I first heard of her, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell has been a source of fascination to me. She was a lot of things—writer, traveller, political officer, an influential woman in a man’s domain and yet someone who vehemently opposed women’s suffrage—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.
On the bus ride home today, I found myself engrossed in the pages of “The Letters of Gertrude Bell”. Thirty minutes of striking prose were enough to breathe life into a deadening week of work, work, work.
I learned that 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!