Ah Layla…

While there are many great poems about Layla, I’ve never read anything better than these two little gems from Shushtari…

Translation:
Layla robbed me of my reason
I said, O Layla, have mercy on [those you have] slain

 

Her love is hidden
enshrined in my bones
O you who are entranced by her
Humble yourself in her love

 

I am mad with love for her
and for her, I am a slave
Hey, you blaming hater
Lay off me for a while

 

I camped out on her doorstep
and knocked at the door
I asked the doorman,
“Will I ever see union with her?”

 

He said to me, “My friend,
Her dowry is your soul.
How many lovers
Have come to the point of loving death.”

 

O lover
If you are sincere
Leave behind all else
then you will win union [with her]

Original:

سَلَبتْ لَيْلى مِّني العَقْلا       قلتُ يا ليلى ارحمي القتلى
حُبُها مكنونْ               في الحشى مخزونْ
أيها المفتونْ                        هِمْ بها ذلا
إِنني هائمْ                         ولها خادمْ
أيها اللائمْ                       خَلِيني مهلا
لزمتُ الأعتابْ                     وطرقت البابْ
قالتُ للبوابْ                   هل ترى وصلا
قال لي يا صاحْ                   مهَرْها الأرواحْ
كم محبٍ راحْ                      يعشقُ القتلى
أيها العاشِقْ                   إِن كنت صادقْ
للسوى فارقْ                       تغتنمْ وصلا

 

Translation:

There is no life but Layla
Ask her, whenever you have doubts about anything

 

Her mystery flows through everything
so everything inclines towards her

 

Whoever witnesses the secret of her beauty says
that it is everywhere, but its fullness is hidden

 

She is like the sun, her light radiant
but when you seek it, it retreats

 

She is like the mirror in which forms appear
reflected, but nothing inheres therein

 

She is like the eye that has no colour,
yet all colours appear therein

 

Her way is right, even if it is suffering
and she has a proof of this in the lifting of the veil

 

Her tyranny is just, as for her justice
it is grace, so seek more from her, my brother

 

There’s no one but her in her meadow
and so she alone is called on

 

A wonder: she stays distant, nowhere to be found
then union with her draws near, hands full

 

And union brings us fullness,
and distance from her, separation: both states are mine

 

In union, there’s no difference between us
in separation, I am confused

 

In her clothes, her enigma is displayed
for she has a mirror in everything

 

She unveiled one day for Qays and he swooned
saying: O people, I loved no other

 

 I am Layla and She is Qays. So marvel!
How is it that what I seek comes from me to me?

Original:

غيرُ ليْلي لمْ يُرى في الحيِّ    حيْ        سلْ متى ما ارتبت عنها كل شيْ
كل  شِي   سرُها   فيه     سَرَى        فلذا   يثنى   عليها   كل      شيْ
قال  مَن  أشهدَ   معنى   حُسنها        إِنه     منتشرُ     والكل     طيْ
هي   كالشمسِ   تلالا      نورها        فمتى  ما  إِن  ترُمةُ   عاد     فيْ
هيَ   كالمرآة    تُبدي    صوراً        قابَلَتْها  وبها   ما   حل     شيءْ
هي  مثلُ  العين  لا  لون     لها        وبها  الألوانُ  تُبدي   كل     زَيْ
والهدى  فيها  كما   أشقى     بها        ولها الحجة  في  كشف    الغُطَيْ
جورها   عدل    فاما      عدلها        فهو  فضلٌ  فاستزد  منه     أخيْ
هِيْ  في   مربعها   لا     غيرُها        فلذا  تُدْعى   بلا   شيء   سُوَيْ
عجباً   تنأى   ولا   أيْن      لها        ثم   تَدْنُو   وصْلُها   ملْ      يَديْ
ولنا  مِنْ   وصلها   جمعٌ     ومِنْ        بُعْدِها   فرقٌ   هما   حال     إِليْ
فبحكم   الجمع   لا   فرقَ     لها        وبحكم   الفرقِ   تلبيس      عِليّ
لَبْسُها  ما  أظهرتْ  مِنْ     لُبْسِها        فلها   في   كل   موجودٍ     مُريْ
أسْفرت   يوماً   لقيسٍ      فانثنى        قائلاً  يا  قومْ  لم   أحْبِبْ   سويْ
أنا  ليلى  وهِيَ  قيسٌ     فاعجبوا        كيْف  مني  كان  مطلوبي   إليّ

 

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