Poems on Hafez’s tomb

Hafez’s tomb was first constructed in 1452, around sixty years after his death by the Timurid governor of Shiraz, and has been renovated and expanded many times since, often in response to divination performed with his Divan. The tomb is adorned with calligraphic renditions of these ghazals of his, which happen to be among my very favorite:


Tell me of your arrival, from this life to you I’ll rise!
I am heaven’s bird and from this world’s snare I will rise
For your friendship, if you should want me as a slave
from the rulership of the whole cosmos I will rise
O Lord, may your cloud of guidance rain down upon me
before, as scattered dust, into the air, I rise
Beside my dust, with wine and song, come and take a seat
drawn by your scent, dancing from my tomb, I will arise
Rise up, o sweet idol, and show your stature’s grace
and from this soul and world, with clapping hands I will rise
though I am old, hold me close all night long in your embrace
then in the morning, young and fresh, from your side I will rise
The day I die, with my last breath, let me see your face
So that like Hafez, from this world and place, I will arise









مژده وصل تو کو کز سر جان برخیزم
طایر قدسم و از دام جهان برخیزم
به ولای تو که گر بنده خویشم خوانی
از سر خواجگی کون و مکان برخیزم
یا رب از ابر هدایت برسان بارانی
پیشتر زان که چو گردی ز میان برخیزم
بر سر تربت من با می و مطرب بنشین
تا به بویت ز لحد رقص کنان برخیزم
خیز و بالا بنما ای بت شیرین حرکات
کز سر جان و جهان دست فشان برخیزم
گر چه پیرم تو شبی تنگ در آغوشم کش
تا سحرگه ز کنار تو جوان برخیزم
روز مرگم نفسی مهلت دیدار بده
تا چو حافظ ز سر جان و جهان برخیزم



This poem was most likely written as a tribute to Hafez by a later Shi’ite author, but it still adorns his tomb (thanks to N.A. for help with the translation):


O heart be the servant of the King of the world and be a king yourself
and always remain under the protection of divine grace
From a foreigner, they won’t buy a thousand for a penny
Let from peak to peak be full of the army of hypocrisy
when Ahmad is my intercessor on the day of resurrection
Say to this blasted body of mine, “be sinful”
The one who is not a friend of ‘Ali is veiled
whether he is the ascetic of his time or a Master of the way
O Ali, I am alive today with your friendship/sanctity
tomorrow I will be a witness to the pure spirit of the Imams
The grave of the eighth Imam, the Sultan of religion, Riḍa,
Kiss it from your soul and be a companion of that court
If your hand cannot reach a flower from that branch
be a plant at the foot of their flower-stem
The man of God who seeks piety
it does’t matter whether his cloak is white or black
Hafez, take the path of servanthood to the king
and then be like the men of the way on the path



ای دل غلام شاه جهان باش و شاه باش
 پـیـوسـتـه در حـمـایـت لطـف اله باش
از خارجـی هزار به یک جو نمی خرند
 گو، کوه تا به کـوه منـافق سپـاه بـاش
چون احمدم شـفـیع بود روز رسـتخیز
 گو این تن بـلاکش مـن پـرگنـاه بـاش*
آن را که دوستی علی نیست کافر است
 گـو زاهـد زمانـه و گو شـیخ راه بـاش**
امـروز زنـده ام بـه ولای تـو یا عـلی
 فـردا به روح پـاک امامان گـواه بـاش
قبر امام هشـتم و سـلطان دیـن رضـا
 از جان ببوس و بر در آن بارگاه باش
دستت نمی رسد که بچینی گلی زشاخ
بـاری به پـای گلبن ایشـان گیاه بـاش
مرد خـدا شـنـاس که تـقـوی طلب کند
 خواهی سپید جامه و خواهی سیاه باش
حـافظ طریـق بـنـدگی شـاه پـیـشـه کن
وانگاه در طریق چـو مـردان راه بـاش





The garden of eternity is in the retreat of the dervishes
the very essence of grandeur is the service of the dervishes
The treasury of glory that is sealed by the talisman of wonders
opens at the merciful glance of the dervishes
The castle of paradise for which Rezwan is the doorkeeper
is but a view from the lawn of the dervishes
That which by its radiance turns black hearts to gold
is the alchemy that is the company of the dervishes
That before which the sun lays down its crown of glory
is the greatness that comes from the grandeur of the dervishes
The power/state (dawlat) whose decline need never be feared
without exaggeration, is the power/state of the dervishes
The kings are the qiblah to which we direct our needs
and this is because they are the slaves of the dervishes
That which kings seek to achieve in their prayers
is manifested in the mirror of the countenance of the dervishes
From shore to shore is the army of tyranny,
but from beginningless eternity to eternity without end is the time of the dervishes
O rich man, don’t sell us so much vanity
for your health and wealth are in the hands of the will (himmat) of the dervishes
Korah’s treasure, which still is still sinking from heaven’s severity
is an effect of the wrath of the dervishes
Hafez, if you’re seeking the eternal water of life
its spring is the dust of the retreat of the dervishes
I am the slave of the Asaf of my time
because he has the looks of a nobleman and the character of the dervishes.




روضه خلد برین خلوت درویشان است
مایه محتشمی خدمت درویشان است
گنج عزلت که طلسمات عجایب دارد
فتح آن در نظر رحمت درویشان است
قصر فردوس که رضوانش به دربانی رفت
منظری از چمن نزهت درویشان است
آن چه زر می‌شود از پرتو آن قلب سیاه
کیمیاییست که در صحبت درویشان است
آن که پیشش بنهد تاج تکبر خورشید
کبریاییست که در حشمت درویشان است
دولتی را که نباشد غم از آسیب زوال
بی تکلف بشنو دولت درویشان است
خسروان قبله حاجات جهانند ولی
سببش بندگی حضرت درویشان است
روی مقصود که شاهان به دعا می‌طلبند
مظهرش آینه طلعت درویشان است
از کران تا به کران لشکر ظلم است ولی
از ازل تا به ابد فرصت درویشان است
ای توانگر مفروش این همه نخوت که تو را
سر و زر در کنف همت درویشان است
گنج قارون که فرو می‌شود از قهر هنوز
خوانده باشی که هم از غیرت درویشان است
حافظ ار آب حیات ازلی می‌خواهی
منبعش خاک در خلوت درویشان است
من غلام نظر آصف عهدم کو را
صورت خواجگی و سیرت درویشان است




The dust of my body is the veil of the face of the beloved of my soul
happy is the moment when from off this face, I cast the veil
Even so, this cage is no good for a sweet singer such as me
I will go to the rose garden of paradise, for I am a bird of that field
It is not clear why I came where I went
my regret and pain is that I have been heedless of my own affair
Oh how I circumambulate in the space of the holy world
but in this flat, compounded abode, I am bound to my body
If the scent of musk issues from my heart’s blood
do not wonder, my friend, for I am the musk gland of Khotan
Do not look at the golden embroidery of my cloak like a candle
for there is burning hidden within this cloak
Come and take Hafez’s existence from him
so that by your being, none will hear from me that I am




حجاب چهره جان می‌شود غبار تنم
خوشا دمی که از آن چهره پرده برفکنم
چنین قفس نه سزای چو من خوش الحانیست
روم به گلشن رضوان که مرغ آن چمنم
عیان نشد که چرا آمدم کجا رفتم
دریغ و درد که غافل ز کار خویشتنم
چگونه طوف کنم در فضای عالم قدس
که در سراچه ترکیب تخته بند تنم
اگر ز خون دلم بوی شوق می‌آید
عجب مدار که همدرد نافه ختنم
طراز پیرهن زرکشم مبین چون شمع
که سوزهاست نهانی درون پیرهنم
بیا و هستی حافظ ز پیش او بردار
که با وجود تو کس نشنود ز من که منم



She walks in beauty like the night…

One of my favorite English poems of all time is reminiscent of Sufi poetry about Layla, whose name means “night,” and who symbolizes the beloved Divine Essence/Essence of the Self.

Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!



 You look through my two eyes, you are closer to me than myself
Your light shines brighter than the moon
Come into the garden so that the glory of the rose garden is humbled
that it may be more beautiful and blooming than a hundred gardens and rosebeds
so that the cedar will hide its height in shame
that the tongue of the lily will declare you more lily than itself
When you are kind, you are the candle of the soul, soft and pliable as wax
When you are aloof, you are more iron than iron
Do no be wild because you will meet her face to face
her charm will make you as cool and pliant as the earth
Throw away your armor and bare your chest at the moment of battle
there is no better protection nor armor than her.
That’s why in every Sufi retreat, all the openings are are sealed shut
so that from your light the house becomes more illumined



در دو چشم من نشین ای آن که از من منتری
تا قمر را وانمایم کز قمر روشنتری
اندرآ در باغ تا ناموس گلشن بشکند
ز آنک از صد باغ و گلشن خوشتر و گلشنتری
تا که سرو از شرم قدت قد خود پنهان کند
تا زبان اندرکشد سوسن که تو سوسنتری
وقت لطف ای شمع جان مانند مومی نرم و رام
وقت ناز از آهن پولاد تو آهنتری
چون فلک سرکش مباش ای نازنین کز ناز او
نرم گردی چون زمین گر از فلک توسنتری
زان برون انداخت جوشن حمزه وقت کارزار
کز هزاران حصن و جوشن روح را جوشنتری
زان سبب هر خلوتی سوراخ روزن را ببست
کز برای روشنی تو خانه را روشنتری


Ibn al-Farid


Every part of me kissed her veil
With every mouth whose touch held every kiss
If she dissolved my body, she would see in every atom
each and every heart filled with each and every love



ويلثم مني كلّ جزء لثامها
بكلّ فم فى لثمه كلّ قبلة
فلو بسطت جسمي رأت كلّ جوهر
به كلّ قلب فيه كلّ محبة



If I sought consolation, who would be there to be my guide
when in love, every leader follows my lead?
In my every limb is every yearning for her
and every longing tugs at my reins
As she bends, I imagine every hip she moves
to be a branch in a sand dune topped by the full moon
Mine is every limb filled with every inner core
wherein, when she glances, is embedded every arrow
And if she dissolved my body she would find every atom
every heart inhabited by every human love
In union with her, a year to me is but an instant,
an hour’s separation like a year.
When we met at nightfall, as the twin straight paths
between her dwelling and my tents brought us together,
We moved away a little from the tribe,
avoiding spies and slanderers with their deceitful talk
I spread my cheek upon the ground for her to walk upon
and she said, “Good news, now you may kiss my veil.”
But this my soul did not permit me, jealously
shielding her from me, for higher is my purpose
We passed the night in hope as my wish decreed
and I saw the world my kingdom and time itself my slave.


Translation modified from Stefan Sperl’s in Stefan Sperl, C. Shackle, Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa



بمنْ أهتَدي في الحبِّ لو رُمْتُ سَلوَةً
وبي يقتَدي ، في الحبِّ ، كلُّ إمامِ

وفي كلِّ عُضوٍ فيَّ كلُّ صبابَةٍ
إليها ، وشَوْقٍ جَاذِبٍ بِزِمَامي

تَثَنَّتْ ، فَخِلْنا كلَّ عِطْفٍ تهُزُّهُ
قَضيبَ نقاً ، يَعْلُوهُ بَدْرُ تَمامِ

ولي كلُّ عُضوٍ ، فيهِ كلُّ حشىً بها
إذا ما رَنَتْ ، وَقْعٌ لكلِّ سِهامِ

ولوْ بسطتْ جسْمي رأتْ كلَّ جوهرٍ
بهِ كلُّ قلبٍ ، فيهِ كلُّ غَرامِ

وفي وَصْلِها ، عامٌ لدَيَّ كَلَحْظَةٍ
وساعَةُ هِجْرَانٍ عَلَيَّ كَعَامِ

ولمَّا تَلاقَينا عِشاءً ، وضَمَّنا
سواءُ سبيلَيْ دَارِها وخِيامي

ومِلْنا كذا شيئاً عنِ الحيِّ ، حيثُ لا
رَقيبٌ ، ولا وَاشٍ بِزَوْرِ كَلامِ

فرَشْتُ لها خَدِّي ، وِطاءً ، على الثَّرَى
فقالتْ : لكَ البُشرَى بِلَثمِ لِثامي

فما سَمَحَتْ نَفسي بذلِكَ ، غَيْرَةً
على صَوْنِها مِنِّي لِعزِّ مرامي

وبِتْنا ، كما شاءَ اقتراحي ، على المُنى
أرَى المُلكَ مُلكي والزَّمانَ غُلامي




You seek Layla, but she reveals herself within you
You think she’s other, but she’s not other than you
And that’s a madness that is apparent to the cult of lovers
So be careful, for otherness is the essence of being cut off
Don’t you see how her beauty envelops you?
She disappears only when you reject part of yourself
“Come close to me,” you say to she who is your All
And when she loves you, she leads you to yourself
Meeting her is bliss beyond description
and none reach her, save those who see meaning without forms
I was so in love with her that I would have vanished in her love
had she not sworn that I only obey her
I concealed her from people with fantasy
After having revealed her, truly, inside my cloak.
I hid her from myself, with the robe of my worlds,
And from my envy, out of the severity of my jealousy
O Dazzling beauty! Should the light of your face
Touch the eyes of a blind man, he would see every atom
She is adorned with each and every charm and grace of beauty
And wherever she appears, she is desired by those who love.



أَتَطلُبُ لَيلى وَهيَ فيكَ تَجَلَّت                  وَتَحسَبُها غَيراً وَغَيرُكَ لَيسَتِ

فَذابلُهُ في مِلَّةِ الحُبِّ ظاهِرٌ                   فَكُن فَطِناً فَالغيرُ عَينُ القَطيعَةِ

أَلَم تَرَها أَلقَت عَلَيكَ جَمالَها               وَلَو لَم تَقُم بِالذاتِ مِنكَ اِضمَحَلَّتِ

تَقولُ لَها اُدنُ وَهيَ كُلَّك ثُمَّ إِن                    حَبَتكَ بِوَصلٍ أَوهَمَتكَ تَدَلَّتِ

عَزيزٌ لِقاها لا يَنالُ وِصالَها                 سِوى مَن يَرى مَعنىً بِغَيرِ هَوِيَّةِ

كَلِفت بِها حَتّى فَنِيتُ بِحُبِّها                       فَلَو أَقسَمَت أَنّيَ إِيّاها لَبَرَّتِ

وَغالَطتُ فيها الناسَ بِالوَهمِ بَعدَما                      تَبَيَّنتها حَقّاً بِداخِلِ بُردَتي

وَغَطَّيتُها عَنّي بِثَوبِ عَوالِمي                 وَعَن حاسِدي فيها لِشِدَّةِ غيرَتي

بَديعَة حُسنٍ أَو بَدا نورُ وَجهِها                 إِلى أَكمَهٍ أَضحى يَرى كُلَّ ذَرَّةِ

تحلّت بأنواع الجمال بأسرها                  فهام بها أهل الهوى حيثُ حلّت

This Love is not a River…

Two of my favorite Fado songs, by two of my favorite singers, Cristina Branco and Carminho:

This love is not a river
It has the vastness of the sea
The green dance of the waves
Sobbing in my eyes.
I tried to forget the words
Unspoken between us
But hanging over the silence
On the shores of our voice
I tried to forget your eyes
That do not know how to read mine
But in them is born the daybreak
That dawns on the earth and the heavens
I tried to forget your name
Pluck it from my thoughts
But it returns at every instant
Entwined in the wind.
I tried to see my image
But it was yours that I saw
In my mirror, for I bear
Your flat eyes.
This love is not a river
It has abysses like the sea
And the black mantle of the waves
Shrouds me in blackness
This love is not a river
It has the vastness of the sea
Este amor não é um rio
Tem a vastidão do mar
A dança verde das ondas
Soluça no meu olhar
Tentei esquecer as palavras
Nunca ditas entre nós
Mas pairam sobre o silencio
Nas margens da nossa voz
Tentei esquecer os teus olhos
Que não sabem ler nos meus
Mas neles nasce a alvorada
Que amanhece a terra e os céus
Tentei esquecer o teu nome
Arrancá-lo ao pensamento
Mas regressa a todo o instante
Entrelaçado no vento
Tentei ver a minha imagem
Mas foi a tua que vi
No meu espelho, porque trago
Os olhos rasos de ti
Este amor não é um rio
Tem abismos como o mar
E o manto negro das ondas
Cobre-me de negro o olhar
Este amor não é um rio
Tem a vastidão do mar

I wrote your name on the wind
convinced that I was writing it
on the page of forgetfulness
that in the wind
it would get lost
On the page of forgetfulness
that in the wind it would get lost
And on seeing it go
covered in dust
I considered my heart free
of the bonds of your love
I considered my heart free
of the bonds of your love
Poor me!
I never even thought
that just like me
the wind would fall in love
with that name that is yours
The wind would fall in love
with that name that is yours
As the wind stirs up, so does my pain get stirred up
I want to forget you, believe me
But there is always more wind
I want to forget you
but there is always more wind
Love is the One who masters all things;
I am mastered totally by Love.
By my passion of love for Love
I have ground sweet as sugar.
O furious Wind, I am only a straw before you;
How could I know where I will be blown next?
Whoever claims to have made a pact with Destiny
Reveals himself a liar and a fool;
What is any of us but a straw in a storm?
How could anyone make a pact with a hurricane?
God is working everywhere his massive Resurrection;
How can we pretend to act on our own?
In the hand of Love I am like a cat in a sack;
Sometimes Love hoists me into the air,
Sometimes Love flings me into the air,
Love swings me round and round His head;
I have no peace, in this world or any other.
The lovers of God have fallen in a furious river;
They have surrendered themselves to Love’s commands.
Like mill wheels they turn, day and night, day and night,
Constantly turning and turning, and crying out.
If I could see you I would die
and if I died, then I’d see you
I can’t stop, even though I’ve tried
from staring, drowning, in your eyes
Without you all I see are lies
and so my beautiful, that’s why
approaching you, I’m terrified
and yet, still more scared am I
of losing sight of you, my life
In death, I see you with your eyes
awake, you peer out within mine
your love swallowed the whole world up
and burned down my soul and my mind
even my love burned up in yours
it ate up all space and all time
so there’s no inside nor outside
there’s just your side, nothing to find
nothing to say, free, pay no mind
hearing no ears, seeing no eyes
all knots and thoughts simply unwind
as your sword falls, gentler than kind
there’s no one left to realize
Just your dark beauty, shining bright
in each and every lover’s sight
in every tale, in every plight
in all that’s wrong and all that’s right
beneath the depths, above the heights
through all the days, over the nights
you hold my soul closer than tight
and unseen, you perceive the sights
Love’s river floods mine out of sight
Love’s flames burn bodies into light
Love’s kiss turns death back into life
Love conquers all by its sweet might
And so whence my despair or fright?
when all my pains and all delights
are but you, your love and love bites
that bear aloft my soul’s fair kite
and put to shame all that I write

Hafez—If you passs by my grave…

Two of my favorite poems of Hafez; legend is that scholars decided to settle a debate over whether or not Hafez should receive a proper Muslim burial by performing divination with his poetry, the last couplet of the second poem emerged and Hafez was given a proper burial and his shrine has remained a site of pilgrimage ever since.




It’s the fatwa of the Magian Pir and an ancient saying:
Wine is forbidden where the beloved is not the sommelier
I want to tear this cloak of hypocrisy
for unsuitable company is a painful torment for the spirit
Hoping for a sip of wine from the beloved’s lip
For years I have remained firm at the tavern door
Perhaps he has forgotten my old service
Morning breeze, remind him of our ancient pact
If you pass over my grave after a hundred years
My rotten bones will rise from the dust, dancing
The heart-ravisher took my heart with a hundred promises first
Apparently, his kind nature will not forget its pact
Tell the rosebud not to be sad about its knotted state
For it will find help from the breaths of the dawn wind and breeze
O heart, think about finding your remedy at another door
For the lover’s pain cannot be cured by the doctor’s medicines
Get the jewel of ma’rifat that you can take with you
The wealth of gold and silver belongs to others
This snare is hard, without the grace of God
Adam cannot prevail over the accursed Satan
Hafez, if you have no gold or silver, so what? Give thanks!
What better wealth than subtlety of speech and soundness of nature?


(translation modified from Reza Saberi’s Divan of Hafez, 426-7)


فتوی پیر مغان دارم و قولیست قدیم
که حرام است می آن جا که نه یار است ندیم
چاک خواهم زدن این دلق ریایی چه کنم
روح را صحبت ناجنس عذابیست الیم
تا مگر جرعه فشاند لب جانان بر من
سال‌ها شد که منم بر در میخانه مقیم
مگرش خدمت دیرین من از یاد برفت
ای نسیم سحری یاد دهش عهد قدیم
بعد صد سال اگر بر سر خاکم گذری
سر برآرد ز گلم رقص کنان عظم رمیم
دلبر از ما به صد امید ستد اول دل
ظاهرا عهد فرامش نکند خلق کریم
غنچه گو تنگ دل از کار فروبسته مباش
کز دم صبح مدد یابی و انفاس نسیم
فکر بهبود خود ای دل ز دری دیگر کن
درد عاشق نشود به به مداوای حکیم
گوهر معرفت آموز که با خود ببری
که نصیب دگران است نصاب زر و سیم
دام سخت است مگر یار شود لطف خدا
ور نه آدم نبرد صرفه ز شیطان رجیم
حافظ ار سیم و زرت نیست چه شد شاکر باش
چه به از دولت لطف سخن و طبع سلیم




Now that the breeze of paradise blows from the garden
it’s just me and the joyful wine and a houri-natured beloved
Why should the beggar not brag of the sultanate today when
his pavilion is the shade of the cloud and his banquet is the field’s horizon?
The meadow tells the tale of the month of spring
He is not wise, who trades cash for credit of paradise
Do not seek loyalty from the enemy, there will be no light
If the monastery’s candle is lit by the synagogue’s lamp
Mend your soul with wine, for this ruinous world intends
to make bricks from our dust
Do not blame me, a drunk, for the blackness of my record
Who knows what fate has written on his head?
Do not keep your feet away from Hafez’s funeral
for, though immersed in sin, he’s on his way to paradise


translation modified from Reza Saberi’s Divan of Hafez)


کنون که می‌دمد از بوستان نسیم بهشت
من و شراب فرح بخش و یار حورسرشت
گدا چرا نزند لاف سلطنت امروز
که خیمه سایه ابر است و بزمگه لب کشت
چمن حکایت اردیبهشت می‌گوید
نه عاقل است که نسیه خرید و نقد بهشت
به می عمارت دل کن که این جهان خراب
بر آن سر است که از خاک ما بسازد خشت
وفا مجوی ز دشمن که پرتوی ندهد
چو شمع صومعه افروزی از چراغ کنشت
مکن به نامه سیاهی ملامت من مست
که آگه است که تقدیر بر سرش چه نوشت
قدم دریغ مدار از جنازه حافظ
که گر چه غرق گناه است می‌رود به بهشت

You are Light

One of my favorite poems in praise of the Prophetic Light:





Prayers of God upon You, Light
Light of all the dwelling places
O you, best of all in spaces
Messenger of God, You are
You are light in form and shape
As “light upon light” you came
The Qur’an came down by the same
As a lamp, oil, and light
shining, you came well-arranged
The world does not exist until
it appears through you beautiful
In traditions you have said
that this world takes after you
You from the Holy Presence came
while you’ve never left the same
You were before the cosmos was
past-time is as before-time was
Absolute you were in full,
then took on limits beautiful
Nothing exists in any way
Save the Light, indeed I say
From the unseen, suddenly
It came down from heights, so lofty
God’s Messenger, you have attained
More than virtues can contain
God’s Messenger you have remained
And pliant to you I remain
So al-‘Alawi attends
by your grace, the desired end.





صلى الله عليكَ يا نـور      يـا نــور كــل المـنـازِل

يا خيرَ من في المنازل

يــا رســولَ الـلَــهِ أنـتــا       أنــتَ الـنـور المتـشـكّـل
نـورٌ عـلـى نــورٍ جئـتـا       بــــه الــقــرآنُ تــنـــزّل
مشـكّـاةً نـــوراً وزيـتــاً       ضـيـاءً جـئــتَ مـعـتـدِل
لا يكـونُ الـكـونُ حـتّـى       يـظـهـر بــــكَ مـتـجَـمَّـل
أنــت فــي الآثــار قُلـتـا        ذا الـكـونُ مـنـكَ تـمـثّـل
من حضرةِ القدس جئتا        وأنــتَ فيـهـا لــم تـــزَل
كنـتَ قبـل الكـونِ كُنـتـا       والأبـــــد مـــثـــلُ الأزَل
مطلـقـاً كـنــتَ فـصِـرتا         بـالــقــيــودِ مـتــجــمّــل
ليسَ في الوجـودِ البتـه         إلّا الـنـورُ قـلــتُ أجـــل
بــدا مــن الغـيـبِ بغـتَـه         مـن أعلـى العـلا تـنـزّل
يــا رســولَ الـلَـهِ حُـزتـا         فضل الفضلِ والفضائل
يــا رســولَ الـلَـهِ دمـتــا         ودُمـــتُ لــــك مُـمـتـثِـل
فالعـلاوي يرجـو حـتّـى        يبـلُـغ بـرضــاك الأمـــل





Khaqani on Love



The bird that sings the song of pain is love
The courier who knows the tongue of the Unseen is love
The existence that calls you to nonexistence is love
And that which redeems you from you is love



مرغی که نوای درد راند عشق است
پيکی که زبان غيب داند عشق است
هستی که به نيستيت خواند عشق است
وآنچ از تو ترا باز رهاند عشق است

Translation by Reza Saberi



What then is love? The Ocean of Nonexistence.

It is there that the foot of the intellect is broken

Rumi, Mathnawi, ed. Nicholson, III: 4724.


Ibn ‘Arabi

Many mistakes may occur in love. The first of them is that people imagine that the object of love is an existent thing… In fact, love’s object remains forever nonexistent, but most lovers are not aware of this, unless they should be knowers of the realities. (II 337.17)


Camaron de la Isla


I am like the sad bird
that flits from branch to branch
singing his suffering
because he doesn’t know how to cry


Soy cómo el pájaro triste,
ay que de rama en rama va,
cantando su sufrimiento, cantando su sufrimiento,
porque no sabe llorar.


Wherever you put your foot, we are the ground




Oh beloved we only see you through your love
Wherever you put your foot we are the ground for you
So how can it be that in this way of love
We see the world through you and yet we don’t see you?


ای دوست به دوستی قرینیم ترا
هرجا که قدم نهی زمینیم ترا
در مذهب عاشقی روا کی باشد
عالم تو ببینیم و نه بینیم ترا

Near and Far, Fanā’ and Baqā’

A collection of verses from West African poets on the theme…

The first is said to have been improvised extemporaneously by Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Ya’qūb al-Kānemī (from Kanem in contemporary Northeastern Nigeria) upon his visit to the Almohad Sultan Abū Yūsuf Ya’qūb al-Manṣūr (d. 1199) in Marrakech. The Nigerian poet composed and recited these verse on the spot upon entering the Sultan’s presence:

He removed his veil, but out of awe, my eyes still saw him through a veil
His favour drew me near, but out of awe, found myself distant in this nearness.



ازال حجابه عنّي وعيني    تراه من المهابت في حجابي

وقرّبني تفضّله ولاكن  بعدت مهابتاً عند إقترابي


See this post for more on this theme and its symbolism…


The second is from a contemporary Tijānī scholar from Mauritania:


I was annihilated in love for him and I subsisted until
I was annihilated from that annihilation and from subsistence as well.


-Muhammad Ould Shaykh ‘Abd Allah



فنيت بحبه و بقيت حتى    فنيت عن  الفناء وعن البقاء

-لمحمد ولد شيخ عبدالله

As is this last set of verses:

I love the the sun when it appears, since it reminds me of the appearance of matchless love
And no star is seen when she comes forth, either from above or from below
And so, O Maya, you have appeared in the eye of my heart, and everything other than you has disappeared
So I see you in whatever is not you, and I don’t see other than you whenever I see you


Shaykh Manna Abba “Shaykhānī” wuld Muḥammad al-Ṭulbā, (modified from the translation by Muṣṭafā Okon-Briggs)



أحبّ الشّمس تطهر اذ تحاكي       ظهور الحبّ من غير اشتراك
فلا نجم يلوح متى تبدّت          ولو من غفرة أو من سماك
كذا يامىّ أنت لعين قلبي       ظهرت فعاب عنها من سواك
أراك إذا رأيت سواك فيه          ولستأرى سواك متى أراك


from: https://floodplains.tumblr.com/tagged/madh




Your beauty’s burned my vision black
      I’ve stared into the sun too long
and when my sight comes blinking back
      all things your face appears upon


Ibn al-Fāriḍ—My heart told me


1) My heart told me that you are my destroyer my soul is your hostage/ransom whether you know it or not
2) I have not honored the right of your love if I do not die in it out of sorrow, and someone like me is one who honors (his promises)
3) What do I have but my soul? One who gives himself (his soul) for him who he loves in love is not extravagant
4) If you are pleased by it, then you draw near to me o futility of effort, if you didn’t draw near
5) O you my preventer of sweet dreams, giver of the clothes of sickness and with them my debilitating love
6) Have mercy on my last breath and what you have left for me of my perishing body and afflicted heart
7) Love remains and union eludes me (or is my delay) and patience fades and the reunion eludes me (or is my delay)
8) I am not free of other people being jealous of you so don’t waste my sleeplessness because of the fabrications of slanderous imagination
9) Ask the stars of the night, has slumber visited my eyelids? how can you visit someone you don’t know?
10) It is no wonder my eye is stingy with closing its lids while it is generous in the flowing of torrential tears
11) I saw the terror of the day of judgement in what occurred of the pain of separation and the scene of parting
12) If there is no reunion with you then promise it to me, and then you can postpone it
13) Postponement from you, in my eyes, if fulfilling is scarce is as sweet as union with a lover
14) I inclined towards the breaths of the wind biding my time
And to the face of the one that transmits his fragrance*
15) Perhaps the fire of my wings will go out from its blowing
And I wish that it would not go out
16) O friends of mine, you are my hope, and whosoever
Calls you “friends of mine” will be sufficed
17) They returned from what you (pl.)* were upon of fulfillment
Out of generosity, for indeed I am that faithful friend
18) By your lives, by your lives, I swear and in my life, I have not sworn by other than your lives
19) If my soul were in my possession, if I granted it to the one who brings good tidings of your arrival, I would not be just
20) Don’t consider me in my desire to behave unnaturally my love for you is by nature not by strained effort
21) I have concealed my love for you, it concealed me in grief until it was almost as if I was concealed from myself by my life
22) So I hid it from myself for if I were to disclose it I would have found it more elusive than hidden kindness
23) I say to one who meddles with love you expose yourself to affliction, so be a target
24) You are the victim of whomsoever you love so choose for yourself in love whom you select
25) Say to the critics, you have prolonged my blame out of desiring that blame from love would stop me
26) Stop being harsh with me and taste the flavor of Love and when you have loved, then after that be harsh (with me)
27) The secret has come out with the love of the one, who if in darkness (her) veil was rent, I would say, o moon, hide
28) And if one other than me is content with the specters of his imagination I am the one who is not content (even) with reunion with the beloved
29) My love is endowed to him and I am not cured of my affliction by less than my annihilation
30) By his love, and he is my right hand (i.e. my oath), and he suffices as an oath and I extol him almost as much as the Qur’an*
31) If he said flirtatiously: stand on hot embers I would stand obediently and I would not hesitate
32) If he is one who it pleases to step on my cheek I would put it on the ground and not be proud
33) Don’t deny my passion for what pleases him even if he does not take pity on me with union
34) Love prevailed, so I obeyed the command of my passion and in so doing, regarding him, I disobeyed the prohibition of my blamer
35) From me to him is the humbleness of submission and from him to me is the glory of the preventer and the power of the humbler
36) He made religion familiar and I have a heart that has never ceased being not attached to anything but his kindness (not ceased to encounter anything but his kindness)
37) O how lovely is everything which he is contented with and his saliva, o how sweet it is in my mouth
38) If they let Jacob hear a mention of the fineness of his face he would forget the beauty of Joseph
39) Or if Job saw him in a short visit, in a light sleep long ago he would have been cured of his affliction
40) Every full moon and every lithe physique will fall in love with him when he appears as approaching
41) If I say: Every passion (in the world) I have for you He says: I have the glory and every beauty is in me
42) His virtues are perfected and if he had given radiance to the moon when full it would not wane (be eclipsed)
43) With the arts of the describers of his beauty, time expires and nevertheless there is in him that which has not been described
44) I have spent all of myself for the sake of his love at the hand of his beauty so I praise the goodness of my expense
45) The eye desires the form of the beauty which is used by my spirit to love the hidden meaning (spiritually)
46) Make me happy dear brother and enrich me with reports of him sprinkle upon my hearing his attractions and please it
47) So that I see with the eye of hearing the testimony/sight of his beauty spiritually bestow this upon me and honour me
48) O sister of Sa‘ad* from my beloved you came to me with a message and you brought it with loving-kindness
49) I heard what did not hear and I saw what you did not see and I knew what you did not know
50) If he should visit you, o innards, be rent to shreds and if he should leave, o eye, weep
51) There is no harm in distance, for the one whom I love If he is absent form the pupil of my eye, nevertheless he is in me


*The breaths of the wind is a stock imagine of the distant lover catching the scent of the Beloved’s perfume. The mystical interpretation is that these breaths (and the face of the second hemistich) are God’s manifestations in the sensible world that comfort the aspirant. Line 15 points out that these comforts can also threaten to blow out the fire of love (if the aspirant becomes too attached to sensible pleasures in their own right), which the aspirant does not want. The switch to addressing the beloved with the plural (“kuntum”) indicates that the speaker is addressing the manyness along with the oneness of God, the Beloved and her breaths, God along with his manifestations.


*This could either mean that the poet extols the beloved almost as much as he extols the Qur’an , or that the poet extols the beloved almost as much as he is extolled in the Qur’an (the beloved being the Prophet).


*This is a reference to Halima, the wet-nurse of the Prophet




قلْبي يُحدّثُني بأنّكَ مُتلِفي، روحي فداكَ عرفتَ أمْ لمْ تعرفِ
لم أقضِ حقَّ هَوَاكَ إن كُنتُ الذي لم أقضِ فيهِ أسى ً، ومِثلي مَن يَفي
ما لي سِوى روحي، وباذِلُ نفسِهِ، في حبِّ منْ يهواهُ ليسَ بمسرفِ
فَلَئنْ رَضيتَ بها، فقد أسْعَفْتَني؛ يا خيبة َ المسعى إذا لمْ تسعفِ
يا مانِعي طيبَ المَنامِ، ومانحي ثوبَ السِّقامِ بهِ ووجدي المتلفِ
عَطفاً على رمَقي، وما أبْقَيْتَ لي منْ جِسميَ المُضْنى ، وقلبي المُدنَفِ
فالوَجْدُ باقٍ، والوِصالُ مُماطِلي، والصّبرُ فانٍ، واللّقاءُ مُسَوّفي
لم أخلُ من حَسدٍ عليكَ، فلاتُضعْ سَهَري بتَشنيعِ الخَيالِ المُرْجِفِ
واسألْ نُجومَ اللّيلِ:هل زارَ الكَرَى جَفني، وكيفَ يزورُ مَن لم يَعرِفِ؟
لا غَروَ إنْ شَحّتْ بِغُمضِ جُفونها عيني وسحَّتْ بالدُّموعِ الدُّرَّفِ
وبماجرى في موقفِ التَّوديعِ منْ ألمِ النّوى ، شاهَدتُ هَولَ المَوقِفِ
إن لم يكُنْ وَصْلٌ لَدَيكَ، فَعِدْ بهِ أملي وماطلْ إنْ وعدتَ ولاتفي
فالمطلُ منكَ لديَّ إنْ عزَّ الوفا يحلو كوصلٍ منْ حبيبٍ مسعفِ
أهفو لأنفاسِ النَّسيمِ تعلَّة ً ولوجهِ منْ نقلتْ شذاهُ تشوُّفي
فلَعَلَ نارَ جَوانحي بهُبوبِها أنْ تَنطَفي، وأوَدّ أن لا تنطَفي
يا أهلَ ودِّي أنتمُ أملي ومنْ ناداكُمُ يا أهْلَ وُدّي قد كُفي
عُودوا لَما كُنتمْ عليهِ منَ الوَفا، كرماً فإنِّي ذلكَ الخلُّ الوفي
وحياتكمْ وحياتكمْ قسماً وفي عُمري، بغيرِ حياتِكُمْ، لم أحْلِفِ
لوْ أنَّ روحي في يدي ووهبتها لمُبَشّري بِقَدومِكُمْ، لم أنصفِ
لا تحسبوني في الهوى متصنِّعاً كلفي بكمْ خلقٌ بغيرِ تكلُّفِ
أخفيتُ حبَّكمُ فأخفاني أسى ً حتى ، لعَمري، كِدتُ عني أختَفي
وكَتَمْتُهُ عَنّي، فلو أبدَيْتُهُ لَوَجَدْتُهُ أخفى منَ اللُّطْفِ الخَفي
ولقد أقولُ لِمن تَحَرّشَ بالهَوَى : عرَّضتَ نفسكَ للبلا فاستهدفِ
أنتَ القتيلُ بأيِّ منْ أحببتهُ فاخترْ لنفسكَ في الهوى منْ تصطفي
قلْ للعذولِ أطلتَ لومي طامعاً أنَّ الملامَ عنِ الهوى مستوقفي
دعْ عنكَ تعنيفي وذقْ طعمَ الهوى فإذا عشقتَ فبعدَ ذلكَ عنِّفِ
بَرَحَ الخَفاءَبحُبّ مَن لو، في الدّجى سفرَ الِّلثامَ لقلتُ يا بدرُ اختفِ
وإن اكتفى غَيْري بِطيفِ خَيالِهِ، فأنا الَّذي بوصالهِ لا أكتفي
وَقْفاً عَلَيْهِ مَحَبّتي، ولِمِحنَتي، بأقَلّ مِنْ تَلَفي بِهِ، لا أشْتَفي
وهَواهُ، وهوَ أليّتي، وكَفَى بِهِ قَسَماً، أكادُ أُجِلّهُ كالمُصْحَفِ
لوْ قالَ تِيهاً:قِفْ على جَمْرِ الغَضا لوقفتُ ممتثلاً ولمْ أتوقفِ
أوْ كانَ مَنْ يَرْضَى ، بخدّي، موطِئاً لوضعتهُ أرضاً ولمْ أستنكفِ
لا تنكروا شغفي بما يرضى وإنْ هوَ بالوصالِ عليَّ لمْ يتعطَّفِ
غَلَبَ الهوى ، فأطَعتُ أمرَ صَبابَتي منْ حيثُ فيهِ عصيتُ نهيَ معنِّفي
مني لَهُ ذُلّ الخَضوع، ومنهُ لي عزُّ المنوعِ وقوَّة ُ المستضعفِ
ألِفَ الصّدودَ، ولي فؤادٌ لم يَزلْ، مُذْ كُنْتُ، غيرَ وِدادِهِ لم يألَفِ
ياما أميلحَ كلَّ ما يرضى بهِ ورضابهُ ياما أحيلاهُ بفي
لوْ أسمعوا يعقوبَ ذكرَ ملاحة ٍ في وجههِ نسيَ الجمالَ اليوسفي
أوْ لوْ رآهُ عائداً أيُّوبُ في سِنَة ِ الكَرَى ، قِدماً، من البَلوَى شُفي
كلُّ البدورِ إذا تجلَّى مقبلاً ، تَصبُو إلَيهِ، وكُلُّ قَدٍّ أهيَفِ
إنْ قُلْتُ:عِندي فيكَ كل صَبابة ٍ؛ قالَ:المَلاحة ُ لي، وكُلُّ الحُسْنِ في
كَمَلتْ مَحاسِنُهُ، فلو أهدى السّنا للبدرِ عندَ تمامهِ لمْ يخسفِ
وعلى تَفَنُّنِ واصِفيهِ بِحُسْنِهِ، يَفْنى الزّمانُ، وفيهِ ما لم يُوصَفِ
ولقدْ صرفتُ لحبِّهِ كلِّي على يدِ حسنهِ فحمدتُ حسنَ تصرُّفي
فالعينُ تهوى صورة َ الحسنِ الَّتي روحي بها تصبو إلى معنى ً خفي
أسْعِدْ أُخَيَّ، وغنِّ لي بِحَديثِهِ، وانثُرْ على سَمْعي حِلاهُ، وشَنِّفِ
لأرى بعينِ السّمعِ شاهِدَ حسْنِهِ معنى ً فأتحفني بذاكَ وشرِّفِ
يا أختَ سعدٍ منْ حبيبي جئتني بِرسالَة ٍ أدّيْتِها بتَلَطّفِ
فسمعتُ مالمْ تسمعي ونظرتُ ما لمْ تنظري وعرفتُ مالمْ تعرفي
إنْ زارَ، يوماً ياحَشايَ تَقَطَّعي، كَلَفاً بهِ، أو سارَ، يا عينُ اذرِفي
ما للنّوى ذّنْبٌ، ومَنْ أهوى مَعي، إنْ غابَ عنْ إنسانِ عيني فهوَ في



Majnun (Niẓāmī) and John Donne



And who am I — so far from you, yet near?
A singing beggar! Layla, do you hear?
Freed from life’s drudgery, my loneliness ,
Sorrow and grief for me spell happiness.
And thirsty in the painstream of delight,
I drown. Child of the sun, I starve at night.
Though parted our two loving souls combine,
For mine is all your own and yours is mine.
Two riddles to the world we represent,
One answer each the other’s deep lament.
But if our parting severs us in two,
One radiant light envelops me and you,
As from another world — though blocked and barred
What there is one, down here is forced apart.
Yet if despairing bodies separate,
Souls freely wander and communicate.
I’ll live forever — Mortal Fear, Decay,
And Death himself have ceased to hold their sway.
Sharing your life in all eternity
I’ll live if only you remain with me.

(Niẓami’s Layla and Majnun, trans. R. Gelpke)


John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
   And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
   The breath goes now, and some say, No:
So let us melt, and make no noise,
   No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
   To tell the laity our love.
Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,
   Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
   Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers’ love
   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
   Those things which elemented it.
But we by a love so much refined,
   That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
   Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
   Like gold to airy thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two so
   As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
   To move, but doth, if the other do.
And though it in the center sit,
   Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
   And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
   Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
   And makes me end where I begun.
Fly in love as an arrow towards its target.
Love loosens the knots of being
Love is liberation form the vortex of egotism.
In love, every cup of sorrow which bites into the soul gives it new life
Many a draft bitter as poison has become in love delicious
with love for a saqi, what is there to fear from a bitter draft
However agonizing the experience, if it is for love, it is well.

(Niẓami’s Layla and Majnun, trans. R. Gelpke)