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)


Shushtari—Red, Red Wine


I drink wine from the cup
and from myself I approach myself
In myself it is myself I love
For it is my spirit, my reality
the fine wine that fills me and quenches my thirst
I care not what others may say
I seek in myself what I already have
Drink up in good health
the vintage ancient and pure
My allusions are from me and for me, so learn
Don’t resist me, understand
I am everything, the center of totality—accept this.
Forget about him and her, let go of Zayd and Mayya
Take pleasure in loving truly
What’s passing will pass away—but my life remains
My life is not separate from my qualities
for my essence is my all and my all is my essence
My essence shines like the sun
and from myself, I approach myself
in myself, it is myself I love


I was poured a cup of timeless love
not of this world, nor of heaven
In it I became unique in my time
bearing my banner amongst men
Mine is an amazing path of love unsurpassed
How lucky I am!
Hey you who love him, [know that] the beautiful one has many followers
If you are unkind to them, what misfortune!
Far be it from you, dear ones of Najd
to cut the ties of hope between you and me



سقيت كأس الهوى قديما      من غير أرضى ولا سمائى
أصبحت به فريدعصرى          بين الورى حاملا لوائى
لي مذهب مذهب عجيب          في الحبّ قد فاق ياهنائى
يامن همو للجميل أهيل نجد          أن تقطعوا منكمو رجائى



My drink and my ride are sweet
and my beloved takes care of me
O my friends, forgive me
my prostration and approach
A fine and fragrant wine
all light shines forth from it
The pourer pours it
May it be my reckoning
I am drunk on love
and I have no comfort without it
Whenever I call out: “O God!”
My response is: “at your service…”



طَابَ نُقْلِي وَشرَابي             وحَبيبي اعتنابي
فاعْذَرُوني يا صِحابِي       في سُجُودِي واقْترابِي
خمرةٌ رَاقَ شَذاهَا           كلُّ نُورٍ مِن سَناهَا
قَامَ سَاقِيها سَقَاهَا            أجْعَلَوهَا احتِسَابِي
أنَا سَكْرانُ مِن هَواهُ           لَيْسَ لي راحٌ سواهُ
كلَّمَا نَادَيْتُ يا هُو             كان لَبَّيْكَ جَوابي



My love served me cups
of a wine unpressed
the drink of the pure
in which all things appear
I took a sip
and fell for you, o majestic!
My bride was unveiled to me
and I saw nothing but perfection
My intoxication got me drunk
as it did other men
this wine revives souls
whoever drinks it gets drunk
unveiled to me like a bride
and I saw the sun and moon
Pay attention brother, hold your tongue
and hold on to this wondrous secret
so that the veils will be lifted from you
until you see the beloved
from yourself and in yourself, she is everyhting
if you understand or have insight
Go back to your essence and dive in
but don’t stop on the slopes
the commoners will languish in heedlessness
while you see your love openly
O you ignorant in these affairs
submit to what you see:
the wine goes ’round amongst us
and every one of us is drunk
see the men with us here
present with their hearts so full
See them all dancing
the secret is manifest in them
It was for this, they gave their souls
and their night has turned to day.



Your love served me many cups
Its glow illumined my senses
My night turned to day
The sun is mine and the stars
My throne contains the depths
My heart is the starless sphere


Your love served me many cups
When I turned from myself
I saw myself unveiling what was hidden
its meaning beyond the kingdoms of men


Your love served me many cups
If you like, I’ll tell you true
I’m a real faqir and wanton
Shushtari is unrepentant
I drink with my friend from the cup


Your love served me many cups
Look for me in the monastery
You’ll see me slumped among the casks
I love wantonly the one
who revives the souls of those who join him
Your love served me many cups



UB 40


Shustari-If Loving You Is Wrong…


My neglect of you is reprehensible, while your love is a duty
my longing is everlasting, while union is elusive
On the tablet of my heart, your love has been marked
my tears are the ink, and beauty is the writer
The reader of my thoughts constantly recites
lessons on the signs of the beautiful one
My gaze wanders in the heaven of your beauty
its penetrating star pierces my mind
Talk about others, listening to that is forbidden
for all of me is stolen and your beauty is the thief
They said to me: repent of loving your beloved
so I replied: I repent of my neglect
The torments of love are sweet for every lover
even if, for another, they are hard and never-ending


Translation modified from: L.M. Alvarez. Abu’l-Hasan Shushtari: Songs of Love and Devotion. p. 55



سُلُوِّيَ مكروهٌ وحُبكَ واجبٌ               وشوقِي مقيمٌ والتَّواصلُ غائبُ

وفي لوح قلبي من وِدَادكِ أسطرٌ            وَدمعي مِدادٌ مثل ما الحسن كاتبُ

وقارىء فكري لْلمحَاسِن تالياً               على دَرْس آيات الجمالِ يواظبُ

أُنَزِّهُ طَرفي في سماء جَمالكمْ                    لِثاقب ذِهني نَجمُها هو ثاقبُ

حَديثُ سواكَ السمع عنهُ محَّرمٌ                    فَكُلِّيَ مسلوبٌ وحسنكَ سالبُ

يقولونَ لي تبْ عن هوى من تُحبُّهُ                 فقلتُ عن السلوان إِنِّيَ تائبُ

عَذابُ الهوى عذبٌ على كل عَاشِق       وإِن كان عندَ الغير صعبٌ وواصبُ



Bill Withers


Luther Ingram

Natural Mystic


Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural
Natural, Natural, ay By God, Natural


A poor man like me, with a begging bag around my neck
My heart is free of any care
And I like people who are light-hearted
Such is the natural, he is liked by every natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


First thing in the morning, when I go out to work
I open my mouth and stretch out my hand
And for me, if I saw my granddad, who is not natural
For me, leaving him be, is only natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


I cover my body with needle and thread
of rough wool, which, for me, is a lot
“Who is that guy?” the people ask, bewildered
Still I’m just natural, loved by every Natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


My head is shaved and I walk around dazed
I beg in the market or at the mansions
Barefoot, walking the earth, saying: “Give for God’s sake,
some natural bread, to a natural man.”
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


I might sit down and not want to talk
I might lie on the earth as my bed
I graze on the earth’s grass, living well
The Natural one is loved by every Natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


I have a begging bag and a sea-shell
And a pot hung on the end of a stick
And my head is polished like a guitar
I walk naturally, naturally used to poverty
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


And when I stop at a town or market, I see the people come up to me
like brothers, their speech is well-intended
You see the Natural welcoming the Natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


I don’t fake anything, and I have no rule
I don’t crave food or clothes
and this position, is what every hypocrite needs
A natural poor man, loved by every natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


I know no jugde nor ruler
that’s more noble and natural for me
that’s how the high levels are described
A natural heart, in this state it is natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


Apart from these deeds, things are incomplete
Whoever humbles himself before a vizier or Sultan
Is arrogant and confused
His garment is natural, and by God, he is natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


Tearing the two sleeves, by this I mean, resurrection
Casting the two worlds from my heart
And I take off my two shoes to arrive at the Presence
Abandoning the unnatural is, for me, natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


I have a sitting mat that is pure like my heart
and a presence of intimacy with which I polish my cup
and a bunch of bags, a faqīr murabbī*
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural


*A poor man (Sufi) who trains others.




Bob Marley


There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
If you listen carefully now you will hear
This could be the first trumpet
Might as well be the last
Many more will have to suffer
Many more will have to die
Don’t ask me why


Things are not the way they used to be
I won’t tell no lie
One and all got to face reality now


Though I try to find the answer
To all the questions they ask
Though I know it’s impossible
To go living through the past
Don’t tell no lie


There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
Can’t keep them down
If you listen carefully now you will hear
Such a natural mystic
Blowing through the air


This could be the first trumpet
Might as well be the last
Many more will have to suffer
Many more will have to die
Don’t ask me why

There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
I won’t tell no lie
If you listen carefully now, you will hear
There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air



Old Twinkling Lee
Can’t see the right roads when the streets are paved
The old slave mill, might grind slow
But it grinds fine… yeah

[Verse 1]
African Herbsman, why linger on?
Just concentrate cuz heaven lives on
Retired slaveman, will look with a scorn
With a transplanted heart

[Bridge – Bob Marley and the Wailers]

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part
Yes how quick we have to part

The remembrance… of today… is the sad feeling of tomorrow…

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part

Oh, oh yeah

[Verse 2]
African Herbsman, seize your time
I’m taking illusion on the edge of my mind
I’m taking losers down through my life
Down through my life, yeah

[Bridge – Bob Marley and the Wailers]

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part
Yes how quick we have to part

Did they part? Yes they part!
In remembrance of today…

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part

[Repeat Verse 1]

[Bridge – Bob Marley and the Wailers]

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part
Yes how quick we have to part

In remembrance, of today, brings sad feelings of tomorrow

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part

Believe me oh, oh lord I praise

African Herbsman
African Herbsman
African, African Herbsman

Chuang Tzu


The flowing of the stream does nothing, but follows its nature
The perfect man does the same with regard to virtue
He does nothing to cultivate it, but all is affected by its presence
He is like the height of Heaven: natural
or the solidity of the Earth
or the brightness of sun and moon—all-natural
There is no need to cultivate this.


What is meant by ‘the True Man?’ The True men of old did not reject (the views of) the few; they did not seek to accomplish (their ends) like heroes (before others); they did not lay plans to attain those ends. Being such, though they might make mistakes, they had no occasion for repentance; though they might succeed, they had no self-complacency. Being such, they could ascend the loftiest heights without fear; they could pass through water without being made wet by it; they could go into fire without being burnt; so it was that by their knowledge they ascended to and reached the Tâo.

The True men of old did not dream when they slept, had no anxiety when they awoke, and did not care that their food should be pleasant. Their breathing came deep and silently. The breathing of the true man comes (even) from his heels, while men generally breathe (only) from their throats. When men are defeated in argument, their words come from their gullets as if they were vomiting. Where lusts and desires are deep, the springs of the Heavenly are shallow.

The True men of old knew nothing of the love of life or of the hatred of death. Entrance into life occasioned them no joy; the exit from it awakened no resistance. Composedly they went and came. They did not forget what their beginning bad been, and they did not inquire into what their end would be. They accepted (their life) and rejoiced in it; they forgot (all fear of death), and returned (to their state before life). Thus there was in them what is called the want of any mind to resist the Tâo, and of all attempts by means of the Human to assist the Heavenly. Such were they who are called the True men.

Being such, their minds were free from all thought; their demeanour was still and unmoved; their foreheads beamed simplicity. Whatever coldness came from them was like that of autumn; whatever warmth came from them was like that of spring. Their joy and anger assimilated to what we see in the four seasons. They did in regard to all things what was suitable, and no one could know how far their action would go.

O you present in my heart…




O you present in my heart, thinking of you makes me sweet
If no one ever visits my eye, then my heart will take its place for me
I am not gone, but my body is vanishing from wasting away
So no blamer found me, and no chaperone/rival saw me
Had the era known about me, people would have come to me
Nothing remains but passion, ask it about me, and it will answer for me





يَا حاضِراً في فُؤادي ** بِالفكرِ فِيكمْ أطيبُ
إِنْ لمْ يزُرْ شخصُ عيني ** فالقلبُ عِندي ينُوبُ
مَا غِبتُ لَكِنَّ جِسْمي ** من النُّحول يذوبُ
فَلمْ يَجدْني عذولٌ ** وَلاَ رآنِي رَقِيبُ
وَلوْ دَرَى الدَّهْرُ ** عَنِّي جَاءت إِلىَّ شعُوبُ
لَمْ يَبْقَ غَيْرُ غَرامٍ ** فَسَلهُ عَنِّي يِجُيبُ




Hey you hiding in my heart

I am happy when you’re near

You, my life, my joy and art

Who’s the image, who’s the mirror?


Keats and the Sufis


these poems by John Keats pair nicely with the following poems by Ibn al-Farid and Hafez

John Keats

“Fill for me a brimming bowl”


What wondrous beauty! From this moment I efface from my mind all women.
Terrence, Eunuch, II.3.296
Fill for me a brimming bowl
And in it let me drown my soul:
But put therein some drug, designed
To Banish Women from my mind:
For I want not the stream inspiring
That fills the mind with–fond desiring,
But I want as deep a draught
As e’er from Lethe’s wave was quaff’d;
From my despairing heart to charm
The Image of the fairest form
That e’er my reveling eyes beheld,
That e’er my wandering fancy spell’d.
In vain! away I cannot chace
The melting softness of that face,
The beaminess of those bright eyes,
That breast–earth’s only Paradise.
My sight will never more be blest;
For all I see has lost its zest:
Nor with delight can I explore,
The Classic page, or Muse’s lore.
Had she but known how beat my heart,
And with one smile reliev’d its smart
I should have felt a sweet relief,
I should have felt “the joy of grief.”
Yet as the Tuscan mid the snow
Of Lapland dreams on sweet Arno,
Even so for ever shall she be
The Halo of my Memory.


Ibn al-Farid


Pass round the remembrance the one I love, even in reproach
for tales about the beloved are my wine
Let my hearing witness the one I love, though she be far
through specters of reproach, not those of dreams!
Her remembrance delights me in every form
even when my reproachers mingle it with strife
It is as if my reproacher brought me news of union
when I had not even hoped for a response to a greeting
My soul is hers, for whose Iove I destroyed my soul
death came to me before the day of my death
For her sake I relish my disgrace and wallow
in rejection and shame when once my rank was high
After my piety, because of her, dissolution
casting off restraint and committing sins are sweet to me
I pray, singing when I recite remembrance of her
and I am enraptured in the mihrab, for she is my Imam
On hajj, when I don the pilgrim’s robes I call her name
and when I break my fast, it is from her that I refrain
My tear ducts flow due to my state and gush
because of what has passed, and my laments convey my inner fire
At night my heart is driven mad with longing,
at dawn my eyes are pouring in their grief
my heart and eyes are stricken, one afflicted by the meaning
of her beauty, the other tempted by her tender poise
My sleep is lost, my morning too—may you be spared!—
ever present is my wakefulness and still my longing grows
My bond and my covenant have never been undone or changed
my love remains my love and passion is my passion
So wasted is my body that its secrets are made plain
and meaning is disclosed therein through my withered bones
Felled by love’s pain, with wounded heart
and wounded eyelids ever bleeding,
Yet true to love, I have become ethereal like air
with breaths of dawn breeze my only company
Sound I am, yet sick; seek me then from the morning breeze
for my withering has decreed that it is my home
So wasted I am that I have vanished from wasting itself
and from cure to my sickness and coolness for my burning thirst
Love has left nothing of me save grief
sorrow, torment and grave illness
No one I know knows my place save love
nor the concealment of my secrets nor my bond’s custody
And of passion, patience and solace
it has left nothing for me but the names
Whoever is free of my love, may he be saved with his soul
in one piece; O soul of mine, go in peace
“Forget her!” my blamer said to me, fanatically
blaming me. I said, “forget your blaming of me!”
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, Brill 1996, p. 106-111


John Keats

“The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!”


The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!
Sweet voice, sweet lips, soft hand, and softer breast,
Warm breath, light whisper, tender semi-tone,
Bright eyes, accomplish’d shape, and lang’rous waist!
Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,
Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise –
Vanish’d unseasonably at shut of eve,
When the dusk holiday – or holinight
Of fragrant-curtain’d love begins to weave
The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight,
But, as I’ve read love’s missal through to-day,
He’ll let me sleep, seeing I fast and pray.




The breath of the zephyr will become musk-diffusing
and the old world will grow young again
The Judas-tree will give a cornelian cup to the lily,
and the eye of the narcissus will me anxious for the anemone.
The nightingale after all that pain of separation,
will roaringly dash all the way to the pavilion of the rose
If I went from mosque to tavern, do not carp
the preaching was too long, and time was passing
O heart if you postpone today’s pleasure until tomorrow,
who will guarantee a lasting life for you?
In the month of Sha’ban do not neglect the cup of wine
this sun will be out of sight until the ‘Eid of Ramadan
The rose is precious, appreciate its company
It came into the garden this way, and will go out through that
O minstrel, this is the intimates’ assembly, sing a song
How long should you say: “Passed like this, and like that will pass?”
Hafez came into the realm of existence for your sake
take a step for his farewell, for he will soon pass.


translation from Reza Saberi, The Divan of Hafez, p. 196




نفس باد صبا مشک فشان خواهد شد
عالم پیر دگرباره جوان خواهد شد
ارغوان جام عقیقی به سمن خواهد داد
چشم نرگس به شقایق نگران خواهد شد
این تطاول که کشید از غم هجران بلبل
تا سراپرده گل نعره زنان خواهد شد
گر ز مسجد به خرابات شدم خرده مگیر
مجلس وعظ دراز است و زمان خواهد شد
ای دل ار عشرت امروز به فردا فکنی
مایه نقد بقا را که ضمان خواهد شد
ماه شعبان منه از دست قدح کاین خورشید
از نظر تا شب عید رمضان خواهد شد
گل عزیز است غنیمت شمریدش صحبت
که به باغ آمد از این راه و از آن خواهد شد
مطربا مجلس انس است غزل خوان و سرود
چند گویی که چنین رفت و چنان خواهد شد
حافظ از بهر تو آمد سوی اقلیم وجود
قدمی نه به وداعش که روان خواهد شد





I don’t see any companionship. What happened to the companions?
when did friendships end? What happened to the friends?
the water of life darkened. Where is the auspicious Khezr?
The rose lost colour. What happened to the spring wind?
None says that a friend has the right of friendship.
what happened to the grateful ones and the companions?
This was the city of friends and the site of kind people
when did kindness end? What happened to the city of friends?
Years past and no ruby came out of the mine of generosity
what happened to the work of rain, the sun, and the wind?
The polo-ball of success and liberality is cast into the field.
None enters the arena. What happened to the horsemen?
A hundred thousand roses blossomed, but no bird sang.
what happened to the nightingales and the starlings?
Venus plays no more happy tunes. Did its lute burn?
no one yearns for drunkenness. What happened to the drinkers?
Silence, Hafez! Divine mysteries are not known to anyone.
whom do you ask, “what happened to the cycle of days?”


translation modified from Reza Saberi’s in The Divan of Hafez p. 203



یاری اندر کس نمی‌بینیم یاران را چه شد
دوستی کی آخر آمد دوستداران را چه شد
آب حیوان تیره گون شد خضر فرخ پی کجاست
خون چکید از شاخ گل باد بهاران را چه شد
کس نمی‌گوید که یاری داشت حق دوستی
حق شناسان را چه حال افتاد یاران را چه شد
لعلی از کان مروت برنیامد سال‌هاست
تابش خورشید و سعی باد و باران را چه شد
شهر یاران بود و خاک مهربانان این دیار
مهربانی کی سر آمد شهریاران را چه شد
گوی توفیق و کرامت در میان افکنده‌اند
کس به میدان در نمی‌آید سواران را چه شد
صد هزاران گل شکفت و بانگ مرغی برنخاست
عندلیبان را چه پیش آمد هزاران را چه شد
زهره سازی خوش نمی‌سازد مگر عودش بسوخت
کس ندارد ذوق مستی میگساران را چه شد
حافظ اسرار الهی کس نمی‌داند خموش
از که می‌پرسی که دور روزگاران را چه شد




Nightingale: Keats and Hafez


 Hafez sang:
بلبلى خون جگر خورد و گلى حاصل كرد
باد غيرت به صادش خار پريشان دل كرد
طوطيى را به خيال شكرى دل خوش بود
ناگهش سيل فنا نقش امل باطل كرد

Gertrude Bell’s translation:

The nightingale with drops of his heart’s blood
Had nourished the red rose, then came a wind,
And catching at the boughs in envious mood,
a hundred thorns about his heart entwined.
Like to the parrot crunching sugar, good
Seemed the world to me who could not stay
The wind of Death that swept my hopes away.


Compare with this beautiful recitation of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale:


Ode to a Nightingale

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
         But being too happy in thine happiness,—
                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
                        In some melodious plot
         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
                Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
         Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
         Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
         Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
                With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
                        And purple-stained mouth;
         That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
                And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
         What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
         Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
         Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
                Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
                        And leaden-eyed despairs,
         Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
                Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
         Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
         Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
         And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
                Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
                        But here there is no light,
         Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
                Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
         Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
         Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
         White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
                Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
                        And mid-May’s eldest child,
         The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
                The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
         I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
         To take into the air my quiet breath;
                Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
         To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
                While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                        In such an ecstasy!
         Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
                   To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
         No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
         In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
         Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
                She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
                        The same that oft-times hath
         Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
                Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
         To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
         As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
         Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
                Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
                        In the next valley-glades:
         Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
                Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?


chnese nightingale




Weep, O Nightingale, if you wish to be my friend
For we are two helpless lovers, whose work is weeping
In that land where the breeze blows from the beloved’s locks
what room is there for boasting of the musk of Tartar?
Bring wine so we can dye our cloak of hypocrisy
We are drunk form the cup of arrogance and we call it sobriety
Cherishing the thought of your hair is not for the novice
going under the chain is the way of the elite
There is a hidden subtlety that gives rise to love
whose name is neither ruby lip nor auburn cheek’s down
A person’s beauty is not in the eye nor face, nor cheek, nor hair
there are a thousand fine points in this work of beauties
The Qalandars of Truth do not buy, for half a barley corn,
the silk robe of the person who is without art
It is difficult to reach your doorstep
ascension to the heaven of joy is difficult
At dawn I dreamt of the seductive glance of your eye
Ah, some stages of sleep are better than being awake…
Do not harm his heart with your wailing, hush now Hafez
For eternal salvation lies in doing the least harm





بنال بلبل اگر با منت سر یاریست
که ما دو عاشق زاریم و کار ما زاریست

در آن زمین که نسیمی وزد ز طره دوست
چه جای دم زدن نافه‌های تاتاریست

بیار باده که رنگین کنیم جامه زرق
که مست جام غروریم و نام هشیاریست

خیال زلف تو پختن نه کار هر خامیست
که زیر سلسله رفتن طریق عیاریست

لطیفه‌ایست نهانی که عشق از او خیزد
که نام آن نه لب لعل و خط زنگاریست

جمال شخص نه چشم است و زلف و عارض و خال
هزار نکته در این کار و بار دلداریست

قلندران حقیقت به نیم جو نخرند
قبای اطلس آن کس که از هنر عاریست

بر آستان تو مشکل توان رسید آری
عروج بر فلک سروری به دشواریست

سحر کرشمه چشمت به خواب می‌دیدم
زهی مراتب خوابی که به ز بیداریست

دلش به ناله میازار و ختم کن حافظ
که رستگاری جاوید در کم آزاریست




At dawn, the nightingale complained to the breeze, saying:
“Oh the things that loving the rose’s face has done to me…”
It pulled off the veil of the rose and brushed away the tress of the hyacinth
and opened the knot of the cord of the bud’s robe
The lover nightingale cried out in all directions
But it was the breeze that was blessed from this
Blessed be the morning breeze that
remedied the pain of those who stay awake at night
No more will I complain of strangers
for any wrong to me was done my that dear one
If I coveted a favor from the sultan, it was a mistake
If I sought faithfulness from the beloved, she was cruel.
I am the slave of the generous spirit of that dear one
Who did good deeds without pretension and hypocrisy
take the good news to the winesellers’ street
That Hafez repented of pretentious abstinence




سحر بلبل حکایت با صبا کرد
که عشق روی گل با ما چه‌ها کرد
از آن رنگ رخم خون در دل افتاد
وز آن گلشن به خارم مبتلا کرد
غلام همت آن نازنینم
که کار خیر بی روی و ریا کرد
من از بیگانگان دیگر ننالم
که با من هر چه کرد آن آشنا کرد
گر از سلطان طمع کردم خطا بود
ور از دلبر وفا جستم جفا کرد
خوشش باد آن نسیم صبحگاهی
که درد شب نشینان را دوا کرد
نقاب گل کشید و زلف سنبل
گره بند قبای غنچه وا کرد
به هر سو بلبل عاشق در افغان
تنعم از میان باد صبا کرد
بشارت بر به کوی می فروشان
که حافظ توبه از زهد ریا کرد




I went to the garden one morning to pick a rose
and suddenly heard a nightingale’s song.
Like me, the poor bird had fallen in love with a rose
and in the field, raised a commotion with his cries.
And as I walked through that field and garden
I thought on that rose and nightingale.
The rose befriended beauty, and the nightingale, love
neither showed any signs of changing.
As the song of the nightingale entered my heart,
it got to the point where I could stand it no longer.
Many roses bloom in this garden, but
none plucks a rose without the pain of a thorn.
Hafez, harbor hope of deliverance from this cycle of existence
It has a thousand flaws and not one redeeming virtue.


رفتم به باغ صبحدمی تا چنم گلی
آمد به گوش ناگهم آواز بلبلی
مسکین چو من به عشق گلی گشته مبتلا
و اندر چمن فکنده ز فریاد غلغلی
می‌گشتم اندر آن چمن و باغ دم به دم
می‌کردم اندر آن گل و بلبل تاملی
گل یار حسن گشته و بلبل قرین عشق
آن را تفضلی نه و این را تبدلی
چون کرد در دلم اثر آواز عندلیب
گشتم چنان که هیچ نماندم تحملی
بس گل شکفته می‌شود این باغ را ولی
کس بی بلای خار نچیده‌ست از او گلی
حافظ مدار امید فرج از مدار كون
دارد هزار عیب و ندارد تفضلی

“Ask for wine and throw flowers. What else do you want from time?”
The rose said this at dawn, O nightingale, what do you say?
Take your seat in the rose garden so that you may kiss
the beauty and the Saqi on the lip and cheek and drink wine and smell roses
Upon whom will your smiling bud bestow its fortune
O elegant rose, for whose sake do you grow?
Each bird comes to the king’s rose garden with a tale
The nightingale with his song and Hafez with his prayer.


می خواه و گل افشان کن از دهر چه می‌جویی
این گفت سحرگه گل بلبل تو چه می‌گویی
مسند به گلستان بر تا شاهد و ساقی را
لب گیری و رخ بوسی می نوشی و گل بویی
تا غنچه خندانت دولت به که خواهد داد
ای شاخ گل رعنا از بهر که می‌رویی
هر مرغ به دستانی در گلشن شاه آمد
بلبل به نواسازی حافظ به غزل گویی





Step into that corner
where the gnats do not bite
I do not care about anyone
but you, my little dear

In the Moorish quarter
Juanola le puso el cura
Juanola pa to la vía.

I saw the flowers cry
when you entered the garden,
because the flowers would all like
to look like you.

Keep away from the people
who do not know our love,
the farther you are from the saint,
the closer to devotion.

And the day you were born
all the flowers bloomed
and at the baptismal font
nightingales sang.



Lerelere lele…aay

Métete en aquel rincón
donde las mosquitas no te coman
cuenta yo no le doy a nadie
primita de tu persona.

De la morería
Juanola le puso el cura
Juanola pa to la vía.

Al verte las flores lloran
cuando entras tu al jardín,
porque las flores quisieran
toítas parecerse a ti.

Retírate que la gente
no conozca nuestro amor,
contra más lejos esté el santo
más cerca la devoción.

Y el día que tú naciste
nacieron toítas las flores
y en la pila de bautismo
cantaron los ruiseñores.


I carry your heart

This lovely poem by e.e. cummings sounds like it could have been written by Rumi:

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

by e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)



Stealthily as the soul, you are going in the midst of my soul; O luster of my garden, you are my gracefully moving cypress.
When you go, go not without me; soul of my soul, go not without my body, and depart not out of my sight, O my blazing torch.
I tear up the seven heavens and pass beyond the seven seas, when lovingly you gaze into my giddy soul.
Since you came into my bosom, infidelity and faith are my servitors, O you whose vision is my religion, whose face is my faith.
You have made me headless and footless, you have made me sleepless and foodless;
enter drunken and laughing, O my Joseph of Canaan.
Through your grace I have become soul-like and have become hidden from myself,
O you whose being has become hidden in my hidden being.
The rose rends its garment because of you, O you with whom the narcissus’ eye is intoxicated, of whom the branches are pregnant, O you my infinite garden.
One moment you brand me, the next you draw me into the garden; you draw me before the lamp so that my eyes may be opened.
O soul before all souls, O mine before all mines, O moment before all moments, O my very own, O my very own!
 Our resting place is not earth; though the body crumbles, it matters not. My thought is not the skies, O you, union with whom is my heaven.
The grave of mariners is the sea forevermore; in the water of life where is death, O you, my Sea, my Ocean?
O you whose scent is in my sigh, whose sigh is my fellow traveler, in the hope of my Emperor color and scent have become distraught with me.
My soul, since like a mote in the air it has become separated from all heaviness, why should it be without you, O origin of my four elements?
O my king Ṣalāh al-Dīn, you who know my way and see my way, you who are free of concern with my little dignity, loftier than my potentiality.





دزدیده چون جان می روی اندر میان جان من
سرو خرامان منی ای رونق بستان من
چون می روی بی‌من مرو ای جان جان بی‌تن مرو
وز چشم من بیرون مشو ای شعله تابان من
هفت آسمان را بردرم وز هفت دریا بگذرم
چون دلبرانه بنگری در جان سرگردان من
تا آمدی اندر برم شد کفر و ایمان چاکرم
ای دیدن تو دین من وی روی تو ایمان من
بی‌پا و سر کردی مرا بی‌خواب و خور کردی مرا
سرمست و خندان اندرآ ای یوسف کنعان من
از لطف تو چو جان شدم وز خویشتن پنهان شدم
ای هست تو پنهان شده در هستی پنهان من
گل جامه در از دست تو ای چشم نرگس مست تو
ای شاخ‌ها آبست تو ای باغ بی‌پایان من
یک لحظه داغم می کشی یک دم به باغم می کشی
پیش چراغم می کشی تا وا شود چشمان من
ای جان پیش از جان‌ها وی کان پیش از کان‌ها
ای آن پیش از آن‌ها ای آن من ای آن من
منزلگه ما خاک نی گر تن بریزد باک نی
اندیشه‌ام افلاک نی ای وصل تو کیوان من
مر اهل کشتی را لحد در بحر باشد تا ابد
در آب حیوان مرگ کو ای بحر من عمان من
ای بوی تو در آه من وی آه تو همراه من
بر بوی شاهنشاه من شد رنگ و بو حیران من
جانم چو ذره در هوا چون شد ز هر ثقلی جدا
بی‌تو چرا باشد چرا ای اصل چار ارکان من
ای شه صلاح الدین من ره دان من ره بین من
ای فارغ از تمکین من ای برتر از امکان من



Bright Night, Dark Day



The Rose Garden of Mystery (verses 122-130)

Reason’s light applied to the Essence of Lights
is like the eye of the head looking at the brilliance of the Sun
when the object seen is very close to the eye
The eye is darkened so that it cannot see it

This blackness, if you know it, is the very light of Being

in the land of darkness is the fountain of life
Since the darkness destroys the light of vision
Give up loooking, for this is no place for looking
What connection has dust with the pure world?
Its perception is the inability to perceive perception
What shall I say? since this saying is fine,
“A bright night in the midst of a dark day”
In this place of witnessing, which is the light of manifestation
 I have much to say, but silence is best.


Spain 2003 6 Alhambra Palace (4)



بود نور خرد در ذات انور              به سان چشم سر در چشمه خور
چو مبصر با بصر نزدیک گردد              بصر ز ادراک آن تاریک گردد
سیاهی گر بدانی نور ذات است              به تاریکی درون آب حیات است
سیه جز قابض نور بصر نیست               نظر بگذار کین جای نظر نیست
چه نسبت خاک را با عالم پاک        که ادراک است عجز از درک ادراک
سیه رویی ز ممکن در دو عالم                       جدا هرگز نشد والله اعلم
سواد الوجه فی الدارین درویش                 سواد اعظم آمد بی کم و بیش
چه می‌گویم که هست این نکته باریک              شب روشن میان روز تاریک
در این مشهد که انوار تجلی است           سخن دارم ولی نا گفتن اولی است




Ibn al-Fāriḍ


If he should visit one day, o my heart, tear yourself to shreds in love for him
            and if he should leave, o eye, pour out tears
But there is no harm in distance, for the one I love is with me
             For if he be absent from the pupil of my eye, yet still he is in me



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





Sonnet 43

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
       All days are nights to see till I see thee,
       And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.



Like a Candle…

from Figs and Thistles: First Fig


My candle burns at both ends;
   It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
   It gives a lovely light!


Source: Poetry (June 1918).





In faithfulness to your love, I am famous like the candle
In the street of the rends, I burn all night like the candle
Day and night, sleep slips away, from my grief-stricken eyes
Sick from separation, my red eyes weep like the candle
The mountain of my patience melted like wax in your grief’s hand
Since I began to burn and melt in your love like the candle
My string of patience’s cut by the scissors of your hair
But still, in your love’s fire, I am smiling like the candle
If the horse of my rosy tear had not been so swift
How could my secret shine out everywhere just like the candle?
As ever, my poor desperate heart is occupied with you
Shedding tears of water and of flame just like the candle
Without your world-adorning beauty, my day is like the night
Within your love’s perfection, I am fading like the candle
Honor me with union for one night, o wild one
and with your visit, brighten up my house like the candle
Like the morning, your coming is just a breath away
Show your face, so I can give my soul up like the candle
In exile’s night, send me a promise of union, or else
With this fire, I’ll burn down the whole world like the candle
It’s amazing how your love lit Hafez all on fire
How can I quench my heart’s fire with tears, like the candle?




در وفای عشق تو مشهور خوبانم چو شمـع
شب نشین کوی سربازان و رندانم چو شمع
روز و شب خوابم نمیآید به چشم غم پرست
بـس که در بیماری هجر تو گریانم چو شمع
کوه صبرم نرم شد چون موم در دست غمـت
تا در آب و آتش عشقت گدازانم چو شـمـع
رشتـه صـبرم به مقراض غمت ببریده شد
همـچـنان در آتش مهر تو سوزانم چو شمع
گر کـمیت اشـک گلگونم نـبودی گرم رو
کی شدی روشن به گیتی راز پنهانم چو شمع
در میان آب و آتش همچنان سرگرم توسـت
این دل زار نزار اشـک بارانـم چو شـمـع
بی جمال عالم آرای تو روزم چون شب است
با کمال عشق تو در عین نقصانم چو شمـع
سرفرازم کن شبی از وصـل خود ای نازنین
تا مـنور گردد از دیدارت ایوانم چو شـمـع
همـچو صبحم یک نفس باقیست با دیدار تو
چـهره بنما دلبرا تا جان برافشانم چو شمع
در شـب هجران مرا پروانه وصلی فرسـت
ور نه از دردت جهانی را بسوزانم چو شمـع
آتـش مـهر تو را حافظ عجب در سر گرفت


Ibn al-Fāriḍ


If not for my sighs, these tears would drown me
If not for these tears, my sighs would scorch me


ولولا زفيري ٔاغرقتني ٔادمعي
ولولا دموعي ٔاحرقتني زفرتي


John Donne


Hero and Leander


Both robb’d of air, we both lie in one ground ;
Both whom one fire had burnt, one water drown’d



A candle is made to become entirely flame.
In that annihilating moment
it has no shadow.
It is nothing but a tongue of light
describing a refuge.
Look at this
just-finishing candle stub
as someone who is finally safe
from virtue and vice,
the pride and the shame
we claim from those.
(Coleman Barks’ “translation”)


There is a candle in the heart of man, waiting to be kindled.
In separation from the Friend, there is a cut waiting to be stitched.
O, you who are ignorant of endurance and the burning fire of love–
Love comes of its own free will, it can’t be learned in any school.



Should Love’s heart rejoice unless I burn?
For my heart is Love’s dwelling.
If You will burn Your house, burn it, Love!
Who will say, ‘It’s not allowed’?
Burn this house thoroughly!
The lover’s house improves with fire.
From now on I will make burning my aim,
From now on I will make burning my aim,
for I am like the candle: burning only makes me brighter.
Abandon sleep tonight; traverse for one night
the region of the sleepless.
Look upon these lovers who have become distraught
and like moths have died in union with the One Beloved.
Look upon this ship of God’s creatures
and see how it is sunk in Love.

Mathnawi VI, 617-623
The Rumi Collection, Edited by Kabir Helminski

O light, from seeing your beauty, my soul became candle-like
Turn my fortune so I can shed myself candle-like
The promise of the morning breeze, of joining Thee day and night
Burning, yellow, shaking, crying and humble, candle-like.
Thy flowing hair, like scissors sheer my soul at its height
In this fire of separation burn me no more, candle-like.
Pearls overflowing from the sea of my eye, fill my bosom in delight
My burning heart sent its flames blazing upward, candle-like.
Solar flares set in the celestial lantern, sooth the sight
Every morn dam my tears and shed no more, candle-like.
Thy face is spring-like, thy fire sorrows fight
How long burn in this solstice of separation, candle-like?
From the memory of thy light, every night flames take flight
If only my heart’s fire would burn my soul candle-like.
How long burn thyself Shams-e Tabrizi, thy love beaming bright?
We know of nothing other than this burning, candle-like.
(trans. by Shahriar Shahriari)



ای منور از جمالت دیده ی جانم چو شمع
از در بختم درآ تا جان بر افشانم چو شمع

از هوای خنده ی صبح وصالت روز و شب
زرد و لرزان و گدازان زار و گریانم چو شمع

زلف چون مقراض بر كش رشته جانم ببر
بیش از این در آتش هجران مسوزانم چو شمع

آستین و دامنم پر در شد از دریای عشق
تا علم زد آتش دل از گریبانم ، چو شمع

آتش خورشید را ، در مشعل سبز فلك
هر سحر از آبگیر دیده ، بنشانم چو شمع

ای رخت نوروز عالم زآتش ، جانسوز شمع
چند سوزی در شب یلدای هجرانم چو شمع

آفتاب از خاطرم ، شعله فروزد هر شبی
آتش دل گر بسوزد ، رشته ی جانم چو شمع

چند سوزی خویشتن را شمس تبریزی ز عشق
ماورای سوختن ، كاری نمیدانم چو شمع

Ana Moura


My eyes are two candles
Casting a sad light on my face
Your eyes are two candles
Casting a sad light on my face

Marked by the pains
Of longing and grief

When I hear the ringing of the bells
And the afternoon is coming to an end

I pray, out of longing for you
An “Our Father” for me

But you do not know how to pray
Nor how to ache with longing

Why do you disturb me so
Why do I want you so much?

For my despair you are like
The clouds that fly high

Every day I wait for you
Every day you stand me up


Os meus olhos são dois círios
Dando luz triste ao meu rosto
Os teus olhos são dois círios
Dando luz triste ao meu rosto
Marcado pelos martírios
Da saudade e do desgosto.

Quando oiço bater trindades
E a tarde já vai no fim

Eu peço às tuas saudades
Um padre nosso por mim.Mas não sabes fazer preces
Não tens saudades nem pranto

Por que é que tu me aborreces
Por que é que eu te quero tanto?

És para meu desespero
Como as nuvens que andam altas

Todos os dias te espero
Todos os dias me faltas.



I am not happiness, but only
The tragic substance that produces it.
In the great darkness, I am a burning flambeau
And I don’t see my own light.



Eu não sou a alegria, mas apenas
A trágica matéria que a produz.
Na grande escuridão, sou facho a arder
E não avisto minha própria luz!


(Pascoaes, 1920, p.216)