The Iwan of Chosroes

The Iwan of Chosroes in Iraq is the only visible structure remaining of the Sassanid capital of Ctesphion (Madā’in in Arabic), about 35 km south of present-day Baghdad. Its Iwan, or arch, the largest vault of unreinforced brickwork in the world, is considered an architectural marvel. Possibly constructed during the reign of Anushirwan (Chosroes I) c 540 AD, the ruins of this palace have served as inspiration for many poets, particularly due to Islamic legends that this Iwan cracked upon the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, signaling the emergence of Islam as a new empire and civilization that would replace that of the Sassanids.

Below are three of the most famous poems inspired by these ruins. The first, written by the Senegalese Sufi shaykh, Ibrahim Niasse, upon his visit to the site in 1960, references many of the miraculous legends surrounding the Prophet’s birth and life; it is a celebration of the coming of the spiritual reality of the Prophet Muhammad into the world, eclipsing all other temporal power, and representing the miraculous, but inevitable triumph of truth, justice and spiritual authority over seemingly invincible political authority and power. The second, by the Persian poet al-Khaqānī, inspired by his visit to the site on his way back from ḥajj, is one of the most-celebrated Persian qasidas and takes the ruins as a moralizing reminder of the transience of power, wealth and glory, and the inevitable march of time which tramples all underfoot. The third, and oldest of these poems is by the ‘Abbasid court poet al-Buḥturī, and is a complex and vibrant celebration of the glory of the Sassanid kings, an appropriation and alliance of their civilization and time with that of the poet, and a textured reflection on memory, time, decay, and renewal. Whereas al-Buḥturī’s poem is largely celebratory of the memory of bygone glory and nobility, Khāqāni’s verse emphasizes its transience and evanescence, and the moral renewal such contemplation can provoke (as described in Qur’an 3:137, 6:6, 30:9, 40:21, 40:82, 44:25 etc.), and Niasse’s shorter, more straightforward and repetitive poem takes the ruins as a reminder of the glory of the spiritual reality of the Prophet and the once, future, and always victory of the truth over earthly power. All three poems are filled with literary allusions, creative and evocative imagery, literary devices, and profound musicality, as you can hear in the recordings below.

 

 

Ibrahim Niasse (d. 1975)

Translation:

Was it Chosroes’ Iwan that was crushed, heralding
            The emergence of the Prophet and Chosroes’ evanescence?
O Chosroes Anushirvan, when Muhammad came with
            His greatest signs, was it your castle that he saw?[1]
O Chosroes Anushirvan, when Muhammad came
            Did the rivers run dry? Or did they gush forth?
O Chosroes Anushirvan, when Muhammad came
            Did not the Magi come to you extolling him?
O Chosroes Anushirvan, did not Muhammad come
            Reciting, reminding, warning and giving glad tidings?
While the idols had prostrated to God, speaking [of his coming]
            And the soothsayers had told of what was hidden?
Greetings of peace to the light of God that
            Overshadowed, by his lights, the lights of Chosroes and Caesar
Greetings of peace to he who brought, while he was in Mecca
            A light by which Chosroes’ Iwan was cracked
Greetings of peace to being’s secret and its mystery
            For God’s alone is what is more exalted, and precious, and dazzling
Greetings of peace to he who came, while existence, all of it
            Was darkness, and from his lights it was illumined
Greetings of peace to him from a lovelorn servant
            In Baghdad, exhausted from having spent the night in sleepless contemplation
So he who razed this castle while he was a child in Mecca
            did not leave behind any appearance of that infidelity
So he who razed this castle while he was in Mecca
            He will demolish the castles of infidelity whenever he is remembered
Upon him be the blessings of God and then His peace too
            For I see that the lot of Muslims is abundant fortune
Upon him be the blessings of God and then His peace too
            And the share of the enemies of religion is a scourge of destruction

 

[1] An allusion to a miracle of the Prophet at the Battle of the Trench: when attempting to split a rock while digging a trench to protect the Medinan community, the Prophet’s three blows produced three flashes of light by which he reported that he saw three landmarks: the palace of Chosroes, the castles of the Yemen and those of Syria, each representing an opening of a direction for the spread of Islam (East, South, and North/West).

 

Original:

أإيوان كسرى هل دهاك وأنذرا        بروز نيبيّي إنّ كسرى تقهقرا
أكسرى أنوشروان جاء محمّد         بآياته الكبرى وقصرك أبصرا
أكسرى أنوشروان جاء محمّد        وهل قطع الأنهار أم هل تفجّرا
أكسرى أنوشروان جاء محمّد           وهل قد أتاك الموبذان مكبّرا
أكسرى أنوشروان جاء محمّد               يرتِّل ذكراً منذراً ومبشّرا
وقد سجد المعبود لله ناطقاً            وقد أبنأ الكهان ما كان مضمرا
سلام على نور الإله الذي خبت          بأنواره أنوار كسرى وقيصرا
سلام على من جاءوهو بمكّةٍ               بنورٍ به إيوان كسرى تكسّرا
سلام على سرّ الوجود ورمزه             فللّه ما أعلى وأغلى وأبهارا
سلام على من جاء والكون كلّه             ظلام ومن أنواره قد  تنوّرا
سلام عليه من خديمٍ متيّمٍ                      بببداد وهناً لا ينام تفكّرا
فمن هدّ هذا القصر وهو بمكّةٍ          وليداً فلا يبقي لذا الكفر مظهرا
ومن هدّ هذا القصر وهوبمكةٍ           سيهدم قصر الكفر حين تذكّرا
عليه صلاة الله ثمّ سلامه                    وأبصر حظّ المسلمين موفّرا
عليه صلاة الله ثمّ سلامه                  يلقى عدوّ الدّين سوطاً مدمّرا

al-Khَāqānī (d. 1199)

Translation:

(By Julie Meisami, from Qasida Poetry in Islamic Africa and Asia: Eulogy’s Bounty, Stefan Sperl and Christopher Shackle, eds. (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 163-169.

Awake!, O heart that sees portents, reflect on what you see,
Awake! Consider Madaʾin’s great arch as admonition’s mirror.
Leaving the banks of the Tigris, alight at Madaʾin,
on its ground let spill from your eyes, another Tigris
The very Tigris weeps a hundred Tigrises of blood; you’d say
Heat makes its bloody torrent pour fire from its lashes
Consider how the Tigris’ lips have caused its mouth to foam;
You’d say its fevered sighs of pain have caused its lips to blister
Consider how the fire of grief is grilling Tigris’ liver;
Have you ever heard of water that was roasted by a fire?
Again and again weep over the Tigris; give it alms from your eyes,
Even though the Tigris itself bestows its alms on the seashore.
Should the Tigris mingle its lips’ cold sighs with the burning of its heart,
Half of it would freeze over, half become a fiery grate
When the Aivan’s chain of justice broke apart in Madā’in,
The maddened Tigris was enchained, its waves twisted like chains
Now and again, in the tongue of tears, call out to the Aivan
In the hope that with your heart’s ear you will hear an answer from it.
Each palace battlement will give you counsel again and again;
Heed the advice of the battlement’s head from the bottom of your heart.
It says: ‘You are of earth and we are now your earth; so take
Two or three steps upon us; scatter two or three tears as well.
‘Truly the owl’s lamenting wail has caused our heads to ache.
‘Pour rosewater from your eyes to ease our headache and grief.
Indeed why should you marvel so? For in the world’s pleasance
‘The owl follows the nightingale; laments follow sweet songs.’
‘We are the court of justice, yet have suffered this injustice.
‘Say, what reversal will befall the castles of the unjust!’
‘You’d say this Aivan, lofty as the sky, had been overturned by command
Of the turning of the sky itself, or of Him who turns the sky.
You laugh at my eyes, as if to say, ‘What does he weep for here?’
But in this place they weep at those eyes that are not moved to tears
The white-haired crone of Madā’in is no less than Kufa’s old woman
The narrow chamber of the one is not less than the other’s oven
Do you know then what you must do? Make Madā’in equal Kufa
Make your breast a fiery oven; seek the flood from your eyes.
This is that very Aivan where, from the impress of men’s faces,
The dirt of its threshold was transformed to an idol-temple’s wall
This is that very court wherein, of the rulers of the world
Babylon’s king was a Daylami, Turkestan’s king, and Indian
This is that very portico whose grandeur was so awesome
That the lion of its hangings assaulted Lion’s heaven
Imagine it is that very age, and look, with reflection’s eye
On the chain before the court, the splendid assembly in the field
Dismount from your horse, and place your face upon the mat of earth and see
How great Nu’man is checkmated beneath its elephants’ feet
Nay, nay: see, like Nu’man, those elephant-felling kings themselves
Slain by the elephants Night and Day in the winding turns of time
How many an elephant-slaying king has been slain with a king-elephant
By the chess-player of his destiny, mated, deprived of hope.
The earth is drunk, for it has drunken deep–instead of wine—
From the cup of Hurmuz’s skull, the heart’s blood of Anushirvan
So many words of counsel then showed plainly in his crown
That now a hundred fledgling kites are hidden in his brains.
Kisrā and his golden citron, Parviz and his golden quince
Were swiftly carried off the wind, became as one with the earth
Parviz at every feast would scatter herbs of gold; transform
his golden carpet into a garden sprouting golden herbs
Parviz has vanished now; speak less of that vanished one.
where now is his feast, his golden herbs? Go and recite ‘How many…’
You ask, ‘Where have they gone, those crowned heads?’ Behold!
The belly of the earth swells pregnant with them ever more.
The pregnant earth takes long in giving birth. Indeed,
The task of giving birth is difficult, though impregnation’s easy.
It is the blood in Shirin’s heart, that wine the vine gives forth;
It is Parviz’s clay that forms the jar its grower offers
How many tyrants’ bodies have been swallowed by the earth?
No matter, she of greedy eyes is still not sated by them.
She mixes rouge to paint her face from the blood of children’s hearts,
This aged crone with whitened brows, this mother with black dugs
Khāqānī: like a beggar, seek admonition from this court,
That at your door, hereafter, the Khāqān [regal] will seek charity.
If today a traveller seeks provision from the sultan,
Tomorrow at the traveller’s door the sultan will seek provision.
If gifts from every town provision Mecca’s road,
Then you take Madā’in’s provision as a gift for Sharvan’s sake
Everyone takes from Mecca prayer-beads of Hamza’s clay
Then you take from Madā’in prayer-beads from the clay of Salman.
Look on this sea of insight, don’t pass by without a drink;
One cannot leave the shore of such a sea with thirsting lips.
When friends return from journeying, they bring with them a gift.
This bit of poetry is a gift brought for the hearts of friends.
Observe then in this poem what magic he displays,
The dead man with a Christlike heart, the madman with a wise soul.

!هان! ای دل ِ عبرتبین! از دیده عبر کن! هان
ایوان ِ مدائن را آیینهی عبرت دان!
یکره زِ لب ِ دجله منزل به مدائن کن
وَ ز دیده دُوُم دجله بر خاک ِ مدائن ران
خود دجله چنان گرید صد دجلهی خون گویی
کاز گرمی ِ خوناباش آتش چکد از مژگان
بینی که لب ِ دجله چون کف به دهان آرد؟
گوئی زِ تَف ِ آهاش لب آبله زد چندان
از آتش ِ حسرت بین بریان جگر ِ دجله
خود آب شنیدهستی کآتش کُنَد اَش بریان
بر دجله گِری نونو! وَ ز دیده زکاتاش ده
گرچه لب ِ دریا هست از دجله زکاتاِستان
گر دجله درآمیزد باد ِ لب و سوز ِ دل
نیمی شود افسرده، نیمی شود آتشدان
تا سلسلهی ایوان بگسست مدائن را
در سلسله شد دجله، چون سلسله شد پیچان
گهگه به زبان ِ اشک آواز ده ایوان را
تا بو که به گوش ِ دل پاسخ شنوی ز ایوان
دندانهی هر قصری پندی دهد اَت نو نو
پند ِ سر ِ دندانه بشنو زِ بن ِ دندان
گوید که تو از خاکی، ما خاک تو ایم اکنون
گامی دو سه بر ما نه و اشکی دو سه هم بفشان
از نوحهی جغدالحق مائیم به درد ِ سر
از دیده گلابی کن، درد ِ سر ِ ما بنشان
آری! چه عجب داری؟ کاندر چمن ِ گیتی
جغد است پی ِ بلبل؛ نوحهست پی ِ الحان
ما بارگه ِ دادیم این رفت ستم بر ما
بر قصر ِ ستمکاران تا خود چه رسد خذلان
گوئی که نگون کردهست ایوان ِ فلکوش را
حکم ِ فلک ِ گردان؟ یا حکم ِ فلکگردان؟
بر دیدهی من خندی کاینجا زِ چه میگرید!
خندند بر آن دیده کاینجا نشود گریان
نی زال ِ مدائن کم از پیرزن ِ کوفه
نه حجرهی تنگ ِ این کمتر زِ تنور ِ آن
دانی چه؟ مدائن را با کوفه برابر نه!
از سینه تنوری کن وَ ز دیده طلب طوفان
این است همان ایوان کاز نقش ِ رخ ِ مردم
خاک ِ در ِ او بودی دیوار ِ نگارستان
این است همان درگَه کاورا زِ شهان بودی
دیلم مَلِک ِ بابِل، هندو شه ِ ترکستان
این است همان صفّه کاز هیبت ِ او بردی
بر شیر ِ فلک حمله شیر ِ تن ِ شادروان
پندار همان عهد است. از دیدهی فکرت بین!
در سلسلهی درگَه، در کوکبهی میدان
از اسب پیاده شو، بر نَطع ِ زمین رُخ نه
زیر ِ پی ِ پیلاش بین شهمات شده نُعمان
نی! نی! که چو نُعمان بین پیلافکن ِ شاهان را
پیلان ِ شب و روز اَش کُشته به پی ِ دوران
ای بس شه ِ پیلافکن کافکند به شهپیلی
شطرنجی ِ تقدیر اَش در ماتگَه ِ حرمان
مست است زمین. زیرا خوردهست بهجایِ می
در کاس ِ سر ِ هرمز، خون ِ دل ِ نوشروان
بس پند که بود آنگه بر تاج ِ سر اَش پیدا
صد پند ِ نو است اکنون در مغز ِ سر اَش پنهان
کسری و ترنج ِ زر، پرویز و ترهی زرّین
بر باد شده یکسر، با خاک شده یکسان
پرویز به هر خوانی زرّینتره گستردی
کردی زِ بساط ِ زر، زرّینتره را بستان
پرویز کنون گم شد! زآن گمشده کمتر گو
زرّین تره کو برخوان؟ رو «کَم تَرَکوا» برخوان
گفتی که کجا رفتند آن تاجوران اینک؟
ز ایشان شکم ِ خاک است آبستن ِ جاویدان
بس دیر همیزاید آبستن ِ خاک، آری
دشوار بود زادن، نطفه ستدن آسان
خون ِ دل ِ شیرین است آن می که دهد رَزبُن
ز آب و گِل ِ پرویز است آن خُم که نهد دهقان
چندین تن ِ جبّاران کاین خاک فرو خوردهست
این گرسنهچشم آخر هم سیر نشد ز ایشان
از خون ِ دل ِ طفلان سرخاب ِ رخ آمیزد
این زال ِ سپید ابرو، وین مام ِ سیهپستان
خاقانی ازین درگه دریوزهی عبرت کن
تا از در ِ تو زینپس دریوزه کند خاقان
امروز گر از سلطان رندی طلبد توشه
فردا زِ در ِ رندی توشه طلبد سلطان
گر زاد ِ ره ِ مکه تحفهست به هر شهری
تو زاد ِ مدائن بَر تحفه ز پی ِ شروان
هرکس برَد از مکّه سبحه زِ گِل ِ جمره
پس تو ز مدائن بَر سبحه ز گل ِ سلمان
این بحر ِ بصیرت بین! بیشربت از او مگذر
کاز شطّ ِ چنین بحری لبتشنه شدن نتوان
اِخوان که زِ راه آیند، آرند رهآوردی
این قطعه رهآورد است از بهر ِ دل ِ اِخوان
بنگر که در این قطعه چه سحر همی راند
معتوه ِ مسیحا دل، دیوانهیِ عاقل جان

From:

 https://ganjoor.net/khaghani/divankh/gha…

Al-Buḥturī (d. 897)

Translation:

(by Samer Ali from Reinterpreting al-Buḥturī’s “Īwān Kisrā Ode”: Tears of Affection for the Cycles of History, Journal of Arabic Literature , 2006, Vol. 37, No. 1 (2006), pp. 65-67)

I saved myself from what defiles my self
and rose above the largess of every craven coward.
I endured when Time shook me,
seeking misery and reversal for me.
Mere subsistence from the dregs of life have I.
Days have rationed it inadequately.
Stark is the difference between him who drinks at will twice a day
and him who drinks every fourth day.
As if Time’s inclinations are predicated on the vilest of the vile.
My purchase of Iraq was a swindler’s ploy,
after my sale of Syria, a trickster’s sale.
Do not test me endlessly about my knowledge
of these ordeals to deny my misfortunes.
You once knew me as a man of qualities,
disdaining petty matters, undaunted.
But the scorn of my cousin,
after heartfelt kindness and amity, disturbs me.
When I am scorned, I am likely
to be seen rising not where I spent the night.
Sorrows attend my saddle. I direct
my stout she-camel to Mada’in [Ctesiphon].
I console myself for such luck
and find solace in a site for the Sasanians, ruined.
Perpetual misfortune reminds me of them;
misfortune makes one remember and forget.
They live the good life, shaded by guarded peaks,
which tire and baffle the gaze.
Its gates, on Qabq Mountain, are secure, extending to the uplands of Khilat and Muks.
The abodes are unlike the ruins of Su’da,
in a wasteland, bare and plantless.
Heroic feats-were it not for my partiality-the
feats of ‘Ans and ‘Abs would not surpass them.
Time despoiled their era of vitality. It
devolved to worn-out rags.
As if the Arched Hall, for lack of humanity, and sheer abandonment,
is a grave’s edifice.
 If you saw it, you would know that the nights
are holding a funeral in it after a wedding.
It would inform you of a troop’s marvels,
their record does not gray with obscurity.
When you see a panel of the Battle at Antioch,
you tremble among Byzantines and Persians.
The Fates stand still, while Anushirvan
leads the ranks onward under the banner
In a deep green robe over yellow.
It appears dyed in saffron.
 Men in combat are under his command.
Some are quiet and hushed.
Some are intense, rushing forward with spear-points.
Others are cautious of them, using shields.
The eye depicts them very much alive:
they have between them speechless signs.
My wonder about them boils till
my hand explores them with a touch.
Abu al-Ghawth [poet’s son] had poured me a drink without stinting,
for the two armies, a draft
of wine. You would think it a star
lighting the night or sun’s luscious kiss.
You see, when it renews joy and
contentment for the drinker, one sip after the other,
That it was poured into glasses-into every heart.
It is beloved to every soul.
I fancied Kisra Aparviz handing me
a drink and al-Balahbadh [king’s minstrel] my companion.
A dream that closes my eye to doubt?
Or desire that alters my fancy and guesses?
As if the Arched Hall, by its wondrous craftsmanship,
were hollowed in the cliff of a mountain side.
It would be thought, from its sadness-
to the eyes of morning and evening visitors-
Distraught like a man torn from the company of loved ones,
or distressed by the breaking of nuptials.
Nights have reversed its luck. There, Jupiter
whiled the night but as a star of misfortune.
It shows hardiness, but the cruel weight of Time
is fixed upon it.
It’s no stigma that it was ravished of
silken carpets, stripped of damask drapes.
Towering, its ramparts rise high,
It looms over the summits of Ridwd and Quds.
Donning white clouds, you do not
glimpse of them but cotton tunics.
It is not quite known: Is it the work of humans for jinn
to live in or the work of jinn for humans?
Yet, as I gaze upon it, it attests
its builder is among kings not the least a cipher.
As though I see generals and troops,
as far as the eye can see.
As though foreign embassies suffer in the sun.
They are dismayed standing behind crowds, kept waiting.
As though minstrels in the Hall’s center
croon lyrics between plum-like lips.
As though the gathering were the day before yesterday
and the hurry of departure just yesterday.
As though the seeker of their trail could hope
to catch up with them the morning of the fifth day.
It was built up for joy forever, but
their domain is for condolence and consolation now.
It deserves that I lend it my tears,
tears committed to affection, devoted.
I feel this, though the abode is not my abode
-by blood-nor this race my race.
Beyond their graces toward my people,
they seeded, out of their goodness, fine sprouts.
They backed our dominion and buttressed its might
with warriors under armor, zealous.
They helped against Aryat’s regiment
by stabbing chests and spearing.
I find myself thereafter completely enamored
by noble men of every race and origin.

Original:

صنت نفسي عما يدنس نفسي *** وَتَرَفَّعتُ عَن جَدا كُلِّ جِبسِ
وَتَماسَكتُ حينَ زَعزَعَني الدَهـ *** ـرُ التِماسًا مِنهُ لِتَعسي وَنَكسي
بُلَغٌ مِن صُبابَةِ العَيشِ عِندي *** طَفَّفَتها الأَيّامُ تَطفيفَ بَخسِ
وَبَعيدٌ مابَينَ وارِدِ رِفْهٍ *** عَلَلٍ شُربُهُ وَوارِدِ خِمسِ
وَكَأَنَّ الزَمانَ أَصبَحَ مَحمو *** لًا هَواهُ مَعَ الأَخَسِّ الأَخَسِّ
وَاشتِرائي العِراقَ خُطَّةُ غَبنٍ *** بَعدَ بَيعي الشَآمَ بَيعَةَ وَكسِ
لاتَرُزني مُزاوِلًا لِاختِباري *** بَعدَ هَذي البَلوى فَتُنكِرَ مَسّي
وَقَديمًا عَهِدَتني ذا هَناتٍ *** آبِياتٍ عَلى الدَنِيّاتِ شُمسِ
وَلَقَد رابَني نُبُوُّ ابنُ عَمّي *** بَعدَ لينٍ مِن جانِبَيهِ وَأُنسِ
وَإِذا ماجُفيتُ كُنتُ جَديرًا *** أَن أَرى غَيرَ مُصبِحٍ حَيثُ أُمسي
حَضَرَت رَحلِيَ الهُمومُ فَوَجَّهـ *** ـتُ إِلى أَبيَضِ المَدائِنِ عَنسي
أَتَسَلّى عَنِ الحُظوظِ وَآسى *** لِمَحَلٍّ مِن آلِ ساسانَ دَرسِ
أَذكَرتِنيهُمُ الخُطوبُ التَوالي *** وَلَقَد تُذكِرُ الخُطوبُ وَتُنسي
وَهُمُ خافِضونَ في ظِلِّ عالٍ *** مُشرِفٍ يَحسِرُ العُيونَ وَيُخسي
مُغلَقٍ بابُهُ عَلى جَبَلِ القَبـ *** ـقِ إِلى دارَتَي خِلاطَ وَمُكسِ
حِلَلٌ لَم تَكن كَأَطلالِ سُعدى *** في قِفارٍ مِنَ البَسابِسِ مُلسِ
وَمَساعٍ لَولا المُحاباةُ مِنّي *** لَم تُطِقها مَسعاةُ عَنسٍ وَعَبسِ
نَقَلَ الدَهرُ عَهدَهُنَّ عَنِ الـ *** ـجِدَّةِ حَتّى رَجَعنَ أَنضاءَ لُبسِ
فَكَأَنَّ الجِرْمازَ مِن عَدَمِ الأُنـ *** ـسِ وَإِخلالِهِ بَنِيَّةُ رَمسِ
لَو تَراهُ عَلِمتَ أَنَّ اللَيالي *** جَعَلَت فيهِ مَأتَمًا بَعدَ عُرسِ
وَهوَ يُنبيكَ عَن عَجائِبِ قَومٍ *** لايُشابُ البَيانُ فيهِم بِلَبسِ
وَإِذا مارَأَيتَ صورَةَ أَنطا *** كِيَّةَ اِرتَعتَ بَينَ رومٍ وَفُرسِ
وَالمَنايا مَواثِلٌ وَأَنوشِر *** وانَ يُزجى الصُفوفَ تَحتَ الدِرَفسِ
في اخضِرارٍ مِنَ اللِباسِ عَلى أَصـ *** ـفَرَ يَختالُ في صَبيغَةِ وَرسِ
وَعِراكُ الرِجالِ بَينَ يَدَيهِ *** في خُفوتٍ مِنهُم وَإِغماضِ جَرسِ
مِن مُشيحٍ يَهوى بِعامِلِ رُمحٍ *** وَمُليحٍ مِنَ السِنانِ بِتُرسِ
تَصِفُ العَينُ أَنَّهُم جِدُّ أَحيا *** ءَ لَهُم بَينَهُم إِشارَةُ خُرسِ
يَغتَلي فيهِم ارتِابي حَتّى *** تَتَقَرّاهُمُ يَدايَ بِلَمسِ
قَد سَقاني وَلَم يُصَرِّد أَبو الغَو *** ثِ عَلى العَسكَرَينِ شَربَةَ خُلسِ
مِن مُدامٍ تَظُنُّها وَهيَ نَجمٌ *** ضَوَّأَ اللَيلَ أَو مُجاجَةُ شَمسِ
وَتَراها إِذا أَجَدَّت سُرورًا *** وَارتِياحًا لِلشارِبِ المُتَحَسّي
أُفرِغَت في الزُجاجِ مِن كُلِّ قَلبٍ *** فَهيَ مَحبوبَةٌ إِلى كُلِّ نَفسِ
وَتَوَهَّمتُ أَنَّ كِسرى أَبَرويـ *** ـزَ مُعاطِيَّ وَالبَلَهبَذَ أُنسي
حُلُمٌ مُطبِقٌ عَلى الشَكِّ عَيني *** أَم أَمانٍ غَيَّرنَ ظَنّي وَحَدسي
وَكَأَنَّ الإيوانَ مِن عَجَبِ الصَنـ *** ـعَةِ جَوبٌ في جَنبِ أَرعَنَ جِلسِ
يُتَظَنّى مِنَ الكَآبَةِ إِذ يَبـ *** ـدو لِعَينَي مُصَبِّحٍ أَو مُمَسّي
مُزعَجًا بِالفِراقِ عَن أُنسِ إِلفٍ *** عَزَّ أَو مُرهَقًا بِتَطليقِ عِرسِ
عَكَسَت حَظُّهُ اللَيالي وَباتَ الـ *** ـمُشتَري فيهِ وَهوَ كَوكَبُ نَحسِ
فَهوَ يُبدي تَجَلُّدًا وَعَلَيهِ *** كَلكَلٌ مِن كَلاكِلِ الدَهرِ مُرسي
لَم يَعِبهُ أَن بُزَّ مِن بُسُطِ الديـ *** ـباجِ وَاستَلَّ مِن سُتورِ الدِّمَقسِ
مُشمَخِّرٌ تَعلو لَهُ شُرُفاتٌ *** رُفِعَت في رُؤوسِ رَضوى وَقُدسِ
لابِساتٌ مِنَ البَياضِ فَما تُبـ *** ـصِرُ مِنها إِلّا غَلائِلَ بُرسِ
لَيسَ يُدرى أَصُنعُ إِنسٍ لِجِنٍّ *** سَكَنوهُ أَم صُنعُ جِنٍّ لِإِنسِ
غَيرَ أَنّي أراه يَشهَدُ أَن لَم *** يَكُ بانيهِ في المُلوكِ بِنُكسِ
فَكَأَنّي أَرى المَراتِبَ وَالقَو *** مَ إِذا ما بَلَغتُ آخِرَ حِسّي
وَكَأَنَّ الوُفودَ ضاحينَ حَسرى *** مِن وُقوفٍ خَلفَ الزِحامِ وَخنسِ
وَكَأَنَّ القِيانَ وَسطَ المَقاصيـ *** ـرِ يُرَجِّعنَ بَينَ حُوٍ وَلُعسِ
وَكَأَنَّ اللِقاءَ أَوَّلَ مِن أَمـ *** ـسٍ وَوَشكَ الفِراقِ أَوَّلَ أَمسِ
وَكَأَنَّ الَّذي يُريدُ اتِّباعًا *** طامِعٌ في لُحوقِهِم صُبحَ خَمسِ
عُمِّرَت لِلسُرورِ دَهرًا فَصارَت *** لِلتَعَزّي رِباعُهُم وَالتَأَسّي
فَلَها أَن أُعينَها بِدُموعٍ *** موقَفاتٍ عَلى الصَبابَةِ حُبسِ
ذاكَ عِندي وَلَيسَت الدارُ داري *** باِقتِرابٍ مِنها وَلا الجِنسُ جِنسي
غَيرَ نُعمى لِأَهلِها عِندَ أَهلي *** غَرَسوا مِن زَكائِها خَيرَ غَرسِ
أَيَّدوا مُلكَنا وَشَدّوا قُواهُ *** بِكُماةٍ تَحتَ السَنَّورِ حُمسِ
وَأَعانوا عَلى كَتائِبِ أَريا *** طَ بِطَعنٍ عَلى النُحورِ وَدَعسِ
وَأَراني مِن بَعدُ أَكلَفُ بِالأَشـ *** ـرافِ طُرًّا مِن كُلِّ سِنخِ وَأُسِّ

Words of Bewilderment…

 

Say: My Lord increase me in knowledge!

قل ربّي زدني علماً

Quran 20:114

 

My Lord increase me in bewilderment in Thee!

ربّي زدني فيك تحيراً

-Saying of the Prophet Muḥammad

Rumi

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment

for cleverness is mere opinion and bewilderment is vision.

زیرکی بفروش و حیرانی بخر

زیرکی ظنست و حیرانی نظر

 

Ibn al-‘Arabi

“Now guidance is that man should be guided to bewilderment, and know that the affair is bewilderment and that bewilderment is unrest and motion, and that motion is life, without stillness and so without death, and is existence without non-existence.”

“And thus there is nothing but bewilderment, shattering one’s vision, although the one who knows what we are saying shall not be bewildered.”

“…Drowned in the sea which the knowledge of God is, and which is bewilderment”

Hafez

As the sprout of bewilderment, your love came
As the perfection of bewilderment, your union came
Many a drowned one, in the ecstasy of union
to whom in the ecstasy itself, bewilderment came
Neither union nor united remain
where the specter of bewilderment came
Show me one heart on his path
in whose face no mole of bewilderment came
From every direction that I listened
the sound of the question of bewilderment came
From head to foot, Hafez’s existence
In love, a sprout of bewilderment became

 

Original:
عشق تو نهال حیرت آمد         وصل تو کمال حیرت آمد
بس غرقه حال وصل کآخر        هم بر سر حال حیرت آمد
یک دل بنما که در ره او     بر چهره نه خال حیرت آمد
نه وصل بماند و نه واصل       آن جا که خیال حیرت آمد
از هر طرفی که گوش کردم            آواز سؤال حیرت آمد
شد منهزم از کمال عزت         آن را که جلال حیرت آمد
سر تا قدم وجود حافظ          در عشق نهال حیرت آمد

 

Ibn al-Fāriḍ

Translation:

Give me an excess of love for you, bewildered
And have mercy on a heart scorched by a glance of your love
And if I ask to see you truly
Then allow me, graciously
And let not your answer be, “Thou shalt not see
O heart, you have promised me to be patient in loving them
So be sure to bear it do not dismay
Passion is life, so die in it lovingly.
 Your duty is to die and be absolved
 My heart, say to those ahead of me, and those behind me,
Whoever has seen the sacrifice of my sorrow
“Follow my example and listen to me
And tell the tale of my love amongst mankind”
I was alone with the Beloved and between us there was
A secret more subtle than the dawn breeze when it blows
And he allowed my eyes a glance
So I became famous, having been unknown before
I was awestruck between his beauty and majesty
And tomorrow, the tongue of my state will explain
Turn your gaze to the beauties of his face,
Where all beauty has been gathered
If all beauty were perfected into one form
on seeing him, it would exclaim [in wonder],
“There is no god but God, and God is greater.”

 

 

Original:
زِدْني بفَرْطِ الحُبّ فيك تَحَيّرا          وارْحَمْ حشىً بلَظَى هواكَ تسعّرا
وإذا سألُتكَ أن أراكَ حقيقةً          فاسمَحْ ولا تجعلْ جوابي لن تَرى
يا قلبُ أنتَ وعدَتني في حُبّهمْ          صَبراً فحاذرْ أن تَضِيقَ وتَضجرا
إنَّ الغرامَ هوَ الحياةُ فمُتْ بِهِ             صَبّاً فحقّك أن تَموتَ وتُعذرا
قُل لِلّذِينَ تقدَّموا قَبلي ومَن        بَعدي ومَن أضحى لأشجاني يَرَى
عني خذوا وبي اقْتدوا وليَ اسمعوا             وتحدّثوا بصَبابتي بَينَ الوَرى
ولقد خَلَوْتُ مع الحَبيب وبَيْنَنَا              سِرٌّ أرَقّ منَ النسيمِ إذا سرى
وأباحَ طَرْفِي نَظْرْةً أمّلْتُها               فَغَدَوْتُ معروفاً وكُنْتُ مُنَكَّرا
فَدُهِشْتُ بينَ جمالِهِ وجَلالِهِ             وغدا لسانُ الحال عنّي مُخْبِرا
فأَدِرْ لِحَاظَكَ في محاسنِ وجْهه            تَلْقَى جميعَ الحُسْنِ فيه مُصَوَّرا
لو أنّ كُلّ الحُسْنِ يكمُلُ صُورةً                    ورآهُ كان مُهَلِّلاً ومُكَبِّر

 

 

Night

“The Night” by Henry Vaughan

 There is in God, some say,
A deep but dazzling darkness, as men here
Say it is late and dusky, because they
             See not all clear.
    O for that night! where I in Him
    Might live invisible and dim!

 

Rumi

Translation:

Truth is the Night of Power,
hidden amid the other nights
so the soul may try each one.
Not all nights are the Night of Power,
yet all nights aren’t empty of it either.

 

Original:

Haqq Shab-e Qadrast dar shab-hâ nehân
tâ konad jân har shabi-râ emtehân
Nah hameh shab-hâ bovad Qadr ay javân
nah hameh shab-hâ bovad khâli az ân

حق شب قدراست در شبها نهان
تا كند جان هر شب را امتهان
نه همه شبها بود قدر اط جوان
نه همه شبها بود خال از ان

 

— Mathnawi II: 2935-2936
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
“Rumi: Daylight”
Threshold Books, 1994

Shabistari

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.

 

Original:

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

 

When I die—Rumi and al-Ghazali

Two of the most beautiful death-bed poems from two great Sufis. I pray to live in such a way that someone will recite these at my burial.

Rumi

Translation:

When my bier moveth on the day of death
Think not my heart is in this world.
Do not weep for me and cry “woe, woe!”
Thou wilt fall in the devil’s snare: that is woe
When thou seest my hearse, cry not, “gone, gone!”
Union and meeting are mine in that hour
If thou commit me to the grave, say not “Farewell, farewell”
For the grave is a curtain hiding the communion of paradise
After beholding descent, consider resurrection
Why should setting be injurious to the sun and moon?
To thee it seems a setting, but ’tis a rising’
Tho’ the vault seems a prison, ’tis the release of a soul
What seed went down into the earth but it grew?
Why this doubt of thine as regards the seed of man?
What bucket was lowered but it came out brimful?
Why should the Joseph of the Spirit complain of the well?
Shut thy mouth on this side, and open it beyond
For in placeless air will by thy triumphal song.

(From R.A. Nicholson, Selected Poems form the Divani Shamsi Tabriz, p. 94-96)

Original:

به روز مرگ چو تابوت من روان باشد
گمان مبر که مرا درد این جهان باشد
برای من مگری و مگو دریغ دریغ
به دوغ دیو درافتی دریغ آن باشد
جنازه‌ام چو ببینی مگو فراق فراق
مرا وصال و ملاقات آن زمان باشد
مرا به گور سپاری مگو وداع وداع
که گور پرده جمعیت جنان باشد
فروشدن چو بدیدی برآمدن بنگر
غروب شمس و قمر را چرا زبان باشد
تو را غروب نماید ولی شروق بود
لحد چو حبس نماید خلاص جان باشد
کدام دانه فرورفت در زمین که نرست
چرا به دانه انسانت این گمان باشد
کدام دلو فرورفت و پر برون نامد
ز چاه یوسف جان را چرا فغان باشد
دهان چو بستی از این سوی آن طرف بگشا
که های هوی تو در جو لامکان باشد

 

al-Ghazali

Translation:

Say unto brethren when they see me dead,
And weep for me, lamenting me in sadness:
“Think ye I am this corpse ye are to bury?
I swear by God, this dead one is not I.
 I in the Spirit am, and this my body
My dwelling was, my garment for a time.
I am a treasure: hidden I was beneath
This talisman of dust, wherein I suffered.
I am a pearl; a shell imprisoned me,
 But leaving it, all trials I have left.
I am a bird, and this was once my cage;
But I have flown, leaving it as a token.
I praise God who hath set me free,
and made For me a dwelling in the heavenly heights.
 Ere now I was a dead man in your midst,
But I have come to life, and doffed my shroud.”

(Translation by Martin Lings)

Original:

 قل لإخوان رأوني ميتا                فبكوني ورثوني حزنا
أتظنون بأني ميتكم                   ليس هذا الميت والله أنا
أنا في الصور وهذا جسدي        كان لباسي وقميصي زمنا
أنا در قد حواني صدف               طرت عنه وبقى مرتهنا
أنا عصفور وهذا قفصي           كان سجني فتركت السجنا
أشكر الله الذي خلصني              وبنا لي في المعالي وطنا
كنت قبل اليوم ميتا بينكم                 فحييت وخلعت الكفنا

 

Rumi—Awake! Enter the Cave!

Translation:

Awake, awake, the time has come, awake!
Without union with him, forsake yourself, forsake!
The heavenly decree has arrived, the healer of lovers has arrived,
If you want him to visit you, become sick, become sick!
Without a trace, without a doubt, he’ll make you rosy-faced
He’ll pluck out the thorn from you hand, become a rosebed, become a rosebed!
Know this breast as a cave, the spiritual retreat of that Friend;
If you’re really the ‘companion of the cave’, then enter the cave, enter the cave!
Once this time has ruined you, laments will be of no avail,
If you want him to restore you, become a restorer, become a restorer!
See the world filled with tumult, see the dominion of the victorious (Manṣūr [al-Ḥallāj])
If you want to become victorious (Manṣūr[al-Ḥallāj), hang on the gallows, hang on the gallows!
As the dawn wind tangles her hair each morning
If you want to savor its scent, become a perfumer ([Farīd al-dīn] ‘Attar), become a perfumer

 

 

Original:

Alternate Version

Translation:

Awake! awake! The night has gone, awake!
Forsake, forsake, your own self, forsake!
In our Egypt a stupid fool is selling a Joseph
Don’t believe me, go to the market and see for yourself!
Without a trace, without a doubt, he’ll make you rosy-faced
He’ll pluck out the thorn from you hand, become a rosebed, become a rosebed!
Know this breast as a cave, the spiritual retreat of that Friend;
If you’re really the ‘companion of the cave’, then enter the cave, enter the cave!
Don’t listen to every scheme and spell, don’t wash blood with blood
Like a glass cup, fall over and shatter, be lowly and debased
In the swing of the polo mallet, be the ball! be the ball!
Because of the arrows in its quiver, drop dead! drop dead!
The heavenly decree has arrived, the healer of lovers has arrived,
If you want him to visit you, become sick, become sick!
Know this breast as a cave, the spiritual retreat of that Friend;
If you’re really the ‘companion of the cave’, then enter the cave, enter the cave!
You’re a fine man, but naive, offering gold to thieves
If you want to recognize the thieves, be an outlaw, be an outlaw!
Hush! Silence the description of the sea and float within its depths
If you want to learn to dive, grow fins! grow fins!

Original:

 بیدار شو بیدار شو هین رفت شب بیدار شو
 بيزارشو بيزارشو وز خويش هم بيزار شو
در مصر ما يك احمقي نك مي فروشد يوسفي
باور نمي داري مرا اينك سوي بازار شو
بي چون ترا بي چون كند روي ترا گلگون كند
 خار از كفت بيرون كند وانگه سوي گلزار شو
مشنو تو هر مكر و فسون خون را چرا شويي به خون
 همچون قدح شو سرنگون وانگاه دردي خوارشو
در گردش چوگان او چون گوي شو چون گوي شو
وز بهر نقل كركسش مردارشو مردارشو
آمد نداي آسمان آمد طبيب عاشقان
 خواهي كه آيد پيش تو بيمارشو بيمارشو
اين سينه را چون غار دان خلوتگه آن يار دان
گر يار غاري هين بيا در غار شو در غار شو
تو مرد نيك ساده اي زر را به دزدان داده اي
خواهي بداني دزد را طرار شو طرار شو
خاموش وصف بحر و در كم گوي در درياي او
 خواهي كه غواصي كني دم دارشو دم دارشو

 

What is this drunkeness?

A current favorite Ghazal of Hafez, a sublime wedding of melody and meanings

Translation:

I known not what this drunkenness is that to us he brought
and who is the Saqi and from where is this wine that he brought?
What tune is this musician playing so skillfully
that in the midst of his song, my friend’s words, he’s brought
You too, grab some wine and take the desert road
For the songbird, sweet-sounding music, has brought
With goodness and joy, let the rose and daffodil arrive
The violet came happily, and purity the jasmine brought
The east wind is Solomon’s hoopoe in bringing us good news
For glad tidings from Sheba’s rose garden it has brought
O heart don’t complain of your state, knotted-up like a bud
for the knot-untying morning breeze, the dawn wind has brought
The cure for our heart’s weakness is the Saqi’s smile
Come—for the healer has arrived, and the remedy he’s brought
I am the disciple of the Magian Pir, don’t worry about me, O Shaykh
For you’ve made the promises, but he’s brought them to pass
I am amazed at that Turkish warrior
who attacked a poor dervish like me!
Heaven will be Hafez’s servant and work obediently
Now that seeking refuge, to your door, he’s brought

 

Original:

چه مستیست ندانم که رو به ما آورد
که بود ساقی و این باده از کجا آورد
چه راه مى زند اين مطرب مقام شناس
كه در ميان غزل قول آشنا آورد
تو نیز باده به چنگ آر و راه صحرا گیر
که مرغ نغمه سرا ساز خوش نوا آورد
رسیدن گل و نسرین به خیر و خوبی باد
بنفشه شاد و کش آمد سمن صفا آورد
صبا به خوش خبری هدهد سلیمان است
که مژده طرب از گلشن سبا آورد
دلا چو غنچه شکایت ز کار بسته مکن
که باد صبح نسیم گره گشا آورد
علاج ضعف دل ما کرشمه ساقیست
برآر سر که طبیب آمد و دوا آورد
مرید پیر مغانم ز من مرنج ای شیخ
چرا که وعده تو کردی و او به جا آورد
به تنگ چشمی آن ترک لشکری نازم
که حمله بر من درویش یک قبا آورد
فلک غلامی حافظ کنون به طوع کند
که التجا به در دولت شما آورد

Thank God the tavern is open

 

One of Hafez’s most musical and delightful ghazals:

Translation:

Thank God the tavern door is finally open
for I’ve pressed my face to its door in need
The wine vats are gushing and roaring drunk
And that wine here is real and not metaphorical
He is all drunkenness, pride, and arrogance
we are all desperation, weakness, and need
The secret I never told the stranger and never will
I’ll tell the friend, for he is secrets’ intimate
The description of the wavy curls of his locks
cannot be made short, for it is a long story
It is the burden of Majnun’s heart and Layla’s curved tress
It is Mahmud’s face and the sole of Ayaz’s foot
Like the hawk, I’ve closed my eyes to the whole world
since I opened them to your beautiful face
Whoever enters the Ka’aba of your street
stands in prayer before the qibla of your eyebrow
O people of the assembly, about the agony of poor Hafez’s heart
ask the candle which is burning and melting…

(modified from Reza Saberi’s translation in The Divan of Hafez, p. 51)

 

 

Original:

المنة لله که در میکده باز است
زان رو که مرا بر در او روی نیاز است
خم‌ها همه در جوش و خروشند ز مستی
وان می که در آن جاست حقیقت نه مجاز است
از وی همه مستی و غرور است و تکبر
وز ما همه بیچارگی و عجز و نیاز است
رازی که بر غیر نگفتیم و نگوییم
با دوست بگوییم که او محرم راز است
شرح شکن زلف خم اندر خم جانان
کوته نتوان کرد که این قصه دراز است
بار دل مجنون و خم طره لیلی
رخساره محمود و کف پای ایاز است
بردوخته‌ام دیده چو باز از همه عالم
تا دیده من بر رخ زیبای تو باز است
در کعبه کوی تو هر آن کس که بیاید
از قبله ابروی تو در عین نماز است
ای مجلسیان سوز دل حافظ مسکین
از شمع بپرسید که در سوز و گداز است

 

 

 

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:

Translation:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original:
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):

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

 

Original:

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

 

 

 

Translation:

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.

 

 

Original:

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

 

 

Translation:

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

 

 

Original:

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

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLBs-iUKGxQ

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!

 

 

Rumi
Translation:
 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

 

 

Orignal:
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

 

Translation:
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

 

Original:

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

 

Translation:

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

 

Original:

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

 

Shushtari

Translation:

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.

 

Original:

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:

Translation:
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
 
Original:
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
https://lyricstranslate.com/en/fado-perdi%C3%A7%C3%A3o-perdition-fado.html

Translation:
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
Rumi
Translation:
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.
Original:
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