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 1970, 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 الملمين 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

You are Light

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Original:

صلى الله عليكَ يا نـور      يـا نــور كــل المـنـازِل

يا خيرَ من في المنازل

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

 

 

 

 

My glance at the Beloved’s face…

poemred

Translation:
My glance at the face of the beloved is bliss
and separation from she whom I love is agony to me
I am he who has not been pitied as a lover
until, worn out, I became a mercy for the lovers
O planter of the basil around our tents
Don’t plant the basil for you are not staying
Not all who taste love know love
Not all who drink wine are drinking buddies
Not all who seek happiness attain it
Not all who read the book understand it
My wealth is but a tongue that when I speak I wrong myself
And God knows, I am indeed wronged

 

Original:

نظرى الى وجه الحبيب نعيم
وفراق من أهوى على عظيم

أنا الذي كنت لم أرحــم عـاشــقآ
حتى بليت فصرت بالعاشقين رحيـم
يازارع الـريــحان حـول خيـامـــــنـا
لاتـزرع الريــحـان  لـــست تـقيـــم
ماكل من ذاق الهوى عرف هوئى
ولا كلّ من شرب الـمُـدام  نديــــم
ولاكل من طلب السعادة  نالــها
ولاكل من قـرأ الكـتـاب  فـهـيـــــــم
مالي لسان أن أقول:ظـلـمـتـني
واللـــّــه يـعلم. أنـنـّي مــظـــلـــــوم

 

 

For the Mawlid

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These short Arabic verses by the Persian poet Sa’adi are some of the best known and loved praises on the Prophet:

 

Translation:

He attained eminence by his perfection
The darkness was lifted by his beauty
Lovely are all of his qualities
Blessings upon him and his family

 

BalaghalUlaBiKamalihi

 

Original:

بلغ العلى بكماله
كشف الدجى بجماله
حسنت جميع خصاله
صلوا عليه و آله

 


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Khalili hilye cal 459 copyright

Khalili hilye cal 459 copyright


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blghtnastaliq

 

209-ALMANAK-SONBASKI-1-ic-cros-yok-70

Arabic Poetry Videos

Some beautiful visual poems of lovely Arabic verse:

Al-Mutannabi

 

Translation:

When the lion bares his teeth, do not
fancy that the lion shows to you a smile
I have slain the man that sought my heart’s blood many a time
 Riding a noble mare whose back none else may climb
Whose hind and fore-legs seem in galloping as one
 Nor hand nor foot requireth she to urge her on
 And O the days when I have swung my fine-edged sword
 Amidst a sea of death where wave was dashed on wave
 The desert knows me well, and the night, and mounted men
So do the sword and the spear, and the paper and the pen

Original:

إذا رَأيْتَ نُيُوبَ اللّيْثِ بارِزَةً فَلا تَظُنّنّ أنّ اللّيْثَ يَبْتَسِمُ

وَمُهْجَةٍ مُهْجَتي من هَمّ صَاحِبها أدرَكْتُهَا بجَوَادٍ ظَهْرُه حَرَمُ

رِجلاهُ في الرّكضِ رِجلٌ وَاليدانِ يَدٌ وَفِعْلُهُ مَا تُريدُ الكَفُّ وَالقَدَمُ

وَمُرْهَفٍ سرْتُ بينَ الجَحْفَلَينِ بهِ حتى ضرَبْتُ وَمَوْجُ المَوْتِ يَلْتَطِمُ

الخَيْلُ وَاللّيْلُ وَالبَيْداءُ تَعرِفُني وَالسّيفُ وَالرّمحُ والقرْطاسُ وَالقَلَمُ

Mahmoud Darwish

 

Translation:

The Dice Player

Who am I to say to you
what I say to you?
I was not a stone polished by water
and became a face
nor was I a cane punctured by the wind
and became a flute…

I am a dice player,
Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose
I am like you
or slightly less…

I was born next to the well
next to the three lonely trees, lonely like the nuns
born without a celebration and without a midwife
I was named by chance
and belonged to a family by chance,
and inherited its features, traits,
and illnesses:

First – an imbalance in the arteries,
and high blood pressure
Second – shyness in addressing the mother,
the father, and the grandmother – the tree
Third – hoping to cure from flu
with a cup of hot chamomile
Fourth – laziness in talking about the gazelle and the lark
Fifth – boredom of winter nights
Sixth – a gross failure in singing …

I played no role in who I became
It was by chance that I became a male …
and by chance that I saw a pale moon
like a lemon, flirting with sleepless girls
I did not strive to find
a mole in the most secret places of my body!

I could have not existed
My father could have not
married my mother by chance
Or I could have been
like my sister who screamed then died
and did not realize that she was born for only one hour
and did not know her mother…

Or: like the eggs of the pigeons
smashed before the chicks saw the lights

It was by chance that I became
a survivor in bus accident
Where my school trip was delayed
because I forgot existence and its conditions
when I was reading a love story the night before,
I impersonated the role of the author,
and the role of the beloved – the victim
so I became the martyr of love in the novel
and the survivor in the road accident

I played no role in kidding with the sea,
but I was a reckless boy,
a fan of hanging around the attractiveness of water
calling me: Come to me!
nor did I play any role in surviving the sea
I was rescued by a human gull
who saw the waves pulling me and paralyzing my hands

I could have not been infected
by the fairies of the ancient hanging poetry
If the house gate was northerly
not overlooking the sea
If the army patrol did not see the village fire
baking the night
Had the fifteen martyrs re-built the barricades,
Had that field not fallen,
I could have become an olive tree
or a geography teacher
or an expert of the kingdom of ants
or a guardian of echo!

Who am I to say to you
what I say to you
at the door of the church
and I am but a throw of a dice
between a predator and a prey
I earned more awareness
not to be happy with my moonlit night
but to witness the massacre

I survived by chance:
I was smaller than a military target
and bigger than a bee wandering among the flowers of the fence
I feared for my siblings and my father
I feared for a time made of glass
I feared for my cat and rabbit
and for a magical moon,
above the high minaret of the mosque
I feared for the grapes of our vines
that suspend like the breasts of our dog …

Fear kept up with me and I continued with it
barefooted, forgetting my little memories
of what I wanted from tomorrow –
there is no time for tomorrow –

I walk / haste / run / go up / go down /
I scream / bark / howl / call / wail /
I go faster / slower / fall down / slow down / dry /
I walk / fly / see / do not see / stumble /
I become yellow / green / blue /
I split / break into tears /
I get thirsty / tired / hungry /
I fall down / get up / run / forget /
I see / do not see / remember / hear / comprehend /
I rave / hallucinate / mumble / scream /
I can not /
I groan / become insane / go astray /
I become less / more / fall down / go up / and drop /
I bleed / and I lose consciousness /

Original:

لاعب النرد

مَنْ أَنا لأقول لكمْ
ما أَقول لكمْ ؟
وأَنا لم أكُنْ حجراً صَقَلَتْهُ المياهُ
فأصبح وجهاً
ولا قَصَباً ثقَبتْهُ الرياحُ
فأصبح ناياً …

أَنا لاعب النَرْدِ ،
أَربح حيناً وأَخسر حيناً
أَنا مثلكمْ
أَو أَقلُّ قليلاً …
وُلدتُ إلى جانب البئرِ
والشجراتِ الثلاثِ الوحيدات كالراهباتْ
وُلدتُ بلا زَفّةٍ وبلا قابلةْ
وسُمِّيتُ باسمي مُصَادَفَةً
وانتميتُ إلى عائلةْ
مصادفَةً ،
ووَرِثْتُ ملامحها والصفاتْ
وأَمراضها :

أَولاً – خَلَلاً في شرايينها
وضغطَ دمٍ مرتفعْ
ثانياً – خجلاً في مخاطبة الأمِّ والأَبِ
والجدَّة – الشجرةْ
ثالثاً – أَملاً في الشفاء من الانفلونزا
بفنجان بابونج ٍ ساخن ٍ
رابعاً – كسلاً في الحديث عن الظبي والقُبَّرة
خامساً – مللاً في ليالي الشتاءْ
سادساً – فشلاً فادحاً في الغناءْ …

ليس لي أَيُّ دورٍ بما كنتُ
كانت مصادفةً أَن أكونْ
ذَكَراً …
ومصادفةً أَن أَرى قمراً
شاحباً مثل ليمونة يَتحرَّشُ بالساهرات
ولم أَجتهد
كي أَجدْ
شامةً في أَشدّ مواضع جسميَ سِرِّيةً !

كان يمكن أن لا أكونْ
كان يمكن أن لا يكون أَبي
قد تزوَّج أُمي مصادفةً
أَو أكونْ
مثل أُختي التي صرخت ثم ماتت
ولم تنتبه
إلى أَنها وُلدت ساعةً واحدةْ
ولم تعرف الوالدة ْ …
أَو : كَبَيْض حَمَامٍ تكسَّرَ
قبل انبلاج فِراخ الحمام من الكِلْسِ /

كانت مصادفة أَن أكون
أنا الحيّ في حادث الباصِ
حيث تأخَّرْتُ عن رحلتي المدرسيّة ْ
لأني نسيتُ الوجود وأَحواله
عندما كنت أَقرأ في الليل قصَّةَ حُبٍّ
تَقمَّصْتُ دور المؤلف فيها
ودورَ الحبيب – الضحيَّة ْ
فكنتُ شهيد الهوى في الروايةِ
والحيَّ في حادث السيرِ /

لا دور لي في المزاح مع البحرِ
لكنني وَلَدٌ طائشٌ
من هُواة التسكّع في جاذبيّة ماءٍ
ينادي : تعال إليّْ !
ولا دور لي في النجاة من البحرِ
أَنْقَذَني نورسٌ آدميٌّ
رأى الموج يصطادني ويشلُّ يديّْ

كان يمكن أَلاَّ أكون مُصاباً
بجنِّ المُعَلَّقة الجاهليّةِ
لو أَن بوَّابة الدار كانت شماليّةً
لا تطلُّ على البحرِ
لو أَن دوريّةَ الجيش لم تر نار القرى
تخبز الليلَ
لو أَن خمسة عشر شهيداً
أَعادوا بناء المتاريسِ
لو أَن ذاك المكان الزراعيَّ لم ينكسرْ
رُبَّما صرتُ زيتونةً
أو مُعَلِّم جغرافيا
أو خبيراً بمملكة النمل
أو حارساً للصدى !

مَنْ أنا لأقول لكم
ما أقول لكم
عند باب الكنيسةْ
ولستُ سوى رمية النرد
ما بين مُفْتَرِس ٍ وفريسةْ
ربحت مزيداً من الصحو
لا لأكون سعيداً بليلتيَ المقمرةْ
بل لكي أَشهد المجزرةْ

نجوتُ مصادفةً : كُنْتُ أَصغرَ من هَدَف عسكريّ
وأكبرَ من نحلة تتنقل بين زهور السياجْ
وخفتُ كثيراً على إخوتي وأَبي
وخفتُ على زَمَن ٍ من زجاجْ
وخفتُ على قطتي وعلى أَرنبي
وعلى قمر ساحر فوق مئذنة المسجد العاليةْ
وخفت على عِنَبِ الداليةْ
يتدلّى كأثداء كلبتنا …
ومشى الخوفُ بي ومشيت بهِ
حافياً ، ناسياً ذكرياتي الصغيرة عما أُريدُ
من الغد – لا وقت للغد –

أَمشي / أهرولُ / أركضُ / أصعدُ / أنزلُ / أصرخُ / أَنبحُ / أعوي / أنادي / أولولُ / أُسرعُ / أُبطئ / أهوي / أخفُّ / أجفُّ / أسيرُ / أطيرُ / أرى / لا أرى / أتعثَّرُ / أَصفرُّ / أخضرُّ / أزرقُّ / أنشقُّ / أجهشُ / أعطشُ / أتعبُ / أسغَبُ / أسقطُ / أنهضُ / أركضُ / أنسى / أرى / لا أرى / أتذكَّرُ / أَسمعُ / أُبصرُ / أهذي / أُهَلْوِس / أهمسُ / أصرخُ / لا أستطيع / أَئنُّ / أُجنّ / أَضلّ / أقلُّ / وأكثرُ / أسقط / أعلو / وأهبط / أُدْمَى / ويغمى عليّ

When she begins to sway — لمّا بدا يتثنى

Another gem from al-Andalus:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRGlzIhWgAY

 

 

 

 

Translation (of the most common version, in Arabic below):

When she began to sway
my Love’s beauty entranced me
With a glance, she captured me
the branch bends when it sways
O my promise, O my wonder,
None can console my complaint
of love and my sufferings
except the queen of beauty

 

Original:

لما بدا يتثنى
حبي جماله فتنا

 

او ما بلحظه أسرنا 
غصنٌ ثنا حين مال

 

وعدي ويا حيرتي
من لي رحيم في شكوتي
بالحب من لوعتي
إلا مليكُ الجمال

 

Compare with the famous opening of Rumi’s Mathnawi:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tSfqUuipU8

 

 

Translation:

1. Listen to the reed how it narrates a tale,
A tale of all the separations of which it complains.

2. Ever since they cut me from the reed-bed,
Men and women bemoaned my lament.

3. How I wish in separation, a bosom shred and shred,
So as to utter the description of the pain of longing.

4. Whoever becomes distanced from his roots,
Seeks to return to the days of his union.

5. I joined every gathering uttering my lament,
Consorting with the joyous and the sorrowful.

6. Everyone befriended me following his own opinion,
No one sought the secrets from within me.

7. My secret is not far away from my lament,
Yet, eye and ear do not possess that light.

8. Body is not hidden from soul, nor soul from body,
Yet, none has the license to see the soul.

 

–Translation by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. From “The Lament of the
Reed: Rumi,” translated and recited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
music directed by Suleyman Ergunerm, 2000.

Original:

 

بشنو از نی چون حکایت می کند
از جدایی ها شکایت می کند

 

کز نیستان تا مرا ببریده اند
از نفیرم مرد و زن نالیده اند

 

سینه خواهم شرحه شرحه از فراق
تا بگویم شرح درد اشتیاق

 

هر کسی کو دور ماند از اصل خویش
بازجوید روزگار وصل خویش

 

من به هر جمعیتی نالان شدم
جفت بدحالان و خوشحالان شدم

 

هر کسی از ظن خود شد یار من
از دورن من نجست اسرار من

 

سر من از نالهٔ من دور نیست
لیک چشم و گوش را آن نور نیست

 

تن ز جان و جان ز تن مستور نیست
لیک کس را دید جان دستور نیست