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
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:
The body is like Mary. Each of us has a Jesus, but so long as no pain appears, our Jesus is not born. If pain never comes, our Jesus goes back to his place of origin on the same secret path he had come, and we remain behind, deprived and without a share of him.
trans. Annemarie Schimmel. I Am Wind, You are Fire; The Life and Work of Rumi. Shambhala, Boston 1996. p. 122
If you bathe your soul for one instant in the veil of his love
Like Mary, from one breath, you’ll see Jesus conceived
If like Mary, you conceive the Messiah without a father
Your face will turn saffron-yellow (from pain)
یک نفس در پرده عشقش چو جانت غسل کرد
همچو مریم از دمی بینی تو عیسی زاییی
چون بزادی همچو مریم آن مسیح بیپدر
گردد این رخسار سرخت زعفران سیماییی
The Virgin I must be and bring God forth from me
should ever I be granted divine felicity.
When God lay hidden in the womb of a young virgin,
It happened that the point fully contained the circle.
God is my center, if I do encompass Him
My circle he becomes, I am enclosed in Him.
The Virgin is a crystal, her son celestial light;
Wholly she is pierced by him, yet unimpaired she shines.
The soul that’s viriginal and naught but God conceives
Can pregnant be with God as often as it pleases.
trans. from Maria Shrady. Angelus Silesius: The Cherubinic Wanderer. Paulist Press, 1986.
This amazing poem of Ibn ‘Arabi’s is often interpreted somewhat sentimentally, but the love he writes of is far more than mere sentiment, and the universalism he espouses is much more than mere coexistence. Among other things, it refers to a profound spiritual transformation in which opposites unite and the limitations of particular existence are swept away by love, the power that animantes the cosmos.
When I met you I loved you
I gave you love and warmth
and finally I realized
that was a mistake
that I suffered with you
La vida es una ilusión
que nadie vive sin ella
y no tiene solución
porque es como una estrella
que jamás nadie alcanzó
Cuando yo a ti te conocí
te di cariño y calor
y al final me convencí
que fue una equivocación
la que yo contigo sufrí
Two stanzas from “An Ode to Melancholy”:
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty – Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
Drink to me, only, with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I’ll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise,
Doth ask a drink divine:
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee, late, a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent’st back to me:
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.
LOVEby: George Herbert (1593-1632)
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.’A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?”Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.
by John Donne (c.1572-1631)
MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas ! is more than we would do.
O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met,
And cloister’d in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck’d from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
‘Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.
Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out ev’n to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.