The wine was so fine…

The following was one of Ibn ‘Arabi’s favorite verses of poetry, oft-quoted by Sufi authors ranging from al-Ghazzali to Fakhr ad-din ‘Iraqi to Emir ‘abd al-Qadir to explain the mysterious relationship between God and the heart.

 

 

The glass was so clear, and so was the wine
they became so similar, that it became unclear
Whether there was wine and no cup
Or a cup and no wine

-Ṣaḥib ibn ‘Abbād

 

Original:

رقَّ الزجاجُ وَرَقَّت الخمرُ          وَتشابها  فَتَشاكل     الأَمرُ

فَكَأَنَّما  خمرٌ   وَلا     قَدحٌ          وَكَأَنَّما  قَدحٌ   وَلا     خمرُ

 

As Junayd famously said,

The colour of water is the colour of its vessel

لون الماء لون انائه

Compare with my own humble meditation on this theme:

 

If you see cup and wine as two, you haven’t drunk enough
In this tavern, we drink love’s molten glass, served by the cup

 

And when the sparkling wine is swirled and left still to breathe well
That’s just the glass-blower whispering his secret sculpting spells

 

Not only does this wine redden cups’ sweet cheeks and their lips
Its pouring gives them lovely shapes and their bright translucence

 

The heavens are but spinning glasses cast from frozen wine
How strange that they all seem to fit within this cup of mine

 

Inside my glass, last night, I saw your face, mingling with mine
In drunken clarity, I sipped myself in your outline

 

The fine lines of your lips are just the rippling of this wine
And so we drink and kiss ‘till I can’t tell what’s yours from mine

 

Last night, I got so drunk I sold my soul for cups of wine
I’m back to see what I can get for my body this time

 

My heart’s the secret flask of that most thirsty of madmen
Who drained the wine, drank the dry glass, then downed the whole tavern

 

Bilqis thought our way was water, but soon learned this glass held wine
Sulayman’s tricked many spirits into these bottles of rhymes

 

Though everyone loves wine’s bouquet, who likes the drunkard’s belch?
Be quiet, hold your drink, and keep its secrets to yourself.

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