Death Poems

Mīr Dard

Translation:

My friends, we have seen enough of this play
We are going home, you can stay

 

Original:

دوستو، دیکها تماشا یاں کا بس
تُم رہو خوش ہم تو اپنے گھر چلے

 

(From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khwaja_Mir_Dard)

 

Kozan Ichikyo

Translation:

Empty-handed I entered this world
Barefoot I leave it
My coming and my going
two simple happenings
that got entangled

 

Original:

来時は空手、去時は赤脚。一去一来、単重交折

Raiji wa karate kyoji wa sekkyaku ikkyoichirai tanjuu sekkou

 

(From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_poem)

 

Mīrzā ‘abd al-Qādir Bīdil

Translation:

A mere waking between two slumbers, we are
The dust of dreams between mirages we are
From the crash of two waves, a bubble emerges
That is, a talisman written on water we are

 

Original:

بیدارئ میان دو خواب است هستیم
گرد تخیل دو سراب است هستیم
از لطمهٔ دو موج حبابی دمیده است
یعنی طلسم نقش بر آبست هستیم

 

 

Ibn al-Ḥaddād

Translation:

People are like bubbles
Time, depths beyond sounding
One world floats in foam
One world’s light is drowning

 

Original:

الناس مثل حباب         والدهر لجّة ماء
فعالَمٌ  في طفُوًّ       وعالَمٌ  في آنطفاء

 

(see https://mobile.twitter.com/ClassyArabic/status/1481605037646561284 for an alternate translation)

 

 

Mīr Taqī Mīr

 

My life is like a bubble
This world is like a mirage

 

Original:

ہستی اپنی حباب کی سی ہے
یہ نمائش سراب کی سی ہے
Hasti apni habab ki si hai
Yeh numaish ik saraab ki si hai

 

Gerard Manley Hopkins: Spring and Fall

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

 

(From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44400/spring-and-fall)

 

Hafez

 

Translation:

Where’s the good news of union that from this life I rise?
I am a holy bird, from this world’s net I arise
And I swear by your love, that if you call me your slave
that up from the world’s sovereignty and rank I will arise
O Lord, from the cloud of your guidance, let rain fall
Before the time when, from the midst, dust-like I will arise
Sit beside my grave with a musician and with wine
So that with your scent dancing from the tomb I will arise
Rise and show your stature, O idol of sweet moves
So that from this life and world, dancing I arise
Although I’m old, hold me tight in your arms for one night
So that at morning light, young, from your embrace I’ll arise
On the day of my death, take a break to visit me
So that Hafez, from this life and this world, 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

 

Moriya Sen’an

Translation:

Bury me when I die
beneath a wine barrel
in a tavern.
With luck,
the cask will leak.

 

Original:

我死なば
酒屋の瓶の下にいけよ
もしや雫の
もりやせんなん
Ware shinaba
sakaya no kame no
shita ni ikeyo
moshi ya shizuku no
mori ya sen nan

 

(note the pun on the poet’s name “Moriya Sen’an” and the last line:
“with luck the cask will leak”—”mori ya sen nan”)

 

 

Hafez

 

Translation:

One whose heart has been revived by love can never die
Our everlastingness is engraved in the cosmic scroll

 

Original:

هرگز نمیرد آن که دلش زنده شد به عشق                ثبت است بر جریده عالم دوام ما

 

 

Translation:

When I am dead, open my grave and see
The cloud of smoke that rises round thy feet:
In my dead heart the fire still burns for thee;
Yea, the smoke rises from my winding-sheet!

 

Original:

بگشای تربتم را بعد از وفات و بنگر

کز آتش درونم دود از کفن برآید

 

Translation: Gertrude Bell

 

Me

Lips scalded by love’s tongues of flame
Can never taste death’s bitter pain

 

 

Macedonio Fernández-Creíyo Yo

Translation:

Love’s reach does not to everything extend, for
it cannot shake or break the stab of Death.
Yet little can Death take
if in a loving heart the fear of it subsides.
Nor can Death much take at all, for it cannot
drive its fear into the heart where Love resides.
That if Death rule over Life, Love over Death.

 

Original:

No a todo alcanza Amor, pues que no puede
romper el gajo con que Muerte toca.
Mas poco Muerte logra
si en corazón de Amor su miedo muere.
Mas poco Muerte logra, pues no puede
entrar su miedo en pecho donde Amor.
Que Muerte rige a Vida; Amor a Muerte.

(From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cre%C3%ADa_yo)

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

 

Clare Harner

Do not stand
By my grave, and weep.
I am not there,
I do not sleep—
I am the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints in snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle, autumn rain.
As you awake with morning’s hush,
I am the swift, up-flinging rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight,
I am the day transcending night.
Do not stand
By my grave, and cry—
I am not there,
I did not die.

(From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_Not_Stand_at_My_Grave_and_Weep)

 

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

 

 

Zheng Ting

Translation:

Illusion appears, illusion ceases
The biggest illusion among all is our body
Once a pacified heart finds its place
There’s no such body to look for

 

Original:

幻生還幻滅
大幻莫過身
安心自有處
求人無有人

 

John Donne-“Death, Be Not Proud”

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Rumi and Hakuin: Water and Ice

Hakuin

All beings by nature are Buddha,
As ice by nature is water.
Apart from water there is no ice;
Apart from beings, no Buddha.
How sad that people ignore the near
And search for truth afar:
Like someone in the midst of water
Crying out in thirst,
Like a child of a wealthy home
Wandering among the poor.
Lost on dark paths of ignorance,
We wander through the Six Worlds,
From dark path to dark path–
When shall we be freed from birth and death?
Oh, the zazen of the Mahayana!
To this the highest praise!
Devotion, repentance, training,
The many paramitas–
All have their source in zazen.
Those who try zazen even once
Wipe away beginning-less crimes.
Where are all the dark paths then?
The Pure Land itself is near.
Those who hear this truth even once
And listen with a grateful heart,
Treasuring it, revering it,
Gain blessings without end.
Much more, those who turn about
And bear witness to self-nature,
Self-nature that is no-nature,
Go far beyond mere doctrine.
Here effect and cause are the same,
The Way is neither two nor three.
With form that is no-form,
Going and coming, we are never astray,
With thought that is no-thought,
Singing and dancing are the voice of the Law.
Boundless and free is the sky of Samádhi!
Bright the full moon of wisdom!
Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes,
This very place is the Lotus Land,
This very body, the Buddha.

-Zen Master Hakuin

 

Rumi

Totally conscious, and apropos of nothing, you come to see me.
Is someone here? I ask.
The moon. The full moon is inside your house.

My friends and I go running out into the street.
I’m in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren’t listening.
We’re looking up at the sky.
My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden.
Ringdoves scatter with small cries, Where, Where.
It’s midnight. The whole neighbourhood is up and out
in the street thinking, The cat burglar has come back.
The actual thief is there too, saying out loud,
Yes, the cat burglar is somewhere in this crowd.
No one pays attention.

Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you
There’s no need to go outside.

Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.

A white flower grows in quietness.
Let your tongue become that flower.

If you want to learn theory,
talk with theoreticians. That way is oral.
When you learn a craft, practice it.
That learning comes through the hands.
If you want dervishhood, spiritual poverty
and emptiness, you must be friends with a teacher.
Talking about it, reading books,
and doing practices don’t help.
Soul receives from soul that knowing.
The mystery of absence
may be living in your pilgrim heart,
and yet the knowing of it may not yet be yours.
Wait for the illuminated openness,
as though your chest were filling with light,
as when God said, Did we not expand you?
Don’t look for it outside yourself.
You are the source of milk. Don’t milk others!
There is a fountain inside you.
Don’t walk around with an empty bucket.
You have a channel into the ocean,
yet you ask for water from a little pool.
Beg for the love expansion.
Meditate only on That.
The Qur’an says, And He is with you.
There is a basket of fresh bread on your head,
yet you go door to door asking for crusts.
Knock on the inner door, no other.
Sloshing knee-deep in fresh river-water,
yet you keep asking for other people’s water-bags.
Water is everywhere around you, but you see
only barriers that keep you from water.
The horse is beneath the rider’s thighs,
and still you ask, “Where’s my horse?”
Under you! Can’t you see?
“Yes I can see, but whoever saw such a horse?”
Mad with thirst, you can’t drink from the stream
running close by your face.
You are like a pearl on the deep bottom
wondering inside the shell,
Where’s the ocean?
Those mental questionings form the barrier.
Stay bewildered inside God, and only that.
Mathnawī Book V 1063-1084

1940 This arrogance is a product of the skin; hence power and riches are friends to that pride. What is this arrogance?

being oblivious to the essential principle and frozen (insensible)— like the oblivion of ice to the sun.

When it (the ice) becomes conscious of the sun, the ice does not endure: it becomes soft and warm and moves on rapidly.

From seeing the kernel  the whole body becomes desire: it becomes miserable and passionately in love, for “Wretched is he who desires.” When it does not see the kernel, it is content with the skin:  the bondage of “Glorious is he who is content” is its prison.

1945. Here glory is infidelity, and wretchedness is (true) religion: until the stone became naughted, when did it become the gem set in a ring? (To remain) in the state of stoniness and then (to say) “I” (is absurd): ’tis time for thee to become lowly and naughted.
3430. If the ear had heard, how should the ear have remained (in action) or how should it have apprehended words any more?
If the snow and ice were to behold the sun, they would despair of (retaining their) iciness; They would become water (formless and) devoid of roots and knobs:
the air, David-like, would make of the water a mail-coat (of ripples),
And then it (the water) would become a life-giving medicine for every tree: every tree (would be made) fortunate by its advent.
(But) the frozen ice that remains (locked) within itself cries to the trees, Touch me not!
Mathnawi Book V

1110. In this sweet ocean our forms are moving fast, like cups on the surface of water: Until they become full, (they float) like bowls on the top of the sea,

(but) when the bowl is filled it sinks therein. Reason is hidden, and (only) a world (of phenomena) is visible: our forms are the waves or a spray of it (of that hidden ocean).

Whatsoever (thing) the form makes (uses as) a means of approach to It (to Reason), by that (same) means the ocean (of Reason) casts it (the form) far away.

So long as the heart does not see the Giver of (its) conscience, so long as the arrow does not see the far-shooting Archer,

1115. He (who is thus blind) thinks his horse is lost, though (all the while) he is obstinately speeding his horse on the road.

That fine fellow thinks his horse is lost, while his horse is sweeping him onward like the wind. In lamentation and inquiry that scatterbrain (runs) from door to door in every direction, asking and searching:

“Where and who is he that stole my horse?” What is this (animal) under thy thigh, O master? “Yes, this is the horse, but where is the horse?”

O dexterous rider in search of thy horse, come to thyself!

1120. The Spirit is lost (to view) because of its being so manifest and near:

how, having thy belly full of water, art thou drylipped like a jar?

How wilt thou see red and green and russet, unless before (seeing) these three (colours) thou see the light?

But since thy mind was lost (absorbed) in (perception of) the colour, those colours became to thee a veil for the light.

Inasmuch as at night those colours were hidden, thou sawest that thy vision of the colour was (derived) from the light.

There is no vision of colour without the external light: even so it is with the colour of inward phantasy.

Mathnawī Book I 1110-1125

Lovers share a sacred decree:
to seek God, the Beloved.
They roll head over heels,
rushing toward the Beautiful One
like a torrent of water.
In truth, everyone is a shadow of God –
Our seeking is His seeking,
Our words are His words.
At times we flow toward God
like a dancing stream.
At times we are still water held in His pitcher.
At times we boil in a pot turning to vapor –
that is the job of the Beloved.

God breathes into my ear
until my soul takes on His fragrance.
God is the Soul of my soul –
How can I escape?
But why would any soul in this world
want to escape from the Beloved?

God will melt your pride
making you thin as a strand of hair,
Yet do not trade, even for both worlds,
One strand of His hair.

We search for God here and there
while looking right at Him.
Sitting by His side we ask,
“O Beloved, where is the Beloved?”

Enough with such questions! –
Let silence take you to the core of life.
All your talk is worthless
When compared to one whisper
of the Beloved.

 

You are my soul, my universe:
what do I have to do with
For me you are ever-flowing treasure:
the soul and the universe?
One minute, I am the friend of the wine,
what do I have to do with profit and loss?
I have come to this age of ruins,
another the friend of him who burns me.
so what do I have to do
I am sprung free of the whole world,
with time’s melodrama?
I am terrified by the whole world,
I am drunk on union with you,
I am neither “hidden” no “apparent.”
What do I have to do with existence or space?
what do I care about fate’s bow and its arrows?
I need and want and care about no one else.
Since I am your prey,
I live at the bottom of the stream,
why go on staggering under
why would I go looking for water?
What could or would I say about this stream
that flows and flows?
I have given up existence,
why put up with the pretensions of the shepherd?
The burden of this mountain?
Since the wolf is my shepherd,
What abandon! What drunkenness!
You hold the cup in you hand
and glorious to the eye of the heart.

Blessed is the place you are,
Each atom, by your grace,
No one who has ever had a sign from you
is a universe, each drop of water a soul.
need worry again about “name” or “sign.”
You have to dive, dive head first:

To find the place of splendor,
at the bottom of the Sea of truths
what do I have to do with feet that scurry?
What will I give to the toll-man?
With the sword of the One God
you have hacked a Path for us:
You have stolen all my clothes:
From your beauty ablaze like the sun,
contemplate love, contemplate friendship:
from the curls of your hair,
My heart has become ecstatic:
O my soul, hand me this brimming cup,
Do not weigh pain and misery,
And ask from joy all happiness, all security, all peace.

Do not mull over tyranny and neglect:
think of all those who have their eyes fixed on you.
Surname all grief ‘grace’:
transmute pain and anguish into joy
listen, and don’t say a word.

Demand that security, that peace, demand them,
Choose the company of those withdrawn in love
Listen to those who open a path to you.

 

Keep walking,
though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
Move within,
But don’t move the way fear makes you move.
We are the mirror as well as the face of it.
We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity.
We are pain and what cures pain, both.
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.
I want to hold you close like a lute,
so that we can cry out with loving.
Would you rather throw stones at a mirror?
I am your mirror and here are the stones.

In the waters of purity, I melted like salt
Neither blasphemy, nor faith, nor conviction, nor doubt remained.
In the center of my heart a star has appeared
And all the seven heavens have become lost in it.

goldwawflowers

The Book of Sufi is not black ink and words,
It is none other than a pure heart white like snow.

Mathnawi 2:160

Zen and the snowman

At the peak of my soul’s depths
I sit in silent reverie
The sun above, weather below
The vast blue breathes in, out of me

 

The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

 

Hafez says…

          حافظ سخن بگوی که بر صفحه جهان    

این نقش ماند از قلمت یادگار عمر

 

But those whose lives are centered on
Your lovely mouth confess
No other thoughts than this, and think
Nothing of Nothingness

 

                  بيا و هستي حافظ ز پيش او برد
که با وجود تو کس نشنود ز من که منم

 

Come, and make sure Hafez’s being
will disappear-
Since You exist, no one will hear
Me say, “I’m here.”