Man, in this world of seven hues,
lute-like is ever afire with lamentation;
yearning for a kindred spirit burns him inwardly
teaching him threnodies to soothe the heart,
and yet this world, that is wrought of water and clay—
how can it be said to possess a heart?
Sea, plain, mountain, grass–all are deaf and dumb,
deaf and dumb heaven and sun and moon;
though the stars swarm in the selfsame sky
each star is more solitary than the other,
each one is desperate just as we are,
a vagrant lost in an azure wilderness—
the caravan unprovisioned against the journey,
the heavens boundless, the nights interminable.
Is this world then some prey, and we the huntsmen,
or are we prisoners utterly forgotten?
Bitterly I wept, but echo answered never:
where may Adam’s son find a kindred spirit?
I have seen that the day of this dimensioned world
whose light illuminates both palace and street
came into being from the flight of a planet,
is nothing more, you might say, than a moment gone.
How fair is the Day that is not of our days,
the Day whose dawn has neither noon nor eve!
Let its light illuminate the spirit
and sounds become visible even as colours;
hidden things become manifest in its splendour,
its watch is unending and intransient.
Grant me that Day, Lord, even for a single day,
deliver me from this day that has no glow!
Concerning whom was the Verse of Subjection revealed?
For whose sake spins the azure sphere so wildly?
Who was it knew the secret of He taught the names?
Who was intoxicated with that saki and that wine?
Whom didst Thou choose out of all the world?
To whom didst Thou confide the innermost secret?
O Thou whose arrow transpierced our breast,
who uttered the words Call upon me, and to whom?
Thy countenance is my faith, and my Koran:
dost Thou begrudge my soul one manifestation?
By the loss of a hundred of its rays
the sun’s capital is in no wise diminished.
Reason is a chain fettering this present age:
where is a restless soul such as I possess?
For many ages Being must twist on itself
that one restless soul may come into being.
Except you fret away at this brackish soil
it is not congenial to the seed of desire;
count it for gain enough if a single heart
grows from the bosom of this unproductive clay!
Thou art a moon: pass within my dormitory,
glance but once on my unenlightened soul.
Why does the flame shrink away from the stubble?
Why is the lightning-flash afraid to strike?
So long as I have lived, I have lived in separation:
reveal what lies beyond yon azure canopy;
open the doors that have been closed in my face,
let earth share the secrets of heaven’s holy ones.
Kindle now a fire within my breast-
leave be the aloe, and consume the brushwood,
then set my aloe again upon the fire
and scatter my smoke through all the world.
Stir up the fire within my goblet,
mingle one glance with this inadvertency.
We seek Thee, and Thou art far from our sight;
no, I have erred-we are blind, and Thou art present.
Either draw aside this veil of mysteries
or seize to Thyself this sightless soul!
The date-tree of my thought despairs of leaf and fruit;
either despatch the axe, or the breeze of dawn.
Thou gavest me reason, give me madness too,
show me the way to inward ecstasy.
Knowledge takes up residence in the thought,
love’s lodge is the unsleeping heart;
so long as knowledge has no portion of love
it is a mere picture-gallery of thoughts.
This peep-show is the Samiri’s conjuring-trick;
knowledge without the Holy Ghost is mere spellbinding.
Without revelation no wise man ever found the way,
he died buffetted by his own imaginings;
without revelation life is a mortal sickness,
reason is banishment, religion constraint.
This world of mountain and plain, ocean and land—
we yearn for vision, and it speaks of report.
Grant to this vagrant heart a resting-place,
restore to the moon this fragment of the moon.
Though from my soil nothing grows but words,
the language of banishment never comes to an end.
Under the heavens I feel myself a stranger:
from beyond the skies utter the words I am near,
that these dimensions, this north and this south,
like to the sun and moon in the end may set,
I shall transcend the talisman of yesterday
and tomorrow, transcend the moon, sun, Pleiades.
Thou art eternal splendour; we are like sparks—
a breath or two we possess, and that too borrowed.
You who know naught of the battle of death and life,
who is this slave who would emulate even God?
This slave, impatient, conquering all horizons,
finds pleasure neither in absence nor in presence.
I am a momentary thing: make me eternal,
out of my earthiness make me celestial.
Grant me precision both in speech and action:
the ways are clear- give me the strength to walk.
What I have said comes from another world;
this book descends from another heaven.
I am a sea; untumult in me is a fault;
where is he who can plunge into my depths?
A whole world slumbered upon my shore
and saw from the strand naught but the surge of a wave.
I, who despair of the great sages of old,
have a word to say touching the day to come!
Render my speech easy unto the young,
make my abyss for them attainable.