Friday, October 20, 2006

"Like This"

Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 1826, from the Diwan-e
Shams, in a version by Jonathan Star, in a version by Coleman
Barks, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

"Like This"

If someone asks,
"What does perfect beauty look like?"
Show him your own face and say,
Like this.

If someone asks,
"What does an angel's wing look like?" - smile.
If he asks about divine fragrance
Pull him close, his face in your hair,
Like this.

If someone asks,
"How did Jesus bring the dead back to life?" -
Don't say a word -
just kiss him softly on the cheek,
Like this.

If someone asks,
"How does it feel to be slain by love?"
Close your eyes and tear open your shirt,
Like this.

If someone asks about my stature,
Stare into space with your eyes wide open,
Like this.

The soul enters one body, then another.
If someone argues about this
Enter my house and wave him good-bye,
Like this.

I am the storehouse of all pleasure,
I am the pain of self-denial.
To see me, lower your eyes to the ground
Then raise them up to heaven,
Like this.

Only the gentle breeze
Knows the secret of union.
Listen as it whispers a song to every heart,
Like this.

If someone asks,
How does a servant attain the glory of God?
Become the shining candle
That every eye can see,
Like this.

I asked about Joseph's perfume
Which rode the wind from city to city -
It was your scent
Blowing in from God's perfect world,
Like this.

I asked how Joseph's perfume
Gave sight to the blind -
It was your breeze
Clearing the darkness from my eyes,
Like this.

Perhaps Shams will be generous
And fill our hearts with love.
Perhaps he will raise one eyebrow
And cast us a glance,
Like this.

-- Version by Jonathan Star
"Rumi - In the Arms of the Beloved "
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York 1997

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,
Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
Like this?

If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God's fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close,
Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe,
Like this?

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don't try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips,
Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to "die for love," point

If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
when someone doesn't believe that,
walk back into my house.
Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
While the breeze says a secret.
Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
Like this.

How did Joseph's scent come to Jacob?

How did Jacob's sight return?

A little wind cleans the eyes.
Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he'll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us.
Like this.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"Like This"
Maypop, 1990

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If any man asks you about the houris, show your face, saying,
"Like this"; if any man speaks to you of the moon, get up onto
the roof--"Like this."
If any seeks a peri, show him your countenance; if any men-
tions musk, open your tresses--"Like this."*
If any says to you, "How does cloud disclose the moon?,"
loosen knot by knot the strings of your gown--"Like this."
If one asks you how the Messiah revived the dead, before him
kiss me on the lips--"Like this."
If any says to you, "Say, how is he who is slain of love?" ex-
hibit to him my soul--"Like this."
If any asks you compassionately about my stature, exhibit
your own brow folded double--"Like this."
The soul is separated from the body, and thereafter returns
again; ho, show to those who disbelieve, enter the house--"Like
Whenever you hear a lover's lament, by God's right, all that is
our story-"Like this."
I am the home of every angel, I am the black and blue beaten
chest; raise your eyes and look well at heaven-"Like this."*
To none but the zephyr have I told the secret of union with the
Beloved, so that the zephyr said in the joy of its secret heart--
"Like this."
Despite him who says, "How shall the servant attain God?"
put in the hand of every eye a bright candle--"Like this."
I said, "How does the scent of Joseph travel from city to city?"
The scent of God breathed from the world of Hu--"Like this."*
I said, "How does the scent of a Joseph give back sight?" Your
breeze irradiated my eyes--"Like this."
From Tabriz haply Shams-e Din will be benevolent, and out
of his grace in fidelity lift up his head--"Like this."

-- Translation by A. J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2"
The University of Chicago Press, 1991

* Perhaps a reference to the Qur'an where it says: "He {God} sends down His
angels with inspiration of his command, to such of His servants as He pleases,"
* "The black and blue chest" is a sign of the ascetism and the chastised carnal
soul ("nafs") without whose abasement the Sufi will not attain any spiritual ele-
* "Hu" or "Ya Hu" are the ecstatic cries of the Sufis and mean, "He {God} or
"O God!" The scent of the Beloved from His divine city is likened to the perfume
of Joseph's vest which, coming from afar to blind Jacob, gave him his sight.
Cf. Qur'an 12: 94.

The English and Persian media:


No comments: