Friday, May 18, 2007

"This Useless Heart"


Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 2647, in a version by Kabir
Helminski, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:

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"This Useless Heart"

Heart, since you embraced the mysteries,
you have become useless for anything else.
Go mad, don't stay sane.
People meditate to get something.
All you do is give.
Crazy Majnun's priorities are now yours, too.

If you want to be respectable,
why do you go downtown drunk?
It's no good just sitting in some corner,
once you've made friends with the dissolute of this path.

Go back to the desert;
leave this shabby town.
There's the smell of a tavern
somewhere in this neighborhood,
and it's already got you high.

Now follow it. Go to Qaf Mountain like the Simurgh,*
leave these owls and herons.
Go into the thicket of Reality like a lion.
Why linger with hyenas and dogs?
Don't go after the scent of Joseph's shirt,
you are already mourning his death like Jacob, his father.

-- Version by Kabir Helminski
"Love is a Stranger"
Threshold Books, 1993

*"The Simurgh" -- the phoenix, which dwells upon Mount Qaf. In sufi
symbolism, the phoenix often symbolizes the spirit of the saint, or
the saint himself, while Mount Qaf is his station in God's presence.
-- Sunlight footnote from Chittick's "The Sufi Path of Love"


Heart, since you have become understanding of the mysteries,
you have become useless for all other employments.
Be still mad and insane; why have you come to your senses
and recovered your wits?
Meditation is all for the sake of acquiring; you have become
entirely giving.
Preserve that same order of Majnun, for you have become in-
different to all orderings.
If you desire to be veiled and prudent, why did you go about
drunk in the market?
To sit in a corner yields you no profit once you have become
the friend of the dissolutes of this path.
Go forth into the desert, that same desert where you were; you
have wandered long enough in these ruins.
There is a tavern in your neighborhood, from the scent of its
wine you have become intoxicated.
Seize this scent and go to the tavern, for you have become
nimble-paced as that scent.
Go to the mountain of the Qaf like the Simorg; why have you
become the friend of owl and heron?
Go like a lion into the thicket of reality; why have you become
the friend of the fox and the hyena?
Go not after the scent of the shirt of Joseph, for like Jacob, you
are in mourning.

-- Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
University of Chicago Press, 1995

The media:

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