Wednesday, April 23, 2008

[Sunlight] "Stay awake for an entire night" -- Ghazal 258


Here, Sunlight offers Rumi's Ghazal (Ode) 258, in two forms -- a
poetic translation from Nader Khalili, and a version by Coleman


if you stay awake
for an entire night
watch out for a treasure
trying to arrive

you can keep warm
by the secret sun of the night
keeping your eyes open
for the softness of dawn

try it for tonight
challenge your sleepy eyes
do not lay your head down
wait for heavenly alms

night is the bringer of gifts
Moses went on a ten-year journey
during a single night
invited by a tree
to watch the fire and light

Mohammed too made his passage
during that holy night
when he heard the glorious voice
when he ascended to the sky

day is to make a living
night is only for love
commoners sleep fast
lovers whisper to God all night

all night long
a voice calls upon you
to wake up
in the precious hours

if you miss your chance now
when your body is left behind
your soul will lament
death is a life of no return

-- Translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Cal-Earth Press, 1994



Don't go to sleep one night.
What you most want will come to you then.
Warmed by a sun inside, you'll see wonders.
Tonight, don't put your head down.

Be tough, and strength will come.
That which adoration adores
appears at night. Those asleep
may miss it. One night Moses stayed awake
and asked, and saw a light in a tree.

Then he walked at night for ten years,
until finally he saw the whole tree
illuminated. Muhammad rode his horse
through the night sky. The day is for work.
The night for love. Don't let someone
bewitch you. Some people sleep at night.

But not lovers. They sit in the dark
and talk to God, who told David,
"Those who sleep all night every night
and claim to be connected to us, they lie."

Lovers can't sleep when they feel the privacy
of the beloved all around them. Someone
who's thirsty may sleep for a little while,
but he or she will dream of water, a full jar
beside a creek, or the spiritual water you get
from another person. All night, listen
to the conversation. Stay up.
This moment is all there is.

Death will take it away soon enough.
You'll be gone, and this earth will be left
without a sweetheart, nothing but weeds
growing inside thorns.

I'm through. Read the rest of this poem
in the dark tonight.
Do I have a head? And feet?

Shams, so loved by Tabrizians, I close my lips.
I wait for you to come and open them.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanfrancisco, 1995.




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