Monday, May 19, 2008

[Sunlight] "Lay your neck before the knife"


Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 728, in an interpretive
version by Professor Barks, and in translation by Professor Arberry:


More Range

We're friends with one who kills us,
who gives us to the ocean waves. We

love this death. Only ignorance says,
Put it off a while, day after tomorrow.

Don't avoid the knife. This friend
only seems fierce, bringing your soul

more range, perching your falcon on a
cliff of the wind. Jesus on his cross,

Hallaj on his - those absurd killings
hold a secret. Cautious cynics know

what they're doing with every moment and why.
Submit to love without thinking, as

the sun this morning rose recklessly
extinguishing our star-candle minds.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"The Soul of Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 2001

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are foes to ourselves, and friends to him who slays us;
we are drowned in the sea, and the waves of the sea are slaying us.
For this reason, laughing and gay, we are yielding up sweet
life, because that king is slaying us with honey and sugar and
We make ourselves out fat for the sacrifice of the feast, because
that butcher of lovers slays the very fine and handsome.
That Iblis without light begs for a respite from Him; He gave
him respite, because He is slaying him after tomorrow.*
Like Ishmael, cheerfully lay your neck before the knife; do not
steal your throat away from Him, if He is slaying, until He slays.*
Azrael has no power or way to overcome lovers; love itself and
passion slays the lovers of love.
The slain ones shout, "Would that my people knew"; secretly the
Beloved bestows a hundred lives, and openly slays.*
Put forth a head out of the earth of the body, and then see that
He is either drawing you to heaven, or slaying you.
The spirit of breath he takes away, the comfort spiritual He
bestows; He releases the falcon of the soul, and slays the owl of
That idea the Christian carries abroad, the Moslem has not that
idea, that He is slaying this Messiah upon the cross.*
Every true lover is like Mansur, they slay themselves; show any
beside the lover who deliberately slays himself!*
Death daily makes a hundred requisitions on mankind; the
lover of God without requisition slays himself.
I make this enough, else I will myself utter the lovers' secret,
though the unbeliver slays himself of anger and fury.
Shams-I Tabrizi has climbed over the horizon like the sun;
unceremoniously he is extinguishing the candles of the stars.

*"That Iblis..." -- see Koran 15:36-49
*"Like Ishmael..." -- see Nicholson on Math. I:227
*"Azrael..." -- Azrael is the angel of death. For this verse, see
Aflaki 591.
*"The slain ones shout..." -- Korn 36:27
*"The spirit of breath..." -- a play on "ruh, rihi, rah, rahi."
*"The idea that..." -- See Koran 4:157
*" Mansur" -- Mansur: Hallaj

-- Translation and notes by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
The University of Chicago Press 1968/1991




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