Friday, June 06, 2008

[Sunlight] Pouring out wine -- Ghazal 1135



Bring wine, oh Saki--may my head and turban
be Thy sacrifice! Bring the spirit's cup from wherever it is
Come drunk and strolling, goblet in hand--let it
not be lawful for Thee to be the Saki and us to be so sober!
Bring the cup, for my spirit in its desire has left
me--what place is this for patience and repose?
Bring the cup of Life, whose nature is the same
as Thine--for it is the friend of wounded hearts and the
confidant of the mysteries.
Were a drop of that wine to fall upon barren
ground, at once a rosegarden would blossom.
Were that ruby wine to bubble up at midnight,
its lights would fill the heavens and the earth.
Marvellous wine! Marvellous flagon! Marvellous
Saki, May spirits be strewn before them, strewn!
Come, for in my heart secrets are concealed--
pass around the ruby wine and leave not a single veil in
When Thou hast made me drunk, then behold
how a lion-catcher enters the hunt!
Blesses God! What a moment!--when our
gathering is full of the cup's fragrance and the light of the
Beloved's Face!
A thousand drunkards place their spirits on
trays, like moths before the candle--"Take this, and bring
The sweet-voiced minstrels and shouting
drunkards make the wine itself giddy in the Wine-seller's
Behold the state of the young men of the cave
who drank it: For three hundred nine years they slept ruined
and drunk in the cave!*
What wine did Moses pour upon the sorcerers?
Drunkenly they surrendered their hands and feet like selfless
men! (Qur'an VII 124)
What did the Egyptian women see in Joseph's
face that made them cut their beautiful arms to shreds?
What did the Holy Saki pour upon Saint
George's head so that all heartache left him and he had no
fear of the unbelievers?
They killed him a thousand times, yet he kept
on going: "I am drunk and unaware of 'one' or a 'thousand.'"*
The companions who went naked before arrows
were ruined and drunk because of Muhammad the chosen.
No wrong! For Muhammad was not the Saki--
he was a cup full of wine, and God was the Saki of the pious.
Which wine did the son of Adham drink so that
like a drunkard he became disgusted with his rule and
Which intoxication gave the call, "Glory to
me!"?* Which spoke the mystery, "I am God," and went to
the gallows?
The fragrance of that wine made water bright
and pure--like a drunkard it goes toward the ocean making
constant prostrations.
Love for this wine made the earth full of colors,
its radiance lit up fire's sweet face.
If not for this wine, why did wind become an
intimate and a tale bearer, the animator of pastures and
gardens and a book of saying?
What joy these four elements derive from
mixing! Look how plants, animals, and men are their result!
What awareness-taking wine has this black
night? For one cup of it knocks out the creatures.
Which Gentleness and handiwork of the Maker
should I describe? The Sea of His Power has no shore!
Let us drink the wine of Love and carry Love's
burden, like a camel drunk in the midst of a caravan--
Not such a drunkenness that will make you
wish for intellect, but one that will awaken both intellect and
The drunkards will vomit everything other than
God, for "other than God" is but headache and winesickness.
How is this pure wine related to the wine of
the grape? This is the water of Life, that other carrion.
For a while that wine makes you a pig, for a
while a monkey--in the end that red water makes you black
The heart is the vat of God's wine, so remove
its stopper: The ill-mannered natural temperament has stopped
it up with clay.
When you remove part of the clay from the top
of the vat, its fragrance and a thousand benefits rise up.
If I should try to number those benefits, I would
not be able to count them by the Last Day.
Since we are incapable, let us rest with the
Prophet's prayer: "I cannot count Thy blessings!" since it is
time to stop counting, lift the spirit's cup!
Enter into the gathering of Shams al-Din's
lovers! For the sun in heaven steals light from his sun.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 1135
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983


* The story of the "Companions of the Cave," or the Seven-
sleepers of Ephesus, Qur'an XVIII 9 ff.
* Jirjis is said to have been a prophet, although historically he
seems to be identical with saint George, who was put to death
in the year 303.
* Ibrahim Adham is one of the great saints of early Islam.
* "Glory be to me" is a famous "ecstatic utterance" of Bayazid, a
great Muslim saint.



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