Friday, September 26, 2008

[Sunlight] My soul's comfort, my spirit's treasure


Today, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 207, in an interpretive
version by Jonathan Star, and in literal translations by Arberry and
Nicholson, both footnoted:


"All My Youth Returns"

You are the comfort of my soul
in the season of sorrow.
You are the wealth of my spirit
in the heartbreak of loss.

The unimaginable,
The unknowable -
that is what you give my soul
when it moves in your direction.

By your grace
my eyes have looked upon eternity.
O King, how could this crumbling empire
ever take me from you?

The voice that sings your name
is sweeter than midnight sleep
more graceful than the song of a royal poet.

When deep in prayer
my faith is bound by the thought of you,
not the seven verses of faith.

You greet sinners with mercy,
You melt stone hearts with love.

If I were offered a kingdom,
And the world's riches were placed at my feet,
I would bow with my face low and say,
"This does not compare to His love!"

Union is the pure wine.
My life is the cup.
Without your wine
what use is this cup?

I once had a thousand desires,
But in my one desire to know you
all else melted away.
The pure essence of your being
has taken over my heart and soul.
Now there is no second or third,
only the sound of your sweet cry.
Through your grace I have found
a treasure within myself.
I have found the truth of the Unseen world.
I have come upon the eternal ecstasy.
I have gone beyond the ravages of time.
I have become one with you!
Now my heart sings,
"I am the soul of the world."

From my first breath I have longed for Him -
This longing has become my life.
This longing has seen me grow old. . . .

But one mention of Shams-e Tabriz
and all my youth comes back to me.

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You who are my soul's repose in the time of pain, you who
are my spirit's treasure in the bitterness of poverty,
That which imagination never conceived, reason and under-
standing never perceived, has entered my soul from you; there-
fore to you alone I turn in worship.
Through your grace I gaze boldly upon eternal life; O king,
how should a perishing empire beguile me?
The melody of that person who brings me glad tidings of you,
even if it be in sleep, is better than all poets' songs to me.
In the genuflections of prayer your image, O king, is as
necessary and obligatory to me as the seven oft-repeated verses*.
When unbelievers sin, you are all compassion and interces-
sion; to me you are the chief and leader of the stonyhearted.
If everlasting bounty should offer all kingdoms and place
before me every hidden treasure,
I would prostrate myself with all my soul and lay my face on
the earth, I would say, "Out of all these, the love of a certain one
for me!"
For me the time of union is eternal life, for in that moment no
time contains me.
Life is a vessel, and in it union is a pure wine; without you, of
what avail to me is the labour of the vessels?
Before this, twenty thousand desires were mine; in my passion
for him, not one single aspiration has remained to me.
Through the succor of his grace, I have become secure from
the Monarch of the Unseen saying to me, "Thou shalt not see me*."
The essence of the meaning of "He" my heart and soul has
filled; he is -- even though he said he is not -- the third and the
second to me*.
Union with him transported my spirit; my body paid not
attention, though disengaged from the body he became visible to
I have become old in grief for him; but when you name
Tabriz, all my youth remains.

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

Footnotes from A.J. Arberry:

* "The seven oft-repeated verses" -- Sura I of the Koran, to be
recited in every prayer.
* "Thou shalt not see me" -- as God said to Moses on Sinai,
see Koran 7:139
* "...the third and the second..." -- Rumi has realized the Muslim
Unity of God, the Christian Trinity, and the Magian Duality.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


O thou who art my soul's comfort in the season of
O thou who art my spirit's treasure* in the bitterness* of
That which the imagination has not conceived,* that
which the understanding has not seen,
Visiteth my soul from thee, hence in worship I turn
toward thee.*
By thy grace I keep fixed on eternity my amorous gaze,
Except, O king, the pomps that perish lead me astray.
The favour* of that one, who brings glad tidings of thee,
Even without thy summons, is sweeter in mine ear that
In the prostrations of prayer* thought of thee, O lord,
Is necessary and binding on me as the seven verses.*
To thee belongs mercy and intercession for the sin of
As regards me, thou art chief and principal of the stony-
If a never-ceasing bounty should offer kingdoms,
If a hidden treasure should set before me all that is*,
I would bend down with my soul, I would lay my face
in the dust,
I would say, Of all these the love of such a one* for
Eternal life, me thinks, is the time of union,
Because time, for me, hath no place there.
Life is the vessels*, union the clear draught in them;
Without thee what does the pain of the vessels* avail me?
I had twenty thousand desires ere this;
In passion for him not even (care of) my safety remained*.
By the help* of his grace I am become safe, because
The unseen king saith to me, Thou art the soul of
the world*.'
The essence of the meaning of "He"* has filled my heart
and soul;
"Au" cries the street-dog*, and neither have I third* or
The body, at the time of union with him, paid no regard
to the spirit*;
Tho' incorporeal, he became visible unto me.
I aged with his affliction, but when Tabriz*
You name, all my youth comes back to me.

-- T.134.5, From the Tabriz Edition of the
Divani Shamsi Tabriz
"Selected Poems from the Divani Shamsi Tabriz"
Edited and translated by Reynold A. Nicholson
Cambridge, At the University Press, 1898, 1952

Footnotes by Reynold Nicholson:

* "my spirit's treasure" "according to the Burhani Qati'
this is the name of Qarun's treasure: it is said to be in
perpetual motion under the ground.' Qarun (Korah) points
to Mohammedans the moral of riches that grow in hell' and
pride that goes before destruction. See Koran XXVIII. 76-81,
with Sale's notes."

* "Bitterness" "like bala'ye nafye' in Gulshani Raz,' 402,
the mortification of all desires, whether sensual or intellectual.
True spirituality (to quote Juan de la Cruz) seeks in God the
bitter more than the agreeable, prefers suffering to solace,
would rather lack all good for God's sake than possess it, is
better pleased with dryness and affliction than with sweet
communications: knowing that in this it follows Christ and
denies self, instead of peradventure seeking self in God,
which is against Love.

* "dearth" "Mohammed said: Poverty is my pride, and
again, Poverty is blackness of face (dishonor) in both worlds
(see his own explanation of the inconsistency in Malcolm's
History of Persia,' Vol. II. P. 268, note). The Sufis have given
these sayings a mystical turn. "Dearth" becomes poverty of self',
i.e., self-annihilation, and by sava'd'ol vajhe' they mean the
darkness which is nothing but excess of light betokening the
proximity of Being (cf. Golshani Raz,' 123 seq.). I tell you
by the eternal Truth, that ye are not rightly poor while ye have
a will to perform the will of God, or any desire of God and
eternity; for the poor man is he who wills, knows, and desires
nothing' (Eckhart, Deutsche Mystiker,' Vol. II. P. 281)."

* "which the imagination has not conceived"-- "cf. 1 Corinthians,
ch. Ii. 9: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered
into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for
them that love him."

* "That which the imagination has not conceived, that
which the understanding has not seen" "What eye
hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the
heart of man, are quoted from an hadis, which is a mere
translation of the passage in I. Corinthians."

* "hence in worship I turn toward thee" "the Moslem turns
his face in prayer towards the Ka'ba, the mystic directly to God."

* "the favour"-- " in the next line suggests the emendation
nemat' (sweet voice, melody). Nemat,' however, does not
seem to occur, and the change from naghmeh', as the word
is commonly written in Persian, to nemat' is less easy.

* "in the prostrations of prayer" "cf. T. 231. 9a seq.

Unless I have the face of my heart towards thee,
I deem prayer unworthy to be reckoned as prayer.
If I turned my face to the qibla,' twas for love of thine;
Otherwise, I am weary both of prayer and qibla'.

* "the seven verses" " there are various interpretations of these
words: the most probable is that which makes them refer to the
seven verses of the opening Sura of the Kor'an."

* "If a never-ceasing bounty should offer kingdoms,
If a hidden treasure should set before me all that is"
"Perhaps it is better to regard this couplet as
complete in itself, and translate:

If a never-ceasing bounty should offer kingdoms
And lay the universe before me, thou art still my
hidden treasure.

* "Love of such a one" "the love of God."

* "Life is the vessels" "cf. T. 252.2).

Our celestial spirit is free to eternity,
Tho' for a short while we have the shape and figure
of man.
Know that phenomenal forms are pitchers: with draughts
of the Ideal,
Like a pitcher, we all are being filled and emptied
The draught is not derived from the pitcher, it comes
from another source;
Like the pitcher we are ignorant of the springs which
replenish it."

* "pain of the vessels" "The tribulation which the soul
suffers in the world." cf. (T. 203. 13).

Prize not at all life that has passed without love;
Love is the Water of Life: receive it in thy heart
and soul."

* "not even (care of) my safety remained" "literally:
not even an aman' (cry for quarter) remained to me, i.e.
for love's sake I was prepared to sacrifice all. Prof. Bevan
suggests that amini' here may be a plural of amniyat',
object of desire. . ."

* "help" "this term is employed by Jalalu'ddin to
denote the perpetual replenishment of the phenomenal
world by a succession of emanations from the Absolute."

* "the soul of the world" "as God is all, and all is God,
he who is absorbed in the divine essence becomes identical
with it. Hence Anal Haq', I am God, of Mansur Hallaj and
the sobhayanei', Praise be to me!, of Bayazid. And this is
what our poet means when he says, e.g.:

I am the theft of rogues, I am the pain of the sick,
I am both cloud and rain, I have rained in the
(T. 258. 4)."

* "The essence of the meaning of He" "at first sight these
words seem to defy the rules of grammar. Obviously the sense is:
My soul and my heart are filled with the treasure of His meaning',
and this can be obtained from the text only by treating the treasure
of his meaning' as a compound adjective. In such formations "filled"
is usually prefixed, but cf. Attar, Mantiqu'ttair, 525. . ."

* "Au" cries the street-dog" "a play on oo', He (God), and oo'
or au', the sound of a dog's bark."

* "third" "alluding to the doctrine of the Trinity (see Kor'an
IV. 169, with Sale's note, v. 77)."

* "second" "as in the Magian relegion."

* "paid no regard to the spirit" "during this life the body
is conscious of the soul's superiority, but not in the divine
presence, for then it is non-existent."

* "Tabriz" "The poet puns on the double meaning of
Tabriz: (1) the city of that name, and (2) manifestation
(from Arabic baraza'), with a reference to gasht aya'ni'."




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