Monday, October 05, 2009

[Sunlight] The Invisible Beloved -- Ghazal 824


Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 824, in a version by Coleman
Barks, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:


Whose idea was this,
to have the lover visible,
and the Beloved invisible!

So many people have died of their desiring
because of this. The lover cannot kiss
the lips he wants, so he bites himself!

Satisfaction is always two bow-shots away,
and yet something in the soul
prefers this unreachable Lover
to any one reachable.

This being locked-in,
is better than having the keys
to any consolation-house.

The Beloved's rejection is wanted more
than anyone else's acceptance.

World happiness is nothing.
Look for what Betami had, for what
Sanai and Attar wrote of.

A beautiful meal looks delicious.
Then one night passes, and the food passes
through you, becoming repellent filth.

Eat love-food.
Suckle the toe of a Lion,
as the baby
Abraham did in the cave.

But you should put away what you learned
as a foetus in your cave, that need for blood.

There is a tall tower that Love builds.
Live there in silence.

The One who knows all secrets
is here now, nearer
than your jugular vein.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"Like This"
Maypop, 1990


The lovers visible and the Beloved invisible who ever saw
such a love in the world?
Not one lip having attained the form of the Beloved, hundreds
of thousands of souls have expired.
Two bowshots' distance* shot an arrow from the heights, so
that it tore through the shields of the skies.
Not having drawn the skirt of the Beloved of the Unseen, the
hearts of thousands have suffered tribulation and beating;
Not having bitten the lip of Him whose lip is sweet, how
many have bitten the back of the hand in banishment!
Not having grazed on the sugar-cane of His lip, the heart has
grazed on His thousands of blandishments.
Not one rose having blossomed from His rose garden, hundreds
of thousands of thorns have pricked in the breast.
Though the soul has experienced nothing but cruelty from
Him, it has fled away from mortal fidelities in hope of Him;
It has preferred that pain over generosities, and has chosen
that cruelty above all fidelities.
His thorn has triumphed over all roses, His lock is more
delightful than a hundred keys.
His tyranny has carried off the ball from the turn of good
fortune; candies have blossomed from the poison of His wrath.
His rejection is better than the reception of others; ruby and
pearl are desirous of His stone.
These worldly happinesses are nothing; seek that happiness
which Bu Sai'id* possesses.
These augmentations of this world are less; seek that
augmentation which Ba Yazid* possesses.
That augmentation is your six-fingered hand; its value is less,
though apparently it is augmenting.
Seek that radiance which Sana'i* expounded, that Unique One
whose uniqueness Attar* revealed.
Fat and sweet food appear pure and good; one night they
passed with you, and became filth.
Eat the fat and sweet of the food of love, that your wings may
sprout and you may know how to fly.
After all, Abraham as a child in the cave sucked from the
fingertips of a lion.
Dismiss that; that foetus in the womb sucked the water of life
from blood.
The tall stature which heaven made upright in the end became
bowed like crooked heaven;
The tall stature which Love raised up, its stature transcended
the glorious Throne.
Nay, be silent; he who knows all secrets is present; He said,
We are nearer than the jugular vein.*

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

Arberry's Notes:

For the circumstances of composition, see Aflaki as quoted by F.
*"Two bowshots' distance" See Koran 53:9, i.e. "spiritual proximity."
* "Bu Sa'id": the famous Persian mystic and poet (d. 440/1049).
* "Bu Yazid": a play on words. Abu Yazid-i Bastami: the famous
mystic of Khorasan (d. 261/874 or 264/877), is the hero of many
spiritual anecdotes; see Ritter in E.I. I:162-63.
* "Seek that radiance which Sana'i* expounded, that Unique One
whose uniqueness Attar* revealed": More play on words. Sana'i
and Attar were great mystical poets.
* "We are nearer than the jugular vein": Rumi quotes Koran 50:16.




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