Monday, October 07, 2013

[Sunlight] A Marriage at Daybreak


            Today, Sunlight offers the the following Mathnawi verses, in a
version by Coleman Barks, accompanied by the translation by Professor
Reynold Nicholson, upon which Barks based his interpretive version:


Mathnawi IV: 3189-3223

A Marriage at Daybreak

Do you know, brother, that you are a prince?
A son of Adam. And that the witch of Kabul,
who holds you with her color and her perfume,
is the world?
Say the words, I take refuge
with the Lord of the Daybreak.

Avoid the hot breathing that keeps you tied
to her. She breathes on knots and no one
can unknot them. That's why the prophets came.

Look for those whose breath is cool.
When they breathe on knots, they loosen.

The old woman of the world has had you
in her net for sixty years. Her breathing
is the breathing of God's anger. But God's mercy
has more strength. Mercy is prior to wrath.

You must marry your soul.
That wedding is the way.
Union with the world is sickness.

But it's hard to be separated from these forms!
You don't have enough patience to give this up?
But how do you have enough patience
to do without God?

You can't quit drinking the earth's dark drink?
But how can you not drink from this other fountain?

You get restless, you say, when you don't sip
the world's fermentation. But if for one second
you saw the beauty of the clear water of God,
you'd think this other was embalming fluid.

Nearness to the Beloved is the splendor
of your life. Marry the Beloved.
Let the thorn of the ego slide from your foot.

What a relief to be empty!
Then God can live your life.

When you stay tied to mind and desire, you stumble
in the mud like a nearsighted donkey.

Keep smelling Joseph's shirt.
Don't be satisfied with borrowed light.
Let your brow and your face illuminate with union.

      -- Version by Coleman Barks
         "One-Handed Basket Weaving"
         Maypop, 1991


~Explaining that the prince is Man*, the vicegerent of God, and
that his father is Adam, the chosen one, the vicegerent of God, he to
whom the angels bowed in worship; and that the old hag of Kabul is
the World, which separated Man from his Father by succor, which the
prophets and saints are (like) the physician who applied the remedy.~

O brother, know that thou art the prince born anew in the old
The witch of Kabul is this World which made men captive to colour
and perfume.
Since she hath cast thee into this polluted stream, continually
recite and utter (the words), Say, I take refuge.
In order that thou mayst be delivered from this witchery and
this distress, beg of the Lord of the daybreak that thou mayst say "I
take refuge."
The Prophet called this world of thine an enchantress because
through her spells she lodged mankind in the pit.
Beware! The stinking hag hath hot (potent) spells: her hot
breath hath made kings captive.
She is the witches who blow (on knots) within (thy) breast: she
is the (means of) maintaining the knots of sorcery.
The sorceress, (who is) the World, is a mightily cunning
woman: `tis not in the power of the vulgar to undo her sorcery;
And if (men's) understandings could loose her knot, how
should God have sent the prophets?
Hark, seek one whose breath is pure, a looser of knots, one who
knows the mystery of God doeth whatso He willeth.
She (the World) hath imprisoned thee, like a fish, in her net:
the prince remained (there) one year, and thou sixty.
From (being enmeshed in) her net thou art in tribulation
sixty years: neither art thou happy nor (dost thou walk) in the way
of the Sunna.
Thou art a miserable unrighteous man: neither is thy worldly
life good (happy) nor art thou delivered from guilt and sins.
Her (the World's) breathing hath made these knots tight:
seek, then, the breathing of the unique Creator,
In order that "I breathed of My spirit into him" may deliver
thee from this (sorcery) and say (to thee), "Come higher!"
The breathing of sorcery is not consumed save by the breathing
of God: this (the former) is the breathing of (Divine) wrath, (while)
that (the latter) exhalation is the breathing of (Divine) love.
His mercy is prior to His wrath: (if) thou desirest priority (in
spiritual rank), go, seek that (attribute) which is prior.
That thou mayst attain unto the souls that are wedded; for lo,
this, O ensorcelled prince, is thy way of escape.
With the existence of the old woman*, there can be no undoing
(of the knots), (whilst thou art) in the net and in the arms of that
(paramour) full of blandishments.
Hath not the Lamp of the peoples* called this world and that
world the two fellow-wives (who are always quarrelling with each
Therefore union with this (world) is separation from that
(world): the health of this body is the sickness of the spirit.
Hard is the separation from this transitory abode: know, then
that the separation from that permanent abode is harder.
Since it is hard for thee to be separated from the form, how
hard must it be to be parted from its Maker!
O thou that hast not the patience to do without the vile world,
how, O friend, how hast thou the patience to do without God?
Since thou has not the patience to do without this black
water, how hast thou the patience to do without God's (pure)
Since thou art restless without this (worldly) drink, how art
thou (remaining patiently) apart from the righteous and from
they shall drink (of the wine of Paradise)?
If for one moment thou behold the beauty of the Loving One
and cast thy soul and existence into the fire (of love),
After that thou wilt regard this (worldly) drink as a carcase,
when thou beholdest the glory and splendour of nighness (unto Him).
Like the prince, thou wilt attain unto thy Beloved: then thou
wilt draw out from thy foot the thorn of self.
Strive for selflessness, find thy (true) self as soon as
possible � and God best knoweth the right course.
Take heed, never be wedded to self: do not, like an ass, be
always falling into water and mud.
That stumbling arises from shortsightedness; for like a blind
man, he (such a one) does not see the ups and downs.
Make the scent of Joseph's shirt thy stay, because his scent
makes the eye clear.
The hidden Form and the Light of that Brow have made the
eyes of the prophets far-seeing.
The Light of that Countenance will deliver (thee) from the
fire; hark, be not content with borrowed light.

-- Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
"The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"

*Literally "the child of Adam"
*I.e. "So long as the World exists for thee."
*I.e. the Prophet




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