That the expansion of communal life depends upon controlling the forces of world order
Thou, who hast made with the Invisible
Thy covenant, and burst forth like a flood
From the shore’s bondage, as a sapling rise
Out of this garden’s soil; attach thy heart
To the Unseen, yet ever with the seen
Wage conflict, since this being visible
Interprets that unviewed, and prelude is
To the o’ermastery of hidden powers.
All otherness is only to subdue,
Its breast a target for the well‐winged shaft;
God’s fiat Be! made other manifest
So that thy arrows might be sharp to pierce
The steely anvil. Truly it requires
A tightly knotted cord, to whet and prove
The wit of the resolver. Art thou a bud?
Interpret in thyself the flowery mead;
Art thou a dewdrop? Dominate the sun!
If thou art equal to the bold emprise,
Melt thou this snow‐lion with one torrid breath!
Whoever hath subdued the things perceived
Can of one atom reconstruct a world,
And he whose shaft would pierce the angel’s breast
First fastens Adam to his saddle‐bow;
He first resolves the knot phenomena
And, mastering Being, proves his lofty power.
Mountain and wilderness, river and plain,
All land and sea – these are the scholar’s slate
On which the man of vision learns to read.
O thou who slumberest, by dull opiates drugged,
And namest mean this world material,
Rise up, and open thy besotted eyes!
Call thou not mean thy world by Law compelled;
Its purpose is to enlarge the Muslim’s soul,
To challenge his potentialities;
The body it assaults with fortune’s sword
That thou mayest see if there be blood within;
Dash thou thy breast against its jagged rock
Until it pierce thy flesh, and prove thy bone.
God counts this world the portion of good men,
Commits its splendour to believers’ eyes;
It is a road the caravan must pass,
A touchstone the believer’s gold to assay;
Seize thou this world, that it may not seize thee
And in its pitcher swallow thee like wine.
The stallion of thy thought is parrot‐swift,
Striding the whole wide heavens in a bound;
Urged ever onwards by the needs of life,
Raised up to rove the skies, though earthbound still;
That, having won the mastery of the powers
Of this world‐order, thou mayest consummate
The perfecting of thy ingenious crafts.
Man is the deputy of God on earth,
And o’er the elements his rule is fixed;
On earth thy narrowness receiveth breadth,
Thy toil takes on fair shape. Ride thou the wind;
Put bridle on that swift‐paced dromedary.
Dabble thy fingers in the mountain’s blood;
Draw up the lustrous waters of the pearl
From ocean’s bottom; in this single field
A hundred worlds are hidden, countless suns
Veiled in these dancing motes. This glittering ray
Shall bring to vision the invisible,
Disclose uncomprehended mysteries.
Take splendour from the world‐inflaming sun,
The arch‐illuming levin from the storm;
All stars and planets dwelling in the sky,
Those lords to whom the ancient peoples prayed,
All those, my master, wait upon thy word
And are obedient servants to thy will.
In prudence plan the quest, to make it sure,
Then master every spirit, all the world.
Open thine eyes, and into all things gaze;
Behold the rapture veiled within the wine.
The weak, endowed with knowledge of the power
Of natural things, takes tribute from the strong.
The outward form of Being is not bare
Of inward meaning; this old instrument
Still keeps its pitch, still lightning in its song
If played with cunning, self against the strings
For plectrum striking. Thou, whom God designed
Saying, Behold! Why travellest thou this way
Like blind men? Lo, thy self‐enkindled drop
Being intimate with mysteries, is like wine
Within the tendril, dew upon the rose;
Let flow into the ocean, it becomes
A pearl, its substance glittering as a star.
Fan not the rose’s petals like the breeze,
But punge into the meaning of the bower;
Whoso hath spun about phenomena
The knotted noose, hath mastered for his mount
The lightning and the heat. He makes the word
Wing like a bird in flight, the instrument
Sing of itself without the plectrum’s touch.
Thy ass is lame, because the way of life
Was arduous, and thou too ignorant
Of life’s hard combat; while already now
Thy fellow‐travellers have reached the goal,
Borne from her litter Layla, the divine
And lovely Truth; like Qais thou wanderest
Distracted in the desert, weary, sore.
Yet Adam’s glory was that he possessed
The knowledge of the names, and being wise
In natural ken, was thereby fortified.