The author’s memorial to him who is a mercy to all living beings
O thou, whose manifesting was the youth
Of strenuous life, whose bright epiphany
Told the interpretation of life’s dreams,
Earth attained honour, having held thy court,
And heaven glory, having kissed thy roof.
Thy face illumes the six‐directioned world;
Turk, Tajik, Arab—all thy servants are.
Whatever things have being, find in thee
True exaltation, and thy poverty
Is their abundant riches. In this world
Thou litst the lamp of life, as thou didst teach
God’s servitors a godly mastery.
Without thee, whatsoever form indwelt
This habitat of water and of clay
Was put to shame in utter bankruptcy;
Till, when thy breath drew fire from the cold dust
And Adam made of earth’s dead particles,
Each atom caught the skirts of sun and moon,
Suddenly conscious of its inward strength.
Since first my gaze alighted on thy face
Dearer than father and dear mother thou
Art grown to me. Thy love hath lit a flame
Within my heart; ah, let it work at ease.
For all my spirit is consumed in me,
And my sole chattel is a reed‐like sigh,
The lantern flickering in my ruined house.
It is not possible not to declare
This hidden grief; it is not possible
To veil the wine in the translucent cup.
But now the Muslim is estranged a new
Unto the Prophet’s secret; now once more
God’s sanctuary is an idols’ shrine;
Manat and Lat, Hubal and Uzza – each
Carries an idol to his bosom clasped;
Our shaykh – no Brahman is so infidel,
Seeking his Somnath stands within his head.
Arabia deserted, he is gone
With all his being’s baggage, slumberous
To drowse in Persia’s wine‐vault. Persia’s sleet
Has set his limbs a‐shiver; his thin wine
Rune colder than his tears. As timorous
Of death as any infidel, his breast
Is hollow, empty of a living heart.
I bore him lifeless from the doctors’ hands
And brought him to the Prophet’s presence; dead
He was; I told him of the Fount of Life,
I spoke with him upon a mystery
O the Quran, a tale of the Beloved
Of Najd; I brought to him a perfume sweet
Pressed from the roses of Arabia.
The Candle of my music lit the throng;
I taught the people life’s enigma; still
He cried against me, “These are Europe’s spells
He weaves to bind us with, the psaltery
Of Europe that he strikes into our ears.”
O thou, that to Busiri gavest a Cloak
And to my fingers yielded Salma’s lute,
Grant now to him, whose thoughts are so astray
That he can no more recognize his own,
Perception of the truth, and joy therein.
Be lusterless the mirror of my heart,
Or be my words by aught but the Quran
Informed, O thou whose splendour is the dawn
Of every age and time, whose vision sees
All that is in men’s breasts, rend now the veil
Of my thought’s shame; sweep clean the avenue
Of my offending thorns; choke in my breast
The narrow breath of life; thy people guard
Against the mischief of my wickedness;
Nurse not to verdure my untimely seed,
Grant me no portion of spring’s fecund showers,
Wither the vintage in my swelling grapes
And scatter poison in my sparkling wine;
Disgrace me on the Day of Reckoning,
Too abject to embrace thy holy feet.
But if I ever threaded on my chain
The pearl of the Quran’s sweet mysteries,
I to the Muslims I have spoken true,
O thou whose bounty raises the obscure
Unto significance, one prayer from thee
Is ample guerdon for my word’s desert;
Plead thou to God my cause, and let my love
Be locked in the embrace of godly deeds.
Thou hast accorded me a contrite soul,
A part of holy learning; establish me
More firm in action, and my April shower
Convert to pearls of great and glittering price.
Since first I cast the baggage of my soul
In this world’s caravanserai, one more
Desire I ever nourished, like my heart
Dwelling within my breast, mine intimate
From life’s dawn; since first I learned thy name
From my sire’s lips, the flame of that desire
Kindled and glowed in me. My roll of days
As heaven lengthens, in life’s lottery
Marking me loser, ever lustier grows
The youth of my desire; this ancient wine
Gains greater body with the passing years.
This yearning is gem beneath my dust,
A single star illumining my night.
Awhile with rosy checks did I consort,
Played love with twisted tresses, tasted wines
With lustrous brows, the lamp of godly peace
Rudely extinguished; lightnings danced about
My harvest; my heart’s store of merchandise
By highwaymen was plundered. Yet this draught
Was spilled not from the goblet of my soul,
This gold refined not scattered from my skirt.
My reason diabolical resolved
To wear the Magian girdle; its impress
Stamped o’er my spirit’s furrows. Many years
I was doubt’s prisoner, inseparable
From my too arid brain. I had not read
One letter of true knowledge, and abode
Still in philosophy’s conjecture‐land;
My darkness was a stranger to the light
Of God, my dusk knew not the glow of dawn.
And yet this yearning slumbered in my heart,
Close‐shrouded as the pearl within the shell;
But lastly from the goblet of mine eye
It slowly trickled, and within my mind
Created melodies. And now my soul
Is emptied of all memories but thee;
I will be bold to speak of my desire,
If thou wilt give me leave. My life hath been
Unfurnished in good works, and therefore I
Might not aspire to worthiness of this,
Which to reveal I am too much ashamed;
Yet thy compassion maketh me more bold.
The honey of thy mercy comforteth
The whole round world; and this my yearning is,
That I be granted in Hijaz to die!
A Muslim, stranger to all else but God –
How long shall he the heathen girdle wear
And keep the temple? O the bitter shame
If, when his earthly days are at an end,
A pagan shrine receives his mortal bones.
If from thy door my scattered parts arise,
Woe to this day, that morrow how sublime!
O happy city that thy dwelling was,
Thrice‐blessed earth wherein thou dost repose!
“My friend’s abode, the city of my king –
True patriotism, the lover’s creed.”
Give to my star an even‐wakeful eye,
And in the shadow of the wall a place
To slumber, that my spirit’s quicksilver
Be stilled; that I may say unto the skies,
“Behold me, tranquil; ye who looked upon
My first beginning, witness now my close.”
[Translated by A.J. Arberry]