I made a far journey
Earth’s fair cities to view,
but like to love’s city
City none I knew
At the first I knew not
That city’s worth,
And turned in my folly
A wanderer on earth.
From so sweet a country
I must needs pass,
And like to cattle
Grazed on every grass.
As Moses’ people
I would liefer eat
Garlic, than manna
And celestial meat.
What voice in this world
to my ear has come
Save the voice of love
Was a tapped drum.
Yet for that drum-tap
From the world of All
Into this perishing
Land I did fall.
That world a lone spirit
Like a snake I crept
Without foot or wing.
The wine that was laughter
And grace to sip
Like a rose I tasted
Without throat or lip.
‘Spirit, go a journey,’
Love’s voice said:
‘Lo, a home of travail
I have made.’
Much, much I cried:
‘I will not go’;
Yea, and rent my raiment
And made great woe.
Even as now I shrink
To be gone from here,
Even so thence
To part I did fear.
‘Spirit, go thy way,’
Love called again,
‘And I shall be ever nigh thee
As they neck’s vein.’
Much did love enchant me
And made much guile;
Love’s guile and enchantment
Capture me the while.
In ignorance and folly
When my wings I spread,
From palace unto prison
I was swiftly sped.
Now I would tell
How thither thou mayst come;
But ah, my pen is broke
And I am dumb.
Translated by A..J. Arberry
REALITY AND APPEARANCE
‘Tis light makes colour visible: at night
Red, greene, and russet vanish from thy sight.
So to thee light by darness is made known:
Since God hat none, He, seeing all, denies
Himself eternally to mortal eyes.
From the dark jungle as a tiger bright,
Form from the viewless Spirit leaps to ligth.
THE PROGRESS OF MAN
First he appeared in the realm inanimate;
Thence came into the world of plants and lived
The plant-life many a year, nor called to mind
What he had been; then took the onward way
To animal existence, and once more
Remembers naught of what life vegetive,
Save when he feels himself moved with desire
Towards it in the season of sweet flowers,
As babes that seek the breast and know not why.
Again the wise Creator whom thou knowest
Uplifted him from animality
To Man’s estate; and so from realm to realm
Advancing, he became intelligent,
Cunning and keen of wit, as he is now.
No memory of his past abides with him,
And from his present soul he shall be changes.
Though he is fallen asleep, God will not leave him
In this forgetfulness. Awakened, he
Will laugh to think what troublous dreams he had.
And wonder how his happy state of being
He could forget, and not perceive that all
Those pains and sorrows were the effect of sleep
And guile and vain illusion. So this world
Seems lasting, though ’tis but the sleepers’ dream;
Who, when the appointed Day shall dawn, escapes
From dark imaginings that haunted him,
And turns with laughter on his phantom griefs
When he beholds his everlasting home.
Translated by R. A. Nicholson
‘Persian Poems’, an Anthology of verse translations
edited by A.J.Arberry, Everyman’s Library, 1972
taken by Pentax K10D, at Istanbul