Khizr the Guide
By the river’s brink I stood one evening, lost in the scene,
Yet hiding a world of fretting thoughts in my heart’s cell.
Night deepened silence: calm the air, languid the current,
River or painted water the eye could scarcely tell.
As the sucking infant laid in the cradle falls asleep
The restless wave lay slumberously in its deep well,
The birds held captive by night’s gramarye in their nests,
And the faint-gleaming stars fast bound by the bright moon’s spell.
There that would-measuring courier I had sight of—Khizr,
That ancient in whom youth’s colours fresh as the daybreak dwell.
‘Seeker,’ said he, ‘of eternal secrets! when the heart
sees clear vision, the fates that rule earth wear no veil.’
At these words in my soul doomed to long search awoke
A tumult as of Judgment Day; and thus I spoke.
|‘To your world-ranging eye is visible the storm|
Whose fury yet lies in tranquil sleep under the sea:
That innocent life, that poor man’s boat, that wall of the orphan,
Taught Moses’ wisdom to stand before yours wonderingly!
You shun abodes, for desert-roaming, for ways that know
No day or night, from yesterdays and to-morrows free.
—What is the riddle of life? What thing is the State? or why
Must labour and capital so bloodily disagree?
Asia’s time-honoured cloak grows ragged and wears out,
From upstart lands her young men borrow their finery;
Though Alexander could never find the elixir of life,
His robber spirit still revels here in drunken glee;
The lord of Makkah barters the honour of Makkah’s faith
That the stubborn Turk, late convert, guards through war’s agony.
Tyrants and flames once more on Abraham’s race have glared:
For whom this new ordeal, or by whose hand prepared?
What is it to make you wonder, if I roam the desert waste?
Witness of enduring life is this unending toil and haste!
You, shut in by walls, have never known that moment when shrill
Bugle-call that sounds the march goes echoing over wood and hill,
Never known the wild deer’s careless walk across its sandy plain,
Never halt unroofed, uncumbered, on the trail no milestones chain,
Never fleeting vision of that star that crowns the daybreak hour,
Never Gabriel’s radiant brow effulgent from heaven’s topmost tower,
Nor the going-down of suns in stillness of desert ways,
Twilight splendour such as brightened Abraham’s world-beholding gaze,
Nor those springs of running water where the caravans take rest
As in heaven bright spirits cluster round the Fountain of the Blest!
Wildernesses ever now love’s fever seeks and thirsts to roams—
You the furrowed field and palm-groves fetter to one poor home;
Mellow grows the wine of life when hand to hand the cup goes round
Foolish one! In this alone is life’s eternal secret found.
Life is higher than the calculation of profit and loss;
Life is sometimes living and sometimes forfeiting living.
Do not measure it by the scale of today and tomorrow;
Life is eternal, constantly moving, at every moment youthful.
If you are among the living, fashion your own world;
Life is the secret of Adam, the essence of the words Be and it was!
Ask the reality of life form the heart of the mountain-digger;
Life is the milky stream, the axe and the hard stone.
In servitude the stream diminishes and almost runs dry,
And in freedom life is an ocean which knows no bounds.
It knows well its power of domination,
Although life is hidden in a frame of clay.
From the sea of existence you arose like a bubble;
In this dwelling of loss, life your test.
While you are still immature, you are a heap of dust;
When you ripen, you will become an irresistible sword.
|The heart which is impatient to die for the truth—|
First of all let it create life in its form of clay.
Let it set fire to this earth and this sky, which are borrowed,
And from the embers, let it give birth itself to its own world.
Make the hidden strength of life manifest,
Until its spark engenders the eternal light.
Let it shine over the soil f the East like the sun,
Until Badakhshan once more throws up the same priceless ruby.
Let it send the ambassador of its night-encompassing lament to the heavens;
Let it share its secrets with the stars of the night.
This moment is the Day of Judgment; you are in the field of Judgments’ Day!
My forgetful one, put forward something you have accomplished, if you have anything written on your scroll.
What scripture sets forth riddlingly of Kings, let me impart:
In towering empires sovereignty is all a conjuror’s art—
If ever subjects from their sleep half rouse themselves, the sure
Enchantments of their rulers steep their wits in dreams once more;
When Mahmood’s blandishments begin Ayaz slave-eyes dote,
And find a fine love-token in the halter round his throat.
But now the blood of Israel boils up in rage at last,
And some new Moses breaks the spell that wizard Samri cast!
None with diamond’s orb invest but the Most High alone:
He is the sovereign, all the rest are idols carved from stone;
Stain with no slavery you free-souled estate,—worse pagan than
The Brahmin, if your chisel mould a king out of a man.
In the West the people rule, they say: and what is this new reign?
The same harp still, the same strings play the despots’ old refrain;
In Demos-dress let tyranny’s old demon-dance be seen,
Your fancy calls up Liberty’s blue-mantled fairy queen!
Those Parliaments and their reforms, charters and Bills of Rights—
The Western pharmacopoeia swarms with opiate delights;
That rhetoric of the Senator, flowing in fiery stream—
God save the mark! the brokers’ war of gold is its true theme.
This paint and perfume, this mirage, a garden’s blooming face
You thought, simpleton, and your cage a downy nesting-place.
|Capital and Labour|
To the workman go, the toiler, and to him this message tell:
Words not mine alone, a message that the world’s four corners swell—
Oh, the crafty man of capital has devoured you flesh and fell:
On the wild deer’s horns for ages your reward has run astray!
In the hand that forges all wealth he has dropped a grudging pay,
As the poor receive in charity what their betters throw away.
Like an Old Man of the Mountain he has fed you with hashish,
And poor innocent! you took it for the sweetest-flavoured dish;
For the bourgeoisie is cunning, and from country and from creed,
Colour, culture, caste and kingdom, has brewed drugs to serve its need;
For these false gods, witless victim, you have rushed upon your doom
And been robbed of life’s bright treasure for the taste of its mad fume.
Your sharp paymasters have swept the board, they cheat and know no shame:
You, forever unsuspecting, have forever lost the game.
But now come! for ways are changing in assembly of the earth,
And in Orient and in Occident your own age comes to birth!
|For the lofty soul all ocean is too mean a gift: will you,|
Like the careless bud, much longer be content with drops of dew?
To those drowsy tales of Jamshid and Sikander for how long
Will you listen, now men’s joy is in democracy’s new song?
From the womb of this old universe a new red sun is born—
For extinguished stars, of heaven, how much longer will you mourn?
Now the human mind has made of all its chains a broken heap,
For his banishment from Eden how much longer must Man weep?
How much longer, of the garden’s old attendant asks the Spring,
For the red wounds of the rose your idle ointments will you bring?
Silly firefly, so long fluttering round the candle, now be free!
Where the lamp of your own spirit shines, there let your dwelling be.
|The World of Islam|
Why do you tell me the story of the Arab and the Turk?
Nothing of the burning and making of the Muslims is hidden from me.
The sons of the Trinity have taken away the heritage of Khalil;
The sand of Hijaz has been made into the foundation stone of the Church!
The red-capped one has been dishonoured in the world;
Those who were pride from head to foot, today are compelled to submission.
Persia is buying from the vintners of the West that heady wine
Whose heat is enough to melt the jar.
By the wisdom of the West the state of the Community has become thus:
As scissors cut gold into tiny pieces.
The blood of the Muslim has become cheap as water;
And you are fretting because your heart does not know the secret.
Said Rumi: Before they can repopulate any ancient ruin,
do you not know that first of all they must destroy the foundation?
|The country slipped from its hands, and the eyes of the community were opened;|
God has blessed you with sight; look forward, my negligent one!
Defeat is better than begging for balm;
Wingless ant! Do not bring your request before Solomon.
The cohesion of the Radiant Community is the salvation of the East,
But the people of Asia are so far ignorant of this principle.
Again abandon politics and enter the ramparts of the faith;
Polity and dominion are only a fruit of the protection of the Shrine.
May the Muslims unite in watching over the Shrine,
From the banks of the Nile to the deserts of Kashghar.
Whoever practises discrimination of colour and blood will be erased,
Whether he be a tent-dwelling Turk or an Arab of noble family!
If race takes precedence over the religion of the Muslim,
You have flown from the world like the dust of the highway.
So that the foundation of the Caliphate may be once again firm in the world,
Search for and bring from somewhere the heart and spirit of your ancestors.
Ah you who cannot distinguish the hidden from the revealed, become aware!
You, caught up in Abu Bakr and Ali, become aware!
|Lamentation was necessary, but now that is over.|
Now control your heart a little and see the effect of the lament.
You have seen the heights of the power of the river’s current;
Now see how the agitated wave forms a chain.
The dream which Islam saw of general freedom—
Oh Muslim, see the interpretation of that dream.
Its own bed of ashes is the means of existence for the salamander;
See this old world dies and is born again.
Open your eyes and look at the mirror of my words;
See a hazy picture of the age to come.
The sky has another well-tried plague to bring;
See the disgrace of scheming before fate.
You are a Muslim; fill your breast with desire;
At every time keep before your eyes the words My promise is never broken.
Translated by: D.J. Matthews