In November, 1933, His Majesty the Leader of the Faithful the now-martyred Nadir Shah Ghazi granted the author permission to visit the shrine of The sage Sana‘i of Ghazna. These verses were written in commemoration of the event, in imitation of a famous p
‘We are coming after Sina‘i and Attar.’
|All Nature’s vastness cannot contain you, oh|
My madness: vain, those wanderings to and fro
In deserts! By selfhood only are the spells
Of sense broken,— that power we did not know.
Rub your eyes, sluggard! Light is Nature’s law,
And not unknown to Ocean its waves flow.
Where reason and revelation war, faith errs
To think the Mystic on his cross its foe,
For God’s pure souls, in thralldom or on thrones,
Have one safe shield, his scorn of this world’s show.
But do not, Gabriel, envy my rapture: better
For Heaven’s dounce folk the prayer and the beads’ neat row!
|I have seen many a wine-shop East and West;|
But here no Saki, there in the grape no glow.
In Iran no more, in Tartary no more,
Those world-renouncers who could overthrow
Great kings; the Prophet’s heir filches and sells
The blankets of the Prophet’s kin. When to
The Lord I was denounced for crying Doomsday
Too soon, by that Archangel who must blow
Its trumpet, God made answer—Is Doomsday far
When Makkah sleeps while China worships?—Though
The bowl of faith finds none to pour, the beaker
Of modern thought brims with the wine of No.
Subdued by the dexterous fiddler’s chords there murmurs
In the lowest string the wail of Europe’s woe—
Her waters that have bred the shark now breed
The storm-wave that will smash its den below!
|Slavery—exile from the love of beauty:|
Beauty—whatever free men reckon so;
Trust no slave’s eyes, clear sight and liberty
Go hand in hand. His own resolves bestow
The empire of To-day on him who fishes
To-morrow’s pearl up from Time’s undertow.
The Frankish glassblowers’ arts can make stone run:
My alchemy makes glass flint-hard. Pharaoh
Plotted and plots against me; but what harm?
Heaven lifts my hand, like Moses’, white as snow;
Earth’s rubbish-heaps can never quell this spark
God struck to light whole deserts, His flambeau!
Love, self-beholding, self-sustaining, stands
Un-awed at the gates of Caesar or Khosro;
If moon or Pleiades fall my prey, what wonder—
Myself bound fast to the Prophet’s saddle-bow!
He—Guide, Last Envoy, Lord of All—lent brightness
Of Sinai to our dust; Love’s eyes, not slow
To kindle, hail him Alpha and Omega,
Chapter, and Word, and Book. I would not go
Pearl-diving there, for reverence of Sina‘i;
But in these tides a million pearls still grow.
Translated by: V.G. Kiernan