|Spring’s caravan has pitched its tent At the foot of the mountain, making it|
Look like the fabled garden of Iram With a riot of flowers—iris, rose,
Narcissus, lily, eglantine,
And tulip in its martyr’s gory shroud.
The landscape is all covered with A multicoloured sheet, and colour flows
Even in the veins of stones like blood.
The breezes blow intoxicatingly in a blue sky, so that the birds
Do not feel like remaining in their nests
And fly about. Look at that hill-stream. How
It halts and bends and glides and swings around,
And then, collecting itself, surges up
And rushes on. Should it be stemmed,
Cut open the hills’ hearts and burst the rocks.
This hill-stream, my fair saki, has
A message to give us concerning life.
Attune me to this message and,
Come, let us celebrate the spring, which comes but once a year.
Give me that wine whose heat
Burns up the veils of hidden things, whose light illuminates life’s mind,
Whose strength intoxicates the universe,
Whose effervescence was Creation’s source.
Come lift the veil off mysteries,
And make a mere wagtail take eagles on.
|The times have changed; so have their signs.|
New is the music, and so are the instruments.
The magic of the West has been exposed,
And the magician stands aghast.
The politics of the ancient regime
Are in disgrace: world is tired of kings.
The age of capitalism has passed,
The juggler, having shown his tricks, has gone.
The Chinese are awaking from their heavy sleep.
Fresh springs are bubbling forth from Himalayan heights.
Cut open is the heart of Sinai and Faran,
And Moses waits for a renewed theophany.
The Muslim, zealous though about God’s unity,
Still wears the Hindu’s sacred thread around his heart.
In culture, mysticism, canon law and dialectical theology—
He worships idols of non-Arab make.
The truth has been lost in absurdities,
And in traditions is this ummah rooted still.
The preacher’s sermon may beguile your heart,
But there is no sincerity, no warmth in it.
It is a tangled skein of lexical complexities,
Sought to be solved by logical dexterity.
The Sufi, once foremost in serving God,
Unmatched in love and ardency of soul,
Has got lost in the maze of Ajam’s ideas:
At half-way stations is this traveller stuck.
Gone out is the fire of love. O how sad!
The Muslim is a heap of ashes, nothing more.
|O Saki, serve me that old wine again,|
Let that old cup go round once more.
Lend me the wings of Love and make me fly.
Turn my dust to fireflies that flit about.
Free young men’s minds from slavery,
And make them mentors of the old.
The millat’s tree is green thanks to your sap:
You are its body’s breath.
Give it the strength to vibrate and to throb;
Lend it the heart of Murtaza, the fervour of Siddiq.
Drive that old arrow through its heart
Which will revive desire in it.
Blest be the stars of Your heavens; blest be
Those who spend their nights praying to You.
Endow the young with fervent souls;
Grant them my vision and my love.
I am a boat in a whirlpool, stuck in one place.
Rescue me and grant me mobility.
Tell me about the mysteries of life and death,
For Your eye spans the universe.
The sleeplessness if my tear-shedding eyes;
The restless yearnings hidden in my heart;
The prayerfulness of my cries at midnight;
My melting into tears in solitude and company;
My aspirations, longings and desires;
My hopes and quests;
my mind that mirrors the times
(A field for thought’s gazelles to roam);
My heart, which is a battlefield of life,
Where legions of doubt war with faith—
O Saki, these are all my wealth;
Possessing them, I am rich in my poverty.
Distribute all these riches in my caravan,
And let them come to some good use.
|In constant motion is the sea of life.|
All things display life’s volatility.
It is life that puts bodies forth,
Just as a whiff of smoke becomes a flame.
Unpleasant to it is the company of matter, but it likes to see
Its striving to improve itself.
It is fixed, yet in motion, straining at
The leash to get free of the elements.
A unity imprisoned in diversity,
It is unique in every form and shape.
This world, this sex-dimensioned idol-house,
This Somnat is all of its fashioning.
It is not its way to repeat itself:
You are not I, I am not you.
With you and me and others it has formed
Assemblies, but is solitary in their midst.
It shines in lightning, in the stars,
In silver, gold and mercury.
Its is the wilderness, its are the trees,
Its are the roses, its are the thorns.
It pulverises mountains with its might,
And captures Gabriel and houris in its noose.
There is a silver-grey, brave falcon here,
Its talons covered with the blood of partridges,
And over there, far from its nest,
A pigeon helplessly aflutter in a snare.
|Stability is an illusion of eyes,|
For every atom in the world pulsates with change.
The caravan of life does not halt anywhere,
For every moment life renews itself.
Do you think life is great mystery?
No, it is only a desire to soar aloft.
It has seen many ups and downs,
But likes to travel rather than to reach the goal;
For travelling is life’s outfit: it
Is real, while rest is appearance, nothing more.
Life loves to tie up knots and then unravel them.
Its pleasure lies in throbbing and in fluttering.
When it found itself face to face with death,
It learned that it was hard to ward it off.
So it descended to this world, where retribution is the law,
And lay in wait for death.
Because of its love of duality, It sorted all things out in pairs,
From mountains and from wilderness.
And then arose, host after host,
It was a branch from which flowers kept
Shedding and bursting forth afresh.
The ignorant think that life’s impress is
Ephemeral, but it fades only to emerge anew. Extremely fleet-footed,
It reaches its goal instantly. From time’s beginning to its end
Time, chain of days and nights, is nothing but
Is but one moment’s way for it.
|A name for breathing in and breathing out. What is this whiff of air called breath?|
A sword, and selfhood is that sword’s sharp edge.
What is the self? Life’s inner mystery,
The universe’s waking up.
The self, drunk with display, is also fond
Of solitude;—an ocean in a drop.
It shines in light and darkness both;
Displayed in individuals, yet free from them.
Behind it is eternity without beginning, and before it is
Eternity without an end;
It is unlimited both ways.
Swept on by the waves of time’s stream,
And at the mercy of their buffeting,
It yet changes the course of its quest constantly,
Renewing its way of looking at things. For it huge rocks are light as air:
It smashes mountains into shifting sand.
Both its beginning and its end are journeying,
For constant motion is its being’s law.
It is a ray of light in the moon and a spark in stone. It dwells
In colours, but is colourless itself.
It has nothing to do with more or less,
With light and low, with fore and aft.
Since time’s beginning it was struggling to emerge,
And finally emerged in the dust that is man.
It is in your heart that the Self has its abode,
As the sky is reflected in the pupil of the eye.
|To one who treasures his self, bread|
Won at the cost of self-respect is gall.
He values only bread
he gains with head held high.
Abjure the pomp and might of a Mahmud;
Preserve your self, do not be an Ayaz.
Worth offering is only that prostration which
Makes all others forbidden acts.
This world, this riot of colours and of sounds,
Which is under the sway of death,
This idol-house of eye and ear,
In which to live is but to eat and drink,
Is nothing but the Self’s initial stage.
O traveller, it is not your final goal.
The fire that is you has not come out of this heap of dust.
You have not come out of this world; It has come out of you.
Smash up this mountainous blockade,
Go further on and break out of this magic ring of time and space.
God’s lion is the self;
Its quarry are both earth and sky.
There are a hundred worlds still to appear,
For Being’s mind has not drained of its creative capabilities.
All latent worlds are waiting for releasing blows
From your dynamic action and exuberant thought.
It is the purpose of the revolution of the spheres
That your selfhood should be revealed to you.
You are the conqueror of this world
Of good and evil. How can I tell you the whole of your long history?
Words are but a strait-jacket for reality:
Reality is a mirror, and speech the coating that makes it opaque.
Breath’s candle is alight within my breast,
But my power of utterance cries halt.
Should I fly even a hairbreadth too high,
The blaze of glory would burn up my wings.
Translated by: M. Hadi Hussain