Between us and the light of the sun there hang
how many veils of space fold upon fold!
A hundred curtains have been suspended before us,
intertwisted firework displays,
that the unardent heart may increase in ardour 1545
and become agreeable to branch, leaf and fruit.
Through its glow blood leaps in the tulip’s veins,
its dance transmutes the stream to quicksilver.
Even so the pure spirit rises from the dust,
the pure spirit flees towards whither towards is not; 1550
on that road are but death and resurrection,
resurrection and death,
no other provision save fever and glowing.
Into that expanse of a hundred azure heavens
plunging continually, it surges out anew;
itself its own sanctuary, its own Abraham, 1555
self-offering, like him who was sacrificed to God.
Before it the nine heavens are nine Khaibars,
its smiling is of the stature of Haidar.
It is this incessant conflict that purifies the spirit,
makes it firm, speedy, nimble, 1560
it spreads its wings in the broadness of light,
its talons seize Gabriel and the houris,
that it may take its share in the eye swerved out
and stand guardian in the ranks of God’s servants.
I do not know where my own station is, 1565
I only know that it is apart from all friends.
Deep within me rages a war without horsemen and armies;
he well descries it who has vision like me.
Men are ignorant of the conflict between unbelief and faith,
my soul is lonely, like Zain al-Abidin; 1570
none is apprised of the station and the way,
but for my song there is no lamp to light the path.
Infant, youth, old man-all are drowned in the sea,
only one poor soul has won his way to the shore.
I have drawn aside the curtains of this tent; 1575
I am fearful of union, and lament for separation.
If union be the end of yearning, beware;
how blessed the sighs and vain lamentations!
The wayfarer searches little for the high-road
if to be carefree is congenial to his soul. 1580
My soul is such that, for the joy of gazing,
it every moment desires a new world.
Rumi, well aware of the states of my soul,
said ‘Do you desire another world? Take it!
Love is cunning, and we are counters in his hand; 1585
look ahead-we are in the land of Venus.
This world too subsists on water and clay,
a sanctuary enveloped in purest musk,
with a glance that burns and rends all veils
pass within its clouds and mists 1590
and you will see therein the ancient gods;
I know them all, one by one—
Baal, Marduk, Ya‘uq, Nasr, Fasr,
Ramkhan, Lat, Manat, Asr, Ghasr;
every one of them offers proof of its immortality 1595
in the temper of this age that knows no Abraham.’