“Neither not being nor being will accept us:
alas, for the unkindness of being and not being!
We passed through the world of East and West
and with pain and affliction reached the gates of Hell,
but Hell shot not a single spark at Sadiq and Jaafar
nor even a handful of ashes hurled at our heads,
saying, ‘Sticks and straws are better for Hell;
my flame is better unsullied by these two infidels.’
We journeyed beyond the nine heavens
seeking to come to sudden death
which spoke: ‘The soul is a secret among my secrets;
it is my task to preserve the soul and destroy the body.
Though the wicked soul is not worth two barleycorns,
be gone, you who would have me destroy the soul!
Such a task cannot be performed by Death;
the traitor’s soul will not find rest in Death.’
Swift winds! O sea of blood,
O earth, O azure heaven,
O stars, O shining moon, O sun!
O Pen, O Preserved Tablet, O Book!
White idols! Lords of the West,
who hold a world in your grip without war and violence!
This world without beginning is without end;
where is the Lord Protector of traitors?
Suddenly there came a terrible sound
which split the breast of desert and ocean.
The whole realm of body disjointed fell apart;
moment by moment the mountain masses crumbled—
mountains like clouds in motion—
a world’s destruction without the Blast of the Trumpet.
Lightning and thunder, fired by an inward fever,
sought a nest of refuge in the Sea of Blood.
The billows boiled and broke out of themselves;
mountains and valleys were drowned in blood.
All that befell the visible and the invisible
the stars cavalcade beheld, and passed on indifferently.
[Translated by A.J. Arberry]