“God, the Self –Subsistent”
If thou hast bound
thy faithful heart on God
The Self-subsistent, thou hast overlept
The rim of things material. No slave
To things material God’s servant is;
Life is no turning of a water-wheel.
If thou be Muslim, be not suppliant
Of other’s succour; be the embodiment
Of good to all the world. Make not complaint
Of scurvy fortune to the fortunate,
Nor from thy sleeve reach out a beggar’s hand.
Like Ali, be content with barley-bread;
Break Marhab’s neck, and capture Khaibar’s fort.
Why bear the favour of the bountiful,
Why feel the Lancet of their may and yea?
Take not the sustenance from mean, base hands;
Thou art a Joseph; count thyself not cheap.105
And if thou be an ant, and lackest wings
And feathers, go not unto Solomon
To plead thy want. The road is arduous;
Go light-accoutred, if thou wouldst attain;
Unfettered live thy days, unfettered die.
Count o’er the rosary of Take thou less106
Of this world’s goods, and thou shalt riches win
In living free. So far as in thee lies
Become that stone of the philosophers,
Not the base dross; a benefactor be,
Not a petitioner for others’ alms.
Thou knowest well bu Ali’s emnince;107
Accept from me this draught, drawn from his cup—
“Trample Kai-Kaus’ throne beneath thy foot;
Yield up thy life, but not thy self-respect!
The tavern door stands open of itself
To those whose bowls are empty, whose needs none.
Harun Rashid, that captain of the Faith108
Whose blade to Nicephor of Byzance proved
A deadly potion, unto Malik spoke
Upon this fashion: “Master of my folk,109
The dust before whose door illuminates
My people’s brow, melodious nightingale
Carolling mid the roses of good words,
I am desirous to be taught by thee
The secrets of those words. How long art thou
Content in Yemen to conceal the glow
Of thy bright rubies? Rise, and pitch thy tent110
Here, in the homestead of the Caliphate.
How fair the brightness of the shining day,
The captivating beauty of Iraq:
The Fount of Khizer gushes from its vines,111
Its earth is healing for the wounds of Christ.
“I am the Prophet’s servant,” Malik said,
“And only him I love, with all my heart.
Bound to his saddle-bow, I will not quit
His holy sanctuary. By the kiss
Of Yathrib’s dust I live; my night to me112
Is fairer that Iraq’s pellucid day.
Love says, ‘obey my ordinance; sign not
The articles of service even to kings.
Thou wouldst become my master, overlord
Of this freed slave of God, that I should wait
Upon thy door to teach thee, and no more
Serve the Community, being bound to thee.
Be it thy wish some portion to attain
Of godly knowledge, in my circle sit
And study with the rest. Indifference
To worldly needs engenders fine disdain,
And holy pride takes many splendid shapes.”
Godly indifference is to put on
The hue of God, and from thy robe to wash
The dye of otherness. But thou hast learned
The rote of others, taking that for store,
An alien rouge to beautify thy face;
In those insignia thou takest pride,
Until I know not if thou be thyself
Or art another. Fanned by foreign blasts
Thy soil is fallen silent, and no more
Fertile in fragrant roses and sweet herbs.
Desolate not thy tilth with thy own hand;
Make it not beg for rain from alien clouds.
Thy mind is prisoner to others’ thoughts,
Another’s music throbs within thy throat,
Thy very speech is borrowed, and thy heart
Dilates with aspirations not thine own.
The song thy ring-doves sing, the leafy gowns
That deck thy cypresses, are meanly begged;
Thou takest wine from others in a bowl
Itself from others taken upon loan.
If he, whose glance contains the mystery
Erred not the sight if he should come again113
Unto his people, he whose candle-flame
Knows its own moth, who can distinguish well
His own from strangers standing at the gate,
Our master would declare, thou art not mine.
Woe, woe, alas for us upon that day!
How long wilt thou content thyself to live
The life of stars, that in the risen morn
Lose all their being? Thou hast been deceived
By the false dawn, packed up thy goods and one
From the broad firmament. Thou art the sun;
Look on thy self a little; purchase not
Some shreds of radiance from others’ stars!
Thou hast engraved thy heart with alien shapes, Gambled the alchemy and gained the dross;
How long this glittering with other’s shine?
Shake off heavy fumes for foreign grapes!
How long this fluttering about the flame.
Of party lanterns? If thou hast a heart
Within thy breast, with thine own ardour burn!
Be like the gaze, wrapped round in thy own veils;
Rise on the wing, but ever wheel back home;
Bubble-like bar thy little privacy
Against the intruder, if thou wouldst be wise
No man to individuality
Ever attained save that he knew himself,
No nation came to nationhood, except
It spurned to suit the whim of other men.
Then of our Prophet’s message be apprised,
And have thou done with other lords but God.