The Song of the Reed
From the Mathnawi, Book I
(Translation by: Sir William Jones)
Hear, how yon reed in sadly pleasing tales
Departed bliss and present woe bewails!
'With me, from native banks untimely torn,
Love-warbling youths and soft-ey'd virgins mourn.
O! Let the heart, by fatal absence rent,
Feel what I sing, and bleed when I lament:
Who roams in exile from his parent bow'r,
Pants to return, and chides each ling'ring hour.
My notes, in circles of the grave and gay,
Have, hail'd the rising, cheer'd the closing day:
Each in my fond affections claim'd a part,
But none discern'd the secret of my heart.
What though my strains and sorrows flow combin'd!
Yet ears are slow, and carnal eyes are blind.
Free through each mortal form the spirits roll,
But sight avails not. Can we see the soul?
Such notes breath'd gently from yon vocal frame:
Breath'd said I? no; 'twas all enliv'ning flame.
'Tis love, that fills the reed with warmth divine;
'Tis love, that sparkles in the racy wine.
Me, plaintive wand'rer from my peerless maid,
The reed has fir'd, and all my soul betray'd
He gives the bane, and he with balsam cures;
Afflicts, yet soothes; impassions, yet allures.
Delightful pangs his am'rous tales prolong;
And LAILI'S frantic lover lives in song.
Not he, who reasons best, this wisdom knows:
Ears only drink what rapt'rous tongues disclose.
From the Diwan
(Translation by: R.A. Nicholson)
O Thou who art my soul's comfort in the season of sorrow,
O Thou who art my spirit's comfort in the bitterness of dearth!
That which the imagination hath not conceived,
that which the understanding hath not seen,
Visiteth my soul from Thee; hence in worship I turn toward Thee.
By Thy Grace I keep fixed on eternity my amorous gaze,
Except, O King, the pomps that perish lead me astray.
The favour of him who brings glad tidings of Thee,
Even without Thy summons, is sweeter in mine ear than songs.
If the never-ceasing Bounty should offer kingdoms,
If the Hidden Treasure should set before me all that is,
I would bow down with my soul, I would lay my face in the dust,
I would cry, "Of all these the love of such an One for me!"
From the Ruba'iyyat
(Translation by: A.J. Arberry)
Be just: confess
In love is ample righteousness;
The fault lies in
Thyself, that thou art prone to sin.
If thou dost claim
For human lust Love's holy name,
Then know, and prove
The way is far from lust to Love.
Down a flowing stream
A barque borne fast.
To the mind it may seem
The rushes hurry past.
Every moment thus
From this world we fly,
And it seemeth to us
The world goes by.
We are the treasury
Of God's great mystery;
The sea wherein doth dwell
His pearl incalculable.
From end to farthest end
Of being we extend,
Yea, we sit upon
God's imperial throne.
The heart is a secret garden
Its trees unseen;
A hundred hues it blossoms
The heart's a boundless ocean
Its waves break unnumbered
In every soul.
I am drunk with the love of Thee,
Not with wine, or opium;
I am mad; dost Thou look to see
In a madman decorum?
A hundred torrents rise
From the surge my soul within;
The heavens in glad surprise
Stand still to behold me spin.
Of the book of God
Thou art a copying,
A mirror wherein showed
The beauty of the King.
All God ever wrought
Dwelleth not apart;
All thou hast ever sought,
Find it in thy heart.