of Ustád Muhammad-`Alíy-i Salmání
Translated by Marzeih Gail
Persian consultant: Yousef Mostaghim
+P110 (This page is blank)
And if unto Thy robe I cannot cling,
Then I must sate myself with tears and sighs.
Cut off by fowler's net on every side,
Or in Thine ambience I'd spread my wings.
I weep alone here in my prison cage,
O nightingale that with the rose dost dwell!
O caravan that to my Love intend,
My ears are longing for the starting-bell.
In blood unwritten lies, from start to end,
This loneliness of mine on my heart's page.
If only this, my final breath,
The mournful tale had penned.
My love is like that fabled bird
That doth a crown presage.
And for the rest, or so I gauge,
This whole round world
Is but a midge,
Or say, a bagatelle.
Each man has someone for his haven--I
Have but Bahá.
And truth to tell,
To me, none but Bahá
In either world doth dwell.
I bound my restless heart to His black and tangled hair,
And thus I darkened
All my days to come.
If only once, by night, I held his locks in hand,
Then I'd recount my countless sorrows
One by one.
Thine eyes did slay me suddenly, their lashes are
Thou seized my lands, O King,
With Turkish guns.
And wilt Thou never pass among Thy slain,
To see with Thine own eyes
That red-stained ground?
To say Thou art the sun would bring me shame,
For my Beloved's
Far above the sun.
O friends, that hour the roses turned to thorns,
When midst the flowers I saw
That rosy-petaled Gem.
So far has love burnt up my helpless self,
No ash is left
For wind to blow--
If only out of pity, show Thy face!
What harm, Bahá, to waft on us
That musk, thy fragrant breath?
O tangled head that gives no heed to my disheveled
That of my secret suffering knows not!
Designed for my derangement, Thy locks intoxicate:
The fame of sweet insanity is all my lot.
Those watchers from behind the veil of life
Are spirit witnesses to this my state.
These are not brows you see above my eyes--
Of my indenture they're the written lines.
(Look Thou, O new-sprung Rose of blossomed hope,
The nightingale's gone mad with this song of mine!)
I know not how to offer Thee my life,
That none should say I held it dear, who learned
But long before life's structures were built up
Love rose on every hand my ruin to create.
O Love, without Thee never can I rest
Nor ever solve
My mind's predicament,
Nor find a moment's peace within my breast.
Thou stealest from the sugar all its sweet,
And from the rose its red,
With every smile of Thine,
And every blandishment.
And who to others turn away instead,
They all would come to Thee as pilgrims poor,
If of Thy love they caught
The faintest hint.
Surpassing musk of Tartary,
The morning wind blows through Thy hair.
Like ambergris the very air,
Like Jesus' breath and scent.
Love is the bird of prey,
And I a poor hen-sparrow.
See what hath painted those rapacious claws,
Of my blood redolent!
Love all my life doth harrow.
What shall I say?
How win the fray?
What beggar at this threshold would consent
To leave Him so he could
O'er all the earth hold sway?
No lover can complain
If he love true
Of anything his best-beloved may do.
Even the loved one's cruelty
Brings healing to the heart.
So if my cries have set a soul on fire,
It is no wonder,
For lover's tears, like flooding rain,
Can even split the cliffs asunder.
The secret of love's code is never found
By those who but to reasoning are prone.
What rose could spring from out that brackish ground,
Or what anemone from stone?
O brighter than the bright sun art Thou!
It is Thy light that veils Thee from men's eyes.
But who has ever glimpsed Thy face he cries:
The Sun of Truth is dawning on me now!
A thousand gaze upon Thy face and none
Is worthy he should ever look thereon.
How could I ever on Thy beauty dwell?
O, this unease!
Thou art not to be sung.
Of Thee my tongue
Could never tell--neither by speaking out,
Nor by holding its peace.
If Thou shouldst wish to cut my wings or grant
Still in Thine ambience I'll ever soar.
From nothingness Thy love did me bring forth.
I sprang from nothing: I know nothing more.
To sing of this, my every bone a flute.
But if, from love, these bones to ashes burn,
How could they then a breath to song transmute,
And tell the tale of Thee for whom they yearn?
What ease it is to yield Thy curling hair,
To cast this life aside--easy it is and sweet.
Not difficult this whole world to forswear--
And if the chance come, perish at Thy feet.
The bow of His brow, the darts of His lashes--
They kindle a flame that will burn me to ashes!
Still this I sing:
That if he slays
His loving ways
Me back to life will bring.
I never studied logic in a book--
For love I have
But wept my heart away.
I chose the path to the Beloved's door,
And thus did free myself
From this world's sway.
And I shall cease this longing for Thee never,
Though I may burn forever
And a day.
O pilgrims of the Truth
Who seek the Friend:
I've set my head upon the block,
And thrown my soul away.
From halting-place I've passed to halting-place,
Nor yet have made a start
Upon Love's way.
How good if I could die before Thy feet!
It's in this hope that I
Live out my day.
And with this wine from out Thy flowing cask,
I'll never ask
For heaven's fabled fountains
That pious thirsts allay.
Nothing in the path of love surpasses martyrdom.
Win all your friends to this
If to it they will come.
And this is the best.
I said, for Him I'd die like moth in flame.
"Rather," He said, "like the candle keep:
"To light and weep, to light and weep.
"Then take this for your aim,
For this is best."
How well we know that human life is sweet,
And so find gold, and to be eminent.
But if your life to win His love is spent,
Then fling it at His feet,
For this is best.
Let reason's hoary counsel go unheard.
By like a child who plays
On love's path all his days.
"Become like little children," was His word.
And this is best.
I tore my heart from both the worlds away,
And took and bound it to Thy hair.
Caught fast it is within Thy snare:
Burn it, or stamp it out, I pray.
And this is best.
O harpist, must thou ever
Of the Scripture then intone?
To us sing but of love,
And change thy tune.
For this is best.
O let them burn me up a hundred times,
I would not even know,
So lost am I in Thee.
I'll never take my eyes from off Thy face--
Without Thy beauty's light
How could they see?
I've placed Thee here within my inmost core--
And in my eyes, so wheresoe'er I look,
I only look on Thee.
And in this love,
Whatever thorn may sting
Is only balm,
And but a rose to me.
I with the wind would journey
All my days
That one day it might
Carry me to Thee.
O Thou Messiah, raising up dead hearts!
With Thy breath, like a scented breeze
Raise up this corpse to Thee.
Thou art love's flutist,
I am but the flute:
What dost Thou play in me?
What song is this that to the world's edge brings
Poor helpless me?
O Candle of desire!
Moth-like I'm shedding fire
From my wings.
Perplexed am I to gaze on Thee
Thy beauty to behold.
O what art Thou to me:
My well-beloved, or my very soul?
Where'er I look I see
These souls burnt up by Thee:
Moths to Thy candle flame, beyond control.
One life is all my capital and store,
And still away from Thee I cannot turn.
And freely would I pay it all
To Thee for whom I burn,
If absence does not finish me before.
And though both wise and mad do counsel me in turn,
What is the use? I'm lost in longing
For Thy tangled hair.
Hast Thou seen how a man will hunt after the water
His object to stay young and fair?
I am even as he--and a hundred times more.
What harm if Thou my robe of life dost tear?
Of all such borrowed clothes I am stripped bare.
Lettered, unlettered, they all
For a place at thy table compete.
But I, heart and soul, would be but the dust at Thy feet.