JÁMÍ The Persian Mystic
By: Frederick Hadland Davis, London 1908
"With men of light I sought these pearls to string,
The drift of mystics' sayings forth to bring."
In the preparation of this little volume much depended upon the kindness and generosity of certain Oriental scholars, who have allowed me to reproduce some of their translations from Jámí. I have attempted to give their best work in so far as it tends to illustrate the mystical teaching of the last great poet of Persia.
Once more I am indebted to Mr. E. H. Whinfield for permission to quote from his translation of the _Lawá'ih_ (Oriental Translation Fund, New Series, vol. xvi., Royal Asiatic Society, London). I have to thank Prof. Edward G. Browne for allowing me to use his beautiful translation from _Yúsuf and Zulaikha_, which I have called "The Coming of the Beloved." This translation appears, in fuller form, in Prof. E. G. Browne's article on "Súfíism" in _Religious Systems of the World_ (Sonnenschein). The chapter in the present volume entitled "The Story of Yúsuf and Zulaikha" originally appeared in the _Orient Review_, and I am indebted to the editors for their courtesy in allowing me to reproduce it here. I very much appreciate Mr. E. Edwards's kindly interest in my work, and for the valuable suggestions he has made from time to time. I tender my thanks to Messrs. Kegan Paul for allowing me to make a selection from _Yúsuf and Zulaikha_, translated by the late Mr. Ralph T. Griffith (Trübner's Oriental Series).
The translations from _Salámán and Absál_ are by Edward FitzGerald, and those from the _Baháristán_ were originally published by the Kama Shastra Society.
Frederick Hadland Davis
London, March 1908.
I. The life of JÁMÍ
II. The story of "SALÁMÁN AND ABSÁL"
III. The teaching of the "LAWÁ'IH"
IV. The story of "YÚSUF AND ZULAIKHA"
V. The "BAHÁRISTÁN," or "ABODE OF SPRING"
Selections from "SALÁMÁN AND ABSÁL"
Selections from the "LAWÁ'IH"
Selections from "YÚSUF AND ZULAIKHA"
Selections from the "BAHÁRISTÁN"
I. The life of JÁMÍ
Nur-addín 'Abd-alrahmán Jámí was born in Jám the 23rd of Sha'bán, 817, A.H. (Nov. 7, 1414 A.D.), and died at Herát the 18th of Muharram, 898 A.H. (Nov. 9, 1492 A.D.). Dr. Hermann Ethé gives Khasjird, near Jám, as the birthplace of the poet; but as Jámí himself refers more than once to the fact of Jám being his birthplace, we must give the poet the benefit of the doubt and I trust to his good memory in the matter. The fact that Jám and Khasjird are in close proximity I have probably given rise to confusion in the matter. It will be evident that the poet took his name from the first-mentioned town.
In 822 A.H. Khwájah Mohammad Pársá happened to pass through the little town of Jám, _en route_ for Hijàz. A great concourse of people came out to do the holy man honour, and among them was the little boy, Jámí, and his father. A pretty story is told of how Jámí's father seated his son in front of Khwájah's litter. I do not think the little fellow laughed very much, as most boys would have done on such a joyous occasion, because Jámí, writing on his impression of that day sixty years after, tells us that "The pure refulgence of his (Mohammad Pársá's) beaming countenance is even now, as then, clearly visible to me, and my heart still feels the joy I experienced from that happy meeting. I firmly believe that that bond of union, friendship, confidence, and love, which subsequently bound the great body of pious spirits to this humble creature, is wholly due to the fortunate influence of his glance, and most devoutly do I trust that the auspiciousness of this union may cause me to be ranked among the number of his friends." Jámí seems to have had much faith in the contact with holy men, and he attached much importance to a certain Shaikh who took him on his knee as a child. This very estimable reverence for holy men and holy things must ever remain as one of the poet's finest characteristics. We can, however, never say of Jámí that he was a man of wide sympathy. He was kind and generous towards the poor and needy; but he lamentably failed where, perhaps, he should have shone most, namely, among the literary men of his own period. He too frequently displayed a fighting spirit, where tolerance and a willingness to admit of another point of view would have shown to greater advantage.
Jámí commenced his education at Herát. He strongly objected to the disciplinary methods of instruction, was not studious as a boy, and preferred games rather than the study of books. But he was naturally clever, naturally quick at absorbing knowledge with a minimum of labour. It is said of him that he used to snatch a book from one of his fellow students while on his way to school and excel them all when they were examined in class.
Jámí soon left his instructor Mullá Junaid and became a pupil of Khwájah 'Alí al-Samarqandi. Jámí was so brilliant a scholar that after forty lessons further instruction from his master was quite unnecessary. After attending a series of lectures by Qazí Rúm, at Samarqand, he succeeded in getting the best of an argument with the learned professor who had given the lectures. It might have been expected that the defeat of an older man of letters than Jámí would have produced ill-feeling; but quite the contrary was the case.
Qazí Rúm, before a large assembly, described Jámí thus: "Since the building of this city, no one equal, in sharpness of intellects and power of using them, to young Jámí, has ever crossed the Oxus and entered Samarqand." This was high praise indeed; but though it awakens our admiration, the fact that he dispensed with "home-work" while at school, scanned his lessons while walking past the rose-gardens, bettered his instructor in an argument, and in every way shone as a most clever young man, because he simply could not help being anything else, makes him not one whit dearer to our hearts if we expect from him something more than cleverness. Jámí had not that greatness of soul whereby to counteract the deterrent effect his conspicuous success might have upon him. In these early days of too youthful recognition we find Jámí infected with that disease commonly known as "swelled head," from which the poet never recovered. We see him too often as a little tin-god denying, with the exception of his father, all indebtedness to others for his noteworthy erudition--an absurd attitude for any one to take. He remarks: "I have found no master with whom I have read, superior to myself. On the contrary I have invariably found that, in argument, I could defeat them all. I acknowledge, therefore, the obligations of a pupil to his master to none of them; for if I am the pupil of any one, it is of my father who taught me the language." This blatantly conceited attitude is both disappointing and surprising when we remember first, that Jámí was a professed Súfí, the follower of a teaching the tenets of which are the abandonment of self and the knowledge of God only. Second, that Jámí had a very decided sense of humour, strongly in evidence in the "Sixth Garden" of his _Baháristán_, so delightfully entitled: "Blowing of the zephyrs of wit and the breezes of jocular sallies, which cause the buds of the lips to laugh and the flowers of the hearts to bloom." From these two things alone we might have expected a finer and nobler character. We must be, however, content with the life of a great literary egoist, abandon sentiment, and remember only that he has left to posterity the most polished of
Jámí's acceptance of Súfíism was brought about through a vision in which S'ad al-Dín appeared to him and said: "Go, O child! and wait on one who is indispensable to you." As this message was delivered by a spirit Jámí appears to have taken no objection to the word "indispensable"; but on the contrary, obeyed the command and went to S'ad al-Dín for spiritual instruction. Under this holy man Jámí lived the life of a rigid ascetic. So devoutly and so strenuously did Jámí perform his penances that when S'ad al-Dín thought fit to lessen them and allow Jámí to mix with society again, the poet found that he had lost his power of eloquence, for which he had been so justly famed, and it was some considerable time before he regained his position as a great master of rhetoric.
I have already said that Jámí showed a very strong liking for holy and pious men. Particularly might be mentioned Shams al-Dín Mohammad Asad and 'Ubaid Ullah Ahrár. The last mentioned alludes to Jámí as the "flood of light," and to himself as the "small lamp." But Jámí, nevertheless, was not very optimistic in his views regarding other people. "Alas," said he, "I can find no seekers after _Truth_. Seekers there are, but they are seekers of their own prosperity."
It was while making a pilgrimage to Mecca that Jámí suffered considerably from the mutilation of a passage from his _Silsilah al-Dhahab_, a passage purposely borrowed from Qazí Azád. The mutilation was performed by N'imat-i Haidarí, a native of Jám, who had accompanied Jámí to Baghdad, had quarrelled, and left the little band and some Moslims of another order. The partially suppressed passage was shown to some of the Shí'a as the work of Jámí. The poet and his followers met with a heated dispute from the people of Baghdad. Finally a meeting was called in the Madrassah of the town. A large number of excited people attended. The Hanafi and Sháfi'í churches were represented, and in front of their respective representatives sat the Governor. When the _Silsilah al-Dhahab_ was perused the piece of deception was discovered, namely, that the beginning and end had been suppressed, and a passage added likely to offend the people of Baghdad. Peace was once more restored. Jámí, however, felt justified in punishing the originators of the plot. N'imat-i Haidarí had his moustache very unceremoniously cut off, and was commanded to forfeit a pious garb with the crushing
remark: "It will be necessary for you to recommend yourself to some holy man of the day, who, peradventure, may yet put you on the right way." This man's brother, who had also offended, was forced to wear a fool's cap and to ride on an ass with his head facing the animal's tail, amid the none too complimentary remarks of the Baghdad people.
Although Jámí, in spite of the incident mentioned above, remained in Baghdad four months, he never forgot the insult, and expressed himself bitterly on the subject in some of his poetry.
We then find our poet continuing his journey to Mecca, and both on his way to the holy city of Islam and upon his return therefrom, he met with cordial receptions from the people, who came out to do him honour.
On one occasion, however, while Jámí stayed at Aleppo the Sultán of Rúm sent a messenger with a present of five thousand pieces of gold if Jámí would consent to visit Constantinople. The messenger came to Damascus only to find that Jámí had recently vacated it. The poet, hearing of the Sultán of Rúm's intentions, and wishing to avoid his munificence, took his departure to Tabríz. At this town Hasan Beg, the Governor of
Kurdistan, made repeated overtures to try and persuade the poet to reside in his capital. But Jámí, making the excuse that he wished to visit his aged mother, journeyed to Khorasan. Fate, however, ordained honours and showers of gold for the none too grateful or needy Jámí, and at Khorasan he was again the recipient of many costly presents.
Jámí, probably wearied with the continual adulation which he had everywhere received, now retired from public life. At this juncture little is recorded of him, and here we must leave him with one anecdote which will serve to show his ready wit: "You (_i.e._ God) so occupy my whole thoughts and vision, that whatsoever comes into view from afar appears to me to be You." "What," said a sharp contemporary, "if a jackass were to come into view?" "It would appear to me to be _you_!" was Jámí's prompt reply.
II. The story of "SALÁMÁN AND ABSÁL"
In this beautiful little allegory, the meaning of which is so obvious that Jámí need not have explained it in his Epilogue, we read of the Shah of Yunan. He was a king ever wisely counselled by a sage who kept the Tower of Wisdom, and might be therefore reasonably supposed to be a fit and able personage to have about the king's person. However, this sage was also a cynic.
One day, after the king had poured forth a very beautiful lament on his childless marriage, and had concluded by remarking that a son was "man's prime desire," the keeper of the Tower of Wisdom supplemented his lord's remarks by describing woman as "A foolish, faithless thing," and marriage made miserable by "One little twist of temper." If the sage succeeded in frightening the king with his tirade on earthly marriage, he was certainly not successful in quelling the king's desire for a son. Of course in allegories nothing is impossible, and we are not at all surprised to find that the king's wish was fulfilled by magic! The fond father named his son Salámán and chose Absál for his nurse.
Absál seems to have been delighted with her charge:
As soon as she had opened eyes on him,
She closed those eyes to all the world beside.
By this we might well infer that Absál was a most estimable nurse. It so happened, however, that her eyes remained closed to everything else but her charge to such an alarming extent that when Salámán was fourteen years old she revealed herself, with many subtle, Zulaikha-like wiles, as his devoted lover.
After the young people had spent a joyous year together, the knowledge of their attachment came to the ears of the king. That wise ruler duly admonished his wayward son and suggested hunting in preference to "dalliance unwise." The sage added his profound wisdom, as was his wont. These admonitions only resulted in the lovers fleeing the city. Across desert and sea they went until they came to a most wonderful island, the island of all earthly delights.
In the meantime the Shah became aware of his son's "Soul-wasting absence." The much troubled king looked into a mirror, "Reflecting all the world," and saw the lovers on their beautiful island, "Looking only in each other's eyes, and r never finding any sorrow there." The old king, remembering, perhaps, his early days, pitied them at first. But human pity is usually short-lived. Day after day seeing the same lovelorn objects in the magic mirror, he grew very angry and decided to make the lovers' embraces impossible in future. The king succeeded in casting a spell and also in revealing his face to his son, which so pricked the young man's conscience that he and Absál left their beautiful island and returned to their city. But here Salámán was torn with conflicting thoughts about his beloved Absál. Memories of the island garden came back to him again. In this melancholy state of mind the lovers again journeyed forth into the desert, this time to cut down branches and burn themselves to death. "Hand in hand they sprang into the fire." While one little hand slipped away from its hold and one fair body fell among the flames, Salámán remained unscathed.
It was after this sad scene that the sage explained the nature of Celestial Love, and revealed to Salámán's weary eyes the beautiful goddess, Zuhrah. Little by little Salámán came to regard his old earthly love as "The bondage of Absál," a thing merely of the senses, whereas this new Knowledge, this Love, belonged to the "Harvest of Eternity." And so this beautiful little poem, to put it as briefly as possible, tells of the love that binds and fetters and is corruptible, and of that other Love that is Incorruptible.
IIII. The teaching of the "LAWÁ'IH"
The _Lawá'ih_, or "Flashes of Light," is a theological treatise based on Súfíism, and is a book of immense importance to the student of Mysticism. It will afford him a very interesting and striking parallel to Neo-Platonism (Plotinus in particular), and also to some of the Buddhistic teachings. As I have treated the subject of Súfíism, or Persian Mysticism, elsewhere, I need add but few words to this particular volume of Súfí lore.
The keynote to the _Lawá'ih_ is to be found in Jámí's preface. He describes the work as "Explanatory of the intuitions and verities displayed on the pages of the hearts and minds of men of insight and divine knowledge." After a request to his readers to refrain from "cavilling and animadversion," he continues, this time in verse:
Believe me, I am naught--yea, less than naught.
By naught and less than naught what can be taught?
I tell the mysteries of truth, but know
Naught save the telling to this task I brought.
With men of light I sought these pearls to string,
The drift of mystics' sayings forth to bring.
The _Lawá'ih_, expounds some very beautiful and very ennobling truths. In "Flash II." Jámí pleads for the love of One and the abandonment of all little earthly loves that distract the attention of the lover for his Beloved--precisely the same theme as that expressed in _Salámán and Absál_. The poet loudly condemns "Hell-born vanity" and the accumulation of worldly wisdom, even all learning except "The lore of God." It would be a strange theme for a poet to so persistently choose were not Jámí a mystic. With the "Inner light" of the true mystic he sets aside the things of the world as being unsatisfactory. He does not, however, merely pull down the fading, ever vanishing vanities of the world, but with the strong clear voice of the poet-prophet, he sings:
The fleeting phantoms you admire to-day
Will soon at Heaven's behest be swept away.
O give your heart to Him who never fails,
Who, ever with you, and will ever stay.
Jámí advocates, as others have done before him, the destruction of self in order to gain knowledge of Very Being, "Until He mingles Himself with thy soul, and thine own individual existence passes out of thy sight." The poet also discusses the question of matter being _maya_-- I delusion, the ceaseless round of "Accidents," the I ever coming and vanishing media for the revelations of the Beloved.
The _Lawá'ih_ should be studied in conjunction with Mahmud Shabistari's _Gulshan-i-Raz_ or "The Mystic Rose Garden." The main teaching of both these books is that the indwelling of God I in the soul can only take place when that soul realises that self is a delusion, that things of this I world are but phantom-pictures coming and going, as it were, upon the surface of a mirror:
Go, sweep out the chamber of your heart,
Make it ready to be the dwelling-place of the Beloved.
When you depart out, He will enter in,
In you, void of _yourself_, will He display His beauty.
The phenomenal world to the Súfí was nothing more than an ever-recurring process of genesis and end: union with the Divine, annihilation of that process. The _Lawá'ih_ is deeply spiritual throughout, and full of an almost pathetic pity for those who delight in worldly pleasures and find no joy in contemplating Union with the Beloved.
Jámí, after having spent considerable care on his _Lawá'ih_, and after his reader has made a strenuous effort to catch a momentary glimpse of his visionary meaning, concludes:
Jámí, leave polishing of phrases, cease
Writing and chanting fables, hold thy peace;
Dream not that "Truth" can be revealed by words:
From this fond dream, O dreamer, find release!
How long wilt thou keep clanging like a bell?
Thou'lt never come to hold the pearl of "Truth"
Till thou art made all ear, as is the shell.
And here we see the great mystical poet sitting, like a little child listening to a tale that is told, quelled into reverential silence by the greatness of the theme. It is in silence, in the quiet places of our hearts, rather than on the housetops of much controversy, that we can hear the sweet call of the Beloved and forget the clanging of the world in the Great Peace which He alone can give.
IV. The story of "YÚSUF AND ZULAIKHA"
_Yúsuf and Zulaikha_, like _Salámán and Absál,_ belongs to the series of poems known as the _Haft Aurang_. Jámí heralds his poem with a good deal of laudacious singing on the Prophet, Beauty, Love, and concludes by remarking that the loves of Majnún and Laila "have had their day," and makes this excuse for weaving another love poem on another theme. But this scheme was scarcely original, Firdawsí and Ansari having previously composed poems on a similar subject. However, the tongue of the critic is surely silenced by these humble lines:
If here and there a slip or fault you see,
May he not lay the blame of all on me.
May he correct my errors, or befriend
With generous silence faults he cannot mend.
If the work be regarded as a love poem, without its mystical interpretation, Yúsuf may well be regarded as a cold, statuesque young man of the St. Anthony type, but cast in a more beautiful mould. While we may equally well regard Zulaikha as a passionate young lady sadly lacking in worldly wisdom. The coldness of Yúsuf would probably irritate us were we not frequently reminded of the way in which poor Zulaikha plagues him with her too constant attentions. Neither strike us as being very ordinary human people for precisely reverse reasons. There are occasions, however, when Zulaikha awakens our sympathy. It is touching to note that when she finds her own love slighted she should send other women to try their fortune with him, intending, should they succeed, to subtly take their place by strategy of some kind. Again, in the splendid Palace of Pleasure, painted all over, floor and wall and ceiling, with love-entwined figures of Yúsuf and Zulaikha, there is an idol--"A golden idol with jewelled eyes," representing this fatuous woman's love. The idol is placed behind a curtain, and on Yúsuf asking the reason, Zulaikha replies:
If I swerve from religion I would not be
Where the angry eyes of my god may see.
Then we watch the honeyed sweetness of Zulaikha's passion burst forth into bitter hate and shameless lying. We see the proud, chaste Yúsuf cast into prison on false pretences and quite melodramatically freed by the marvellous utterance of a babe at its mother's breast. But Zulaikha finds the gossip of Memphis hard to be bornethe insinuations, the sneers, the cruel reproaches for the unrequited and ill-fated love of hers. Moreover, Zulaikha, like the women of Austria at the beginning of the eighteenth century, had a husband as well as a lover, Potiphar, Grand Vizier of Egypt. These two concocted a scandalous story, which was easily set going and as easily believed by the common people. It resulted in Yúsuf being again sent to prison. At this point of the poem we are once more reminded of the Bible story of Joseph, for Jámí also mentions the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream, the release of the interpreter, and the unlimited power as the king's right hand that followed.
So we watch Yúsuf rise from slave to be the king's chief adviser, and in consequence the fall of the Grand Vizier and Zulaikha. The success of Yúsuf awakens little admiration. He is so far from being human that we should not have been very surprised if he had eaten one of the Pyramids.
But Zulaikha's condition is to be pitied. She is now a widow. Her jewels are gone, her dress is in rags, there are wrinkles in her once beautiful face, and her back is bent. But more than all these trials is the loss of her eyesight. We see her crouching in the road, listening eagerly for the sound of the coming of the proud Yúsuf on his wonderful steed, happy to feel the dust of his passing procession. There is a note of real pathos in this scene. We see for the first time, perhaps, that Zulaikha's passion is changing into a fairer, nobler thing. Sometimes the boys who preceded Yúsuf would shout to her as she sat by her cottage of reeds, "Yúsuf is nigh!" But Zulaikha's heart, sore and hungry and yearning, knew better than they the approach of her lord. The eyes that had seen the Palace of Pleasure saw more now that they were blind! And yet the old passion had not quite burnt itself out. We see the bent form crouching on the ground, feeling the statue of her Yúsuf with her thin, trembling fingers, and piteously praying for some recognition.
The sound of Yúsuf's steed is heard in the distance, and a great shout rends the air: "Make room! Make room!" Zulaikha again crouches in the roadway. How long has she "made room" for the selfish and unfeeling ambitions of a man who was once her pampered slave! It is then, for the first time, that the soul of Zulaikha asserts itself and the mysticism of the poem becomes strongly evident. The material spell of a fleshly love is broken at last. In humility and absolute resignation Zulaikha shatters her once dear idol, destroys a sordid and hopeless dream. Her red rose of passion is turned into a white one, as she fervently cries:
O God, who lovest the humble, Thou
To whom idols, their makers, their servants bow;
'Tis to the light which Thy splendour lends
To the idol's face that its worshipper bends.
Still more triumphant are her words:
Glory to God! to a monarch's state
He has cast the king from his glory down,
And set on the head of a servant his crown.
These words sufficiently interest Yúsuf to ask, "Who is this bedeswoman?" and eventually to win an interview for the poor "Unpitied, forgotten, disgraced woman." Yúsuf does not proceed to moralise; but he does not dispense with frigid formalities beyond calling her Zulaikha and offering, in a studied kind of way, to do anything for her that she may desire. Zulaikha asks for beauty, youth, and the power to win his love. Yúsuf grants her first two wishes, and the decrepit old woman is changed into the ravishingly beautiful Zulaikha of eighteen. But Yúsuf, cold even now, in silence turns in prayer to Heaven, and takes Gabriel's word rather than his own conviction that he is doing well to marry her at last.
Here the late Mr. Ralph Griffith's translation of _Yúsuf and Zulaikha_ ends, and the curious and farseeing might be pardoned for conjecturing an unhappy marriage under these remarkably one-sided circumstances. But in the original the poem does not end here. For the advantage of optimistic believers in marriage, I may add that these two people had an almost unending honeymoon. Remarkable as it may appear, Zulaikha actually became religious, for which altogether wonderful and unexpected event the now kindly Yúsuf built her a most beautiful House of Prayer. The canto entitled "The Longed-for Death" is a little disconcerting, perhaps, but we may reasonably suppose that Yúsuf became religious too, and was not in any way uncomplimentary to his beautiful bride. His death was well arranged, and he was shortly joined by the soul of Zulaikha.
This, then, is & brief sketch of _Yúsuf and Zulaikha_. Like _Salámán and Absál_ it is intended to reveal the beauty of the Beloved; that He can be only approached after much purification, when the physical form ceases to blind the soul's outlook, and only when we realise that passion is an idol that must be broken, and Love the pure Light that shines alone from Him.
V. The "BAHÁRISTÁN," or "ABODE OF SPRING"
The _Baháristán_, or "Abode of Spring," is admitted by Jámí to be an imitation of Sa'di's _Gulistán_, or "Rose Garden." The idea of arranging a book of verse and prose into a series of "Gardens" was a very beautiful one. Two other books compiled on similar lines are Sa'di's _Bústán_, or "Orchard," and the _Nigaristán_, or "Picture Gallery," by Mu'in-uddin Jawini, which appeared in 1334 A.D. Sir Edwin Arnold's _With Sa'di in a Garden_ gives the Westerner some idea of the beauty of Eastern gardens, and this particular garden is rendered all the more delectable because it holds a greater beauty than the loveliest garden, the Taj Mahal itself. Sir Edwin transfers Persian poetry to an Indian garden, which is not very dissimilar to the beautiful gardens of Shiraz. Professor A. V. Williams Jackson describes the _Bagh-i-Takht_, "Garden of the Throne," thus: "Terrace rises above terrace, and fountain, channel, and stream pour their waters in cascades over slabs of marble into reservoirs faced with stone--the walks bordered with cypress and orange trees." It would be interesting to know if the terraces in any way corresponded with the idea of naming and numbering the "Gardens" in Jámí's _Baháristán._ A beautiful mosque, a bower of roses, running water; might not these things alone have suggested to the poet's mind "The pavilion of Excellency, Love, and Laughter?"
The _Baháristán_ has a distinct interest apart from its literary merit. It appears to have been written by Jámí for the instruction of his "darling and beloved son Ziá-uddin-Yúsuf." The poet-father goes on to say, "That young boys and inexperienced youths become very disheartened and unhappy when they receive instruction in idiomatic expressions they are not accustomed to." Although Jámí allowed his son to read the _Gulistán_, he evidently thought the last word had not yet been written in the interests of instructing the young, and thus conceived the idea of writing the _Baháristán_.
One is so apt to see printed requests in the public gardens of England that it seems a little ironical to come across the following in the literary "Gardens" of Jámí: "It is requested that the promenaders in these gardens--which contain no thorns to give offence, nor rubbish displayed for interested purposes,--walking through them with sympathetic steps and looking at them carefully, will bestow their good wishes, and rejoice with praise the gardener who has spent much trouble and great exertions in planning and cultivating these gardens." In regard to the statement that the _Gardens_ "contain no Thorns to give offence," I, for one, must beg to differ. One ugly weed there is which the gardener would have done well to destroy in his otherwise very beautiful garden.
The _Baháristán_ is divided into eight "Gardens." The _First_ deals with the sayings and doings of the saintly, wise, and those "who occupy the chief seats in the pavilion of Excellency." The _Second_ with philosophical subtleties. The _Third_ with Justice, Equity, Government, and Administration, and in general "to show the wisdom of Sultáns." The _Fourth_ with Liberality and Generosity. The _Fifth_ with Love. The _Sixth_ with "Blowing of the zephyrs of wit, and the breezes of jocular sallies, which cause the buds of the lips to laugh and the flowers of the hearts; to bloom." The _Seventh_ with a selection from the work of Persian poets. The _Eighth_, and last, with animal stories.
Selections from "SALÁMÁN AND ABSÁL"
The guests have drunk the wine and are departed,
Leaving their empty bowls behind--not one
To carry on the revel, cup in hand!
Up, Jámí, then! And whether lees or wine
To offer--boldly offer it in thine!
And yet, how long, Jámí, is this old house
Stringing thy pearls upon a harp of song?
Year after year striking up some new song,
The breath of some old story? Life is gone,
And yet the song is not the last; my soul
Is spent--and still a story to be told! "SALÁMÁN AND ABSÁL"
"THOU MOVEST UNDER ALL THE FORMS OF TRUTH"
O Thou, whose memory quickens lovers' souls,
Whose fount of joy renews the lover's tongue,
Thy shadow falls across the world, and they
Bow down to it; and of the rich in beauty
Thou art the riches that make lovers mad.
Not till Thy secret beauty through the cheek
Of Laila smite does she inflame Majnún,
And not till Thou have sugar'd Shírín's lip
The hearts of those two lovers fill with blood.
For lov'd and lover are not but by Thee,
Nor beauty; mortal beauty but the veil
Thy heavenly hides behind, and from itself
Feeds, and our hearts yearn after as a bride
That glances past us veil'd--but even so
As none the beauty from the veil may know.
How long wilt Thou continue thus the world
To cozen with the phantom of a veil
From which Thou only peepest?--Time it is
To unfold Thy perfect beauty. I would be
Thy lover, and Thine only--I, mine eyes
Seal'd in the light of Thee to all but Thee,
Yea, in the revelation of Thyself
Self-lost, and conscience-quit of good and evil.
Thou movest under all the forms of truth,
Under the forms of all created things;
Look whence I will, still nothing I discern
But Thee in all the universe.
"MAN'S PRIME DESIRE"
O thou whose wisdom is the rule of kings--
(Glory to God who gave it!)--answer me:
Is any blessing better than a son?
Man's prime desire; by which his name and he
Shall live beyond himself; by whom his eyes
Shine living, and his dust with roses blows;
A foot for thee to stand on he shall be,
A hand to stop thy falling; in his youth
Thou shalt be young, and in his strength be strong;
Sharp shall he be in battle as a sword,
A cloud of arrows on the enemy's head;
His voice shall cheer his friends to better plight,
And turn the foeman's glory into flight.
Lust that makes blind the reason; lust that makes
A devil's self seem angel to our eyes;
A cataract that, carrying havoc with it,
Confounds the prosperous house; a road of mire
Where whoso falls he rises not again;
A wine of which whoever tastes shall see
Redemption's face no more--one little sip
Of that delicious and unlawful drink,
Making crave much, and hanging round the palate
Till it become a ring to lead thee by
(Putting the rope in a vain woman's hand),
Till thou thyself go down the Way of Nothing.
"THE BABY DARLING"
As soon as she had opened eyes on him,
She closed those eyes to all the world beside,
And her soul crazed, a-doting on her jewel,--
Her jewel in a golden cradle set;
Opening and shutting which her day's delight,
To gaze upon his heart-inflaming cheek--
Upon the darling whom, could she, she would
Have cradled as the baby of her eye.
In rose and musk she wash'd him--to his lips
Press'd the pure sugar from the honeycomb;
And when, day over, she withdrew her milk,
She made, and having laid him in, his bed,
Burn'd all night like a taper o'er his head.
Then still as morning came, and as he grew,
She dressed him like a little idol up;
On with his robe--with fresh collyrium dew
Touch'd his narcissus eyes--the musky locks
Divided from his forehead--and embraced
With gold and ruby girdle his fine waist.
"THE MOON AND ROSES"
Sat a lover solitary
Self-discoursing in a corner,
Passionate and ever-changing
Invocation pouring out:
Sometimes sun and moon; and sometimes
Under hyacinth half-hidden
Roses; or the lofty cypress,
And the little weed below.
Nightingaling thus a noodle
Heard him, and, completely puzzled,--
"What!" quoth he, "and you, a lover,
Raving not about your mistress,
But about the moon and roses!"
Answer'd he: "O thou that aimest
Wide of love, and lover's language
Sun and moon are but my lady's
Self, as any lover knows;
Hyacinth I said, and meant her
Hair--her cheek was in the rose--
And I myself the wretched weed
That in her cypress shadow grows."
"THE WILES OF ABSÁL"
Now from her hair would twine a musky chain,
To bind his heart--now twist it into curls
Nestling innumerable temptations;
Doubled the darkness of her eyes with surma
To make him lose his way, and over them
Adorn'd the bows that were to shoot him then;
Fresh rose, and then a grain of musk lay there,
The bird of the beloved heart to snare.
Now to the rose-leaf of her cheek would add,
Now with a laugh would break the ruby seal
That, lockt up pearl; or busied in the room
Would smite her hand, perhaps--on that pretence
To lift and show the silver in her sleeve;
Or hastily rising, dash her golden anklets
To draw the crowned head under her feet.
Thus by innumerable bridal wiles
She went about soliciting his eyes,
Which she would scarce let lose her for a moment;
For well she knew that mainly by the eye
Love makes his sign, and by no other road
Enters and takes possession of the heart.
"LOVE'S EARTHLY WAY"
Now when Salámán's heart turned to Absál,
Her star was happy in the heavens--old Love
Put forth afresh--Desire doubled his bond:
And of the running time she watch'd an hour
To creep into the mansion of her moon
And satiate her soul upon his lips.
And the hour came; she stole into his chamber--
Ran up to him, Life's offer in her hand--
And, falling like a shadow at his feet,
She laid her face beneath. Salámán then
With all the courtesies of princely grace
Put forth his hand--he rais'd her in his arms--
He held her trembling there--and from that fount
Drew first desire; then deeper from her lips,
That, yielding, mutually drew from his
A wine that ever drawn from never fail'd.
So through the day--so through another still.
The day became a seventh--the seventh a moon--
The moon a year--while they rejoiced together,
Thinking their pleasure never was to end.
But rolling Heaven whisper'd from his ambush,
"So in my license is it not set down.
Ah for the sweet societies I make
At morning and before the nightfall break!
Ah for that bliss that with the setting sun
I mix, and, with his rising, all is done!"
Reason that rights the retrograde--completes
The imperfect--reason that unites the knot;
For reason is the fountain from of old
From which the prophets drew, and none beside.
Who boasts of other inspiration lies--
There are no other prophets than the wise.
"THE MOON OF LOVE"
O Shah, I am the slave of thy desire,
Dust of thy throne, ascending foot am I;
Whatever thou desirest I would do,
But sicken of my own incompetence;
Not in the hand of my infirmer will
To carry into deed mine own desire.
Time upon time I torture mine own soul,
Devising liberation from the snare
I languish in. But when upon that moon
I _think_, my soul relapses; and when _look_--
I leave both worlds behind to follow her!
Without my lover,
Were my chamber Heaven's horizon,
It were closer than an ant's eye;
And the ant's eye wider were
Than Heaven, my lover with me there!
The Almighty hand that mix'd thy dust inscribed
The character of wisdom on thy heart;
O cleanse thy bosom of material form,
And turn the mirror of the soul to spirit,
Until it be with spirit all possest,
Crown'd in the light of intellectual truth.
O veil thine eyes from mortal paramour,
And follow not her step! For what is she?--
What is she but a vice and a reproach,
Her very garment-hem pollution!
For such pollution madden not thine eyes,
Waste not thy body's strength, nor taint thy soul,
Nor set the body and the soul in strife!
Supreme is thine original degree,
Thy star upon the top of heaven; but lust
Will fling it down even unto the dust!
"THE DIVINE UNION"
Whisper'd one to Wámik, "O thou
Victim of the wound of Azra,
What is it like, that a shadow
Movest thou about in silence
Meditating night and day?"
Wámik answer'd, "Even this--
To fly with Azra to the desert:
There by so remote a fountain
That, whichever way one travell'd
League on league, one yet should never,
Never meet the face of man--
There to pitch my tent--for ever
There to gaze on my Belovèd;
Gaze, till gazing out of gazing
Grew to being her I gaze on,
She and I no more, but in one
Undivided being blended.
All that is not One must ever
Suffer with the wound of absence;
And whoever in Love's city
Enters, finds but room for One,
And but in Oneness Union."
Do well, that in thy turn well may betide thee;
And turn from ill, that ill may turn beside thee.
"THE MAGIC MIRROR"
Then bade he bring a mirror that he had,
A mirror, like the bosom of the wise,
Reflecting all the world, and lifting up
The veil from all its secret, good and evil.
That mirror bade he bring, and, in its face
Looking, beheld the face of his Desire,
He saw those lovers in the solitude,
Turn'd from the world, and all its ways and people,
And looking only in each other's eyes,
And never finding any sorrow there.
O thou whose presence so long sooth'd my soul,
Now burnt with thy remembrance! O so long
The light that fed these eyes now dark with tears!
O long, long home of love now lost for ever!
We were together--that was all enough--
We two rejoicing in each other's eyes,
Infinitely rejoicing--all the world
Nothing to us, nor we to all the world:
No road to reach us, nor an eye to watch--
All day we whisper'd in each other's ears,
All night we slept in one another's arms--
All seem'd to our desire, as if the hand
Of unjust Fortune were for once too short.
O would to God that when I lit the pyre
The flame had left thee living and me dead,
Not living worse than dead, depriv'd of thee!
O were I but with thee! at any cost
Stript of this terrible self-solitude!
O but with thee annihilation--lost,
Or in eternal intercourse renew'd!
"THE HARVEST OF ETERNITY"
My son, the kingdom of the world is not
Eternal, nor the sum of right desire!
Make thou the faith-preserving intellect
Thy counsellor; and considering to-day
To-morrow's seed-field, ere that come to bear
Sow with the harvest of eternity.
"Selections from the LÁWA'IH"
Believe me, I am naught--yea, less than naught,
By naught and less than naught what can be taught?
I tell the mysteries of truth, but know
Naught save the telling to this task I brought.
"DELIVER US FROM OURSELVES"
O God, deliver us from preoccupation with worldly vanities, and show us the nature of things "as they really are." Remove from our eyes the veil of ignorance, and show us things as they really are. Show not to us non-existence as existent, nor cast the veil of non-existence over the beauty of existence. Make this phenomenal world the mirror to reflect the manifestations of thy beauty, and not a veil to separate and repel us from Thee. Cause these unreal phenomena of the universe to be for us the sources of knowledge and insight, and not the cause of ignorance and blindness. Our alienation and severance from Thy beauty all proceed from ourselves. Deliver us from ourselves, and accord to us intimate knowledge of Thee.
"MAKE MY HEART PURE"
Make my heart pure, my soul from error free,
Make tears and sighs my daily lot to be,
And lead me on Thy road away from self,
That lost to self I may approach to Thee!
Set enmity between the world and me,
Make me averse from worldly company:
From other objects turn away my heart,
So that it is engrossed with love to Thee.
How were it, Lord, if Thou should'st set me free
From error's grasp and cause me truth to see?
Guebres by scores Thou makest Musulmans,
Why, then, not make a Musulman of me?
My lust for this world and the next efface,
Grant me the crown of poverty and grace
To be partaker in Thy mysteries,
From paths that lead not towards Thee turn my face.
"ONE HEART, ONE LOVE"
O votary of earthly idols' fane,
Why let these veils of flesh enwrap thy brain?
'Tis folly to pursue a host of loves;
A single heart can but one love contain!
O thou whose heart is torn by lust for all,
Yet vainly strives to burst these bonds of all,
This "all" begets distraction of the heart:
Give up thy heart to ONE and break with all.
"THE ABSOLUTE BEAUTY"
The Absolute Beauty is the Divine Majesty endued with [the attributes of] power and bounty. Every beauty and perfection manifested in the theatre of the various grades of beings is a ray of His perfect beauty reflected therein. It is from these rays that exalted souls have received their impress of beauty and their quality of perfection. Whosoever is wise derives his wisdom from Divine wisdom.
"MY LOVE STOOD BY ME AT THE DAWN OF DAY"
My love stood by me at the dawn of day,
And said, "To grief you make my heart a prey
Whilst I am casting looks of love at you,
Have you no shame to turn your eyes away?"
All my life long I tread love's path of pain,
If peradventure "Union" I may gain.
Better to catch one moment's glimpse of Thee
Than earthly beauties' love through life retain.
"GOD THE ONLY LOVE ETERNAL"
Yesterday this universe neither existed nor appeared to exist, while to-day it appears to exist but has no real existence: it is a mere semblance, and to-morrow nothing thereof will be seen. What does it profit thee to allow thyself to be guided by vain passions and desires? Why dost thou place reliance on these transitory objects that glitter with false lustre? Turn thy heart away from all of them, and firmly attach it to God. Break loose from all these, and cleave closely to Him. It is only He who always has been and always will continue to be. The countenance of His eternity is never scarred by the thorn of contingency.
"FINITE AND INFINITE BEAUTY"
The Loved One's rose-parterre I went to see,
That beauty's Torch espied me, and, quoth He,
"I am the tree; these flowers My offshoots are.
Let not these offshoots hide from thee the tree."
What profit rosy cheeks, forms full of grace,
And ringlets clustering round a lovely face?
When Beauty Absolute beams all around,
Why linger finite beauties to embrace?
"HOW TO OBTAIN UNION WITH THE DIVINE"
In like manner, as it behoves thee to maintain the said relation continuously, so it is of the first importance to develop one quality thereof by detaching thyself from mundane relations and by emancipating thyself from attention to contingent forms; and this is possible only through hard striving and earnest endeavour to expel vain thoughts and imaginations from thy mind. The more these thoughts are cast out and these suggestions checked, the stronger and closer this relation becomes. It is, then, necessary to use every endeavour to force these thoughts to encamp outside the enclosure of thy breast, and that the "Truth" most glorious may cast His beams into thy heart, and deliver thee from thyself, and save thee from the trouble of entertaining His rivals in thy heart. Then there will abide with-thee neither consciousness of thyself, nor even consciousness of such absence of consciousness--nay, there will abide nothing save the One God alone.
In the fair idols, goal of ardent youth,
And in all cynosures lies hid the "Truth";
What, seen as relative, appears the world,
Viewed in its essence is the very "Truth."
When in His partial modes Truth shone out plain,
Straightway appeared this world of loss and gain;
Were it and all who dwell there gathered back
Into the Whole, the "Truth" would still remain.
"THE GLORIOUS GOD"
The glorious God, whose bounty, mercy, grace,
And loving-kindness all the world embrace,
At every moment brings a world to naught,
And fashions such another in its place.
All gifts soever unto God are due,
Yet special gifts from special "Names" ensue;
At every breath one "Name" annihilates,
And one creates all outward things anew.
"THE GOD BEHIND THE VEIL"
"O fairest rose, with rosebud mouth," I sighed,
"Why, like coquettes, thy face for ever hide?"
He smiled, "Unlike the beauties of the earth,
Even when veiled I still may be described."
Thy face uncovered would be all too bright,
Without a veil none could endure the sight;
What eye is strong enough to gaze upon
The dazzling splendour of the fount of light?
When the sun's banner blazes in the sky,
Its light gives pain by its intensity,
But when 'tis tempered by a veil of cloud
That light is soft and pleasant to the eye.
"THE DIVINE SELF-SUFFICIENCY"
Absolute self-sufficiency is a quality involved in Divine Perfection. It signifies this, that in a general and universal manner all the modes, states, and aspects of the One Real Being, with all their adherent properties and qualities, in all their presentations, past, present, or future, manifested in all grades of substances, divine and mundane, are present and realised in the secret thought of that Divine Being, in such wise that the sum of them all is contained in His Unity. From this point of view He is independent of all other existences; as it is said, "God most glorious can do without the world."
"OUR NEED OF THE BELOVED"
O Thou whose sacred precincts none may see,
Unseen Thou makest all things seen to be;
Thou and we are not separate, yet still
Thou hast no need of us, but we of Thee.
None by endeavour can behold Thy face,
Or access gain without prevenient grace;
For every man some substitute is found,
Thou hast no peer, and none can take Thy place.
Of accident or substance Thou hast nought,
Without constraint of cause Thy grace is wrought;
Thou canst replace what's lost, but if Thou'rt lost,
In vain a substitute for Thee is sought.
In me Thy beauty love and longing wrought;
Did I not seek Thee, how wouldst Thou be sought?
My love is as a mirror in the which
Thy beauty into evidence is brought.
O Lord, none but Thyself can fathom Thee,
Yet every mosque and church doth harbour Thee;
I know the seekers and what 'tis they seek--
Seekers and sought are all comprised in Thee.
THE UNIVERSE A NUMBER OF "ACCIDENTS"
The universe, together with its parts, is nothing but a number of accidents, ever changing and being renewed at every breath, and linked together in a single substance, and at each instant disappearing and being replaced by a similar set. In consequence of this rapid succession, the spectator is deceived into the belief that the universe is a permanent existence.
"THE HIDDEN TRUTH"
The ocean does not shrink or vaster grow,
Though the waves ever ebb and ever flow;
The being of the world's a wave: it lasts
One moment, and the next it has to go.
In the world, men of insight may discern
A stream whose currents swirl and surge and churn,
And from the force that works within the stream
The hidden working of the "Truth" may learn.
"THE GREAT IDEALIST"
Philosophers devoid of reason find
This world a mere idea of the mind;
'Tis an idea--but they fail to see
The great Idealist who looms behind.
"THE SEA OF BEING"
Being's a sea in constant billows rolled,
'Tis but these billows that we men behold;
Sped from within, they rest upon the sea,
And like a veil its actual form enfold.
Being's the essence of the Lord of all,
All things exist in Him and He in all;
This is the meaning of the Gnostic phrase,
"All things are comprehended in the All."
"THE REVELATION OF TRUTH"
The Majesty of the "Truth" most glorious is revealed in two manners--the first the inward, subjective revelation, which the Súfís name "Most Holy Emanation"; it consists in the self-manifestation of the "Truth" to His own consciousness from all eternity under the forms of substances, their characteristics and capacities. The second revelation is the outward objective manifestation, which is called "Holy Emanation"; it consists in the manifestation of the "Truth," with the impress of the properties and marks of the same substances. This second revelation ranks after the first; it is the theatre wherein are manifested to sight the perfections which in the first revelation were contained potentially in the characteristics and capacities of the substances.
"'TIS HE WHO LIVES WITHIN OUR FORMS"
Both power and being are denied to us,
The lack of both is what's ordained for us;
But since 'tis He who lives within our forms,
Both power and action are ascribed to us.
Your "self" is non-existent, knowing one!
Deem not your actions by yourself are done;
Make no wry faces at this wholesome truth--
"Build the wall ere the fresco is begun."
Why vaunt thy "self" before those jealous eyes?
Why seek to deal in this false merchandise?
Why feign to be existent of thyself?
Down with these vain conceits and foolish lies!
"MIRROR AND FACE"
They say, "How strange! This peerless beauty's face
Within the mirror's heart now holds a place!"
The marvel's not the face, the marvel is
That it should be at once mirror and face.
All mirrors in the universe I ween
Display Thy image with its radiant sheen--
Nay, in them all, so vast Thy effluent grace,
'Tis Thyself, not Thine image, that is seen.
Selections from "YÚSUF AND ZULAIKHA"
Lips sweet as sugar on my pen bestow,
And from my book let streams of odour flow. YÚSUF AND ZULAIKHA
"THE COMING OF THE BELOVED"
In solitude, where Being signless dwelt,
And all the universe still dormant lay
Concealed in selflessness, One Being was
Exempt from "I" or "Thou"-ness, and apart
From all duality; Beauty Supreme,
Unmanifest, except unto Itself
By Its own lights yet fraught with power to charm
The souls of all; concealed in the Unseen,
An Essence pure, unstained by aught of ill.
No mirror to reflect Its loveliness,
Nor comb to touch Its locks; the morning breeze
Ne'er stirred Its tresses; no collyrium
Lent lustre to Its eyes; no rosy cheeks
O'ershadowed by dark curls like hyacinth
Nor peach-like down were there; no dusky mole
Adorned Its face; no eye had yet beheld
Its image. To Itself it sang of Love
In wordless measures. By Itself it cast
The die of Love. But Beauty cannot brook
Concealment and the veil, nor patient rest
Unseen and unadmired; 'twill burst all bonds,
And from Its prison-casement to the world
Reveal Itself. See where the tulip grows
In upland meadows, how in balmy spring
It decks itself; and how amidst its thorns
The wild rose rends its garment, and reveals
Its loveliness. Thou too, when some rare thought,
Or beauteous image, or deep mystery
Flashes across thy soul, canst not endure
To let it pass, but holdst it, that perchance
In speech or writing thou mayst send it forth
To charm the world. Whatever beauty dwells,
Such is its nature, and its heritage
From Everlasting Beauty, which emerged
From realms of purity to shine upon
The worlds, and all the souls which dwell therein.
One gleam fell from It on the universe
And on the angels, and this single ray
Dazzled the angels, till their senses whirled
Like the revolving sky. In diverse forms
Each mirror showed it forth, and everywhere
Its praise was chanted in new harmonies.
The cherubim, enraptured, sought for songs
Of praise. The spirits who explore the depths
Of boundless seas, wherein the heavens swim
Like some small boat, cried with one mighty voice,
"Praise to the Lord of all the universe!"
"BEHOLD THOSE SPHERES"
Behold those spheres for ever circling, bound
With-scarves of azure, in their mystic round.
See, their light mantles loosely floating throw
A flood of radiance on the world below.
See them pursuing through the night and day,
True to their purpose, their triumphant way.
Each, like a player's ball obedient, still
Is moved and guided by superior will.
One eastward from the west its journey bends,
The other's ship to western waves descends.
Each in due progress with alternate sway
Lights the still night or cheers the busy day.
One writes fair lines that promise golden joys:
One with sad aspect bonds of bliss destroys.
All, joying in their might, their task renew,
And with untiring haste their course pursue.
Onward for ever to the goal they press
With feet and loins that know not weariness.
Who learns the secret of their dark intent?
Who knows on whom each wanderer's face is bent?
No heart is that which love ne'er wounded: they
Who know not lovers' pangs are soulless clay.
Turn from the world, O turn thy wandering feet;
Come to the world of Love and find it sweet.
"THE WAYS OF LOVE"
Once to his master a disciple cried:--
"To wisdom's pleasant path be thou my guide."
"Hast thou ne'er loved?" the master answered; "learn
The ways of love and then to me return."
Drink deep of earthly love, that so thy lip
May learn the wine of holier love to sip.
But let not form too long thy soul entrance:
Pass o'er the bridge; with rapid feet advance.
If thou wilt rest, thine ordered journey sped,
Forbear to linger at the bridge's head.
"IF THE SUN'S SPLENDOUR NEVER DIED AWAY"
In this orchestra full of vain deceit
The drum of Being, each in turn, we beat.
Each morning brings new truth to light and fame,
And on the world falls lustre from a name.
If in one constant course the ages rolled,
Full many a secret would remain untold.
If the sun's splendour never died away,
Ne'er would the market of the stars be gay.
If in our gardens endless frost were king,
No rose would blossom at the kiss of Spring.
"THE BEAUTY OF ZULAIKHA"
Her face was the garden of Iram, where
Roses of every hue are fair.
The dusky moles that enhanced the red
Were like Moorish boys playing in each rose-bed.
Of silver that paid no tithe, her chin
Had a well with the Water of Life therein.
If a sage in his thirst came near to drink,
He would feel the spray ere he reached the brink,
But lost were his soul if he nearer drew,
For it was a well and a whirlpool too.
Her neck was of ivory. Thither drawn,
Came with her tribute to beauty the fawn;
And the rose hung her head at the gleam of the skin
Of shoulders fairer than jasmine.
Her breasts were orbs of a light most pure,
Twin bubbles new-risen from fount Kafur,
Two young pomegranates grown on one spray,
Where bold hope never a ringer might lay.
The touchstone itself was proved false when it tried
Her arms' fine silver thrice purified;
But the pearl-pure amulets fastened there
Were the hearts of the holy absorbed in prayer.
"SELF DIES IN LOVE"
"I shall roll up the carpet of life when I see
Thy dear face again, and shall cease to be,
For self will be lost in that rapture, and all
The threads of my thought from my hand will fall;
Not me wilt thou find, for this self will have fled:
Thou wilt be my soul in mine own soul's stead.
All thought of self will be swept from my mind,
And thee, only thee, in my place shall I find;
More precious than heaven, than earth more dear,
Myself were forgotten if thou wert near."
"MINE EYES HAVE BEEN TOUCHED"
"Mine eyes have been touched by the Truth's pure ray,
And the dream of folly has passed away.
Mine eyes thou hast opened--God bless thee for it!--
And my heart to the Soul of the soul thou hast knit.
From a fond strange love thou hast turned my feet
The Lord of all creatures to know and meet;
If I bore a tongue in each single hair,
Each and all should thy praise declare."
"ZULAIKHA PLEADS WITH YÚSUF FOR HIS LOVE"
"By the excellent bloom of that cheek which He gave,
By that beauty which makes the whole world thy slave;
By the splendour that beams from that beautiful brow,
That bids the full moon to thy majesty bow;
By the graceful gait of that cypress, by
The delicate bow that is bent o'er thine eye;
By that arch of the temple devoted to prayer,
By each fine-woven mesh of the coils of thy hair;
By that charming narcissus, that form arrayed
In the sheen and glory of silk brocade;
By that secret thou callest a mouth, by the hair
Thou callest the waist of that body most fair
By the musky spots on thy cheek's pure rose,
By the smile of thy lips when those buds unclose,
By my longing tears, by the sigh and groan
That rend my heart as I pine alone;
By thine absence, a mountain too heavy to bear,
By my thousand fetters of grief and care;
By the sovereign sway of my passion, by
My carelessness whether I live or die;
Pity me, pity my lovelorn grief:
Loosen my fetters and grant relief:
An age has scorched me since over my soul
The soft sweet air of thy garden stole.
Be the balm of my wounds for a little; shed
Sweet scent on the heart where the flowers are dead
I hunger for thee till my whole frame is weak:
O give me the food for my soul which I seek."
"THE HORSE OF YÚSUF"
In his stalls had Yúsuf a fairy steed,
A courser through space of no earthly breed;
Swift as the heavens, and black and white
With a thousand patches of day and night;
Now a jetty spot, now a starry blaze,
Like Time with succession of nights and days.
With his tail the heavenly Virgo's hair,
With his hoof the moon, was afraid to compare.
Each foot with a golden new moon was shod,
And the stars of its nails struck the earth as he trod.
When his hoof smote sharp on the rugged flint
A planet flashed forth from the new moon's dint;
And a new moon rose in the sky when a shoe
From the galloping foot of the courser flew.
Like an arrow shot through its side in the chase.
He outstripped the game in the deadly race.
At a single bound he would spring, unpressed,
With the lightning's speed from the east to the west.
"THE FREEING OF ZULAIKHA'S SOUL"
"O thou who hast broken mine honour's urn,
Thou stone of offence wheresoever I turn,
I should smite--for thy falsehood has ruined my rest--
With the stone thou art made of, the heart in my breast.
The way of misfortune too surely I trod
When I bowed down before thee and made thee my god;
When I looked up to thee with wet eyes in my woe,
I renounced all the bliss which both worlds can bestow.
From thy stony dominion my soul will I free,
And thus shatter the gem of thy power and thee."
"BREAKING THE IDOL"
With a hard flint stone, like the Friend, as she spoke,
In a thousand pieces the image she broke.
Riven and shattered the idol fell,
And with her from that moment shall all be well.
She made her ablution, 'mid penitent sighs,
With the blood of her heart and the tears of her eyes.
She bent down her head to the dust; with a moan
She made supplication to God's pure throne:--
"O God, who lovest the humble, Thou
To whom idols, their makers, their servants bow;
'Tis to the light which Thy splendour lends
To the idol's face that its worshipper bends.
Thy love the heart of the sculptor stirs,
And the idol is graven for worshippers.
They bow them down to the image, and think
That they worship Thee as before it they sink.
To myself, O Lord, I have done this wrong,
If mine eyes to an idol have turned so long.
Thou hast washed the dark stain of my sin away;
Now restore the lost blessing for which I pray.
May I feel my heart free from the brand of its woes,
And cull from the garden of Yúsuf a rose."
"YÚSUF AND ZULAIKHA MEET AGAIN"
"Where is thy youth, and thy beauty, and pride?"
"Gone, since I parted from thee!" she replied.
"Where is the light of thine eye?" said he,
"Drowned in blood-tears for the loss of thee."
"Why is that cypress tree bowed and bent?"
"By absence from thee and my long lament."
"Where is thy pearl, and thy silver and gold,
And the diadem bright on thy head of old?"
"She who spoke of my loved one," she answered, "shed,
In the praise of thy beauty, rare pearls on my head.
In return for those jewels, a recompense meet,
I scattered my jewels and gold at her feet.
A crown of pure gold on her forehead I set,
And the dust that she trod was my coronet.
The stream of my treasure of gold ran dry;
My heart is Love's storehouse, and I am I."
"ZULAIKHA'S YOUTH RETURNS"
The beauty returned which was ruined and dead,
And her cheek gained the splendour which long I had fled.
Again shone the waters which sad years had dried,
And the rose-bed of youth bloomed again in its pride.
The musk was restored and the camphor withdrawn,
And the black night followed the grey of the dawn,
The cypress rose stately and tall as of old:
The pure silver was free from all wrinkle and fold.
From each musky tress fled the traces of white:
To the black narcissus came beauty and light.
"The one sole wish of my heart," she replied,
"Is still to be near thee, to sit by thy side;
To have thee by day in my happy sight,
And to lay my cheek on thy foot at night;
To lie in the shade of the cypress and sip
The sugar that lies on thy ruby lip;
To my wounded heart this soft balm to lay;
For naught beyond this can I wish or pray.
The streams of thy love will new life bestow
On the dry thirsty field where its sweet waters flow."
Thus spoke the Angel: "To thee, O King,
From the Lord Almighty a message I bring:
'Mine eyes have seen her in humble mood;
I heard her prayer when to thee she sued.
At the sight of her labours, her prayers, and sighs,
The waves of the sea of my pity rise.
Her soul from the sword of despair I free,
And here from My throne I betroth her to thee.'"
Selection from the "BAHÁRISTÁN" ("Abode of Spring")
Take a walk in this Baháristán [Abode of Spring]
That you may see therein Gulistán [rose-groves]
With gracefulness in each Gulistán,
Flowers growing and aromatic plants blooming. BAHÁRISTÁN
"TO THE READER OF THE BAHÁRISTÁN"
Let every fortunate man who of these blooming trees
The shade enjoys, or the fruit consumes,
Act according to the laws of righteousness,
Walk on the road of generosity and pray thus:
May _Jámí_, who planted this garden, O Lord,
Be always full of God and empty of self.
May he travel on no other path but His, and seek no other _Union_ but His;
Nor utter another name but His, nor see another face but His.
"SONG IN PRAISE OF THE BELOVED"
To the Maker!--the rose-grove of the sphere
Is but one leaf of the flower-garden of. His creation--
That those who sing His praises
May have a plate of pearls and jewels full of oblations!
May the magnitude of His glory shine, and the world of His perfection be exalted!
A thousand chants of salutation and greeting from the philomels of the garden-mansion of _Union_ and benevolence, who are the musicians of the assembly of witnesses and songsters in the delightful house of _Ecstasy_ and benevolence.
For Thee we have hastened across land and sea,
Have passed over plains, and mountains climbed,
Have turned away from whatever we met
Until we found the way to the sanctuary of Union with Thee.
Boast not of having no pride, because it is more invisible
Than the mark of an ant's foot on a black rock in a dark night;
Think it not easy to extirpate it from thy heart,
For it is more easy to root up a mountain from the earth with a needle.
"I CANNOT BE FAR FROM THY DOOR"
Beloved! I cannot be far from Thy door,
Cannot be satisfied with Paradise and with houris.
My head is on Thy threshold by Love's command, not for wages.
Whatever I may do, I cannot bear to be away from this door.
He is a friend, who although meeting with enmity
From his friend, only becomes more attached to him.
If he strikes him with a thousand stones of violence,
The edifice of his love will only be made more firm by them.
O boy! A secret necessary to be concealed from a foe
Thou wilt do well not to reveal it even to a friend.
I have seen many who in course of capricious time
Became foes from friends, and amity to enmity turned.
"THE INDISPENSABLE KNOWLEDGE"
Cultivate the knowledge which is indispensable to you,
And seek not that which you can dispense with.
From the moment you acquire the indispensable knowledge,
You must not desire to act except in accordance therewith.
No one repented for keeping a secret under seal,
But many for having revealed it.
Remain silent, because to sit quietly with a collected mind
Is better than speaking what will distract it.
OCCUPATION ENNOBLED BY A GREAT MAN
Alexander degraded one of his officials by removing him from a high and employing him in a low post. One day this man waited upon Alexander, who asked him what he thought of his occupation, and he replied: "May the life of my Lord be long! A man is not ennobled by a great occupation, but an occupation is ennobled by a great man. In every post honesty, justice and equity are needed." Alexander was pleased with this opinion, and re-installed him in his former office.
Every [wise], maxim by the mouth and teeth is a jewel:
Happy is he who has made of his breast a casket of jewels;
A sage is a treasury of the jewels of philosophy,
Do not separate thyself from this treasure.
THE DOWNFALL OF THE MIGHTY
The favourites of Sultáns are like people climbing up a precipitous mountain, and falling off from it in consequence of the quakes of anger and the vicissitudes of time. There is no doubt that the fall of those who are higher up is more disastrous than the coming down of those who are in lower positions.
JUSTICE AND VIRTUE
A culprit having been brought before the Khalifa, he ordered the punishment due to the transgression to be administered. The prisoner said: "O Commander of the Faithful, to take vengeance for a crime is justice, but to pass it over is virtue; and the magnanimity of the Prince of the Faithful is more exalted, than that he should disregard what is higher, and descend to what is lower." The Khalifa, being pleased with his argument, condoned his transgression.
THE WOMAN WHO WAS ASHAMED TO LOOK AT A MAN WHOM GOD HAD FORSAKEN
A woman who belonged to the faction which had risen in arms against Hajaj, having been brought before him, he spoke to her, but she looked down, and fixing her eyes upon the ground, neither replied, nor glanced at him. One who was present said: "O woman, the Amir is speaking, and thou lookest away?" She replied: "I am ashamed before God the Most High, to look on a man, upon whom God the Most High does not look."
HOW ALEXANDER ACQUIRED HIS POWER
Alexander having been asked by what means he had attained such dominion, power, and glory at so youthful an age and during so short a reign, replied: "By conciliating foes till they turned away from the path of enmity, and by strengthening the alliances with friends till they became firm in the bonds of amity."
"THE VALUE OF A MAN"
The price of a man consists not in silver and gold;
The value of a man is his power and virtue.
Many a slave has by acquiring virtue
Attained much greater power than a gentleman,
And many a gentleman has for want of virtue
Become _inferior_ to his own slave.
It is on record that 'Abdullah Ibn Ja'far (may Allah be pleased with him!) intended one day to travel, and approaching a date-grove where he had seen some persons, he alighted. The guardian of the trees happened to be a black slave, to whom two loaves of bread had just been sent from the house; and as a dog stood near him, he threw one of the loaves to it, which having been devoured by the animal, he gave away also the other, and the dog likewise consumed it. Then 'Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him!) asked what his daily allowance was. The slave replied: "What thou hast seen." "Then why hast thou not kept it for thyself?" "The dog is a stranger here; I thought he had come from a long distance and was hungry, wherefore I did not mean to leave him in that condition." "Then what wilt thou eat to-day?" "I shall fast." Then 'Abdullah said to himself: "Everybody is blaming me for my liberality, and this slave is more liberal than myself." Then he purchased both the slave and the date-grove, presenting him with the latter, and emancipating him.
"LEARN THOU BRAVERY!"
O brave man, learn thou bravery!
From men of the world learn manliness.
Preserve thy heart from the remorse of remorse-seekers;
Preserve thy tongue from the blame of evil-speakers.
Requite with good him who did thee evil,
Because by that evil he injured his own prosperity.
If thou makest beneficence thy rule
The good thou doest will return only to thee.
One night a great mosque in Egypt, having caught fire, was burnt. The Musulmans suspected that Christians had committed the act, and in revenge put fire to their houses, which consumed them. The Sultán of Egypt had the persons captured who burnt these houses, and having assembled them in one spot, ordered notes to be distributed among them, on some of which a sentence of death to the bearer was written, on some to cut off his hands, and on some to whip him. These notes having been thrown to the culprits and been picked up by them, each of them underwent the punishment which had fallen to his lot. One, to whom the sentence of death had been awarded, said: "I do not fear to be killed, but I have a mother, of whom no one will take care except myself." Near him stood a man who was to be punished by whippings but they exchanged their notes, the latter saying: "I have no mother, let me be killed instead of him, and him be whipped instead of me," and this was done.
GALLANTRY AND HUMOUR
An Arab of the desert welcomed the arrival of an Arab chief in a Qasída recited by him, which terminated in the following [Arabic] distich: Stretch out thy hand to me, the palm whereof Distributes largesses, and its back is kissed. Accordingly the generous man held out his hand to be kissed by the Arab, whereon he said by way of a joke: "The hairs upon thy lips have scratched my hand." The Arab replied: "What injury can the bristles of a porcupine inflict upon the paw of a formidable lion?" This sally pleased the liberal man, who said: "I like this better than the Qasída," and ordered him to be rewarded for it with 1,000 and for the sally 3,000 _dirhams_.
A LOVERS' DIALOGUE _Maiden:_
By God, who openly and secretly
Is worshipped by men and fairies,
I swear that of all whom I see in the world
No one is dearer to me than thou. _Youth:_
O thou who sawest me, and residest in my heart,
Soul and body, all now belong to thee.
If my heart inclines to thee it is no wonder;
It must be a stone, not a heart, which turns not to thee!
'The girl said that now her only wish in the world was that they should put their hands round each other's waists, and eat sugar from the lips of each other. The youth replied: "My desire is the same, but what can I do? As God the Most High says: 'The intimate friends on that day shall be enemies unto one another, except the pious,' which means that on the day of resurrection friendship of friends will become enmity, except the friendship of the abstemious, which will increase the attachment. I do not wish that on the morn of resurrection the edifice of our love be impaired, and our friendship be turned into enmity." After saying these words, he departed, reciting the following:
O heart, abandon this love of two days,
Because a love of two days profits not;
Choose a love wherewith on the day of reckoning
Thou mayest abide in the eternal abode.
"A KIND FRIEND"
O heart, when a time of sorrow overtakes thee
There will be no sorrow if thou hast a kind friend;
For a day of trouble a friend is required,
Because in times of comfort, friends are not scarce.
A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
A beautiful woman had many admirers, whose attentions were so assiduous that the very street in which she lived became thronged by her visitors, but when her attractions disappeared and she had become ugly, her lovers abandoned her. Then I said to one of them: "She is the same friend as before, with the same eyes, brows, lips, but perhaps her stature is more tall and her body more stout. It is faithless and treacherous on thy part to neglect her." He replied: "Alas for what thou sayest! That which ravished the heart, and enthralled the senses, was the spirit which resided in her form, in the gracefulness of her limbs, the smoothness of her skin, and in the pleasantness of her voice, but as that spirit has departed from the figure, how can I love a dead body, or fondle a withered rose?"
If a contented man jokes, blame him not,
It is a trade licit by the laws of reason and religion;
The heart is a mirror, and vexation the rust on it:
That rust is best polished away by jocularity.
A WEAVER AND A LEARNED PROFESSOR
A weaver, who had left something in trust with a learned man, desired again to have it back some time afterwards, and going to ask for it, he saw the man sitting in front of his house on the professional couch, with a number of his disciples in front of him. He said: "Mullana, I am in need of my deposit." He replied: "Wait an hour till I finish my lecture." The weaver accordingly took a seat, and, as the lecture proceeded, he observed that the Mullana often shook his head; and thinking that the imparting of the lesson consisted in this, he said: "O professor, arise and let me take thy place till thy return, and wag my head till thou hast brought out my deposit, because I am in haste."
"A WORD TO THE WISE"
If the gentleman fails to use the hair clipper
Daily upon the hirsute countenance,
But few days will elapse when his face
Will, on account of the hair, pretend to be his head.
THE EXPLICIT BEGGAR
A mendicant begged at the door of a house, whereon the landlord apologised, saying that the people had gone out, and the beggar rejoined: "I want a morsel of bread, and net the people of the house."
A man was visited by a stranger who began complaining, and said: "Is it possible that thou knowest me not, and dost not consider my claims upon thee?" The man was amazed, and replied: "I know nothing of what thou sayest." He continued: "My father desired to wed thy mother, and if he had married her we would be brothers." The man rejoined: "By Allah! This relationship will be the occasion for my becoming thy heir, and thou mine!"
AN OLD HAG WHO DESIRED ONLY PLEASURE
A man said his prayers and then began his supplications, desiring to enter Paradise and to be delivered from the fire of Hell. An old woman, who happened to be in his rear, and heard him, said: "O Lord, cause me to share in whatever he supplicates for." The man, who had listened, then said: "O Lord, hang me on a gibbet, and cause me to die of scourging." The hag continued: "O Lord, pardon me and preserve me from what he asked for." The man then turned to her and said: "What a wonderfully-unpleasant partner this is! She desires to share with me in all that gives rest and pleasure, but refuses to be my partner in distress and misery."
A poet brought to a critic a composition, every distich of which he had plagiarised from a different collection of poems, and every rhetorical figure from another author. The critic said: "For a wonder thou hast brought a line of camels, but if the string were untied, every one of the herd would rush away in another direction."
THE AFFLICTED POET
A poet paid a visit to a doctor, and said: "Something has become knotted in my heart which makes me uncomfortable; it makes also my limbs wither, and causes the hairs on my body to stand on end." The physician, who was a shrewd man, asked: "Very likely thou has not yet recited to any one thy latest verses." The poet replied: "Just so." The doctor continued: "Then recite them." He complied, was requested to repeat them, and again to rehearse them for the third time. After he had done so, the doctor said: "Now arise, for thou art saved. This poetry had become knotted in thy heart, and the dryness of it took effect upon the outside; but, as thou hast relieved thy heart, thou art cured."
See Preface to _Lives of the Mystics_. By Nassan Lees. Calcutta, 1859.
_The Persian Mystics_: Jalálu'd-Dín Rúmí. "Wisdom of the East" Series.
See E. H. Whinfield's translation.
_Gulshan-i-Raz_. Translated by E. H. Whinfield.
Compare the miraculous speaking of the babe Jesus in a cave, mentioned in the New Testament Apocryphal Writings.
See the Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
Compare Firdawsí's description of the horse Rakush in the _Shahnámá_. Also Kyrat, the wonderful steed of the bandit-poet, Kurroglou.
Compare Rama's attitude after the destruction of Lanka.
_Persia Past and Present. A Book of Travel and Research._
Magians and Zoroastrians.
The first verse belongs to "Flash I.," the second to "Flash II.," but I have thought it wise to couple them together on account of the unity of their meaning.
That is to say that a portion of the material world, through the mercy of God, is capable of receiving Very Being, and thus the phenomenon becomes Very Being externalised. But Omnipotence requires the total destruction of all phenomena and all multiplicity of the same substance. The process is repeated _ad infinitum_.
"The Names" are mentioned in the _Masnavi_. See also Professor R. A. Nicholson's _Divaní Shamsi Tabríz_, p. 71.
A well in Paradise.
There is a clever play on the author's name, which also means a _goblet_.