Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Night fell; your favor never falls, your sight's
more suited to the eye than being shut;

you showed such grace that even half of me
was made to testify against the rest it ever was.

The calm above the heavens is His roof,
you worship him walkingly on earth.


مضَى اللّيلُ والفضْلُ الذي لك لا يمضِي
ورُؤياكَ أحلى في العيونِ من الغُمضِ

على أنّني طُوّقْتُ مِنْكَ بنِعْمَةٍ
شَهيدٌ بها بعضِي لغيري على بَعضي

سَلامُ الذي فَوْقَ السّماواتِ عَرْشُهُ
تُخَصّ بهِ يا خَيرَ ماشٍ على الأرْضِ


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

from Majnun and Layla

إذا نظـرت نحوي تكلم طرفهـا وجاوبـها طرفي ونحن سكـوت
فواحـدة منهـا تبشـر باللقـا وأخـرى لها نفسي تكاد تـموت
إذا مت خوف الياس احياني الرجا فكـم مرة قد مت ثـم حييـت
ولو أحدقوا بي الإنس والجن كلهم لكي يـمنعوني أن أجيك لجيـت

قيس بن الملوح
من ديوان مجنون و ليلى

When she turned an eye towards me, it spoke;
& with a look, I answered mutely back:

one glance from her is the chance
of an encounter, another’s almost dying:

when despair terrified me to death, this little ghost
revived me (how many times I've died only to live).

So if the men & jinn begird me
to defer my journey, I'll still come.

Qays ibn al-Mulawwah, from "Majnun and Layla"

(“The fainting of Laylah and Majnun,” a Persian illustration of
a scene from Nizami's
adaptation of the poem. Source: Library of Congress)

The majnun (or madman) of "Layla and Majnun" is actually the poet himself -- the work is an outpouring of poetry dedicated to Layla -- unlike the Persian adaptation of the work by Nizami, Qay's work really doesn't contain a solid narrative structure -- bearing more resemblance to Petrarch's Canzoniere (though Qays was around nearly 9 centuries before Petrarch!).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

from Interpreter of Desires

ليت شعري هل دروا
اي قلب ملكوا

و فوادي لو درى
اي شعب سلكوا

اتراهم سلموا
ام تراهم هلكوا

حار ارباب الهوى
في الهوى و ارتبكوا

ابن عربي

Would that I could tell if they
had known the heart they held,

or my heart, if it could know
what mountain trail they trod.

Did they seem safe to you,
or did they look already dead?

Those who lorded love, in love, turned
upon themselves and were ensnared.

- Ibn Arabi
Section I from Interpreter of Desires.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Writing do you wave, O wond'r,
water's blue cardiac over green,

you do not spell, you monstrous sit
on the dumb shore & pond'r

if this only coast is that o'er
which you’d break your prospr's word (you do):

Wondrous, wondrous. Was it
then this all-ey'd sea,

lawer to your farther shore,
that never turn'd a shape more

diff'rnt than what
submerg'd your own --

the first shore furth'r from that
which sing'rly broke in you, or was

another the world
made erworld by?

You stare to Ur & utter,
you wave your rite

to silent
be, to b', O n'w, O no'.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Foot of Al-Khidr

مَرَتْكَ ابنَ إبراهيمَ صافِيَةُ الخَمْرِ
وهُنّئْتَها من شارِبٍ مُسكرِ السُّكرِ

رأيْتُ الحُمَيّا في الزّجاجِ بكَفّهِ
فشَبّهْتُها بالشمسِ في البدرِ في البحرِ

إذا ما ذكَرْنا جُودَهُ كانَ حاضِراً
نأى أوْ دَنا يسعى على قدمِ الخِضْرِ


Your wholesomeness, Ibn Ibrahim, is the purest
liquor; you drink to it with drunkenness's blend.

I watched the wine as it filled the glass & likened it
to the sun by the moon by the sea;

even when we don’t observe its generousness, it's there --
far or near, moving with the foot of Al Khidr.

Al Mutanabbi