Saturday, June 04, 2011

Dark is the day before it’s seen; an adjective’s
untrue until it's verified by sight, & since

people flock till they no longer find a reason to,
no images of you exist for me, only sounds;

far off from the lot, I'd stand
witness to all my eye saw secondhand.

You raise, King Rumi, the glance of Day
with your forgiveness, which is a victory for it;

since you responded to its call, it shines, still,
proudly upon all your lands.

Their necks were saved from swords,
while the lot stayed looking, you substituted

swords for people, so that you could
gain more heads, more crowds & power over them.

Your generousness is like a morning rain,
itself a generosity from you, enjoyed by rain;

the sun, too, earns its light from you
as the moon earns its light from the sun.


ظُلمٌ لذا اليَوْمِ وَصْفٌ قبلَ رُؤيَتِه
لا يصْدُقُ الوَصْفُ حتى يَصْدُقَ النظرُ

تَزَاحَمَ الجَيشُ حتى لم يَجِدْ سَبَباً
إلى بِساطِكَ لي سَمْعٌ وَلا بَصَرُ

فكُنتُ أشهَدَ مُخْتَصٍّ وَأغْيَبَهُ
مُعَايِناً وَعِيَاني كُلُّهُ خَبَرُ

ألْيَوْمَ يَرْفَعُ مَلْكُ الرّومِ نَاظرَهُ
لأنّ عَفوَكَ عَنْهُ عندَهُ ظَفَرُ

وَإنْ أجَبْتَ بشَيْءٍ عَنْ رَسائِلِهِ
فَمَا يَزالُ على الأمْلاكِ يَفْتَخِرُ

قَدِ اسْتَرَاحَتْ إلى وَقْتٍ رِقابُهُمُ
منَ السّيوفِ وَباقي القَوْمِ يَنتَظِرُ

وَقَدْ تُبَدِّلُهَا بالقَوْمِ غَيْرَهُمُ
لكيْ تَجِمَّ رُؤوسُ القَوْمِ وَالقَصَرُ

تَشبيهُ جُودِكَ بالأمْطارِ غَادِيَةً
جُودٌ لكَفّكَ ثانٍ نَالَهُ المَطَرُ

تكَسَّبُ الشمْسُ منكَ النّورَ طالعَةً
كمَا تَكَسّبَ منها نُورَهُ القَمَرُ

من ديوان المتنبي


Mutanabbi’s panegyric dabbles in the very essence of praise – which is also the essence of language: that is, the question of what certifies the bond between language and objects. In this poem, the apparent “primary source” of language is sight, but the poet resists the seduction of vision to maintain the mysteriousness between the real and the imagined. A different kind of praise emerges; if the object of veneration is worthy of the veneration than it will verified by the world itself. Hence the religious monomania of the description; if the object of veneration is proven in the very shudder of the world around him, than he must stand at the center of all likeness. Greatness is not the particular skill of an individual to embody “great” qualities, but the generosity of allowing everything around you to verify the greatness of your qualities. But the real radical gesture of this poem is that the poet situates absence at the center of this greatness, so that truth remains inescapable from belief. What I have translated here as “verify” (يصدق) suggests a proof contingent upon feeling, or sincerity; not truth in the abstract sense (حق) which is truth embodied in itself – the one is the lot of men, the other is the lot of God. The poet imagines that the truth of Description lies in the ability of the great man to generate affinities.