Monday, June 27, 2011

O gently soaring bird, bring
word from me; don’t leave me wailing.

You take, with God your guide, a note
from me, to a land where I once

knew the way; to wilds Layla
may be found astray. On her, my heart

depends; & if this bird, one day, returned
to me from far away, I’d take my last bread.

Qays ibn al-Mulawwah

أيها الطير المحلق غادياً
تحمل سلامي لا تذرني مناديا

تَحَمَّلُ هّدَاكَ اللّه مِنِّي رِسَالة ً
إلى بلد إن كنت بالأرض هاديا

إلى قفرة من نحو ليلى مضلة
بها الْقَلْبُ مِنِّي مُوثَقٌ وفؤَادِيَا

ألاَ لَيْتَ يَوْمَاً حَلَّ بِي مِنْ فِرَاقِكُمْ
تَزَوَّدْتُ ذاك اليومَ آخِرَ زادِيَا

قيس بن الموح

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Should you alight, O raven of severance,
in the land of Layla, ask to talk:

give my hello to her & my crushes,
but keep her far from others’ babble.

Qays ibn al-Mulawwah

ألا يا غراب البين إن كنت هابطاً
بِلاَداً لِلَيْلَى فَالْتَمِسْ أنْ تَكَلَّمَا

وَبَلِّغْ تَحِيَّاتِي إلَيْهَا وَصَبْوَتِي
وكن بعدها عن سائر الناس أعجما

قيس بن الموح
My leave of Leila’s naught between us
but a night to me, standing by.

Qays ibn al-Mulawwah

أَأَتْرُكُ لَيْلَى لَيْسَ بَيْني وَبَيْنَها
سِوَى لَيْلَة ٍ، إنِّي إذاً لَصَبُورُ

قيس بن الملوح

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The world’s part with a fin’s
end, leaving all’s left
back to where it’s. A cleft

Musa moved sea & self
by saying Is, his stick
his only word.

He made the sea
search endlessly for a noun
among itself, so it split, &

left both sea & Musa
deeper for the it making
them bereft.

Monday, June 20, 2011

In the uh there was a ukh,
from the cough of the word,
came a calf: meat

we ate like it wasn’t golden,
& saw ourselves more godly by
till we ingested it. Then out

spilled the soft gold from our
gut, leaving our throats
gilded, & our god molded anew.

With a flake of god
in our gullets, we sung, to gold
resembling what was hung

inside us. O you, who turn up all
you eat, will find your food
insepr’ble from your song.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tawasin of the Prophetic Lamp

(work in progress)

1 .From the Light of the Unseen arose a lamp. It appeared & returned – reigning, its light outgleamed all other lamps: a moon among moons beaming, a star whose sign was housed within Empyrean. The True named him “Unlettered,” for the aim of his intention & “Forbidden,” for the greatness of his gift & “Situated [Meccan],” for the nearness of his home to Him (The True).

2. He bared his heart & raised his power – he imposed his rule and manifested his moon. His lamp showed light from Magnanimity’s mouth.

3. He related nothing but that which his eye had seen into the heart of. He paved no path, but that which was plain for truth. He was present (before The True), so he conveyed His Presence. He saw, so spoke. He was sent as guide, so he set limits.

4. No one could discern the depth of his achievement, save the sincere, who makes himself agreeable with him & cleaves to him,

5. so between them there would no longer stretch a rift. No Gnostic knows this, save he who is ignorant of His Attribute:

6. “Those to whom We have given the Book, who recognize their sons, even though a part of them knowingly conceals the truth.”

7. Prophetic lights sprouted from his light, their lights, from his lights, manifested; there is no light more light, more bare, & older than age, than the light alighted by the Lord of Generosity. His intention preceded all intentions, His existence preexisted Nothingness, His name was word before the Pen;

8. Since he preceded nations, there was never anyone on, beyond, below horizon, more graceful, nobler, wiser, more just & kinder, more Godly fearing & more sympathetic than the holder of his rank. He is the Master of Creation & that his name (the most praised, ahmd): his quality is singular, his command is certainty, his essence is excellence, his attribute is glory, his aspiration is unmatchable.

9. O wonder! How manifest, how visible, how great, how famous, how brilliant, how powerful, how penetrating another there is naught. He was and is & known before beginnings, before beings. He was and is & there before Before and after After – before substances and qualities. His substance is clear, his speech prophetic.

10. His knowledge is exalted, his tongue is Arabic. His tribe is “neither East nor West”: his lineage is patriarchal, his mission is conciliation. His title is Unlettered. He brought vision through his signs to seeing eyes – through him the mysteries were recognized.

11. The True made him speak and the Proof substantiated him. The True sent him forth as the Proven and the Proof.

12. It is him who cleared the rust from the shackled heart.

13. It is him who carried forth the ancient word, unconditioned & unuttered & unfettered but united indivisibly to Him. It is he who announced the end of The Ends, and the ends of The End.

14. He lifted the cloud and pointed to the Sacred House.

15. He is perfect & gallant. It is he who was brought out to break the idols & against the slander and the sin of men was sent.

16. Above him flashed a cloud & below him a bolt – announcing light & rain & growth. The bulk of knowledge is nothing but a volume in His sea. The whole of wisdom is no greater than a handful from His stream. The ages are an hour to His time.

17. The True is with him & with him is the truth.

18. He is the first link.

19. He is the last among the prophets. Inward he bears truth & outward gnosis.

20. No learned man has ever reached his knowledge & no wise man ever proved his understanding.

21. . The True did not submit His truth to His creation; because he is he & he is he & him is him.

22. Nothing escaped the eM of MHMD (Muhammad) & no one entered the Ha -- his second eM. The first eM is his Dee. His Dee is his duration. His eM is his mark. His Ha is his habitual state, which is his second M.

23. The True manifested his speech & deepened his sign & revealed his proof. He sent the furqan down to him & attuned his tongue, making that which dwells deep in him glow, hindering all others from imitation. He caused clarity & magnified his glory.

24. If you shun his law, what direction will you follow, O afflicted? No guide is here: the wisdom of wise men to his wisdom is a sliding heap of sand.

Mansur Al-Hallaj

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.