Rābi’a Balkhī Persian 10th century
I am caught in Love’s web so deceitful
None of my endeavors turn fruitful. I knew not when I rode the high-blooded stead The harder I pulled its reins the less it would heed. Love is an ocean with such a vast space No wise man can swim it in any place. A true lover should be faithful till the end And face life’s reprobated trend. When you see things hideous, fancy them neat, Eat poison, but taste sugar sweet.
Ibn Billita Arab Andalusian 961 – 1048
Up he stands
To declare the darkness done for The bird trimmed with a poppy Who rolls his lustrous eyes for us
With song he calls to prayer
And he complies with his call Beating his great plumes Flexing his shoulder knuckles
The Emperor of Persia
Perhaps wove his crown Personally Mary the Copt Hung pendant rings from his ears
He snatched from the peacock
His most attractive cloak And still not comforted took His strut from a duck
Translation by Cola Franzen
Madame Huarui Chinese c. 940 – 976
The king on the rampart flies the white flag.
Deep within the palace how could I know? One hundred forty thousand all disarmed! Among these there was not a single man?
Translation by Anthony C. Yu
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 1,055th birthday.
Abū-Sa’īd Abul-Khayr Persian 967 – 1049
Love came and flew as blood in my veins
Emptied me of myself and filled me with beloved.
Each part of my being she conquered
Now a mere name is left to me and the rest is she.
We present this work in honor of Mountain Day.
Lady Ise Japanese c. 875 – c. 938
A mountain brook
Babbling is all I hear Over the many-stoned palace Swift as the current would I return to the days I saw it-how I wish it could be so!
We present this work in honor of the Japanese holiday, Vernal Equinox.
Ki no Tsurayuki Japanese 872 – 945
A mountain cherry
Through the drifting mists
Seen thus there is a lady
I long for all the more.
We present this work in honor of Women’s Day.
Aisha Arab Andalusian ? – 1009
I am a lioness
and will never allow my body
to be anyone’s resting place. But if I did,
I wouldn’t yield to a dog ─
and O! the lions I’ve turned away!
Yusuf Ibn Harun Al-ramadi Arab Andalusian 917 – 1012
They shaved his head
to clothe him in ugliness
out of jealousy and fear
of his beauty.
They erased the night
and left him in dawn.
We present this work in honor of the 1,075th anniversary of the poet’s death.
Ki no Tsurayauki Japanese 872 – 945
On Mount Ogura’s
Peak, he is wont to stand:
The belling stag
Has passed many an autumn;
The number? No one can tell.
Ferdowsi Persian 935 – 1020
Much have I labored, much read o’er
Of Arabic and Persian lore,
Collecting tales unknown and known;
Now two and sixty years are flown.
Regret, and deeper woe of sin,
‘Tis all that youth has ended in,
And I with mournful thoughts rehearse
Bu Táhir Khusrawáni’s verse:
“I mind me of my youth and sigh,
Alas for youth, for youth gone by!”