And where are the graves, so many graves
Of all who have died on the earth since the beginning?
Grave tunnelling into grave,
Headstone and obelisk crumbled into one dust,
Bodies heaped upon bodies, in motionless orgy—
All sleeping together in deep holes,
Fragments of chalk,
I look up to the sky and the stars,
And down to the earth and the things that creep there.
And I consider in my heart how their creation
Was planned with wisdom in every detail.
See the heavens above like a tent,
Constructed with loops and with hooks,
And the moon with its stars, like a shepherdess
Sending her sheep into the reeds;
The moon itself among the clouds,
Like a ship sailing under its banners;
The clouds like a girl in her garden
Moving, and watering the myrtle-trees;
The dew-mist—a woman shaking
Drops from her hair to the ground.
The inhabitants turn, like animals, to rest,
(Their palaces are their stables);
And all fleeing from the fear of death,
Like a dove pursued by the falcon.
And these are compared at the end to a plate
Which is smashed into innumerable shards.
Though its heart was all aflame.
Yet it never knew that same
Grief of parting, and that woe
Sundered lovers know.
When the lightning of the wine
Bathed the drinkers in its shine,
What a brave cloud billowed thence
Sweet with frankincense!
Never saw I, all my days,
Such a conflagration blaze
To persuade the revellers
Paradise was theirs.
When night falls, plan to visit me.
For I believe night is the time that keeps secrets best.
I feel a love for you that if the light of heaven felt, the sun would not shine,
nor the moon rise, nor the stars begin their nightly journey.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 1,025th birthday.
I would split open my heart
with a knife, place you
within and seal my would,
that you might dwell there
and never inhabit another
until the resurrection and
judgment day — thus you
would stay in my heart
while I lived, and at my death
you too would die in the
entrails of my core, in
the shadow of my tomb.
Bless those wonderful nights,
And best of all,
If you had been there
You’d have seen us locked together
Under the chaperone’s sleepful eyes
Like the sun in the arms of the moon
Or a panting gazelle in the clasp of a lion.