Your servant sits here in a place, A place where joys increase: A singing girl (a radiant moon!) Plays on her harp sweet tunes. All that we need for happiness Is here – except your face. Therefore we two implore you, friend: Please join us; please come soon!
O Allah shower Your blessings upon him from whom burst open the secrets, From whom stream forth the lights, And in whom rise up the realities, And upon whom descended the sciences of Adam, by which all creatures are made powerless, And blessings upon him before whom all understanding is diminished. None of us totally comprehend him, whether in the past or the future. The gardens of the spiritual kingdom blossom ornately with the resplendence of his beauty, And the reservoirs of the World of Dominion overflow with the outpouring of his light. There is nothing that is not connected to him, Because if there were no intercessor, everything to be interceded for would vanish, as it is said. So bless him with a prayer that is worthy of You, from You, as befits his stature. O Allah indeed he is Your all-encompassing secret that leads through You to You And he is Your Supreme Veil raised before You, between Your Hands. O Allah include me among his descendants and confirm me through his account And let me know him with a deep knowledge that keeps me safe from the wells of ignorance, So that I might drink to fullness from the wells of excellence. Carry me on his path to Your Presence Encompassed by Your Victory, And strike through me at the false so that I may destroy it. Plunge me into the seas of Oneness, Pull me out of the morass of metaphorical Unity, And drown me in the Essence of the Ocean of Unicity Until I neither see, nor hear, nor find, nor sense, except through It. O Allah make the Supreme Veil the life of my spirit And his soul the secret of my reality And his reality the conflux of my worlds Through the realization of the First Truth. O First! O Last! O Manifest! O Most Hidden! Hear my call as You heard the call of your servant Zachary And grant me victory through You for You, And support me through You, for You, And join me to You And come between myself and anything other than You—
They sat in a hall lit
As brightly as candles can make
An indoor room. And as
They chatted of this and that,
A servant entered the hall,
Carrying — his hand at its center —
A white lance. He came out
Of a room, then walked between
The fire and those seated
On the bed, and everyone saw
The white wood, and the white
Spearhead, and the drop of blood
That rolled slowly down
From the iron point until
It reached the servant’s hand.
The boy saw that wondrous
Sight, the night he arrived there,
But kept himself from asking
What it might mean, for he’d never
Forgotten — as his master at arms
Had warned him, over and over —
He was not to talk too much.
To question his host or his servants
Might well be vulgar or rude,
And so he held his tongue.
And then two other servants
Entered, carrying golden
With enamel. They were wonderfully handsome
Boys, and the candleholders
They each clasped in their hands
Bore at least ten
Burning candles. A girl
Entered with them, holding
A grail-dish in both her hands —
A beautiful girl, elegant,
Extremely well dressed. And as
She walked into the hall,
Holding this grail, it glowed
With so great a light that the candles
Suddenly seemed to grow dim,
Like the moon and stars when the sun
Appears in the sky. Then another
Girl followed the first one,
Bearing a silver platter.
The grail that led the procession
Was made of the purest gold,
Studded with jewels of every
Kind, the richest and most costly
Found on land or sea.
No one could doubt that here
Were the loveliest jewels on earth.
Just as they’d done before,
When carrying the lance, the servants
Passed in front of the knight,
Then went to another room.
And the boy watched them, not daring
To ask why or to whom
This grail was meant to be served,
For his heart was always aware
Of his wise old master’s warnings.
But I fear his silence may hurt him,
For I’ve often heard it said
That talking too little can do
As much damage as talking too much.
This tale is of a dog, who was
A liar, cheat and treacherous,
Who sued a sheep. He had her led
Before the judge; as plaintiff, said
That he must have the loaf of bread
He’d lent to her, that she still had.
The sheep denied the whole affair;
He had not lent a loaf to her!
The judge said: “Dog, can you produce
Witnesses that the Court can use?”
The dog said that he could, all right,
Two; one the wolf and one the kite.
These witnesses were led forth, both,
And both affirmed by solemn oath
That all the dog had said was true.
You know why they agreed, don’t you?
They hoped to get some portion, if
The sheep, found guilty, lost her life.
The judge, proceeding in the trial,
Summoned the sheep; why the denial
He asked her, that she had the bread
The dog had lent her, as he said.
Why lie? This item was so small!
Return it; or worse would befall!
The wretched sheep, who had no bread,
Was forced to sell her wool instead.
Winter and cold soon had her dead.
The dog came; took some wool she’d shed,
The kite came flying for his share,
And then the wolf. They took from her
All of her flesh; the seized on it,
For they had long been starved for meat.
No vestive of her life was left;
And, too, her master was bereft.
With this example we can state
What many false folk demonstrate.
With lies and tricks of every sort
They drag the poor folk into court;
They get false witnesses to lie,
They bribe with poor folks’ prosperity.
They don’t care how the wretched die;
They only want their slice of pie.
In honor of the German holiday, Three Kings Day, we present this work by one of Medeival Germany’s most significant poets.
If one can save one’s soul by lying,
Then I know someone who is holy.
He has often sworn false oaths to me.
His shrewd cunning overwhelmed me
And I chose him as a friend.
I thought I had found in him constancy.
But my own good sense deserted me,
As I now announce to the world:
He is as free of duplicity
As the sea is free of waves.
Why should I seek help from others
Since it was my own heart that deceived me?
It led me to the one
Who is worthless to me or to any good woman.
It hardly honors men
How this man conducts himself with regard to women.
He is so well versed in uttering sweet phrases
That one could not write them down.
I followed them even onto slippery ice.
Now I am suffering the harm they caused.
If I were now to begin to detest all men,
I would do so out of hatred of him alone.
But how are they all at fault for this?
Many men show better gratitude to their ladies.
One lady, by using her good sense,
Chose a friend who makes her happy.
She is laughing while I am sad.
Our lives play themselves out quite differently.
I have begun with suffering.
May God, the mighty One, ease my pain.