from Die Goldenen Schmiede

Konrad von Würzburg
German
1225 – 1287

 

He who would braid and decorate
Your noble chaplet with flowers
Must bear within his breast
The blooming May branch of the arts
In order to adorn it
With rose-read phrases
And decorate it all around
With words like violets
To purify it utterly
Of everything false,
And most beautifully interweave
The herbs of exotic rhymes
Beneath, around, between
The blossoms of sweet speech.

A Single Word Can Brighten the Face

In honor of the Turkish holiday, Victory Day, we present this work by Turkey’s greatest folk poet.

Yunus Emre
Turkey
1238 – 1320

 

A single word can brighten the face
of one who knows the value of words.
Ripened in silence, a single word
acquires a great energy for work.

War is cut short by a word,
and a word heals the wounds,
and there’s a word that changes
poison into butter and honey.

Let a word mature inside yourself.
Withhold the unripened thought.
Come and understand the kind of word
that reduces money and riches to dust.

Know when to speak a word
and when not to speak at all.
A single word turns the universe of hell
into eight paradises.

Follow the Way. Don’t be fooled
by what you already know. Be watchful.
Reflect before you speak.
A foolish mouth can brand your soul.

Yunus, say one last thing
about the power of words —
Only the word “I”
divides me from God.

‘Twas Summer

Walther von der Vogelweide
German
1170 – 1230

 

‘Twas summer,— through the opening grass
The joyous flowers upsprang,
The birds in all their different tribes
Loud in the woodlands sang:
Then forth I went, and wandered far
The wide green meadow o’er;
Where cool and clear the fountain play’d,
There strayed I in that hour.

Roaming on, the nightingale
Sang sweetly in my ear;
And, by the greenwood’s shady side,
A dream came to me there;
Fast by the fountain, where bright flowers
Of sparkling hue we see,
Close sheltered from the summer heat,
That vision came to me.

All care was banished, and repose
Came o’er my wearied breast;
And kingdoms seemed to wait on me,
For I was with the blest.

Yet, while it seemed as if away
My spirit soared on high,
And in the boundless joys of heaven
Was wrapt in ecstacy,
E’en then, my body revelled still
In earth’s festivity;
And surely never was a dream
So sweet as this to me.

Thus I dream’d on, and might have dwelt
Still on that rapturous dream,
When, hark! a raven’s luckless note
(Sooth, ‘twas a direful scream,)
Broke up the vision of delight,
Instant my joy was past:
O, had a stone but met my hand,
That hour had been his last…

Because I Cannot Sleep

Rumi
Persian
1207 – 1273

 

Because I cannot sleep
I make music at night.
I am troubled by the one
whose face has the color of spring flowers.
I have neither sleep nor patience,
neither a good reputation nor disgrace.
A thousand robes of wisdom are gone.
All my good manners have moved a thousand miles away.
The heart and the mind are left angry with each other.
The stars and the moon are envious of each other.
Because of this alienation the physical universe
is getting tighter and tighter.
The moon says, ‘How long will I remain
suspended without a sun?’
Without Love’s jewel inside of me,
let the bazaar of my existence be destroyed stone by stone.
O Love, You who have been called by a thousand names,
You who know how to pour the wine
into the chalice of the body,
You who give culture to a thousand cultures,
You who are faceless but have a thousand faces,
O Love, You who shape the faces
of Turks, Europeans, and Zanzibaris,
give me a glass from Your bottle,
or a handful of being from Your Branch.
Remove the cork once more.
Then we’ll see a thousand chiefs prostrate themselves,
and a circle of ecstatic troubadours will play.
Then the addict will be freed of craving.
and will be resurrected,
and stand in awe till Judgement Day.