On Love

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 1040th birthday.

Abu Ali, the Mathematician
Persian
980 – 1037

 

I never knew a sprightly fair
That was not dear to me;
And freely I my heart could share
With every one I see.

It is not this or that alone
On whom my choice would fall:
I do not more incline to one
Than I incline to all.

The circle’s bounding line are they;
Its centre is my heart;
My ready love, the equal ray
That flows to every part.

Home

We present this work in honor of Eid-al-Adha.

Leila Kasra
Persian
1939 – 1989

 

Still, on the boughs of the trees, there are only crows
Ah, The flowers are withered
There is a madman in the garden
My heart is like a goblet of fire
My body is like a stove (burns so bad)
But there is not even a light in the whole world
There is not even a light, there is not even a light

I came from the other side of the world to this place
Don’t tell me the world is beautiful, I don’t see that
Still, there is sorrow in my heart, it is a strong torment
Don’t tell me not to cry
Don’t tell me life is short

Which nocturnal mourn? Which nightly summon?
Which spell and magic? Which romantic prayer?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved
Would lead me to my beloved, would lead me to my beloved

Which way? Which road?
Which tear? Which moan?
Which cloud and which zenith?
Which tide and which moon?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved

Still, caravan of love doesn’t reach its destination
We are drowned and our voice doesn’t reach the shore
Doesn’t reach the shore

Still, there are tears in my eyes
My stare is at the road (waiting for the beloved one)
There is no sun, no moon
How dark is the world! How dark is the world!

Which way? Which road?
Which tear? Which moan?
Which cloud and which zenith?
Which tide and which moon?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved

Cheetah

Abū Nuwās
Persian
756 – 814

 

I move through black cloud night—
Dark, at war with Dawn,
Quivers with a fine blade’s sheen—
With a vigorous, widejaw cheetah
Thickneck, spine-welded-scapulae
Leanbelly in taut-twist well-rope body
Cheek-folds plump in a scowl,
Sheeny; black teardrops on masseters
Bactrian lungs in saffron ribcage
Heavy paws, bull neck, sudden dart
A lion but for the spotty coat
Alert for shapes that shift.

A long search sights two herds
On ground flat as a man’s brow
He’s off, a slow stalk,
A trap about to explode
Puff adder slither
Through ground high and low
Face to face with his prey now—
Havoc! He scatters them across the desert
Full stretch, full pelt
Greedy fury.

Why hunt with any creature but a cheetah?

Alas for Youth

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!”

Stranger

We present this work in honor of Eid al-Fitr.

Tahereh Saffarzadeh
Persian
1936 – 2008

 

I am a pantheon of feelings,
and I will not hold you–Snowdrift of lies–
I fear you will turn to ice the memories I cherish,
remember of humanity.
I am that lonely one who understands,
the agony of loneliness,
the silence of the tolerant,
the wrath of the inflamed.
But I never understand you,
—all insouciance and silly cheer.

The Sin

Forough Farrokhzad
Persian
1935 – 1967

 

I have sinned a rapturous sin
in a warm enflamed embrace,
sinned in a pair of vindictive arms,
arms violent and ablaze.

In that quiet vacant dark
I looked into his mystic eyes,
found such longing that my heart
fluttered impatient in my breast.

In that quiet vacant dark
I sat beside him punch-drunk,
his lips released desire on mine,
grief unclenched my crazy heart.

I poured in his ears lyrics of love:
O my life, my lover it’s you I want.
Life-giving arms, it’s you I crave.
Crazed lover, for you I thirst.

Lust enflamed his eyes,
red wine trembled in the cup,
my body, naked and drunk,
quivered softly on his breast.

I have sinned a rapturous sin
beside a body quivering and spent.
I do not know what I did O God,
in that quiet vacant dark.

All Pervading Consciousness

In honor of the Prophet’s Birthday, we present this work by one of Persia’s greatest Muslim poets.

Attar of Nishapur
Persian
1145 – 1220

 

And as His Essence all the world pervades
Naught in Creation is, save this alone.
Upon the waters has He fixed His Throne,
This earth suspended in the starry space,
Yet what are seas and what is air? For all
Is God, and but a talisman are heaven and earth
To veil Divinity. For heaven and earth,
Did He not permeate them, were but names;
Know then, that both this visible world and that
Which unseen is, alike are God Himself,
Naught is, save God: and all that is, is God.

And yet, alas! by how few is He seen,
Blind are men’s eyes, though all resplendent shines
The world by Deity’s own light illumined,
O Thou whom man perceiveth not, although
To him Thou deignest to make known Thyself;
Thou all Creation art, all we behold, but Thou,
The soul within the body lies concealed,
And Thou dost hide Thyself within the soul,
O soul in soul! Myst’ry in myst’ry hid!
Before all wert Thou, and are more than all!

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.