I’ve given my lover
all my keys,
and I have got his
and we are at peace.
But there’s one room left
in the deepest lair,
and not for one second
can we enter there.
So many a heavy thought
and secret power
flees into it every
It isn’t worth it
to pry at the lock:
the uproar would blast you
harder than rock.
The echoes and shadows
will do just fine.
Let him keep his accounts
and I’ll keep mine.
We present this work in honor of Vikram Samvat New Year.
Youth’s splendor is on her limbs,
on her face the sweat of toil
and the sun’s red burning;
a basket of golden grain upon her head,
she comes and goes along the boundary dikes:
her waist supple
and thighs that shimmer—
eternal child of rain and heat and frost,
with a sprig of wheat between her lips.
Heigh ho, two days—
That’s all her youth!—
dream of a moment
not long remembered.
Ground down with sorrow,
worn out by troubled times,
her body withers,
its wealth of youth untimely spent;
a blad of grass adrift from shore,
that laughed and played a few brief moments with the waves.
What is seen is not the Truth
What is cannot be said
Trust comes not without seeing
Nor understanding without words
The wise comprehends with knowledge
To the ignorant it is but a wonder
Some worship the formless God
Some worship His various forms
In what way He is beyond these attributes
Only the Knower knows
That music cannot be written
How can then be the notes
Says Kabir, awareness alone will overcome illusion
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 125th birthday.
A night of deep darkness.
On a branch of the old fig tree
A frog croaks without cease,
Predicting a storm, a deluge,
and I am drowned in fear.
It is night,
And with night the world seems
like a corpse in the grave;
And in fear I say to myself:
‘What if torrential rain falls everywhere?’
‘What if the rain does not stop
until the earth sinks into the water
like a small boat?’
In this night of awful darkness
Who can say in what state we will be
when dawn breaks?
Will the morning light make
the frightening face of the storm
Was that Layla’s flame that shone through the veils of night on Dhū-Salam?
Or lightning’s flash throughout the vales round Zawra and Al-Alam?
Have you but a sigh of dawn for me, O winds about Na’man?
Have you but a sip to offer me, O waters of Wajra?
O driver of laden camels rolling up the wayless sands
like a scroll of mighty writ beside the Sagebrush of Idam
Turn aside at the guarded safeground -God be your shepherd!- and seek the path
To yonder Lotus thicket, to the myrtle and laurel bay.
Then halt at Mount Sal, and ask at the curling vale of Raqmatayn:
Have the tamarisks grown and touched at last in the livening weep of the rain?
If you’ve crossed the waters of Aqīq in the mornlight, I implore you
By God, be unabashed and offer them my heart-felt Hail!
Tell everybody this: I have left behind a heart-felled man
Alive as a deadman, adding plague to plague through your domains.
From my heart like a burning bush there spreads a flame of more than fire.
From my eyes the pouring tears are like a ceaseless season of rains.
For such is lovers’ law: not one limb of the mortal body
When bound in love with a gazelle can ever be free of pain.
You ignoramus! You who defame and shame me for my love!
Desist and learn. You would not blame me, had your love been the same.
I swear by the sacred union, by the age-old love and by
Our covenant’s communion and all the things of bygone ages:
No consolation, no replacement turned me away from loving
For it is not who I am to move with the whims of solace and change.
Return the slumber to my eyes, and then perhaps I will see you
Visit my bed in the recklessness of dream as a revenant shade.
Alas for our days at Khayf! Had they but lasted each tenfold!
Alas for me, alas, how the last day couldn’t last or stay.
If only my grief could cure me, oh if only the “oh” of my woe
And my remorse could ever recover aught that is passed away,
Gazelles of the winding dell! Be kind and turn away from me
For I, to look on no one but my love, have bound my gaze
In deference to a Judge who has decreed a wondrous fatwa
That my blood be shed in every month, both sacred and profane.
Deaf, he did not hear my plea. Dumb, he could not reply.
He is stricken blind to the plight of one whom love has struck insane.