You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.
header image

Cupbearer, fill the bowl with blood, not wine: Connecting human & divine love

Image 1: The Front Face of the Love Letter/Card

Image 2: The Card Opening

Image 3: The Inside Face of the Card

(medium: cardstock/black ink – love letter/card, response: week 10)

In response to Farid Attar’s The Conference of the Birds, I crafted a love letter (with the potential to be sent, should the need arise) that reads with the following text from the epic poem itself:

“Heart’s blood and bitter pain belong to love,
And tales of problems no one can remove;
Cupbearer, fill the bowl with blood, not wine –
And if you lack the heart’s rich blood take mine.
Love thrives on inextinguishable pain,
Which tears the soul, then knits the threads again.
A mote of love exceeds all bounds; it gives
The vital essence to whatever lives.
But where love thrives, there pain is always found;
Angels alone escape this weary round –
They love without that savage agony
Which is reserved for vexed humanity.”

― فرید الدین عطار, The Conference of the Birds

This form of creative interaction with the text seemed appropriate to me, because what was most striking in reading the book was the way in which it imagined acts of human love to be part of a guide/an instructive tool for enacting divine love. These forms of love – which are linked to pain, the idea of loss, and the symbolic spilling of blood, impress upon the reader the difficulty of finding and loving God. There is a sense of yearning in each of these poems that have to do with love that implies that the end goal can be characterized by its unattainability.

The card is an aspirational symbol of expressing one’s love, because it projects hope for positive reception, but cannot ensure it. The form interacts with the content itself. “Hoping for love in return” is an emotion embodied in the sending of a love-letter or a card of this nature. The personal effort and hard work that gets poured into handmade drawings and the writing out of a selected set of words is part of the image of “spilling blood.” It has to do with the “spilling of sweat” that is involved in making something to give to one’s beloved.

There is no guarantee in the one-sided sending of a letter or a card, just as there is no guarantee when one pledges their love and devotion to God, who presides over all. In the attempt to perform an act of sacrificial, risk-taking human love, one begins to understand what it means to give up parts of the self in order to love another fully and without reserve. Herein lies the allegory I most wanted to interact with – human love as a pattern and example for divine love.


~ by kirin on April 13, 2014.

One Response to “Cupbearer, fill the bowl with blood, not wine: Connecting human & divine love”

  1. glad to be one of several visitors on this awing site : D.

Leave a Reply