When she begins to sway — لمّا بدا يتثنى

Another gem from al-Andalus:






Translation (of the most common version, in Arabic below):

When she began to sway
my Love’s beauty entranced me
With a glance, she captured me
the branch bends when it sways
O my promise, O my wonder,
None can console my complaint
of love and my sufferings
except the queen of beauty



لما بدا يتثنى
حبي جماله فتنا


او ما بلحظه أسرنا 
غصنٌ ثنا حين مال


وعدي ويا حيرتي
من لي رحيم في شكوتي
بالحب من لوعتي
إلا مليكُ الجمال


Compare with the famous opening of Rumi’s Mathnawi:





1. Listen to the reed how it narrates a tale,
A tale of all the separations of which it complains.

2. Ever since they cut me from the reed-bed,
Men and women bemoaned my lament.

3. How I wish in separation, a bosom shred and shred,
So as to utter the description of the pain of longing.

4. Whoever becomes distanced from his roots,
Seeks to return to the days of his union.

5. I joined every gathering uttering my lament,
Consorting with the joyous and the sorrowful.

6. Everyone befriended me following his own opinion,
No one sought the secrets from within me.

7. My secret is not far away from my lament,
Yet, eye and ear do not possess that light.

8. Body is not hidden from soul, nor soul from body,
Yet, none has the license to see the soul.


–Translation by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. From “The Lament of the
Reed: Rumi,” translated and recited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
music directed by Suleyman Ergunerm, 2000.



بشنو از نی چون حکایت می کند
از جدایی ها شکایت می کند


کز نیستان تا مرا ببریده اند
از نفیرم مرد و زن نالیده اند


سینه خواهم شرحه شرحه از فراق
تا بگویم شرح درد اشتیاق


هر کسی کو دور ماند از اصل خویش
بازجوید روزگار وصل خویش


من به هر جمعیتی نالان شدم
جفت بدحالان و خوشحالان شدم


هر کسی از ظن خود شد یار من
از دورن من نجست اسرار من


سر من از نالهٔ من دور نیست
لیک چشم و گوش را آن نور نیست


تن ز جان و جان ز تن مستور نیست
لیک کس را دید جان دستور نیست



Sidi Qaddur al-‘Alami: Qasida-Pleading | سيدي عبد القادر العلمي : قصيدة التوسل

Muwwál Modo Zerga -Casida _El Perdón


Mine is not the power, nor the effort, nor the strength
Neither mastery of fate nor any chance is mine
From me, the request alone, from him, the acceptance
And in this matter, there’s no turning back
The one who commands me to be patient and to trust
Eases my sufferings, if not my strength
By God, I swear this plea didn’t seem proper
Until I was sure of your majestic power



ما يلبي قوة و لا يلى جهد و لا حول       و لا يلى تدبير في القضا و لا حيلة

من عندي أنا الدعا و من عنده القبول            و الحاجة ما تكون فيها تعطيلة

من أمرني بالصبر و التوكل             هو يسرى هموم ذاتي لو حيلة

و الله ما بديت هذا التوسل             حتى تيقنت من قدرتك الجليلة






You who knows the troubles of my pleading heart
Rejoice!  However great my pains, they have ended


There is no room in my heart for sorrow
I reached the Union that was my goal.


I praise the Lord of Heaven, I prostrate to the qibla
and say: Today I was accepted!


From the sleep of forgetfulness, I awoke to joy
Not fearing the words of the envier or spy




هل يا من دري هموم قلبي يتسلا       مهما يدركو و جاعي و يزول

ما تبقى تقبل على قلبي ذبلا       و القصد اللي طلبت نظفر بوصول

نحمد رب السماء و نسجد للقبلا       ونقول اليوم عاد صادقت قبول

نتيقظ للسرور و من نوم الغفلا       لا حاسد لا رقيب نخشى من قول


سيدي عبد القادر العلمي –

The Virgin Birth



The body is like Mary. Each of us has a Jesus, but so long as no pain appears, our Jesus is not born. If pain never comes, our Jesus goes back to his place of origin on the same secret path he had come, and we remain behind, deprived and without a share of him. 

trans. Annemarie Schimmel. I Am Wind, You are Fire; The Life and Work of Rumi.  Shambhala, Boston 1996. p. 122

If you bathe your soul for one instant in the veil of his love
 Like Mary, from one breath, you’ll see Jesus conceived
If like Mary, you conceive the Messiah without a father
Your face will turn saffron-yellow (from pain)


یک نفس در پرده عشقش چو جانت غسل کرد
همچو مریم از دمی بینی تو عیسی زاییی
چون بزادی همچو مریم آن مسیح بی‌پدر
گردد این رخسار سرخت زعفران سیماییی



Angelus Silesius


The Virgin I must be and bring God forth from me
should ever I be granted divine felicity.


 When God lay hidden in the womb of a young virgin,
It happened that the point fully contained the circle.


God is my center, if I do encompass Him
My circle he becomes, I am enclosed in Him.


The Virgin is a crystal, her son celestial light;
Wholly she is pierced by him, yet unimpaired she shines.


The soul that’s viriginal and naught but God conceives
Can pregnant be with God as often as it pleases.


trans. from Maria Shrady.  Angelus Silesius: The Cherubinic Wanderer.  Paulist Press, 1986.


My heart became…

This amazing poem of Ibn ‘Arabi’s is often interpreted somewhat sentimentally, but the love he writes of is far more than mere sentiment, and the universalism he espouses is much more than mere coexistence.  Among other things, it refers to a profound spiritual transformation in which opposites unite and the limitations of particular existence are swept away by love, the power that animantes the cosmos.


لقدْ صارَ قلبي قابلاً كلَّ صورة ٍ                فمَرْعًى لغِزْلاَنٍ وديرٌ لرُهْبانِ
وبَيْتٌ لأوثانٍ وكعبة ُ طائفٍ،                 وألواحُ توراة ٍ ومصحفُ قرآنِ
أدينُ بدينِ الحبِّ أنَّى توجَّهتْ                   رَكائِبُهُ فالحُبُّ ديني وإيماني
لنا أُسْوَة ٌ في بِشْرِ هندٍ وأُخْتِهَا               وقيسٍ وليلى ، ثمَّ مي وغيلانِ


Receptive, my heart became, to every form
A meadow for gazelles, and a cloister for the monks
A house for the idols, and the pilgrim’s Ka’aba
The tablets of the Torah, pages of the Qur’an
My religion is love’s own and wheresoever turn
Her caravan, that love is my religion and my faith
We have an example in Bishr, lover of Hind and her sister,
And Qays and Layla, and Mayya and Ghaylan*


*Legendary lovers of Arabic literature

Two ghazals of Hafez

No one has seen your face, and yet
Thousands of rivals seek you;
You’re still a bud and yet a hundred
Nightingales entreat you.


However far I am from you
(May no one know that place!)
I cannot help but hope that soon
I’ll be in your embrace;


And it’s not strange that I should choose
Your street in which to wait –
Thousands of strangers in this world
Are in the selfsame state


The loved one doesn’t spare a glance-
The lover must endure it;
And there’s no pain, or if there is
The doctor’s here to cure it.


In love, the Sufi meeting house
And wine-shop are one place;
As are all places where we find
The loved one’s radiant face;


And what the Sufis make a show of
Can be found equally
Among the monks, before their cross
Within a monastery.


Hafez’s cry is not mere nonsense
When all is said and done;
Though it’s a strangely curious tale,
And a perplexing one.



۶۳. روی تو کس ندید و هزارت رقیب هست

           روی تو کس ندید و هزارت رقیب هست
در غنچه‌ای هنوز و صدت عندلیب هست
             گر آمدم به کوی تو چندان غریب نیست
چون من در آن دیار هزاران غریب هست
               در عشق خانقاه و خرابات فرق نیست
هر جا که هست پرتو روی حبیب هست
            آن جا که کار صومعه را جلوه می‌دهند
ناقوس دیر راهب و نام صلیب هست
             عاشق که شد که یار به حالش نظر نکرد
ای خواجه درد نیست وگرنه طبیب هست
             فریاد حافظ این همه آخر به هرزه نیست
هم قصه‌ای غریب و حدیثی عجیب هست


At dawn, upon the breeze, I caught
the scent of my beloved’s hair
And once again my crazy heart
was laboring in its old despair


Out of the garden of my breast
I’ve torn her sapling silhouette
Since when my longings for her blossom,
grief is the bitter fruit they set.


Fearing the torment of her love,
I freed my heart from her; but when
My heart dripped blood, the path its drops
marked out…led back to her again


I saw the full moon rise above
his castle’s roof, splendid and bright;
But when her shining sun arose
the moon, for shame, concealed its light.


I took musicians at their word
and always, everywhere, I sought
For messengers who’d traveled love’s
hard road, and all the news they brought.


My lover’s way from end to end,
is good and kind, and little cares
Whether a man tells Muslim beads
or murmurs Christian prayers.


May God forgive her eyebrow’s curve
That’s made me weak and powerless,
Since it can comfort, with a glance
A sick man’s feverish distress


I was amazed to see Hafez
drink wine last night; but then I knew
Better than to object to this-
he drank as secret Sufis do.


۱۴۶. صبا وقت سحر بویی ز زلف یار می‌آورد

      صبا وقت سحر بویی ز زلف یار می‌آورد
دل شوریده ما را به بو در کار می‌آورد
      من آن شکل صنوبر را ز باغ دیده برکندم
که هر گل کز غمش بشکفت محنت بار می‌آورد
      فروغ ماه می‌دیدم ز بام قصر او روشن
که رو از شرم آن خورشید در دیوار می‌آورد
      ز بیم غارت عشقش دل پرخون رها کردم
ولی می‌ریخت خون و ره بدان هنجار می‌آورد
      به قول مطرب و ساقی برون رفتم گه و بی‌گه
کز آن راه گران قاصد خبر دشوار می‌آورد
      سراسر بخشش جانان طریق لطف و احسان بود
اگر تسبیح می‌فرمود اگر زنار می‌آورد
      عفاالله چین ابرویش اگر چه ناتوانم کرد
به عشوه هم پیامی بر سر بیمار می‌آورد
      عجب می‌داشتم دیشب ز حافظ جام و پیمانه
ولی منعش نمی‌کردم که صوفی وار می‌آورد


Translations modified from: Dick Davis.  Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz.  Mage, 2012

Along the path…

The love of her beauty is a sea of fire.
      If you’re a lover you’ll burn; such is the path.
Where a bright candle’s flame suddenly heaves
      won’t the moth burn?  Its burning is certain.
If you want love’s secret, leave faith and disbelief.
     What room is there for them in Love’s entrance?
The lover who comes to the path’s first stage
     falls in frailty like a shadow upon the ground.
After a while nothing remains of the shadow
   because the sun lies in wait in a distant place
Many thousands of travellers made pretence of Love
   Mansur is like the gemstone on the seal of the path.
Anyone who claims the pearl of truth from this sea
   is forever cherised in the courts of both worlds
The task of this path is extremely arduous;
   one person each millenium sees the path through
How will you know the people of the path? for they
   first walk on this path, then on the seventh heaven
Along the path, ‘Attar came upon a place
   higher than body and soul, outside of kindness and hate.


modified from K. Avery and A. Alizadeh.  Fifty Poems of ‘Attar.  Anomaly, 2007


    عشق جمال جانان دریای آتشین است
گر عاشقی بسوزی زیرا که راه این است
   جایی که شمع رخشان ناگاه بر فروزند
پروانه چون نسوزد کش سوختن یقین است
   گر سر عشق خواهی از کفر و دین گذر کن
کانجا که عشق آمد چه جای کفر و دین است
   عاشق که در ره آید اندر مقام اول
چون سایه‌ای به خواری افتاده در زمین است
   چون مدتی برآید سایه نماند اصلا
کز دور جایگاهی خورشید در کمین است
   چندین هزار رهرو دعوی عشق کردند
برخاتم طریقت منصور چون نگین است
   هرکس که در معنی زین بحر بازیابد
در ملک هر دو عالم جاوید نازنین است
   کاری قوی است عالی کاندر ره طریقت
بر هر هزار سالی یک مرد راه‌بین است
    تو مرد ره چه دانی زیرا که مرد ره را
اول قدم درین ره بر چرخ هفتمین است
    عطار اندرین ره جایی فتاد کانجا
برتر ز جسم و جان است بیرون ز مهر و کین است



Translation of lyrics:

Walking, walking, walking alone
I found my gypsy bathing in the river


She can not live without me,
I can not live without her,
I am the sun that shines,
she is for me the star,
that illuminates my dream!


Walking, walking, walking alone
I found my gypsy bathing in the river


She is my joy
When your hair caresses my face,
Between my kisses I get lost gazing in
Your black eyes and I’m going crazy


Caminando,caminando,caminando voy solito
a buscar a mi gitana que lavando esta en el rio!
No puede vivir sin mi,
no puedo vivir sin ella,
yo soy el sol q le alumbra,
ella es para mi la estrella,
la que alumbra mi sueño!


Caminando,caminando,caminando voy solito
a buscar a mi gitana que lavando esta en el rio!
Ella es mi alegria
cuando su pelo acaricia mi cara
y entre mis besos yo me pierdo mirando
sus ojos negros y yo me vuelvo loco



And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips, bidding adieu

Come tell me what it is that I have gained
From loving you,
Apart from losing all the faith I had
And knowledge too?


Though longing for you scatters on the wind
All my life’s work
Still, by the dust on your dear feet, I have
kept faith with you


And even though I’m just a tiny mote
In love’s great kingdom,
I’m one now with the sun, before your face,
In loving you


Bring wine! In all my life I’ve never known
A corner where
I could sit snugly, safely, and enjoy
Contentment too


And, if you’re sensible, don’t ply me with
Adivce; your words
Are wasted on me, and the reason is
I’m drunk; it’s true!


How can I not feel hopeless shame when I
Am near my love?
What service could I offer her?
What could I say or do?


Hafez is burned, but his bewitching love
Has yet to say,
“Hafez I wounded you, and here’s the balm
I send for you.”


From: Dick Davis.  Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz.  Mage, 2012


غزل 315- به غیر از آن که بشد دین و دانش از دستم

بغیــر از آنکـــه بشد دین و دانـش از دستـــــم
بیــا بگــــو که ز عشقت چــــه طرف بربستـم
اگـــر چه خرمن عمـــرم غم تو داد بیـــــــــاد
بخـــاک پای عـــزیزت که عهـــــد نشکستـــم
چـــو ذره گـــر چه حقیـــرم ببین بدولت عشق
که در هــــوای رخت چون به مهــــر پیوستم
بیار باده که عمـــریست تا من از ســــــرا من
به کنج عــــافیت از بهـــــــر عیـش ننشستـــم
اگـــر زمـــردم هشیاری ای نصحیت گـــــــو
سخن بخاک میفکـــن چـــــرا کــــه من مستم
چگونه سر ز خجالت بر آورم بـــــــر دوست
که خـــدمتی به سزا بر نیامــــــــد از دستــــم
بسوخت حافظ و آن یـــــار دلســـــوز نـــگفت
کـــه مـــرهمی بفـــرستم که خاطرش خستـــم




Life is an illusion
that no one lives without
nor can it be solved
Because it’s like a star
no one has ever reached

When I met you I loved you
I gave you love and warmth
and finally I realized
that was a mistake
that I suffered with you



La vida es una ilusión
que nadie vive sin ella
y no tiene solución
porque es como una estrella
que jamás nadie alcanzó

Cuando yo a ti te conocí
te di cariño y calor
y al final me convencí
que fue una equivocación
la que yo contigo sufrí



Two stanzas from “An Ode to Melancholy”:

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty – Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.


Zen and the snowman

At the peak of my soul’s depths
I sit in silent reverie
The sun above, weather below
The vast blue breathes in, out of me


The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


Hafez says…

          حافظ سخن بگوی که بر صفحه جهان    

این نقش ماند از قلمت یادگار عمر


But those whose lives are centered on
Your lovely mouth confess
No other thoughts than this, and think
Nothing of Nothingness


                  بيا و هستي حافظ ز پيش او برد
که با وجود تو کس نشنود ز من که منم


Come, and make sure Hafez’s being
will disappear-
Since You exist, no one will hear
Me say, “I’m here.”

Camaron and Hafez: Love’s Minstrels

Translation of Lyrics:

Strumming the strings of his guitar,
Strumming the strings of his guitar,
A Sultan complained of his Queen.

Two wells of stars, your black eyes,
And a moonless rose, your black hair,
Your black hair, your black hair,
Two wells of stars, your black eyes.

The rosemary bush smells of your body,
The rosemary bush smells of your body,
No jasmine on earth is more tender
No jasmine on earth is more tender.

Although a powerful king, I am a beggar,
Although a powerful king, I am a beggar,
If I lack the flames of your love,
Of your love, of your love,
If I lack the fire of your love.

Do not mess with me anymore,
Do not mess with me anymore,
Because you know too well
Because you tease me
Because you tease me.

Rasgueando las cuerdas de su guitarra,
Rasgueando las cuerdas de su guitarra,
Un sultán se quejaba de su sultana.
Son dos pozos de estrellas tus ojos negros,
Y una rosa sin luna tu pelo negro,
Tu pelo negro, tu pelo negro,
Son dos pozos de estrellas, tus ojos negros.
A mata de romero huele tu cuerpo,
A mata de romero huele tu cuerpo,
No hay en la tierra mora jazmin mas tierno
No hay en la tierra mora jazmin mas tierno
Siendo un rey poderoso soy un mendigo,
Siendo un rey poderoso soy un mendigo,
Si me faltan las llamas de tu cariño,
De tu cariño, de tu cariño,
Si me faltan las llamas de tu cariño.
No te metas más conmigo,
No te metas más conmigo,
Porque de sobra tú sabes
Que tú roneas conmigo,
Que tú roneas conmigo.


Love’s minstel has wonderful harmony and melody
Every song in his repertoire has a path to a place
May the world never be empty of the cry of lovers
Because it has a sweet and joyful voice
Although our dreg-draining Pir has neither gold nor force,
He has a sin-forgiving and fault-concealing God
My heart was honoured like this sugar-worshipping fly
Since he became Your desire, he has the splendor of the Huma
It is not far from justice, if he asks around
that king who has a beggar for a neighbor
I showed my bloody tears to the physicians, they said:
“It’s love’s pain and the burning of the liver has the cure”
Avoid the tyranny of glances, for in Love’s way
 Each act has a recompense, and every deed, a reward
That idol of a Christian wine seller well said:
“Enjoy the happiness on the face of a pure one”
O Great King!  Hafiz, a member of your court, recites the fatiha
And desires a prayer from your tongue


          مطرب عشق عجب ساز و نوایی دارد
 نقش هر نغمه که زد راه به جایی دارد
                    عالم از ناله عشاق مبادا خالی
که خوش آهنگ و فرح بخش صدايى دارد
     پیر دردی کش ما گر چه ندارد زر و زور
 خوش عطابخش و خطاپوش خدایی دارد
             محترم دار دلم کاین مگس قندپرست
 تا هواخواه تو شد فر همایی دارد
             از عدالت نبود دور گرش پرسد حال
 پادشاهی که به همسایه گدایی دارد
               اشک خونین بنمودم به طبیبان گفتند
 درد عشق است و جگرسوز دوایی دارد
         ستم از غمزه میاموز که در مذهب عشق
 هر عمل اجری و هر کرده جزایی دارد
           نغز گفت آن بت ترسابچه باده فروش
 شادی روی کسی خور که صفایی دارد
 خسروا حافظ درگاه نشین فاتحه خواند
 و از زبان تو تمنای دعایی دارد

Love, in Old English Verse

To Celia
by Ben Jonson

Drink to me, only, with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I’ll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise,
Doth ask a drink divine:
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee, late, a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent’st back to me:
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.

LOVEby: George Herbert (1593-1632)

    • LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
      Guilty of dust and sin.
      But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
      From my first entrance in,
      Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
      If I lack’d anything.’A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
      Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
      ‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
      I cannot look on Thee.’
      Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
      ‘Who made the eyes but I?”Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
      Go where it doth deserve.’
      ‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
      ‘My dear, then I will serve.’
      ‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
      So I did sit and eat.

by John Donne (c.1572-1631)
MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
    Yet this enjoys before it woo,
    And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two ;
    And this, alas ! is more than we would do.
O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met,
And cloister’d in these living walls of jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill me,
    Let not to that self-murder added be,
    And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck’d from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
‘Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.


Sonnet 116
by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out ev’n to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.