The wine was so fine…

The following was one of Ibn ‘Arabi’s favorite verses of poetry, oft-quoted by Sufi authors ranging from al-Ghazzali to Fakhr ad-din ‘Iraqi to Emir ‘abd al-Qadir to explain the mysterious relationship between God and the heart.



The glass was so clear, and so was the wine
they became so similar, that it became unclear
Whether there was wine and no cup
Or a cup and no wine

-Ṣaḥib ibn ‘Abbād



رقَّ الزجاجُ وَرَقَّت الخمرُ          وَتشابها  فَتَشاكل     الأَمرُ

فَكَأَنَّما  خمرٌ   وَلا     قَدحٌ          وَكَأَنَّما  قَدحٌ   وَلا     خمرُ


As Junayd famously said,

The colour of water is the colour of its vessel

لون الماء لون انائه

Compare with my own humble meditation on this theme:


If you see cup and wine as two, you haven’t drunk enough
In this tavern, we drink love’s molten glass, served by the cup


And when the sparkling wine is swirled and left still to breathe well
That’s just the glass-blower whispering his secret sculpting spells


Not only does this wine redden cups’ sweet cheeks and their lips
Its pouring gives them lovely shapes and their bright translucence


The heavens are but spinning glasses cast from frozen wine
How strange that they all seem to fit within this cup of mine


Inside my glass, last night, I saw your face, mingling with mine
In drunken clarity, I sipped myself in your outline


The fine lines of your lips are just the rippling of this wine
And so we drink and kiss ‘till I can’t tell what’s yours from mine


Last night, I got so drunk I sold my soul for cups of wine
I’m back to see what I can get for my body this time


My heart’s the secret flask of that most thirsty of madmen
Who drained the wine, drank the dry glass, then downed the whole tavern


Bilqis thought our way was water, but soon learned this glass held wine
Sulayman’s tricked many spirits into these bottles of rhymes


Though everyone loves wine’s bouquet, who likes the drunkard’s belch?
Be quiet, hold your drink, and keep its secrets to yourself.

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