Although it is night…

Lovely poem of San Juan de la Cruz, set to music by Enrique Morente



Song of the Soul that /delights in knowing God through Faith

How well I know the spring, that flows and runs
Although it is in the night


That eternal spring is hidden
How well I know where it has its refuge
Although it is in the night


In the darkened night of this life,
How well I know, by faith, the cold spring
Although it is in the night


I do not know its beginning, for it has none
But I know that all beginnings come from it
Although it is in the night,


I know that there cannot be a thing so beautiful,
And that the heavens and earth drink from it
Although it is in the night


I know well that it is not found in the soil
And that no one can wade through it
Although it is in the night


Its clarity is never darkened
And all light is coming from it,
Although it is in the night


And its streams are so abundant,
That it waters the heavens, hells, and the people
Although it is in the night


The current that is born from this spring,
I know well that it is so capable and so powerful
Although it is in the night


The current that proceeds from these two
I know that neither of them precede it
Although it is in the night


Here all the creatures are being called
And from this water, they are sated, though in the dark
Because it is in the night


In this living fountain that I yearn for,
In it, I see the bread of life
Although it is in the night


In this eternal fountain it is hidden
In this bread that gives me life
Although it is in the night


Cantar del alma que se huelga de conoscer a Dios por fe.

Que bien sé yo la fonte que mana y corre
aunque es de noche.

Aquella eterna fonte está ascondida,
que bien sé yo do tiene su manida,
aunque es de noche.

Su origen no lo sé, pues no le tiene,
mas sé que todo origen della viene,
aunque es de noche.

Sé que no puede ser cosa tan bella,
y que cielos y tierra beban della,
aunque es de noche.

Bien sé que suelo en ella no se halla,
y que ninguno puede vadealla,
aunque es de noche.

Su claridad nunca es escurecida,
y sé que toda luz della es venida,
aunque es de noche.

Sé ser tan caudalosas sus corrientes,
que infiernos, cielos riegan, y las gentes,
aunque es de noche.

El corriente que nace desta fuente
bien sé que es tan capaz y tan potente,
aunque es de noche.

El corriente que de estas dos procede

sé que ninguna de ellas le precede,

aunque es de noche.

Aquesta Eterna fuente está escondida
en este vivo pan por darnos vida,
aunque es de noche.

Aquí se está llamando a las criaturas
porque desta agua se harten aunque a oscuras,
porque es de noche.

Aquesta viva fuente que deseo
en este pan de vida yo la veo,
aunque es de noche.


Khaqani on Love



The bird that sings the song of pain is love
The courier who knows the tongue of the Unseen is love
The existence that calls you to nonexistence is love
And that which redeems you from you is love



مرغی که نوای درد راند عشق است
پيکی که زبان غيب داند عشق است
هستی که به نيستيت خواند عشق است
وآنچ از تو ترا باز رهاند عشق است

Translation by Reza Saberi



What then is love? The Ocean of Nonexistence.

It is there that the foot of the intellect is broken

Rumi, Mathnawi, ed. Nicholson, III: 4724.


Ibn ‘Arabi

Many mistakes may occur in love. The first of them is that people imagine that the object of love is an existent thing… In fact, love’s object remains forever nonexistent, but most lovers are not aware of this, unless they should be knowers of the realities. (II 337.17)


Camaron de la Isla


I am like the sad bird
that flits from branch to branch
singing his suffering
because he doesn’t know how to cry


Soy cómo el pájaro triste,
ay que de rama en rama va,
cantando su sufrimiento, cantando su sufrimiento,
porque no sabe llorar.


Nightingale: Keats and Hafez


 Hafez sang:
بلبلى خون جگر خورد و گلى حاصل كرد
باد غيرت به صادش خار پريشان دل كرد
طوطيى را به خيال شكرى دل خوش بود
ناگهش سيل فنا نقش امل باطل كرد

Gertrude Bell’s translation:

The nightingale with drops of his heart’s blood
Had nourished the red rose, then came a wind,
And catching at the boughs in envious mood,
a hundred thorns about his heart entwined.
Like to the parrot crunching sugar, good
Seemed the world to me who could not stay
The wind of Death that swept my hopes away.


Compare with this beautiful recitation of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale:


Ode to a Nightingale

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
         But being too happy in thine happiness,—
                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
                        In some melodious plot
         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
                Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
         Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
         Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
         Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
                With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
                        And purple-stained mouth;
         That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
                And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
         What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
         Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
         Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
                Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
                        And leaden-eyed despairs,
         Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
                Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
         Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
         Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
         And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
                Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
                        But here there is no light,
         Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
                Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
         Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
         Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
         White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
                Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
                        And mid-May’s eldest child,
         The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
                The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
         I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
         To take into the air my quiet breath;
                Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
         To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
                While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                        In such an ecstasy!
         Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
                   To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
         No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
         In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
         Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
                She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
                        The same that oft-times hath
         Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
                Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
         To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
         As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
         Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
                Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
                        In the next valley-glades:
         Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
                Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?


chnese nightingale




Weep, O Nightingale, if you wish to be my friend
For we are two helpless lovers, whose work is weeping
In that land where the breeze blows from the beloved’s locks
what room is there for boasting of the musk of Tartar?
Bring wine so we can dye our cloak of hypocrisy
We are drunk form the cup of arrogance and we call it sobriety
Cherishing the thought of your hair is not for the novice
going under the chain is the way of the elite
There is a hidden subtlety that gives rise to love
whose name is neither ruby lip nor auburn cheek’s down
A person’s beauty is not in the eye nor face, nor cheek, nor hair
there are a thousand fine points in this work of beauties
The Qalandars of Truth do not buy, for half a barley corn,
the silk robe of the person who is without art
It is difficult to reach your doorstep
ascension to the heaven of joy is difficult
At dawn I dreamt of the seductive glance of your eye
Ah, some stages of sleep are better than being awake…
Do not harm his heart with your wailing, hush now Hafez
For eternal salvation lies in doing the least harm





بنال بلبل اگر با منت سر یاریست
که ما دو عاشق زاریم و کار ما زاریست

در آن زمین که نسیمی وزد ز طره دوست
چه جای دم زدن نافه‌های تاتاریست

بیار باده که رنگین کنیم جامه زرق
که مست جام غروریم و نام هشیاریست

خیال زلف تو پختن نه کار هر خامیست
که زیر سلسله رفتن طریق عیاریست

لطیفه‌ایست نهانی که عشق از او خیزد
که نام آن نه لب لعل و خط زنگاریست

جمال شخص نه چشم است و زلف و عارض و خال
هزار نکته در این کار و بار دلداریست

قلندران حقیقت به نیم جو نخرند
قبای اطلس آن کس که از هنر عاریست

بر آستان تو مشکل توان رسید آری
عروج بر فلک سروری به دشواریست

سحر کرشمه چشمت به خواب می‌دیدم
زهی مراتب خوابی که به ز بیداریست

دلش به ناله میازار و ختم کن حافظ
که رستگاری جاوید در کم آزاریست




At dawn, the nightingale complained to the breeze, saying:
“Oh the things that loving the rose’s face has done to me…”
It pulled off the veil of the rose and brushed away the tress of the hyacinth
and opened the knot of the cord of the bud’s robe
The lover nightingale cried out in all directions
But it was the breeze that was blessed from this
Blessed be the morning breeze that
remedied the pain of those who stay awake at night
No more will I complain of strangers
for any wrong to me was done my that dear one
If I coveted a favor from the sultan, it was a mistake
If I sought faithfulness from the beloved, she was cruel.
I am the slave of the generous spirit of that dear one
Who did good deeds without pretension and hypocrisy
take the good news to the winesellers’ street
That Hafez repented of pretentious abstinence




سحر بلبل حکایت با صبا کرد
که عشق روی گل با ما چه‌ها کرد
از آن رنگ رخم خون در دل افتاد
وز آن گلشن به خارم مبتلا کرد
غلام همت آن نازنینم
که کار خیر بی روی و ریا کرد
من از بیگانگان دیگر ننالم
که با من هر چه کرد آن آشنا کرد
گر از سلطان طمع کردم خطا بود
ور از دلبر وفا جستم جفا کرد
خوشش باد آن نسیم صبحگاهی
که درد شب نشینان را دوا کرد
نقاب گل کشید و زلف سنبل
گره بند قبای غنچه وا کرد
به هر سو بلبل عاشق در افغان
تنعم از میان باد صبا کرد
بشارت بر به کوی می فروشان
که حافظ توبه از زهد ریا کرد




I went to the garden one morning to pick a rose
and suddenly heard a nightingale’s song.
Like me, the poor bird had fallen in love with a rose
and in the field, raised a commotion with his cries.
And as I walked through that field and garden
I thought on that rose and nightingale.
The rose befriended beauty, and the nightingale, love
neither showed any signs of changing.
As the song of the nightingale entered my heart,
it got to the point where I could stand it no longer.
Many roses bloom in this garden, but
none plucks a rose without the pain of a thorn.
Hafez, harbor hope of deliverance from this cycle of existence
It has a thousand flaws and not one redeeming virtue.


رفتم به باغ صبحدمی تا چنم گلی
آمد به گوش ناگهم آواز بلبلی
مسکین چو من به عشق گلی گشته مبتلا
و اندر چمن فکنده ز فریاد غلغلی
می‌گشتم اندر آن چمن و باغ دم به دم
می‌کردم اندر آن گل و بلبل تاملی
گل یار حسن گشته و بلبل قرین عشق
آن را تفضلی نه و این را تبدلی
چون کرد در دلم اثر آواز عندلیب
گشتم چنان که هیچ نماندم تحملی
بس گل شکفته می‌شود این باغ را ولی
کس بی بلای خار نچیده‌ست از او گلی
حافظ مدار امید فرج از مدار كون
دارد هزار عیب و ندارد تفضلی

“Ask for wine and throw flowers. What else do you want from time?”
The rose said this at dawn, O nightingale, what do you say?
Take your seat in the rose garden so that you may kiss
the beauty and the Saqi on the lip and cheek and drink wine and smell roses
Upon whom will your smiling bud bestow its fortune
O elegant rose, for whose sake do you grow?
Each bird comes to the king’s rose garden with a tale
The nightingale with his song and Hafez with his prayer.


می خواه و گل افشان کن از دهر چه می‌جویی
این گفت سحرگه گل بلبل تو چه می‌گویی
مسند به گلستان بر تا شاهد و ساقی را
لب گیری و رخ بوسی می نوشی و گل بویی
تا غنچه خندانت دولت به که خواهد داد
ای شاخ گل رعنا از بهر که می‌رویی
هر مرغ به دستانی در گلشن شاه آمد
بلبل به نواسازی حافظ به غزل گویی





Step into that corner
where the gnats do not bite
I do not care about anyone
but you, my little dear

In the Moorish quarter
Juanola le puso el cura
Juanola pa to la vía.

I saw the flowers cry
when you entered the garden,
because the flowers would all like
to look like you.

Keep away from the people
who do not know our love,
the farther you are from the saint,
the closer to devotion.

And the day you were born
all the flowers bloomed
and at the baptismal font
nightingales sang.



Lerelere lele…aay

Métete en aquel rincón
donde las mosquitas no te coman
cuenta yo no le doy a nadie
primita de tu persona.

De la morería
Juanola le puso el cura
Juanola pa to la vía.

Al verte las flores lloran
cuando entras tu al jardín,
porque las flores quisieran
toítas parecerse a ti.

Retírate que la gente
no conozca nuestro amor,
contra más lejos esté el santo
más cerca la devoción.

Y el día que tú naciste
nacieron toítas las flores
y en la pila de bautismo
cantaron los ruiseñores.


Hafez: Minstrel vs. Philosopher

The minstrel played a melody from the pain of love

that covered the philosopher’s eyelashes in blood


For years I pawned my book for wine,
      the rowdiness of the tavern was from my teaching and praying
See the goodness of the Magian Pīr:
       Whatever we drunks did was beautiful in his kind eye
Wash the whole book of our knowledge in wine
       for I saw that heaven despises the wise
O heart, if you know beauty, then seek it in idols
        as one who knows the science of sight has said
My heart moved around in every direction, like a compass
        while part of it stood in that circle, amazed
The minstrel played a melody from the pain of love
         that covered the philosopher’s eyelashes with blood
I blossomed with joy, for like a rose on the lips of a stream
         the shadow of that cypress’s tall stature fell on my head
My saffron Pīr did not allow any bad speech about the blue-clad
          otherwise, there would be many tales…
Hafez’s gold-plated, counterfeit heart could not be spent before him
          for this dealer could see all hidden defects


سال‌ها دفتر ما در گرو صهبا بود
رونق میکده از درس و دعای ما بود
نیکی پیر مغان بین که چو ما بدمستان
هر چه کردیم به چشم کرمش زیبا بود
دفتر دانش ما جمله بشویید به می
که فلک دیدم و در قصد دل دانا بود
از بتان آن طلب ار حسن شناسی ای دل
کاین کسی گفت که در علم نظر بینا بود
دل چو پرگار به هر سو دورانی می‌کرد
و اندر آن دایره سرگشته پابرجا بود
مطرب از درد محبت عملی می‌پرداخت
که حکیمان جهان را مژه خون پالا بود
می‌شکفتم ز طرب زان که چو گل بر لب جوی
بر سرم سایه آن سرو سهی بالا بود
پیر گلرنگ من اندر حق ازرق پوشان
رخصت خبث نداد ار نه حکایت‌ها بود
قلب اندوده حافظ بر او خرج نشد
کاین معامل به همه عیب نهان بینا بود






Ay, ay, ay, ay…
I am not
I am not from this land
nor do I know anyone.
He who does,
whoever has done good for my child
May God bless you



No soy,
no soy de esta tierra,
ni conozco a nadie.
El que lo haga.
Quien lo hiciera a bien para mi niño.
que Dios se lo pague.

The cicada: Camaron and Basho


A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.


In the cicada’s cry
There’s no sign that can foretell
How soon it must die.


sinking into the rocks,
cicadas’ cry
—Barnhill, Bashō’s Haiku, 94, #392





Don’t sing cicada
silence your chirping,
For I carry a pain in my soul,
A dagger that strikes me
knowing that when I sing
my luck expires sighing
Under the shade of a tree
and the beat of my guitar
This happy song,
because the road has ended
and do not want to die dreaming,
oh, like the cicada died.

Life, life, life is,
is a setback,
life is life.
Oh life is, life is …



Ya no cantes cigarra,
apaga tu sonsonete,
que llevo una pena en el alma,
que como un puñal se me mete
sabiendo que cuando canto
suspirando va mi suerte.

Bajo la sombra de un árbol
y al compás de mi guitarra
canto alegre este huapango,
porque la vía se acaba
y no quiero morir soñando,
ay, como muere la cigarra.

Ábreme la puerta
que vengo najando,
y los gachés, primita de mi alma,
sí a mí me ven
me la van buscando.

La vida, la vida, la vida es,
es un contratiempo,
la vida, la vida es.

Ay la vida es, la vida es…


The hardest thing in the world…

ahh, who hasn’t felt like this…

The hardest thing in the world
is studied and learned well
I tried to study your love
Because I couldn’t understand it,
I suffer and cry like a child


Before the image of Christ
I saw her crying one day
Striking her chest
because she was repenting for
the damage she had done to me



Lo más difícil del mundo
Se estudia y se aprende bien
Me puse a estudiar tu cariño
Y no lo pude comprender
Por eso sufro y lloro como un niño

Ante la imagen de cristo
La vi que lloraba un día
Y golpes se daba en el pecho
Porque estaba arrepentida
Del daño que me había hecho

How can I untie this knot? How can I show this wound?
It is a pain, a harsh pain. It is work, a hard work.
چون اين گره گشايم وين ريش چهن نمايم
دردى و صعب دردى كارى و سخت كارى

An excerpt from another one of his ghazals:
My tall beloved, so flirtatious
made short work of my long story of asceticism

O heart, did you see what my love-seeking eye did to me
in my old age, after all that asceticism and learning?

I tried to conceal the sign of love beneath my cloak of pride
but my tear was a tattletale and spread my secret

Now I’m drawing a picture on water with my tears
And wondering when this metaphor of mine will become real

I fear losing my faith, for the prayer-niche of your eyebrow
takes away the presence of my prayers

I smile as I cry to myself, like a candle, and wonder
What my burning patience could do to a stone heart like yours?


الابلند عشوه گر نقش باز من                                  کوتاه کرد قصه زهد دراز من
دیدی دلا که آخر پیری و زهد و علم                    با من چه کرد دیده معشوقه باز من
گفتم به دلق زرق بپوشم نشان عشق                    غماز بود اشک و عیان کرد راز من
نقشی بر آب می‌زنم از گریه حالیا                         تا کی شود قرین حقیقت مجاز من
می‌ترسم از خرابی ایمان که می‌برد                      محراب ابروی تو حضور نماز من
بر خود چو شمع خنده زنان گریه می‌کنم           تا با تو سنگ دل چه کند سوز و ساز من

and my own…

She stabbed me, but she took the knife
Time came and took the wound
And all I have left from that night:
A scarred face like the moon




Andalusian Love Songs: Shushtari and Camaron (part 2)

You who took my heart from me, your love stole my senses
You hid me from myself, and in myself, I don’t appear
I’m hidden form my sight, as if I were invisible
So I went out to look for me, maybe I’ll find myself…
Love of the beautiful, o brother, is my art
and my drink is from my own flask


يا  مَن  أخَذْ  قَلْبي   مِنِّي        هَواكَ               هَيَّمَني
حجَبْتَني              عني        بِيَّا       فَما         أظْهَر
وغِبْتُ     عن       عيْني        كأنِّي      لم       أظْهر
فَصِرتُ           أطلُبني        لَعلَّ      بِي         أظْفَر
عِشْقُ المليحْ يا صاحْ فَنِّي        وشُرْبي     مِنْ        دَنِّي



I live in love

Take me with you because I cannot find myself outside of your love

I live in love and for me your kisses
are like the source of my thought

Take me with you because I cannot find myself outside of your love

At dawn, I feels she calls me
like a whirlwind, she wakes up my soul!
I want you to feel as I feel,
to call me during the night in your dreams
to be like the tree which gives you shelter
when you need the shade (x2)

Take me with you because I cannot find myself outside of your love
Chorus x 2

God brought you with Him.
I ask you when
I will go to heaven (x2)
so I may kiss your lips

I love you, I do love you
I am a prisoner of your love (x2)

Translation from:



Que me lleve contigo porque ya no me hallo
fuera de tu cariño…

Yo vivo enamoraO y para mi tus besos
son como la fuente de mi pensamiento

que me yeve contigo porque ya no me hallo
fuera de tu cariño…

Y al amanecer siento que me yama
como un torbellino despierta mi alma!
quiero q sientas como yo siento
y q me yames de noches en sueños
Ser como el arbol que te acobija
cuando la sombra la necessito( x2)

que me yeve contigo porque ya no me hallo fuera de tu cariño

Dios q te yevo con él.
yo le pregunto a usté cuando
me va a subir a los cielos(x2)
para besarte tus labios

Te quiero yo a ti te quiero,
de tu cariño soy prisionero(x2)



The one I love visited me before morning
and made lovely my shame and infamy
He made me drink and said: “sleep and relax
there’s no sin for the one who loves us.”
So pass round the cup, you whom I love and adore
Adoring whom I love is the essence of righteousness
If you poured it for the dead, they’d return to life
It is the joy and repose of the spirits


زَارني من أُحب قبل    الصباحِ        فَحَلالي   تهَتُّكي     وافتِضاحِي

وسقاني   وقال   نم    وتسلَّى        ما عَلى مَن  أحَبَّنا  من    جُناحِ

فَأدِر كأس  من  أُحِبُّ    وأهْوى        فَهوى من أُحِبُّ  عَين    صَلاحِ

لوْ  سَقاهَا   لميِّت   عاد     حَيًّا        فَهي  راحى  وَراحة     الأرْواحِ

Andalusian Love songs: Shushtari and Camaron

The poems of the Andalusian Sufi, Abu’l-Hasan Shushtari (d. 1269) parallel and perhaps indirectly influenced some of my favorite Flamenco lyrics.  Compare this pair of songs:


Your love for me is not a fantasy

However much they forbid that I love you,
like a jib to the water I will resist.
Only your tender love I would have for company
I wanted to give you more and more I’d give you,

Because I know that without you I won’t live,
because wherever you are I will follow,
that’s why I love you and dream of you.

Your love for me is not fantasy,
the memory hurts me every day,
I am of your love that abandons me,
and loved me and wanted me.

You and I on the blanket,
you and I under the moon,
your dark eyes were glistening
reflecting the tenderness

A love looks strong,
my heart,
if my eyes didn’t look at you
every day

You were something that goes and never comes
and clear was your farewell and clear was my sorrow.
Without your love, I only love the earth
without your love, two minutes is one day,
that’s why I love you and you take my life.

I would like to hear the voice of the wind
that brings the sighs that you give,
your sorrows are like mine,
like the waves of the ocean

Your love for me is not fantasy,
the memory hurts me every day,
I am of your love that abandons me,
and loved me and wanted me

Translation from:


Tu amor para mi no es fantasia
Por más que a mí me quiten que te quiera
como el foque al agua remetiera
sólo tu amor tendré por compañera
que más te quise dar y más te diera,


Porque sé que sin ti yo no vivo,
porque donde tú estés te persigo,
por eso te quiero y sueño contigo.


Tu amor para mí no es fantasía,
me duele el recuerdo cada día,
soy de tu querer que me abandona,
y me quería y me quería.


Tú y yo sobre la manta,
tú y yo bajo la luna,
brillaban tus ojos negros
reflejando la ternura.


Fuerte mira un amor,
sentrañas mías,
si no te vieran mis ojos
todos los días.


Fuiste algo que pasa y nunca llega
y claro fue tu adiós y clara mi pena.
Sin tu amor sólo a la tierra quiero
sin tu amor dos minutos es un día,
por eso te quiero y me quitas la vía.


Quisiera escuchar la voz del viento
que trae los suspiros que tú das,
tus penas son como las mías,
como la oleá del mar.


Tu amor para mí no es fantasía,
me duele el recuerdo cada día,
soy de tu querer que me abandona,
y me quería y me quería.

My neglect of you is reprehensible, your love is obligatory
my longing is everlasting, and union is elusive
On the tablet of my heart, your love has been marked
my tears are the ink, and beauty is the writer
The reader of my thoughts constantly recites
lessons on the signs of the beautiful one
My gaze wanders in the heaven of your beauty
its penetrating star pierces my mind
Talk about others, listening to that is forbidden
for all of me is stolen and your beauty is the thief
They said to me: repent of loving the one you love
so I replied: I repent of my neglect
The torments of love are sweet for every lover
even if, for another, they are hard and never-ending


Translation modified from: L.M. Alvarez. Abu’l-Hasan Shushtari: Songs of Love and Devotion. p. 55



سُلُوِّيَ مكروهٌ وحُبكَ واجبٌ               وشوقِي مقيمٌ والتَّواصلُ غائبُ

وفي لوح قلبي من وِدَادكِ أسطرٌ            وَدمعي مِدادٌ مثل ما الحسن كاتبُ

وقارىء فكري لْلمحَاسِن تالياً               على دَرْس آيات الجمالِ يواظبُ

أُنَزِّهُ طَرفي في سماء جَمالكمْ                    لِثاقب ذِهني نَجمُها هو ثاقبُ

حَديثُ سواكَ السمع عنهُ محَّرمٌ                    فَكُلِّيَ مسلوبٌ وحسنكَ سالبُ

يقولونَ لي تبْ عن هوى من تُحبُّهُ                 فقلتُ عن السلوان إِنِّيَ تائبُ

عَذابُ الهوى عذبٌ على كل عَاشِق       وإِن كان عندَ الغير صعبٌ وواصبُ

Deep Songs from Spain

A collection of some lovely Flamenco lyrics

The sighs that come from me
and those that come from you,
if they meet on their way
what things they will say!

Suspiros que de mí salgan
y otros que de ti saldrán,
si en el camino se encuentran
¡qué de cosas se dirán!

If blood were sold
you’d be rich and I’d be poor—
you have in your veins
both yours and mine.

Si la sangre se vendiera,
fueras tú rica y yo pobre,
porque tienes en tus venas
la que a mí me corresponde.


If being fond costed money
you would owe me a lot;
but since it doesn’t,
you don’t owe me, I owe you not.

Si el querer bien se pagara,
mucho me estabas debiendo;
pero como no se paga,
ni me debes ni te debo.

With the pain of not seeing you,
I am living on earth.
And if I am not dead,
then nobody will die of heartbreak.

Con la pena de no verte
estoy viviendo en la tierra:
cuando no me muero yo,
nadie se muere de pena.


I must punish
the eyes of my face
for looking with affection
on someone who doesn’t care.

A los ojos de mi cara
los tengo de castigar,
porque miran con cariño
a quien mal pago les da.

I wrote it to you crying,
I sent it to you crying.
The tears from my eyes
didn’t let me see it.

Llorando te la escribí,
llorando te la mandé;
las lágrimas de mis ojos
no me la dejaron ver


I must be buried
sitting when I die
so that you can say,
‘He’s dead but waiting for me.’

He de mandar que me entierren
sentado cuando me muera,
para que puedas decir:
—Se murió, pero me espera


I don’t know what it is
about the cemetery flowers,
but when the wind rustles them
they seem to be crying.

No sé qué tienen las flores
que están en el camposanto,
que cuando las mueve el viento
parece que están llorando.


Lyrics and translations from M. Smith & L. Ingelmo. Cantes Flamencos:The Deep Songs of Spain




The Gypsy Saeta

Said a voice from the crowd:
“Who will lend me a ladder
to climb the wooden cross
so as to remove the nails
from Jesus of Nazareth?”

Oh, the Saeta, the song
of the gypsy Christ
always with bloody hands
for ever ready to dismantle (the Cross)

Song of the andalusian town
where every Spring
people come asking for ladders
so as to climb the cross.

Song of my homeland
where flowers are thrown
to Jesus in his death throes
and is the faith of my forefathers.

Oh, no, this is not my song
I can’t sing it, nor do I want to
to the Jesus on the Cross
rather to the Jesus who walked on water!


La Saeta gitana

Dijo una voz popular:
¿Quién me presta una escalera
para subir al madero
para quitarle los clavos
a Jesús el Nazareno?

Oh, la saeta, el cantar
al Cristo de los gitanos
siempre con sangre en las manos,
siempre por desenclavar.

Cantar del pueblo andaluz
que todas las primaveras
anda pidiendo escaleras
para subir a la cruz.

Cantar de la tierra mía
que echa flores
al Jesús de la agonía
y es la fe de mis mayores.

¡Oh, no eres tú mi cantar
no puedo cantar, ni quiero
a este Jesús del madero
sino al que anduvo en la mar!

Lyrics and translation from:

Shakespeare, Shushtari, and the Sultan

Sonnet 29

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

-William Shakespeare



O you present in my heart
Thinking of you, I am glad


If she doesn’t visit my eye
then my heart replaces it


I have not vanished, but my body
is wasting away from weakness


The blamer did not find me
and no watchman sees me


If fate had known me
the people would have come to me


Nothing remains except love
ask it, and it will answer for me

-Abu’l Hasan Shushtari


يَا حاضِراً في    فُؤادي        بِالفكرِ    فِيكمْ      أطيبُ
إِنْ لمْ يزُرْ شخصُ عيني        فالقلبُ   عِندي     ينُوبُ
مَا  غِبتُ  لَكِنَّ    جِسْمي        من   النُّحول      يذوبُ
فَلمْ    يَجدْني      عذولٌ        وَلاَ    رآنِي       رَقِيبُ
وَلوْ دَرَى  الدَّهْرُ    عَنِّي        جَاءت   إِلىَّ      شعُوبُ
لَمْ   يَبْقَ   غَيْرُ     غَرامٍ        فَسَلهُ    عَنِّي     يِجُيبُ




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.