Monday, October 27, 2008


a few poems by Farid-U-Din-Attar
from "Fifty Poems of Attar" translated by Kenneth Avery and Ali Alizadeh


Love of the Beloved burned me like a candle, head to foot.
My soul-bird burned like a moth, wing and feather.

The fire of her love smoked my heart like aloes;
then her fire consumed both the smoke and the aloes.

A coal from her face fell into the desert:
both worlds burned like kindling from her ember.

I was to offer my soul to the soul-mate.
the Beloved outsmarted me; I got burnt.

There's nothing left of my blood or flesh, but ash;
the zealous fire burned me altogether.

When I scattered the ashes upon her street
the blaze of disdain struck and charred the remains.

So I said: I've been reduced to particles.
She said: That may be, but all particles shall burn.

In Attar's state of neither being nor not being,
neither doubt nor trust, the pious and the infidel both burn.


I got drunk at the tavern last night;
howling, dancing, drinking the wine-dregs.

As my heart's fervour topped the flagon
the fire of my heart brought it to the boil.

The Master of the Tavern heard my noise
and said: Enter, cloak wearing boy!

I told him: Master, how do you know me?
He said: Don't speak of yourself. Be quiet.

Take up the faith of the tavern swindlers.
Throw off your cloak and your prayer-mat.

Become the gambler, the thug, the dervish;
yell out abuse among the hoodlums.

Shed the ascetics' purity with scorn;
drink the lovers' wine-dregs with pleasure.

Tear the mask of metaphors from your eyes;
take the cotton of reproach out of your ears.

You aren't you while you're at peace with yourself.
Rip down your veil and wrangle with yourself.

The depth of your heart is an endless world.
face the direction of that world attentively.

Attar's treasure for one hundred souls.
How much would you pay for it, jewel-seller?

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