Monday, January 20, 2014

Muhammad Ibn 'Arabi

Ibn ʿArabī [Wikipedia]

Muhammad Ibn 'Arabī translated by Michael Sells:

Gentle now,
doves of the thornberry and moringa thicket,
don't add to my heart-ache
your sighs.

Gentle now,
or your sad cooing
will reveal the love I hide
the sorrow I hide away.

I echo back, in the evening,
in the morning, echo,
the longing of a love-sick lover,
the moaning of the lost.

In a grove of tamarisks
spirits wrestled,
bending the limbs down over me,
passing me away.

They brought yearning,
breaking of the heart,
and other new twists of pain,
putting me through it.

Who is there for me in Jám',
and the Stoning-Place at Miná,
who for me at Tamarisk Grove,
or at the way-station of Na'mān?

Hour by hour
they circle my heart
in rapture, in love-ache,
and touch my pillars with a kiss.

As the best of creation
circled the Ka'ba,
which reason with its proofs
called unworthy,

And kissed the stones there –
and he was the Natiq!
And what is the house of stone
compared to a man or a woman?

They swore, and how often!
they'd never change – piling up vows.
She who dyes herself red with henna
is faithless.

A white-blazed gazelle
is an amazing sight,
red-dye signalling,
eyelids hinting,

Pasture between breastbones
and innards.
a garden among the flames!

My heart can take on
any form:
a meadow for gazelles,
a cloister for monks,

For the idols, sacred ground,
Ka'ba for the circling pilgrim,
the tables of the Torah,
the scrolls of the Qur'án.

I profess the religion of love;
wherever its caravan turns along the way,
that is the belief,
the faith I keep.

Like Bishr,
Hind and her sister,
love-mad Qays and his lost Láyla, 
Máyya and her lover Ghaylán.

Michael Sells

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