Here to return to
The several Spellings of some Proper Names, especially the Prophet’s, in Memoir and Appendix, must be excused by the several Writers they are quoted from.
Whose Fount of Joy renews the Lover’s Tongue,
Thy Shadow falls across the World, and They
Bow down to it; and of the Rich in Beauty
Thou art the Riches that make Lovers mad.
Not till thy Secret Beauty through the Cheek
Of LAILA smite does she inflame MAJNÚN,
And not till Thou have sugar’d SHÍRÍN’s Lip
The Hearts of those Two Lovers fill with Blood.
For Lov’d and Lover are not but by Thee,
Nor Beauty; — Mortal Beauty but the Veil
Thy Heavenly hides behind, and from itself
Feeds, and our Hearts yearn after as a Bride
That glances past us Veil’d — but ever so
As none the Beauty from the Veil may know.
How long wilt thou continue thus the World
To cozen with the Fantom of a Veil
From which Thou only peepest? — Time it is
To unfold thy perfect Beauty. I would be
Thy Lover, and Thine only — I, mine Eyes
Seal’d in the Light of Thee to all but Thee,
Yea, in the Revelation of Thyself
Self-Lost, and Conscience — quit of Good and Evil.
Thou movest under all the Forms of Truth,
Under the Forms of all Created Things;
Look whence I will, still nothing I discern
But Thee in all the Universe, in which
Thyself Thou dost invest, and through the Eyes
Of MAN, the subtle Censor scrutinize.
To thy Harím DIVIDUALITY
No Entrance finds — no Word of THIS and THAT;
Do Thou my separate and Derivéd Self
Make one with thy Essential! Leave me room
On that Divin which leaves no Room for Two;
Lest, like the Simple Kurd of whom they tell,
I grow perplext, Oh God! ‘twixt “I” and “THOU;”
If I — this Dignity and Wisdom whence?
If THOU — then what this abject Impotence?
A Kurd perplext by Fortune’s Frolics
Left his Desert for the City.
Sees a City full of Noise and
Clamour, agitated People,
Hither, Thither, Back and Forward
Running, some intent on Travel,
Others home again returning,
Right to Left, and Left to Right,
Kurd, when he beholds the Turmoil,
Creeps aside, and, Travel-weary,
Fain would go to Sleep; “But,” saith he,
“How shall I in all this Hubbub
“Know myself again on waking?”
So by way of Recognition
Ties a Pumpkin round his Foot,
And turns to Sleep. A Knave that heard him
Crept behind, and slily watching
Slips the Pumpkin off the Sleeper’s
Ancle, ties it round his own,
And so down to sleep beside him.
By and by the Kurd awaking
Looks directly for his Signal —
Sees it on another’s Ancle —
Cries aloud, “Oh Good-for-Nothing
“Rascal to perplex me so!
“That by you I am bewilder’d,
“Whether I be I or no!
“If I — the Pumpkin why on You?
“If YOU — then Where am I, and WHO?”
Oh God! this poor bewilder’d Kurd am I,
Than any Kurd more helpless! — Oh, do thou
Strike down a Ray of Light into my Darkness!
Turn by thy Grace these Dregs into pure Wine,
To recreate the Spirits of the Good!
Or if not that, yet, as the little Cup
Whose Name I go by, not unworthy found
To pass thy salutary Vintage round!
II.And yet how long, Jámi, in this Old House
Stringing thy Pearls upon a Harp of Song?
Year after Year striking up some new Song,
The Breath of some Old Story? Life is gone,
And yet the Song is not the Last; my Soul
Is spent — and still a Story to be told!
And I, whose Back is crookéd as the Harp
I still keep tuning through the Night till Day!
That Harp untun’d by Time — the Harper’s hand
Shaking with Age — how shall the Harper’s hand
Repair its cunning, and the sweet old Harp
Be modulated as of old? Methinks
‘Tis time to break and cast it in the Fire;
Yea, sweet the Harp that can be sweet no more,
To cast it in the Fire — the vain old Harp
That can no more sound Sweetness to the Ear,
But burn’d may breathe sweet Attar to the Soul,
And comfort so the Faith and Intellect,
Now that the Body looks to Dissolution.
My Teeth fall out — my two Eyes see no more
Till by Feringhi Glasses turn’d to Four;
Pain sits with me sitting behind my knees,
From which I hardly rise unhelpt of hand;
I bow down to my Root, and like a Child
Yearn, as is likely, to my Mother Earth,
With whom I soon shall cease to moan and weep,
And on my Mother’s Bosom fall asleep.
The House in Ruin, and its Music heard
No more within, nor at the Door of Speech,
Better in Silence and Oblivion
To fold me Head and Foot, remembering
What that BELOVED to the Master whispered —
“No longer think of Rhyme, but think of ME!” —
Of WHOM? — of HIM whose Palace THE SOUL IS,
And Treasure-House — who notices and knows
Its Income and Out-going, and then comes
To fill it when the Stranger is departed.
Whose Shadow being KINGS — whose Attributes
The Type of Theirs — their Wrath and Favour His
Lo! in the Celebration of His Glory
The KING Himself come on me unaware,
And suddenly arrests me for his own.
Wherefore once more I take — best quitted else
The Field of Verse, to chaunt that double Praise,
And in that Memory refresh my Soul
Until I grasp the Skirt of Living Presence.
One who travel’d in the Desert
Saw MAJNÚN where he was sitting
All alone like a Magician
Tracing Letters in the Sand.
“Oh distracted Lover! writing
“What the Sword-wind of the Desert
“Undecyphers soon as written,
“So that none who travels after
“Shall be able to interpret!” —
MAJNÚN answer’d, “I am writing
“‘LAILI’ — were it only ‘LAILI,’
“Yet a BOOK of Love and Passion;
“And, with but her Name to dote on,
“Amorously I caress it
“As it were Herself, and sip
“Her Presence till I drink her Lip.”
When Night had thus far brought me with my Book,
In middle Thought Sleep robb’d me of myself;
And in a Dream Myself I seem’d to see,
Walking along a straight and even Road,
And clean as is the Soul of the Sufí;
A Road whose spotless Surface neither Breeze
Lifted in Dust, nor mix’d the Rain to Mire.
There I, methought, was pacing tranquilly,
When, on a sudden, the tumultuous Shout
Of Soldiery behind broke on mine Ear,
And took away my Wit and Strength for Fear.
I look’d about for Refuge, and Behold!
A Palace was before me; whither running
For Refuge from the coming Soldiery,
Suddenly from the Troop a Sháhzemán,
By Naine and Nature HASAN — on the Horse
Of Honour mounted — robed in Royal Robes,
And wearing a White Turban on his Head,
Turn’d his Rein tow’rd me, and with smiling Lips
Open’d before my Eyes the Door of Peace.
Then, riding up to me, dismounted; kiss’d
My Hand, and did me Courtesy; and I,
How glad of his Protection, and the Grace
He gave it with! — Who then of gracious Speech
Many a Jewel utter’d; but of these
Not one that in my Ear till Morning hung.
When, waking on my Bed, my waking Wit
I question’d what the Vision meant, it answered;
“This Courtesy and Favour of the Shah
Foreshadows the fair Acceptance of thy Verse,
Which lose no moment pushing to Conclusion.”
This hearing, I address’d me like a Pen
To steady Writing; for perchance, I thought,
From the same Fountain whence the Vision grew
The Interpretation also may come True.
Breathless ran a simple Rustic
To a Cunning Man of Dreams;
“Lo, this Morning I was dreaming —
“And methought, in yon deserted
“Village wander’d — all about me
“Shatter’d Houses — and, Behold!
“Into one, methought, I went — and
“Search’d — and found a Hoard of Gold!”
Quoth the Prophet in Derision,
“Oh Thou Jewel of Creation,
“Go and sole your Feet like Horse’s,
“And returning to your Village
“Stamp and scratch with Hoof and Nail,
“And give Earth so sound a Shaking,
“She must hand you something up.”
Went at once the unsuspecting
Countryman; with hearty Purpose
Set to work as he was told;
And, the very first Encounter,
Struck upon his Hoard of Gold!
Until Thou hast thy Purpose by the Hilt,
Catch at it boldly — or Thou never wilt.