Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, by H.G. Raverty, , at sacred-texts.com
What pleasure shall the dead in heart take in beauty's display?
With Laylā's blandishments, what shall Majnūn's image do?
When, like unto the gazelle, they will not be familiar with any one,
What shall the effect of constancy with those bright eyes do?
The appliances of joy and pleasure were useless, unto the forsaken:
With the arrival of the morning's breeze, what shall the turban's chaplet do? *
Since, like unto the dawn of morning, his garment may be rent, †
How can one, as this so infamous, his condition conceal?
They never derive any share whatever of hands and feet,
What then shall the world of fishes with the ḥinnā's bright dye do? ‡
Folly and vanity have made thee lighter even than the bubble:
What shall the foaming of the ocean towards thy weight and power do?
Nourish not the hope, O Alexander! that it will to thee be constant:
Behold, what the vicissitudes of fortune shall unto Darius do!
By the violence of its ravages, the whole hath been to ruin brought,
Otherwise, in the desert, what doth the litter of its camel do?
Did he, like unto a falcon, soar in air, then it might avail;
But what shall the restraint of that net, now, unto Shaidā do?
Obtain for thy requirements the dun steed of the waves!
In the arena of the flood, practice the horsemanship of the waves!
The meek and humble, like the oyster, have the pearl acquired;
But naught of pearl's merchandise, beareth the caravan of the waves.
The lowly and humble are more powerful than the haughty and proud:
In the bonds of ocean, for ever confined, will be the rolling of the waves.
The obstinate and refractory are by the meek and humble subdued:
The ground-kisser unto the sea-shore is the tempest of the waves.
See, at what time they will swallow the dark earth altogether,
On the water's rolling throne seated, the kings of the waves.
Trouble not the inexperienced and incompetent with thy affairs:
For upon the target of the waters, become bent the arrows of the waves.
Woe and affliction are salutary to the mind of the heart-broken;
For firmly fixed, the flood upon, is the foundation of the waves.
They are the ups and downs of the world: O Shaidā, behold them!
Rising and falling, without ceasing, is the world of the waves!
Thou hast cast loose the dark tresses about that fair face of thine:
Thou hast, time after time, desolated the world's dwelling-places!
Thou hast not left one unscathed, the whole land within;
With the sword of amorous glances armed, whom now smitest thou?
Since from the sun of thy beauty, the veil hath been drawn aside,
The mart of love, the world within, thou wilt with bustle fill again.
Thou hast subdued the whole land with thy beauty and goodness:
Thy slaves thou wilt make all the fair ones of Hind. *
My phrenzy, O physician! will not in the least decrease:
Thine own rose thou wilt make even spring itself for me.
Since upon the target of the heart they so like straight ones strike,
How many wilt thou cause to groan from thine eyelashes’ crooked darts?
Worthless himself, thou wilt draw demented Shaidā to thy side again,
Shouldst thou even fill thy skirt with stones equal to a mountain in bulk.
Art thou come again in search of roses, thou seller of flowers!
That not a bird of the parterre ceaseth lamentation to make?
A bubble of the broad ocean is every one of its bells: *
The kar-wān † moveth along silently, this desert within.
In its desire to attain it, with its own blood it became tinged;
Yet still Both not the ruby reach unto the lobe of the ear?
Sometimes rising, sometimes falling, like the Pleiades they go:
How many inebriated ones have from thy banquet gone forth?
For thy sake, I would dye my garment of the colour of the rose;
Still, like unto perfume, it would from my bosom escape.
Draw near, and behold the black intoxication of her tresses,
That without the shoulder, ‡ cannot proceed a step on the road.
The heart of the vortex like unto a millstone might split;
Since fortune, towards Shaidā, hath so unrelenting become!
Everywhere the lords of love have become disgraced and dishonoured;
And neither tone nor harmony, absolutely, hath the rebeck of love.
Like as the dew, the mountain of Ḳāf it will displace also,
If the sun of love should rise over the head thereof.
What shall I say unto thee regarding this wave of calamity,
When equal to the firmament itself is the bubble of love?
That heart, which may for itself love's ermine acquire,
The vicissitudes of it are changed into peace and repose.
The thoughts of her, O Shaidā! will never leave my heart;
For such a countenance I have beheld in the dream of love!
Again thou bringest thy dishevelled tresses thy face about:
Or the hyacinth, in the spring, disordereth its curled petals.
It must have been the insolence of the comb, and the wind's pertness;
For the locks of the dear one are not without cause deranged.
Look at them! what a wondrous moon-like circle are they!
The curls wreathed round the face of that gay, but imperious one.
To-day, from the arena, a new source of evil hath come;
Since thou hast brought the curls of dust upon thy face.
Like unto the comb, acquire a conception discerning;
For the ringlets of my rhymes a hair-like fineness have.
Although, from their exceeding length, they reach the ground,
Still, through coquetry, they place not their feet straight the path upon.
In what way shall Shaidā become released from their noose,
When the curls, with a single hair, the lions of the forest bind?
In such manner, am I happy from the world apart,
That, like the forest's beasts, I am happy the desert within.
Rather than that I should behold the land of the sea-shore,
Like the billow, I am happy, wandering the waters upon.
When from the morsels thereon the hungry flies are driven,
With an invitation to that table, how can I happy be?
Since, like unto the sun's, its countenance is not warm,
I swear by thy head if, with the Ḥumā's shadow, * I am happy!
When, like unto the partridge, it confined me in a cage, †
Than such laughter, with lamentation, I am more happy by far.
Though, like unto a picture, it awakened not from its sleep,
In this state, O Shaidā! with mine own lot, I am happy.
Since, like the reed-pen, I have my head resigned,
I am now in search of these fair and charming ones.
This fire is from the glances of those bright eyes of thine,
Whereby I am burnt as black as those their dark lashes.
From the time when my heart became the home of these brunettes,
Behold me! I am, as it were, a new Hindūstān grown!
I vow by the hundred-times-rent vitals of the comb,
That I am more disordered even than the curls, in grief for thee!
From terror of the autumn, I am unable to look upon the rose:
I am shaking in this flower-garden, like the willow unto.
Though my flight is in the air; yet I was not released:
I am still of that graceful cypress the neck-enchained slave.
Like unto dust she carried me away, and showed no concern:
Of such a fiery steed as this, the attached skirt-holder am I.
With Indian requital, such acts she practiseth on me—
Me, Shaidā! who in heart am a poor simple Afghān of Roh. *
Since from their complainings, its bells have not ceased,
The caravan must still be wandering this desert within.
What can beauty's splendour, with defective sight effect?
The mirror itself is amazed and astonished at the world.
From their eyes' wildness their intimacy cannot be gained:
The herd of gazelles, at the sight of the shepherd, taketh to flight.
What! hath Farhad † caused the covey of partridges to weep,
That from the mountains they come ‡ with eyes all inflamed?
I perceive the manner of her gait, like unto the zephyr:
She is again stepping gracefully, and is on slaughter bent.
From the time I became occupied in regarding the spring,
Naught was gained by me thereby, save sorrow and regret.
Many were the wailings from its rose-trees’ every branch;
In sorrow and mourning for it, many were the garments rent. *
Like unto the waves, it riseth and falleth continually:
How then, from the world, canst thou aught of constancy hope?
Like unto the bubble, he wandereth in every direction, all forlorn;
Since Shaidā from his home and friends a wanderer became! †
Unto the trysting-place my charmer very slowly cometh;
And the verdant spring to the parterre very slowly cometh.
Now and then I perceive kindness beaming from her eyes:
Thou wouldst say that the languid ‡ ever very slowly cometh.
The dread of ill is a far greater slaughterer than ill itself:
The sanguinary one, to shed my blood very slowly cometh.
The partridge, for this reason, hath from laughing become purple,
That to make him her game, the graceful one very slowly cometh.
What! can separation, of his vigour, poor Farhad have deprived,
That the cries and wails from his mountain very slowly come? §
Under the weight of her majesty, the strength of Gulgūn §§ was lost;
Hence that Scythian ** of graceful mien very slowly cometh.
Give not utterance, O Shaidā, without reflection, to a word;
For every parrot, to speaking well, very slowly cometh.
Although every drop of dew should be the seed of a rose,
The nightingales’ hearts would not be satiated with beholding it.
When like unto that of the rose it hath not a face so lovely,
What shall one then do with the hyacinth's black locks?
About my dark destiny what shall I unto any one say?
For my forehead, like the sun's, is fit only to be branded. *
Is it the poor wayfarer hindered by night coming on,
Or my heart enthralled the noose of her tresses within? †
She hath made calamity's sword as sharp as fate itself:
With hands imbrued she goeth about, both night and day.
From the sea's cold-heartedness, the bubble bursteth and breaketh;
Hence it behoveth thee, O Shaidā! to abandon all hope from thy kin.
The habitations of this world behold, and begone!
A nest like that of the Phœnix behold, and begone! ‡
The old in years, like little infants sport and play:
This very wonderful spectacle behold, and begone!
Should the sun, O Ḥumā! upon my brow ever rest,
Do thou, in that case, my independence behold, and begone!
With the torch of thine own mind, in this darkness,
Lightning-like, the road to follow behold, and begone! *
The fish have no share in the benefit of hands or feet;
But their swimming in the waters behold, and begone!
The wine-flask's one short hour in the convivial party,
With this full mouth laughing, † behold, and begone!
Every day it deceiveth Shaidā with its friendship:
The friendship and constancy of fortune behold, and begone!
Without a meeting I shall not recover: come and sit by me!
Make thyself acquainted with my state: come and sit by me!
Even the wild by nature have, at last, become tamed:
O thou gazelle, by nature wild! come and sit by me!
At the desire of the nightingale, thou, faithless rose!
After a year comest splendid again; then come and sit by me!
Like one dying, from other wounds, I ease obtain:
No napkin do I ask of thee; then come and sit by me!
With those arched eyebrows, and eyes at all times dark—
Thou evening and new moon of thy lover, come and sit by me!
That we may together recall the days when we knew not sorrow,
For one short hour, dear friend! come and sit by me!
The charms and beauty of thy beloved, in sweetest strains rehearse,
O Shaidā! thou of imagination fine, come and sit by me!
No sooner did spring acquainted become, with garden and with mead,
Than with eyes inflamed from weeping, it was separated again from them.
When the gate of the caravansary of the bud shall become unclosed,
The caravan of dyes and perfumes departeth, and morning's breeze setteth in.
The smoke of a world consumed, by the name of sky thou termest:
Of thy erroneous idea what shall I say? it is mere illusion and error.
That which even yet remaineth a source of amazement to the world—
Even Majnūn's name, hath come to behold the spectacle I am.
From thy well-directed aim, the arrow was pointed so truly,
That thou wert, neither of its flight, nor of its wounding aware.
It is beyond all possibility, O foolish one! to people it again;
For the prosperous city of Shaidā's heart that was, hath utterly desolate become!
Thou hast again unclosed those lips of thine to speak,
Or the parrot hath, for its dole of sugar, come again.
Unto the lot of the dark-hearted falleth not ecstasy's gem: *
Where is the lump of steel? the burnished mirror where?
Like as the pearl-oyster, open it at once to bestow,
When the indigent, at thy door, may his hand stretch forth.
The rose of thy cheek is, for thy tresses, all sufficient:
Neither for attar, nor for ambergris, hath it any need.
They, of open countenance, manifest no awe of the great;
For the mirror looketh even Alexander straight in the face.
All praise be unto the nakedness of that bare head,
Which hath neither under turban nor diadem bent!
From warmth, like unto quicksilver, she fleeth from me:
How, then, shall come to Shaidā's arms that impassioned one?
Since I have turned my back home and family unto,
For other chattels or effects, what necessity have I?
That for ever smooth, and without wrinkle, thy forehead may be,
All these troubles make thou over unto the sovereign of Chīn. †
The blood of my own heart I am well pleased to drink;
For the fly never approacheth near unto this tray of mine.
It would not, with its consent, in the garden stay a moment:
’Tis well the thorn seized the rose's garment by the hem.
Do hearts then trip along in the direction of thy curls;
Or doth the caravan of Rūm * unto India wend its way?
How shall those eyes of thine a glance on the humble bestow,
When thine eyelashes, thro’ arrogance, to the heavens are upturned?
In those worldly dwellings of thine, may all happiness be;
But wandering Shaidā is going to the deserts and wilds!
Thou art welcome again thou fresh festival of spring! †
Thou hast brought joy unto every wild, and every bed of flowers!
Like unto the bird within a cage, the lovelorn nightingale,
Even whilst yet within the egg, longeth on the wing to be.
The folks’ garments have been dyed of such a saffron-like hue,
That every bird to the parterre, filled with laughter, hath come. ‡
Look at the rosy-bodied one in this garment arrayed,
Like unto the sun when he approacheth the time of his setting.
In the turban of every pilgrim a bouquet it will place,
When morning's dawn scattereth flowers into its own skirt.
The nightingale's heart towards the gaudy rose is inclined,
Or the flask hath approached the goblet, to pour out its wine. *
The rain of perspiration shall fall through shame therefrom,
When the lightning shall behold the gorgeous crop of flowers.
In the same manner as the rose, the beholders of this spring
Have not the least necessity for attar their garments upon.
The musician increaseth twofold wine's intoxicating strength,
When the bacchanals sit down the banquet to begin.
Why, O Shaidā! termest thou it, the oyster of the deep profound?
When the pearl unto thy sweet strains its ear hath given.
What peace, in this world, doth the heart acquire,
Which ever quaketh and trembleth from dread of fortune's ills?
Thro’ separation from the departed water, O thoughtless people!
Like the vortex, you have made strong your hearts, your breasts within.
Let not thy heart ever be unto this world's parterre given;
Since even the rose-bud, at last, left it heart-disordered behind.
Approach! behold the weeping of agony in tears of blood:
Like the wine-flask, my heart to shed blood I have brought.
The fissure therein, by the waters, was not filled up again;
And the whirlpool, like an anvil, hardened its heart unto pain.
Thou shalt, O Shaidā! for flight, wings and feathers acquire,
If thou in the nest, like the egg, thine heart pure and spotless make.
I possess none of the chattels of tranquillity, the encampment within;
Since I have a tent, like the bubble, upon the face of the deep.
If thou art not the owner of a single straw, grieve not thereat;
For then, the village-consuming fire will in thy Ḥaram * expire.
When thy face became bedewed with perspiration, by thy head I vow,
That therein the rose-scattering splendour of dew I beheld.
'When wert thou ever shrouded the veil of retirement within?
Thou art manifest in all the world, like a Phœnix unto.
Her eyes show not even as much regard towards me,
As the wild gazelle that looketh round ere it taketh to flight.
’Tis needless to apply any salve to my all-sufficient wound:
How can the recovery' of the slaughtered be brought about?
Morning and evening—day and night—with sable dress, and garment rent,
Like unto time itself, † in sorrow and mourning my existence is spent.
The beautiful lineaments of her face are most amazing:
In this writing there is no work soever for any one's pen.
His life perpetually from danger, how shall Shaidā guard;
When the snaky curls are in total darkness shrouded ever?
When thy beauty, like the sun's, bursteth forth,
My garment, like the morning's, becometh rent.
In the society of thee, my bright-checked one!
My whole body, like the candle's, melteth away.
That person shall never die, whose head shall be
Struck off, like the candle's, by the sword of love.
Thy curly locks have drawn my heart towards thee:
The fish, by the hook, are always from the water drawn.
Call him not, hard-hearted one! a statue of the hall,
Who in dust and blood writheth in death's agony.
When, throughout the night, the rain of tears falleth, *
From its effects at last appeareth the dawn of day. †
He hath no strength to complain, who is by thy curls stricken;
Like unto one by a snake stung, he is speechless rendered.
The desert will rend its garment's skirt to tatters,
Should the trembling one from thy bonds escape.
Graceful words shall they write, their tablets upon,
Whose hearts, like the pen's, may crack and split.
On this account, Shaidā cannot look upon a comb;
For the derangement of thy curly locks is seen therein.
In the rolling of thine eyes the universe may have sunk,
Or its inhabitants may be submerged in the eddies of a flood.
Since they showed no mortification at thy lips and teeth;
Why should not the coral and pearl thus be in ocean engulphed?
I am a cotemporary of the water of those good blades,
Whose eyelashes may ever be in bloody tears submerged. *
Good men hold it far preferable to the perspiration of shame,
That they may be swallowed in Æummān's dark waves. †
What would the simpleton and dolt from Mānī ‡: acquire,
Though his pencil may be dipped in the rainbow's every hue?
Upon the raft of the bier unto the shore will approach,
The kings who may have sunk in the throne's troubles and cares.
O Shaidā! no effort to escape maketh the master-mariner,
Whose eyes may be submerged the ocean of tears within.
Since, like the sun, thou art the possessor of gold and silver,
Why art thou standing, every morning, at the door of others?
As with the candle, no one for my redemption endeavoureth;
And thou, like the snuffers, art a seeker after my head.
As doth shadow on the sun's setting, follow the eyes’ dark shade,
If thou, for a pretty one, with sunny face, a candidate art!
By the slaughter of whom wilt thou, of roseate hue, thy garment dye,
That, to-day again, thy waist, like the rose-bud's, is girded?
Like unto mince-meat, wound after wound I receive;
Then, wherefore art thou of my state and my case unaware?
Thou didst depart like the bubble on the back of the flood
Than myself, O my home! a greater wanderer art thou!
Thou beautiful brunette! O thou of figure so graceful!
The straight and verdant pine, of whose grove art thou?
If in adversity thou bendest not thine head unto any one,
In the loftiness of thy spirit, like a dark beetling mountain art thou.
O Shaidā! thou art that parrot with Indian disposition endowed,
That art with the confection of thine own words’ roses content.
308:* A chaplet in the turban, when withered, cannot be revived.
308:† The break of day is termed the rending of the dark garment of night.
308:‡ See second note at page 195.
311:* The necks of camels and other animals in a caravan of travellers are ornamented with bells.
311:† A caravan.
311:‡ The simile here refers to the long tresses resting upon the shoulder for support.
313:* See note at page 137.
313:† The bartavelle, a large bird of the partridge species, is kept on account of its sound, compared to laughter; as also is the common bird.
314:* See note at page 263.
314:† The name of a famous Persian statuary, the lover of Shīrīn, wife of Khusrau Parwez, king of Persia, and daughter of the Greek Emperor Maurice, who, to please his mistress, dug through an immense mountain. This is the subject of a poem by Nizāmī, one of the most famous and the sweetest of Persian poets. See also note at page 87.
314:‡ The eyes of the Chikor, a species of partridge here referred to, are of a deep red colour, as also are its legs. See note on preceding page.
315:* The rent garments refer to the leaves the roses have shed.
315:† See memoir of the poet, at page 307.
315:‡ The glances of the sleepy, languid eyes of a mistress.
315:§ See note at page 129.
315:§§ The name of the steed of Shīrīn, the beloved of Farhad.
315:** See note (§) at page 129.
316:* The spots in the sun's disc are compared to brands; and it used to be the custom with the Afghān tribes to brand the forehead of a child born in an unfortunate or unlucky hour, to drive misfortune away.
316:† The heart is the wayfarer here, and night the dark hair of the beloved.
316:‡ Its nest is not to be found, neither a permanent home in this world.
317:* The lightning is supposed to obtain a glimpse of its own road from the light of its own flash.
317:† The gurgling of a full wine-flask is said to be its laughter.
319:* A state of ecstasy to which the Ṣūfis are supposed to attain when the world and all things worldly vanish. See Introductory Remarks, page xiii.
319:† The eastern name of China. Chīn in Persian also signifies a wrinkle, hence the play upon words.
320:* The people of Ram, or Asia Minor, are ruddy in complexion, and the heart is also red. The people of India are dark, so are the curls of the beloved. These are the metaphors used by the poet here.
320:† A festival observed by the ancient Persians and by the Hindūs, which season, among the latter people, is personified under the name of Basanta, who is said to attend on Kāma, the god of love. It is usual in the Panjāb and vicinity, on this day, for the Hindūs to dress in saffron-coloured garments, called also basantī, Krishna's favourite colour.
320:‡ Saffron, it is said, will cause a person to laugh to death.
321:* The nightingale sings on account of the rose which is red; and the metaphor here is, that, by its gurgle, the wine-flask is as though singing to pour forth the red wine.
322:* The most sacred part of a palace or dwelling, the seraglio, or woman's apartments.
322:† Time assumes the black dress of darkness in the evening, and its garment is rent at the dawn of day.
323:* The night of sorrow.
323:† The morn of relief or joy.
324:* The curved shape of the scimitar is likened unto the eyelashes of the fair.
324:† The gulf of Persia so called.
324:‡ See note at page 287.