Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, by H.G. Raverty, , at sacred-texts.com
Either the ḥinnā * hath been unto thy white hands applied,
Or they have been made red in the blood of thy lover.
I am unable, O dear one! to endure thy glance's fire;
For I am weak, and infirm, and powerless, altogether.
Those languid eyes of thine have many in misery plunged:
It would be well, my beloved! shouldst thou their tyranny restrain.
Thy stricken ones, without union with thee, revive not again,
Though Abū-Sinā † himself to prescribe for them should come.
Those sable locks of thine are like unto spring's lowering clouds;
And from them shineth out thy countenance, like the sun.
Thy fascinated ones are entangled in the noose of thy ringlets;
But the wise bird upon the net can no confidence place.
The equal to thy beauty is not in the wide world to be found;
Whilst my poor heart breaketh at the affluence thou enjoyest.
Thou art celebrated throughout the world for thy benevolence too;
Wherefore, then, givest thou not ear unto Khwājah's complainings?
Separation from thee, O my friend! hath made me so disconsolate,
That naught in me remaineth, but misery and woe!
The ensanguined tears chase each other down my cheeks
My heart is rent to atoms, and my breast is all consumed.
The clear colour of my face dependeth upon thy existence;
And now, without thee, it is colourless, and tinged with blood.
I was unacquainted with the world's profits and losses—benefits and ills:
By the sight of thyself, without wine thou didst inebriate me.
Though I yearn and long for it, I cannot procure it in the world:
The rapturous sight of thee is become unattainable to me.
I become immersed therein: at times I sink; at times I rise again;
But out of the vortex of the ocean of thy love I cannot emerge.
The whole country unto me hath dark become without thee;
O thou, the bright sun among all saints and holy men!
Thou art a mighty river, in waves and billows rolling;
But no one drinketh one mouthful from the mighty stream.
My mind will not become comforted by any other person,
Than by thee only; O thou, of all poles now the pole * unto me!
I was wont to say, that in life we always together should be;
For I was utterly ignorant regarding the dread torrent of death.
The extent of thy goodness, my beloved! was beyond computation;
For thou didst not, from the veil, thy countenance to any one show.
Thou wert the altar of the aspirations and exigencies of all!
For at the threshold of the Highest, acceptable were thy prayers.
I would relate unto thee the wondrous works of the ravishers of the heart,
But I know naught concerning it—they abstract it from my breast.
I will bear whatever cruelty the beloved may heap upon me:
God forbid that any one recreant unto love should be found!
I obtain no relief, even though in her service my life I lay down;
For my heart still reproacheth me, that I have not done enough.
There is no such cool water, whereby my thirst shall be quenched;
And I shall thus wander, with breast on fire, till time shall end.
I shed floods of tears, but she showeth no sympathy towards me:
Let not any one, O God! a mistress have, so cruel and unkind!
This also, both high and low, great and small, will understand—
When doth any one, without being ailing, unto the physician go?
The afflictions of the sick they increase: there is no cure for them;
For there are no skilful physicians remaining: they have all left the land!
Happy are the whole and the healthy, that need not medicine;
For those, with this malady afflicted, obtain no ease to their pain.
"I have meted unto every one his destiny," so the Ḳur’ān saith:
Who then shall change the lot He unto Khwājah Muḥammad assigned?
Shouldst thou become the possessor of the world's throne and sceptre,
Be not arrogant! for in the end thou wilt be plundered and despoiled.
All will be equally on a par, one with the other, after death,
Whether it be the beggar, the wealthy man, or the prince.
Since thy place, at last, is the dark earth beneath,
Manifest neither gladness nor predilection for the world's affairs.
It will become shattered to atoms by the stones of death,
To whatever degree thou mayest the body's glass vessel guard.
If thou considerest it thy duty, the necessities of the poor to relieve,
The Almighty will never let thee be under necessity unto any one.
When a friend presenteth himself, show thy bounty to the utmost;
Since there are merely these five days of existence for thee.
Adorn thy piety by good actions and praiseworthy deeds;
For a bride without adornment and jewels ’tis unusual to see.
The whole of this darkness shall be expelled from thine heart,
If thou lightest up within it, the lamp of love divine.
When are such things brought about by armies or by legions,
As are accomplished by the fervid enthusiasm of love?
If the lover be small in stature, but be great in heart,
Then of what use is Æāj's gigantic stature unto him? *
Love hath brought dishonour, both in this world and the next,
Upon one Majnūn; † upon another Manṣūr, Ḥillāj's son. ‡
What would the sportsman in the forest know concerning it,
If the partridge did not acquaint him by so loudly calling?
The fame of Kasrā's § justice hath unto all time remained,
But tyranny's scar remaineth branded Ḥujāj's forehead upon. §§
The unfinished and incomplete woof of the world's warp behold!
The weaver by no means soever can it to perfection bring!
If thou art a lover, of slander and aspersion have no fear!
But become thou the target of every one's arrow of reproach.
What are the sins of Khwājah Muḥammad in the eye of God,
When the ocean of His mercy in waves of beneficence rolleth?
How much longer, O base one! for the world's love wilt thou wander?
Quaff of the inebriating cup of love divine, that both sugar and honey is!
O thou, its seeker! about the, world to come, that is eternal, be concerned!
Place not thy affections on the transient world, tho’ all its dust were gold!
But the counsel of monitors taketh no effect whatever upon thee;
For like unto a breast-work round thine heart, is the love of the world!
Happy the inspired, who are filled with the remembrance of the beloved!
The general world are unacquainted with the raptures and bliss thereof!
The Perfect One's praise is the embellisher of the mouth, if thou art wise:
Come, polish the mirror of thine heart from the tarnishing dust thereon!
O, what rapture have those lovers that drink of the wine of love!
With the beloved, solely occupied, they are free from all griefs and woes!
Cast away, O Khwājah Muḥammad! both life and goods for it;
But for a tittle of the perfect saint's pain and affliction pray!
Entertain not, O brother! great friendship towards the world:
Dost thou not, the raids of separation, on all sides perceive?
’Tis to depart and pass away: the world is not thy tarrying place:
Whether king or beggar, all will certainly to the grave go down!
Whether the prelate, or the priest, or the accomplished in learning,
Not one, by any contrivance, shall from death's debt escape!
They who are by sanctity inspired, pursue not mundane love;
With that of the Beloved One, there is no love to be compared!
Since thou showest such yearning after the world's greatness,
What is it after all? reflect well, and of thy dear friends think!
I was calmly reposing in my abode, along with my beloved,
When the horsemen of separation carried me hand-bound away!
All my loved ones, from time to time, have been taken from me:
The tablets of my heart have been blotted all over by grief!
I, Khwājah Muḥammad, in bereavement's flame, consume;
Hence sighs and lamentations, irrepressibly, issue from my mouth!
Since He created thee for well-doing and virtuous actions,
It behoveth not, O man! that thou shouldst evil commit.
Unto the Creator, day and night, render due meed of praise:
Let it not be that thou for a moment fail in doing so!
Upon the throne of contentment sit, and a sovereign become;
And under what obligation wilt thou then, to lord or chieftain be?
The world's duration is but short: it will soon pass away!
If thou art anxious as to thy award hereafter, now is thy time!
Be prudent, and do not the world's transient pleasures pursue!
Let it not be that the prosperous be ruined by the adverse. *
The torrent of death hath carried whole peoples away;
Then what stay canst thou make upon the face of the flood?
Thou wilt be awakened, at last, by the herald's summons,
Notwithstanding thou mayest upon the softest couch repose!
In no way shalt thou be able the toils of death to escape,
Even shouldst thou with seventy thousand screens thyself surround!
Since sweet existence is ever melting like unto snow away,
How much longer, with harp and rebeck, wilt thou revel and rejoice?
Sometimes the green corn is cut down; sometimes the ripe:
What dependence canst thou place, then, upon youthfulness or age?
Fear, O Khwājah Muḥammad! fear, fear for thyself!
There, what answer wilt thou make, if the Almighty question thee?
The hopes of Khwājah Muḥammad are upon Thy mercy placed:
If Thou rebukest him he hath not the power to reply!
If thou takest into consideration the many favours of the Almighty,
When wilt thou be able, for even one of them, fitting thanks to return?
One of the favours He hath bestowed upon thee is Islām's true faith:
The other, that He hath placed thee the great Ḥumā's shadow * beneath.
Let it not happen, that in the end, thou shouldst lament about that,
For which, like the nightingale, thou constantly sacrificest thyself.
The world shall embrace thy feet and thy hands with affection,
If thou make thyself the dust of the feet of holy men.
Thou shalt, at that time, attain unto the object of thy wishes,
When thou shalt make thy life and goods an oblation unto them.
It behoveth thee to consider each respiration as the last;
For death many people hath homeless and desolate made.
Mankind come into the world, and soon from it depart:
How canst thou then place any hope upon this transient abode?
But I will eschew even the sovereignty of the world itself,
If Thou make Khwājah Muḥammad a beggar, at his loved one's door.
If thou possessest the love and regard of the Almighty,
Thou wilt tear thyself away both from brother and from friend.
Like unto Majnūn, thou wilt begin in wilds to wander:
Thou wilt never take account of the thorns and brambles by the way.
Until thou castest not off entirely all thy superfluous flesh,
O contender in the race! thou wilt never reach the goal.
Day and night thou pursuest this transient world,
And hast, O foolish one! turned from the immortal away.
At last, He will take away from thee, by force, for ever,
This borrowed garment, * that is so very precious unto thee.
The beasts of the field, when grazing, eat not up every herb,
But thou turnest not away thy face from any one thing.
Until it shall be melted the saint-like teacher's crucible within,
Thou wilt not be able to separate this silver from its tin alloy.
Notwithstanding, before him, thou mayest the beloved praise;
Still, thou canst not manhood from the impotent hope.
I, Khwājah Muḥammad, am immersed in the ocean of grief,
If thou, my master! wilt save me from this raging flood.
Give ear, O brother! unto the request I make unto thee:—
Be not, by the contemptible deception of the world, led astray!
By its deceit, it maketh people despiteful unto each other:
It passeth around a golden cup with deadliest poison filled.
The millstones of fate, round the heads of mankind revolve;
And some time or other, the turn for thy head shall come.
By the severe bridle of fasting, curb the lusts of the flesh;
For with a halter thou wilt be unable, this steed to restrain.
The object of food is to keep body and soul together, and no more,
Although thou mayest have in thy possession all sorts of things.
To clothe the body is necessary, and it behoveth us so to do,
Though but two or three yards of blanket or of canvas it be.
Thy every breath is a pearl and coral of inestimable price:
Be careful, therefore, and guard every respiration well!
Let the whole of thy words be conformable with thy deeds;
And in no wise in vain and foolish conversation indulge!
Tell me what extent of torment thou wilt be able to bear;
And commit no more sin than may be equivalent thereunto.
By the rain of spring will become all saturated at last,
The paper dress in which thou mayest have clothed thyself.
Unto the money-changer, its exterior and interior will be known;
Notwithstanding thou shouldst, with gold, brass ever so enwrap.
The bead of this arrow will not come out from thy bones,
Until thy flesh shall have been by the sharp diamond incised. *
It was because he made use of words of arrogance and pride,
That Satan himself was wholly from God's mercy debarred.
Without doubt, all good and all misfortune are from the Almighty:
Wherefore then unto doubt, givest thou a place in thine heart?
In thy ways indeed, thou art still more silly than children,
Even now that thy years are beyond forty and fifty passed.
Shouldst thou drink one mouthful from the cup of love,
Like unto Khizr † and Mihtar Iliyās, ‡ thou wilt never die!
I am filled with terror and dismay, beyond all bounds;
For the Tempter waylayeth me before and on every side!
I, Khwājah Muḥammad, am prostrate at thy threshold,
If thou, O my master! wilt but take me by the hand!
The love of the world hath made thee so insensate,
That thou hast wholly forgotten the duties of religion.
Like unto the cat, thou art ever upon the watch:
Thou art of no use soever to any one, save the rat.
Outwardly, thou hast clothed thyself in sanctity's dress,
O deceiver! thou vender of barley, but shower of wheat!
When the opportunity hath passed away, then wilt thou grieve;
And when the cup of death shall be given thee to quaff.
Thou hearest with thine ears the cries of the outcast;
And the cries at thy decease too, shall reach others’ ears.
Mankind He hath created to walk in righteousness’ ways:
Thou art not a beast; then not sinfully, but worthily act!
When thou leavest the body's house, take viaticum with thee;
For there, O beloved! are no means for obtaining it.
Thou art a pilgrim, and wilt depart: anxious therefore be:
Bind up thine effects, and reflect upon the long journey before!
The path in front the Tempter haunteth: go not alone!
Arise! search about thee! and thy companions select!
If one, even with every effort, cannot the goal attain;
No man can reach it without striving so to do.
Every morning and evening raise thy voice unto God!
Tears of blood shed in the depth of thy heart's emotion!
All other love, save one, is naught but deadly poison:
From the cupbearer's goblet, then, joyfully take one draught!
Groan and lament, but so that no one may hear thee!
Remember thy beloved in thine heart, but with silent lips!
The world is black, and maketh man's face so too at last;
But drink thou the wine of love, and red-faced become! *
Without anxiety, O Khwājah Muḥammad! sleep not;
Since thou hast been by death's repeated warnings apprised!
I, Khwājah Muḥammad, am of sins and offences full;
But, O hider of faults! I place my trust in Thee!
From all ills, shield Thou me, O God, my Protector!
For save Thee, there is none other, my Protector!
Unto Thee I have intrusted the affairs of both worlds:
Of all things, both of faith and country, Thou art the Protector!
The flesh and the devil, alas! waylay me everywhere:
I have no means of escape, save through Thee, O Protector!
Of the world's calamities and woes, I shall have no dread;
Since, everywhere, Thou art my shield from ill, O Protector!
When I draw near unto Thee, go Thou before, O my guide!
For on this road I have no other friend but Thee, O Protector!
Every morn I cry unto Thee: with Thee I for union yearn;
Then, one morn, accept the prayer of my heart, O Protector!
Upon sinful Khwājah Muḥammad Thy love bestow,
That he may ever praise and call upon thy name, O Protector!
Wherefore dost thou not follow righteousness, O my stony heart!
When thy beloved friends, one after the other, continually disappear?
O Thou! who hast bound so many loads upon thy back, and set out—
How wilt thou pass along the path in front, so narrow and confined?
Burn thyself and become ashes, if thou truly lovest the beloved:
Draw near, O suitor! learn thou from the moth true love!
Give up this world! leave it to the negligent and the remiss!
From heedlessness’ dark film, make thou the mirror bright!
The garment's hem of my patron saint, I have, with both hands seized:
In the conflict with the flesh and the devil I shall conquer perhaps.
As the breath of the charmer to the afflicted, such is a sight of thee:
I will become thy sacrifice, thou anchorite at the loved-one's door!
Let both my life and goods be an oblation, O mediator! unto thee;
But the face of the beloved, so beautiful, show thou unto me!
Rivers have overflowed, and distant lands have become flooded;
But, alas! of thirst I die, at the brink of a mighty stream!
Give not away, wholly, to sorrow, O Khwājah Muḥammad!
For the Perfect One will confer honour upon the servants at His gate!
Unto the whole and healthy, I am unable of my heart's state to speak;
And should I not tell it, I am unable its pain to endure.
To this degree I am become a reproach all people amongst,
That I am altogether unable out of my own house of sorrow to go.
From grief, on account of slander, I am fallen, with eyes closed;
For through shame, I am unable to look any one in the face.
My throat hath become so embittered by the cup of separation,
That I cannot taste aught of the sweetness of this world.
I cannot make my beloved acquainted with my condition;
For through fear of the kill-joy, I am unable my case to state.
I would leave the beloved, and depart to a far distant land;
But I am unable in any way the bonds of affection to break.
The tears of separation flow so continually down my cheeks,
That I cannot upon my eyeballs retain the image of my beloved.
Like the tulip, * the blood of my own vitals I am ever consuming;
For I, Khwājah Muḥammad, am unable, openly, to speak.
But I am altogether a recreant and a speaker of falsehood;
Since, to the love of the beloved, I cannot my life devote.
I am a complainant against absence: a complainant am I!
For it separated me, weeping and wailing, my loved-one from!
My love is the immortal soul, and I the form containing it;
And from its soul, the separation of the body is bitter indeed!
My very vitals have become entirely consumed in the flames:
Alas! alas! O separation! what dost thou require of me?
I am not criminal, that I grieve and complain so much:
’Tis that my heart is broken, and my breast with fire consumed!
If prosperity attend me in all other things, what shall I do with them?
For without thee, the whole world hath become desolate to me!
The anguish of my heart, on thy account, every moment increaseth
Henceforth of remedy or cure I shall quite hopeless become!
The physicians neglected to make her acquainted with my case;
And, at the Last Day, I will seize them by the collars therefore!
O Khwājah Muḥammad! make thou resignation thy daily task:
Entertain no hope that, from this world, thou shalt constancy find!
Since according to my desire thou never tamest unto me,
Say, say, O relentless fate! in what I have offended thee!
Show thou no yearnings for the greatness of this world;
For many tribes, at death's wail, have desolate become!
Those dear friends, who were like spring's flowers unto,
In the sultry heats of autumn, grew withered, and decayed.
They are all now prostrate fallen, the dank earth upon,
Who, with turbans placed so jauntily, rode their fiery steeds.
And they who were wont upon the couches of the fair to lie—
Of their deaths, many anniversaries have come and passed away.
Those youths and fair maidens are now buried in the dust,
Whose hands were still more soft than even velvet itself.
The excellent of their time have passed from the world away,
Around whom their disciples gathered their discourses to hear.
Upon what wound of mine will the physicians salve apply?
For, with the diamonds * of separation I am all covered with wounds.
When I call to mind the pleasant meetings of friends so dear,
I, Khwājah Muḥammad weep, but not for any crime.
The whole of my grief is love for thee, love, love for thee!
My heart is to atoms broken: it hath become blood, all blood!
My very vitals are become gorged with red, red blood,
Though clothed in garments outwardly white, all white!
Thou inflictest fresh wounds upon me, again and again,
Altho’ of my former ones unhealed are many, very many!
Thou hast not shown aught of kindness in life towards me:
Of what use shouldst thou do so, when I die, when I die!
Thou hast expelled me entirely from the garden, my love!
And the black crows, within it consume the ripe, ripe fruit!
Thy dark tresses have the whole land with fragrance filled:
Thy curls are as the musk-pods of Chin, all perfume, all perfume!
Those sleepy eyes of thine are lions, both fierce and ravenous;
For they bear away Khwājah Muḥammad unto death, cruel death!
Since thou art the sovereign over the whole of the fair,
Inquire after the condition of the wretched and distressed!
Break not hearts! for they are rubies of Badakhshān
It is difficult to repair such broken things again!
My heart and soul are entirely bound up in love for thee;
Look then, these thine own heart-bound ones upon!
The flowers of the parterre have all revived thereby;
For the zephyr hath come from the nosegay of thy face.
When they beheld, with their eyes, thy stature and figure,
The waists of all the adorned ones crooked became.
They have deprived me altogether of sense and understanding—
Those gentle, tender words of thine, so pleasant and so sweet.
My head than the seventh heaven shall be higher exalted,
If thou makest me one of the sitters in thy court.
Like unto thee, there is none other of disposition so noble;
Didst thou, indeed, from the angels this nature acquire?
The heart of Khwājah that thus speaketh, hath been carried away
By the wiles and persuasion of those closed-mouthed ones.
Life and goods, as an oblation to them, will I give;
For I, Khwājah Muḥammad, am the disciple of the fair!
They, who were enamoured of the red roses of the parterre,
Have now the nightingales of grief and sorrow become.
With cries and lamentations thou grievest for them;
Since the roses have all been scattered by autumn's dread blast.
They, who were then intoxicated with the flowers’ perfume,
Have now become requited by separation's dread pangs.
Their pastimes and their laughter were apart from the world:
The world's pleasures and joys became deadly poison to them.
As yet, they had not tasted of union's sweet fruit,
When loving friends became severed in sorrow and grief.
For a few short days, the bliss of conjunction they enjoyed;
But now years of separation have their portion become.
Should they now flee from destiny, they cannot escape;
Since grief is the portion of lovers from the beginning of time.
The physicians of the age, if they are cognizant of much,
How are they thus so ignorant of Khwājah Muḥammad's pangs?
With sighs and with groans, I will lament unceasingly;
For I ever long that the hour of my union were come!
Many youths and maidens have the dark dust's captives become,
The fair faces of whom are the source of the grief of our hearts!
Place not your hopes upon this transient world, for ’tis no permanent abode!
The whole of us, each in his own good time, shall follow after them!
They who were the great men of the land, and possessed the wealth thereof;
From the world have wholly disappeared, both name and trace of them.
They, before whom the poor were wont in humility to stand,
In the tomb, on their backs fallen, have now mouldered away.
For munificence and for justice their names still remain,
Though Hāt̤im Tā-yī *, and Nosherwān † have long from the world departed.
Neither by power, nor by entreaty is there any escape from death:
Happy the sanctified, who are occupied with eternal things!
My heart hath become rent to atoms by the diamond * of separation;
For, one after the other, all my dear friends have been severed from me.
All must hence depart: for what can Khwājah Muḥammad hope,
When holy and venerated prophets have unto the dust gone down?
Fruitlessly in the world thy lifetime thou hast passed,
Whether it extended unto sixty, or unto eighty years!
The fortunate have carried away advantage from it;
But thou, save evil, hast no other result acquired!
The friends of thy acquaintance have all gone from thee;
And still thou perceivest it not, O man, with open eyes asleep!
When grief and sorrow man afflict, he sleepeth not:
Art thou a beast, or a man of human parents born?
Thy fathers and grandfathers all hath death cut off;
And thou, above all others, wilt not alone escape!
Alive in the world not one will remain behind:
No one can have taken on himself thy obligations to fulfil!
Thy beard from age is white, and thy back is bent:
How much longer then canst thou expect erect to remain?
Thy sixty years have passed, and thou art old become;
Yet thou accountest thyself of the age of fourteen still!
If thou art wise, turn devotee, and the world forsake;
For they who this life choose, are in both worlds free!
The veil of scepticism from thy face draw aside;
And unto the Master's will let thy assent be given!
Become thou the servant at the wine-sellers’ door,
That wine from the cup of love be given unto thee!
Thou One and Only God! unto righteousness direct me,
That, the straight path upon, I may come unto Thee!
If I have evil committed, a rude slave consider me;
And pardon me, according to Thine own peculiar way!
When man giveth aught to another, again he taketh it;
But Thou art God, and takest not back thy gifts again!
O Thou all-possessing Deity! the sinner Khwājah Muḥammad free!
For the rich always grant liberty their aged slaves unto!
Thou art the hider of thy servant's sins, O Lord!
In mercy, of Khwājah Muḥammad's rend not Thou the veil!
328:* See second note at page 195.
328:† The name of a celebrated Arabian physician, erroneously called Avicenna in the West.
329:* Among the three hundred and fifty-six persons who, among the Ṣūfis, are accounted holy men, nine only are deemed qualified to invest others with authority as teachers: these nine consist of the pole of poles, three poles, and five props, and these nine alone can be deemed perfect teachers or spiritual guides. It is to his spiritual guide, the pole of whom he was a disciple, that the poet addresses the lines above.
332:* Og, king of Bashan.
332:† See note at page 29.
332:‡ The name of a Ṣūfi teacher, who is said to have attained the highest stage of Ṣūfi-ism, and who proclaimed, "I am the truth;" or, in other words, "I am God." The constant repetition of this impious phrase alarmed the orthodox priesthood, and he was therefore seized and impaled.
332:§ The name of a Persian king, Cyrus.
332:§§ See note at page 201.
334:* The prosperous here signifies " immortal joys," and the adverse, "worldly pleasures."
335:* Muḥammad the Prophet is probably meant here; but see note at page 137.
336:* The body, the borrowed garment of the soul.
338:* It is believed that the wound which a diamond touches will never heal.
338:† See note at page 48.
338:‡ Elias, said to have been a grandson of Shem, son of Noah.
339:* To become face-blackened, is to become disgraced; and red-faced, to be honoured and exalted.
342:* The tulip of a blood-red colour.
343:* See note at page 338.
346:* See third note at page 207.
346:† See second note at page 201.
347:* See note at page 338.