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The Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, by Ibn al-Arabi, tr. Reynold A. Nicholson, [1911], at


1. There is a war of love between the entrails and the large eyes, and because of that war the heart is in woe.

2. Dark-lipped and Swart is she, her mouth honeyed: the

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evidence of the bees is the white honey which they produce.

3. Full-ankled, a darkness o’er a moon; in her cheek a red blush; she is a bough growing on hills.

4. Beautiful, decked with ornaments; she is not wedded; she shows teeth like hailstones for lustre and coolness.

5. She keeps aloof in earnest, though she plays at loving in jest; and death lies between that earnest and jest.

6. Never did the night darken but there came, following it, the breath of dawn: ’tis known from of old.

7. And never do the East winds pass over meadows containing coy virgins with swelling breasts

8. But they bend the branches and whisper, as they blow, of the flowery scents which they carry.

9. I asked the East wind to give me news of them. The wind said, 'What need hast thou of the news?

10. I left the pilgrims in al-Abraqán and in Birk al-Ghimád and in Birk al-Ghamím near at hand;

11. 'They are not settled in any country.' I said to the wind, 'Where can they take refuge when the steeds of my desire are pursuing them?'

12. Far be the thought! They have no abode save my mind. Wherever I am, there is the full moon. Watch and see!

13. Is not my imagination her place of rising and my heart her place of setting? for the ill-luck of the bán and gharab trees hath ceased.

14. The raven does not croak in our encampments or make any rift in the harmony of our union.


1. He says: 'There is a war of love between the world of intermixture and cohesion and the Divine Ideas, because this world desires and loves them inasmuch as its life is wholly derived from their beholding it. Nothing but this natural world hinders the hearts of gnostics from perceiving the Divine Ideas; accordingly the heart is in woe and distress because of the war that continually exists between them.'

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2. 'Dark-lipped and Swart is she': he refers to one of the Divine Ideas, whom he describes as having dark lips on account of the mysteries which she contains.

'The evidence of the bees': he mentions the bees because they have immediate experience of the inspiration which the hearts of gnostics desire.

3. 'Full-ankled,' i.e. mighty and terrible, with reference to ### (Kor. lxviii, 42) and to Kor. lxxv, 29.

'A darkness o’er a moon,' i.e. she is hidden save to the eye of contemplation.

'A bough growing on hills,' referring to the quality of self-subsistence (###) which is revealed in Divine manifestations.

4. 'Ornaments,' i.e. the Divine Names.

'Not wedded,' i.e. no human being has ever known her.

'Teeth like hailstones,' referring to the purity of her manifestation.

5. 'She keeps aloof in earnest,' i.e. she is really inaccessible.

'Death,' i.e. anguish for those who love her.

6. 'Never did the night darken,' etc., i.e. every esoteric mystery has its corresponding exoteric manifestation; God is both the Inward and the Outward.

7. 'The East winds,' i.e. the spiritual influences of Divine manifestation.

'Meadows,' i.e. hearts.

'Coy virgins,' etc., i.e. subtle forms of Divine wisdom and sensuous knowledge derived from the station of shame and beauty.

8. 'They bend the branches,' i.e. the Self-subsistent inclines towards those who subsist in phenomena.

11. 'No country in particular,' etc., i.e. they do not remain in any one state, referring to settlement in the station of change (###), which theosophists consider to be the most exalted of all the stations.

13. The bán tree suggests bayn (separation), and the gharab tree ghurbat (exile).