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


1. O men of intelligence and understanding, I am distraught between the sun and the gazelles.

2. He who forgets Suhá is not forgetful, but he who forgets the sun is forgetful.

3. Let him offer himself to his herd, for gifts open the mouth to utter praise.

4. Verily, she is an Arab girl, belonging by origin to the daughters of Persia, yea, verily.

5. Beauty strung for her a row of fine pearly teeth, white and pure as crystal.

6. I boded ill from her unveiling, and at that moment her loveliness and splendour affrighted me.

7. From those twain I suffered two deaths: thus hath the Koran revealed her.

8. I said, 'Wherefore did thy unveiling affright me?' (She answered), 'Thy foes have trysted to attack thee when the sun shines.'

9. I said, 'I am in a guarded demesne of black hair that hides thee: let it fall at their coming.'

10. This poem of mine is without rhyme: I intend by it only Her.

11. The word 'Her' is my aim, and for Her sake I am not fond of bartering except (with) 'Give and take' (há wa-há). 1


1. 'Between the sun and the gazelles,' referring to Kor. lxv, 12: 'The Divine command descendeth between them' (viz. the heavens and the earth).

2. The heedless man is not he who neglects what is

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invisible, like the star Suhá, but he who neglects what is visible and manifest, like the sun.

3. 'Let him offer himself to his herd,' etc., i.e. let him sacrifice himself for the sake of those whom he loves, and then they will praise him.

4. 'An Arab girl,' i.e. one of the Muḥammadan kinds of knowledge.

'Belonging by origin to the daughters of Persia': for the foreign and barbarous idiom (###) is more ancient than the Arabic (###).

6. 'I boded ill from her unveiling': when a woman unveiled herself to an Arab with no particular motive, he used to regard it as a sign that she was unlucky to him, and he used to be afraid in consequence.

7. 'Two deaths,' i.e. dying to (becoming unconscious of) others, and dying to himself, so that he remained with her in virtue of her, not in virtue of himself.

'Thus hath the Koran revealed her,' in reference to Kor. xl, 11: 'Thou hast caused us to die twice.'

8. 'Thy foes,' etc., i.e. they will beguile thee with a form resembling mine at the moment when I manifest my essence to thee, i.e. thy desire to obtain possession of my essence will deceive thee and make thee imagine that the form in which I appear to thee is I myself.

9. 'I am in a guarded demesne,' etc., as it is said of the Prophet: 'for He causes a guard (of angels) to go before and behind him' (Kor. lxxii, 27), that he might be in no doubt concerning his inspiration. This is the meaning of my verse, 'At night the angels descended upon my heart and circled it like the sphere that circles the pole-star.'

10. 'This poem of mine is without rhyme,' i.e. it has no recurring rhyme-letter (###), which in a rhymed poem would invariably precede the ###.

'I intend by it only Her' (or, as the author expresses it, only the letter (###), i.e. 'I have no connexion except with Her, since my connexion with the phenomenal world is entirely for Her sake, in so far as She reveals Herself there.'


127:1 The meaning of the last hemistich is obscure. Possibly ### was a formula used in completing a bargain.