Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Anthology of Islamic Literature (EXCERPTS)


Anthology of Islamic Literature,
James Kritzeck, 
1964, 
USA

The ruby button that glisten on thy silk shirt
Is the drop of my blood that has caught you by the collar.
(Queen Noor Jahan)
(Translated by R. P. Masani)

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same door when in I met.
(Omar Khayyam)
(Translated by Edward Fitzgerald)

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d
“I came like Water, and Wind I go”
(Omar Khayyam)
(Translated by Edward Fitzgerald)

I sent my soul trough the invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spent;
And by and by my soul return’d to me,
And answered “I Myself am Heav’n and Hell.”
(Omar Khayyam)
(Translated by Edward Fitzgerald)

Surely you know that I am no infidel.
I am neither a sun-gazer nor a fire-worshipper.
I have maliciously murdered no one.
I have not robbed anyone of his wealth.
There is only the wine: it still warms me in my grave.
My errant life, it was all due to drink.
There was I, grief stricken; there wine, the antidote for grief.
What else could I have done, O slave-loving God?
If you want an account of wine that flowed amid myriads of colour, fragrance and song,
You should ask it from Jamshed, Bahram and Parvez;
Their wine-flushed faces
Must have caused their enemies’ hearts to burn and singed the evil eye.
Don’t ask it of me: the begging of wine
Has sometimes blackened my face with shame.
No pleasure garden, no tavern,
No minstrel, no Beloved.
There was no fairy dances on my floor,
No music floating in the air.
In the dead of night, you led me to drink;
On the morning after, you demanded my blood.
All my longings for a Beloved to drink with,
All the nagging demands of the wine-seller---
But why should I enumerate my foibles. The time of complaining is over.
My precious life is past and gone.
Many times I gave generously, from the heart.
There were many dry springs,
Many rainy days and moon-lit nights,
All dark in my eyes without my wine.
In the month of Bahman there were clouds on the horizon
And my poor earthen bowl had not a drop in it. 
I spent my spring days in eking out a livelihood.
I did not dare answer the door,
Constantly quibbling with my neighbours,
Begging from wretched people,
My forehead in the dirt of my indebtedness,
My lips bruised from boot-licking.
It was You who kept me a pauper in the world,
You who kept my heart a slave of lust.
Within my unhappy life,
The soul was a thorn dressed in a body.
When I remember my miserable plight,
My heart is uneasy, even in Paradise.
How shall I see Venus in the dawn, where shall my goblet be?
Where shall I go in my tipsy night-wanderings?
There would be that jubilant hubbub?
In this pious tavern.
There is no place for carousel.
Where will be the intoxication of clouds dark with rain?
If there is no autumn, how can there be spring?
What good is love with a stranger?
What pleasure in instant acquiescences?
How can she teasingly run from my kiss?
How can she lure me with empty promises?
She would just comply; her lips are forbidden any taunt.
She would fulfill my desire, yet desire would not fill her heart.
Where would be the amorous glances, the hunger for the glimpse of her face?
Where would be the peep-hole in the wall of Paradise?
These things my heart has pined for.
Still my heart is full of these longings.
In any case, for a man as I have been
I deserve not retribution but reparation for the ravages of life.

(Mirza Ghalib,
Kulliyat-e-Ghalib,
p130-132)
  
MORNING IN ANDALUSIA

In Andalusia clothes are white
That folk in mourning wear;
The custom’s right.... I bear its truth
In every graying hair
That grieves for my lost youth.

(Al-Husri,
Translated by Harold Morland)

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