Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Persian poetry

While you, my many fives of fans, are waiting (no doubt impatiently) for the account of my adventures crossing the US, I thought that I might entertain you with some more material of a Sufi-like nature.

This is a translation of some Sufi poetry I did a couple of years ago for another venue. It seems though that people here might find it interesting as well. I have left the original preamble mostly intact so that there is a bit of history to the verses.

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Here in the West, people have really taken to Persian poetry. You can't hardly kick over a rock without finding yet another "versions of Rumi".

Hafiz is now becoming more widely read thanks to some good non-academic translations, and popularizers like that Indian doctor (I forget his name), even have Madonna reciting Mevlana.

One poet that has not as yet caught on is Abu Al-Majd Sana'i Al-Ghaznavi, often called Hakim Sana'i.

Sana'i didn't start writing until fairly late in life and his verse is not as ornamented as his brother poets. As a matter of fact it is often quite dry. Sometimes it is confrontive, even brutal. At other time it is sad and sweet.

His best known work is Hadiqat al Haqiqa (Truth's Orchard), which the Orientalist E. G. Brown labeled "the most boring poem ever written in the Persian language". This I assure you is not the case, and I suspect that Dr. Brown lacks "soul".

As far as I can remember I have seen only one translation into English of this poem, an abridgment done back in the Seventies. It was not very good as I remember, in part because Sana'i wrote in a somewhat uncommon dialect and if one were used to the Persian of Hafiz or Rumi some things would not make sense.

So it occurred to me that as a Christmas gift to our membership I would translate some Sana'i for you. I have not attempted to "versify" the translation, as in my experience this never works very well. Instead I have tried to keep the flow I feel when I read it and to convey the deepest meaning I can understand from it. The translation is made from a copy of a facsimile manuscript in the possession of the University of Chicago.

I hope you enjoy my small effort.



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Verses from Truth's Orchard


At His threshold
What difference is found
between Christian and Muslim,
honored and Shamed.

At His Threshold
all are seekers.
He is the sought.


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The pure weave duality into unity.
But Lovers bring the Three into
The One.


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Does the Sun rise
so the rooster can crow.

If you are or are not,
what is that to Him.

So many have come
just like you have,
to sit at His threshold.


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Lose yourself in Him
as if your eyes beheld Him.
He sees you
though your sight cannot encompass
Him.


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The small hearted are consumed by
anxiety over how to provide for themselves,
hoping they will have a crust for supper.

The generous are never burdened with
yesterdays stale leftovers.


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It is easy to wake a sleeper,
But the clueless might as well be dead


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If you seek a pearl
you must leave the desert
And travel to the seashore

Then, even if never find the
Gem you see in your minds eye,
You will have, never the less,
Succeeded in reaching the Ocean


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Those who love You
Hide tears within their smile

Those who know You
Hide a smile inside each tear


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You were created for Work!
the mantel awaits
and you are satisfied with rags.
How can you ever claim your treasure
when you sit in idleness.

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