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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Song of the Reed, or Divine Affections
By Jalāl-ad-dīn Rūmī (1207–1273)
 
From the ‘Masnavī’: Translation of Samuel Robinson

LIST how that reed is telling its story; how it is bewailing the pangs of separation:—  1
  Whilst they are cutting me away from the reed-bed, men and maidens are regretting my fluting.  2
  My bosom is torn to pieces with the anguish of parting, in my efforts to express the yearnings of affection.  3
  Every one who liveth banished from his own family will long for the day which will see them reunited.  4
  To every assembly I still bore my sorrow, whether the companion of the happy or the unhappy.  5
  Every one personally was ever a friend, but no one sought to know the secrets within me.  6
  My affections and my regrets were never far distant, but neither eye nor ear can always discern light.  7
  The body is not veiled from the soul, nor the soul from the body; but to see the soul hath not been permitted.  8
  It is love that with its fire inspireth the reed; it is love that with its fervor inflameth the wine.  9
  Like the reed, the wine is at once bane and antidote; like the reed, it longeth for companionship, and to breathe the same breath.  10
  The reed it is that painteth in blood the story of the journey, and inspired the love-tale of the frenzied Mejnun. 1  11
  Devoid of this sense, we are but senseless ourselves; and the ear and the tongue are but partners to one another.  12
  In our grief, our days glide on unprofitably; and heart-compunctions accompany them on their way.  13
  But if our days pass in blindness, and we are impure, O remain Thou—Thou, like whom none is pure.  14
  No untried man can understand the condition of him who hath been sifted; therefore, let your words be short, and let him go in peace.  15
  Rise up, young man; burst thy bonds, and be free! How long wilt thou be the slave of thy silver and thy gold?  16
  If thou shouldest fill thy pitcher from the ocean, what were thy store? The pittance of a day!  17
  In the eye of the covetous man it would not be full. If the shell lay not contented in its bed, it would never be filled with the pearl.  18
  He whose garment is rent by Love Divine—he only is cleansed from avarice, and the multitude of sins.  19
  Hail to thee, Love, our sweet insanity! O thou, the physician of all our ills!  20
  Thou, our Plato and our Galen, the medicine of our pride and our self-estimation!  21
  By Love the earthly eye is raised to heaven, the hills begin to dance, and the mountains are quickened.  22
  Could I join my lip to that of one who breatheth my breath, I would utter words as melodious as my reed.  23
  When the rose-garden is withered, and the rose is gone, thou wilt hear no longer news of the nightingale.  24
  How should I be able any longer to retain my understanding, when the light of my beloved one no longer shineth upon me?  25
  If the lover no longer receiveth his nourishment, he must perish like a bird deprived of its food.  26
 
Note 1. Mejnun and Laila, the Romeo and Juliet of the East. Their love-tale forms the subject of poems by several eminent Persian poets. [back]
 
 
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