Spread all over on the platter
Is myself, but it is reckoned
As the madness and obsession
Of an overpowering love;
The extent to which it’s I
Or someone else that’s in the platter,
Is a tale that only Majnoon
Is aware of, can relate.
At my fingertips lie resting,
All the dreams of a bright morrow,
And within this dust, apparent
My beloved’s fortress walls.
To the blind I am recounting
Tales of light and of effulgence
And of madness, the beloved,
What a strange philosophy!
With my heart upon a platter,
To the mosque I then repaired,
Placed it gently at the feet
Of the pious priest, and said;
“This is my offering to you,
Which you cannot but accept-
From what all I comprehend
Of Taa Haa and of Yaa Seen
From my posture as l bend,
From my forehead all prostrate;
From my body made of clay,
As it takes on divine light;
From my tongue as it takes in,
Taste of honey that’s divine”.
The priest turned his face away,
And he spurned the offer, saying,
“What is it that you have brought,
On this platter and this plate?
Neither fragrant, choice pilau,
Nor the halwa, hot and sweet.
The religious law divine,
Just the outward form observes;
And to all appearance you,
Are an evil-doer plain!
All your talk of love, affection,
For your God is just a tale.
Fear, fear of our God,
Is essential part of faith.
While your madness, and obsession
With both love and the beloved,
Is philosophy devoid of
Any meaning and of truth;
Put your heart back in your breast,
For sincerity’s not needed,
Mere form here pursue!
Your red wine is not permitted,
Here orange juice consume!
And my platter full of dreams,
To the Judge’s court I took;
Like a little precious ruby,
To the snake in darkness dank;
And in diffidence accosted,
His imposing legal self –
“Oh one who can distinguish
Between what is good and bad.
Between black and white and grey;
Pray, this gift of mine accept,
In the name of one I love.”
The grave judge in all his glory,
On the seat of justice sat;
Placed his turban of distinction
On the white locks of his head;
On one hand he placed a cannon,
With the other, fortress held;
And the scales of logic, cool,
He picked up to hear the case.
In one pan was all his logic,
In the other one my platter;
On my side, lament and tears;
And on his, perfection’s might;
On one side was logic, reason-
Neither ecstasy nor love-
On the other, searching blindly,
Was a lost and selfless thought.
I said, take this madness over,
Decimate with it your reason,
And with this, my drunken rapture,
Ornament your learning, thought!
I cried out, “Oh lord of justice,
See the goal of those who’re lost!”
And then added, “master weighman!
Come, this scale-less weighing see!”
The judge closed his eyes and sighed,
And his lips were sealed and pale,
And his face betrayed the grief,
Of a troubled, anguished soul.
And he said, “to my regret,
I no longer have what you
Now demand of me to give;
T’m man’s logic and his power
And of passion am bereft.
From a garden full of flowers,
And of ecstasy, I’ve brought,
Nothing more than just the power,
To distinguish black from white;
And in black and white, I see.
This is all that can be read,
Of the story of my life.
Weighing thus is all I hope for,
The philosophy I’ve taught.”
And the wise man of the land,
Stood beside me in deep thought;
All around him milled a crowd.
And the flaming flambeau bright,
Of his self within his hand,
He stood sifting few from more
Thought incisive, sight precise,
Reasoning sure and hard as nails;
Logic, penetrating, deep,
Climbing upward, step by step.
And I said, “Oh! Flaming torch of
Logic, reason, comprehension
And the brilliance of light!
Here’s a senseless madman, raving
In each tune, a tale of grief;
From the ocean of your knowledge,
Just a drop of light demands;
And some cause for laughter seeks;
And some meaning craves for grief!”
He raised his glance towards me,
Smiling lips, and eyes alight,
As the rolling mists of sadness,
Overtook them suddenly.
And he said, “Oh son aggrieved!
Beauty does not have a form,
Nor a shadow one can see,
Its existence is apparent
To closed eyes, which do not see!
Knowledge is a lighted torch,
But with it one cannot see
The bright radiance of the stars.
Seeing eyes are of the heart,
Which the worlds of beauty see.
Beauty’s wide expanse and depth,
Like an ocean, infinite,
Can any one confine
In cold logic’s tumbler fine?
And the burden of our grief,
Who can weigh in scales and pounds?
In this taven of the self,
There’s no wine for you to drink,
No rabab, on which the tunes,
Of love’s passion can be played.
Your perspective is all different,
And your world’s another world.
In your veins is flowing freely,
The impassioned Majnoon’s blood;
To your fate has been bequeathed,
Ever-widening wastes of sand.
And your ecstasy, in laughter
Gently swings, and is adrift
On the rainbow’s coloured swing
In the fine, exquisite script
Of the crescent’s slender form,
Your beloved’s shapely lips,
Give expression to the heart.
Oh one bereft of reason!
Come! My reason take away!
But in exchange provide,
Of your longing just a drop!
Your tears, all endearing,
And your pain and grief, I envy,
As they all amply contain,
The rich headiness of wine,
Of beloved’s lovely dreams!
When you turned your face away
From this mundane, inane world,
It cried out, he’s raving mad!
In your loss you’ve clearly gained,
We have lost out in our gain!
When life’s purpose is pursuit of
Beauty’s essence and its form,
And the pain of pining only
To the loved one is confined,
How ecstatic then becomes
Every pace, each graceful step,
And each glance as bright as light.
Bring, oh bring your proffered heart,
So that I with mine can kiss it
All its longings are ecstatic,
All its doubts and fears too.
Give, oh give it quickly,
So that I am thus revived;
Ah woe is me! the fear of death,
Is worse than death itself can be!
Is life longing and beloved,
Or just hope, intense desire?
Come! Pray tell me, how ecstatic,
Is the tale of the beloved’s
State of majesty and love!
And of madness the beloved
What a strange philosophy!”
In my hand I quickly gathered,
My sad heart and then withdrew,
To the darkness and the grief,
Of a dark and wintry night;
To the glistening dew-drop, white,
Of a bright and crisPy morn.
Now, it’s me and just my longing
And the tale of the beloved’s
State of majesty and might;
Just the little flower in waiting,
For the Autumn’s hand to strike
Only hope, intense desire
For the Spring to come around.
To the eager, waiting death,
I have just begun the tale,
Of life’s beauty and its charm.
Oh of madness, the beloved,
What a strange philosophy!
Spread all over on the platter