Friday, December 13, 2013

The face of Layla

From Farīduddīn Aṭṭār’s Ilāhī-nāma (III.9)
   [Persian, 13th century]

A certain dervish asked Majnūn:
   ‘Son, tell me, how old are you now?’
That tormented one replied:
   ‘I am a thousand and forty years old.
The dervish said: What are you saying, you fool?
   Have you become crazier still?
Majnūn replied: In that sublime moment
   when Layla revealed her face to me,
   I have lived a thousand years.
The forty years are the span of my life,
   which I have wasted in trivialities.
For the span of forty years
   I have cared only about myself;
   I have lived in poverty,
   ignoring the treasure that is my life.
But that one moment
   was equal to a thousand years,
   for with Layla I am oblivious to myself.
A thousand years are worth to me
   but a moment. What am I saying?
   They count for much less.
When this world and the next
   attain to the boundless Being,
   the kingdoms of both worlds
   become nonexistent.
Contemplate, O friend, the sublimity
   of that Being before whom
   every atom bows down.
That Being remains eternally unmoved
   by either neither gain nor loss;
   in it, all things cease to be.
Oh, how sublime is that Being
   in whom all things vanish in absolute bliss!
If a man ceased to be in such a place,
   all his flaws would become virtues.
Were all the peoples of the world
   to stretch out their hands,
   not one would reach
   even the hem of his garment.
But since neither this man
   nor the hem of his garment exist,
   then who could ever reach him?

[my translation]
Persian text:

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