The novice who had some gold by Farid Attar (translated Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis)
A novice hid a little store of gold.
His sheikh knew this, although he’d not been told.
There was a journey that they had to make —
The two set out, the young man and his sheikh;
Then night came to the valley where they walked,
And into two the path they followed forked.
The novice trembled for his hidden gold
(Which makes its owners rather less than bold);
“Which way do you advise?” he asked his sheikh.
“There are two paths; which is the best to take?”
The sheikh said: “Throw out what you cannot hide,
Then either way will do — as you decide.”
Let gold win someone’s heart, and when that’s done
Even the devil, out of fear, will run
(When gold is weighed what arguments ensue:
“One grain too many!” “No, one grain too few!”);
In ways of faith he’s like an ass that’s lame,
Cast down, preoccupied and full of shame —
A king when cheating people, but a fool
When faith is mentioned — a bewildered mule.
The man whom shining gold can lead astray
Is captured by the world, he’s lost the Way.
Remember Joseph and beware this well;
Tread carefully; it leads to death and hell.
Reality and Appearance by Rumi (translated by Reynold A. Nicholson)
‘Tis light makes colour visible: at night
Red, green, and russet vanish from thy sight.
So to thee light by darkness is made know:
All hid things by their contraries are shown.
Since God hath none, He, seeing all, denies
Himself eternally to mortal eyes.
From the dark jungle as a tiger bright,
Form from the viewless Spirit leaps to light.
When waves of thought from Wisdom’s Sea profound
Arose, they clad themselves in speech and sound.
The lovely forms a fleeting sparkle gave,
Then fell and mingled with the falling wave.
So perish all things fair, to re-adorn
The Beauteous One whence all fair things were born.
These poems were selected from books awarded as part of the NEH’s and ALA’s Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys.
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