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July 29th, 2015

Farid ud-Din Attar - A slave's freedom

English version by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis


Loghman of Sarrakhs cried: "Dear God, behold
Your faithful servant, poor, bewildered, old--
An old slave is permitted to go free;
I've spent my life in patient loyalty,
I'm bent with grief, my black hair's turned to snow;
Grant manumission, Lord, and let me go."
A voice replied: "When you have gained release
from mind and thought, your slavery will cease;
You will be free when these two disappear."
He said: "Lord, it is You whom I revere;
What are the mind and all its ways to me?"
And left them there and then -- in ecstasy
He danced and clapped his hands and boldly cried:
"Who am I now? The slave I was has died;
What's freedom, servitude, and where are they?
Both happiness and grief have fled away;
I neither own nor lack all qualities;
My blindness looks on secret mysteries --
I know not whether You are I, I You;
I lose myself in You, there is no two."


-- from The Conference of the Birds, Translated by Afkham Darbandi / Translated by Dick Davis


Poetry Chaikhana | Farid ud-Din Attar - A slave's freedom
                     .................................
"Another moth flew out -- his dizzying flight
Turned to an ardent wooing of the light;
He dipped and soared, and in his frenzied trance
Both self and fire were mingled by his dance --
The flame engulfed his wing-tips, body, head,
His being glowed a fierce translucent red;
And when the mentor saw that sudden blaze,
The moth's form lost within the glowing rays,
He said: "He knows, he knows the truth we seek,
That hidden truth of which we cannot speak."
To go beyond all knowledge is to find
That comprehension which eludes the mind,
And you can never gain the longed-for goal
Until you first outsoar both flesh and soul;
But should one part remain, a single hair
Will drag you back and plunge you in despair --
No creature's self can be admitted here,
Where all identity must disappear.


-- from The Conference of the Birds, Translated by Afkham Darbandi / Translated by Dick Davis
Poetry Chaikhana | Farid ud-Din Attar - The moths and the flame

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