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Persian Poems of the Way

by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

[Dr. Nasr's first book of Sufi poetry, Poems of the Way (Oakton, Va.: Foundation for Traditional Studies, 1999) contains forty poems in English, plus four rubâ‘is and one ghazal in Persian. Here is the translation of the Persian poems appearing for the first time. Dr. Nasr personally reviewed and approved of my translation.]

be-suzân khaymeh-ye hasti-ye mâ-râ
‘iyân kon lahzeh-’i pasti-ye mâ-râ

man o mâ sâyeh-ye nur-e vojudet
tavânet bo-g'selad sosti-ye mâ-râ


Burn the tent of our existence
For a moment, make manifest our lowliness

I—and all of us—we are the shadow of the light of Thy Being
Thy power rends asunder our weakness


* * *


zekr-e nâmet risheh-ye hasti-ye man
bu-ye zolfet ‘ellat-e masti-ye man

âtesh-e ‘eshqet be-suzânad merâ
‘eshveh o imâ-ye to sarmasti-ye man


The invocation of Thy Name is the fibre of my existence
The fragrance of the curl of Thy hair is the reason for my drunkenness

The fire of Thy love burns me
Thy allure and beckoning are my utter drunkenness


* * *


ay pir-e bi hamtâ-ye man nur-e man o imân-e man
ay ânkeh hâdi-ye rahi shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

O my incomparable master, my light and my faith
O thou who art the guide on the Path, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


jânam ze jânet zendeh shod qalbam ze nur âgandeh shod
shawq-e vesâlet dard-e man shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

My soul came alive from thy soul; my heart became filled with light
The longing for union with thee is my suffering, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


dar to bovad nur-e khodâ tâbandeh hamchon âftâb
man nistam joz âyeneh shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

In thee is the light of God shining like the sun
I am naught but a mirror, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


ahmad bovad nâmet bali ‘isá-st dar to monjali
to nur-e din-e mostafá shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

Thy name is Ahmad; indeed, Jesus is manifest in thee
Thou art the "Light of the Religion" of Prophet Mustafa, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


dar gharb kardi to zohur dar ‘âlam-e târik o kur
kardi to ‘erfân-râ ‘alam shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

In the West thou didst appear, in the dark and blind world
Thou didst raise divine knowledge as a standard, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


ahmad torâ chon bar gozid ‘isâ ze anfâsesh damid
maryam bar â ghushet gereft shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

As Ahmad chose thee, Jesus breathed in thee with his breath
Mary took thee in her embrace, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


mâ-râ to hasti rahnamun sarcheshmeh-ye ‘elm o fonun
rawshangar-e râh-e vesâl shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

To us thou art the guide, the fount of science and art
illuminator of the path of union, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


bâshad to kâret hamdami ta‘lim-e ens o âdami
har dam to bâ man hamrahi shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

Thy work is to bring about intimacy, to teach the descendants of Adam
Every moment thou art traveling with me, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


dar marg chon dar zendegi dastam bovad dar dast-e to
man-râ rahâ hargez ma-kon shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man

In death as in life my hand is in thy hand
Never let me go, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa


* * *


khodâvandâ biyafzâ hayratam-râ
monavvar-sâz nafs-e gomraham-râ

siyâhi shod padid az sheddet-e nur
siyah ruyam to bo-g'shâdi raham-râ


O Lord, increase my bewilderment
Illuminate my erring soul

Blackness became apparent from the intensity of light
I am disgraced with blackened face because Thou didst open the Way to me


* * *


ay ‘eshq-e por shokuh cho nâ-gah sar âmadi
hamchon shehâb bar ofoq-e jân bar âmadi

‘omri gozasht dar talabet gawhar-e samin
ay ânkeh z-âncheh del talabad bartar âmadi


O most glorious love, how suddenly thou didst arise
Like a meteor on the soul's horizon thou didst appear

A lifetime was spent in seeking thee, O precious jewel
Thou comest above and beyond all that the heart seeks


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