Photo: Ruth Raad, daughter of photographer Khalil Raad, in the traditional costume of Ramallah, ca. 1943.
If what she says is true
And she feels for me
The obsessive desire
That I feel for her,
Then, in the sweltering heat of noon,
In her tent, in secret,
We will meet
To fulfill the promise completely...
We will reveal the passion
We feel one for the other
As well as the harshness of the trial
And the pains of ecstasy.
'Stations Of Desire: Love Elegies From Ibn 'Arabi And New Poems'
By Michael Sells (Author)
Poetry. Translation. One of the great mystics of all time, Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi was a prolific author who wrote on every aspect of medieval Islamic thought. Michael Sell's STATIONS OF DESIRE contains the first translations of Ibn 'Arabi's TURJUMAN into modern poetic English. Sells, one of the most distinguished contemporary translators of classical Arabic poetry, carries into his translations the supple, resonant quality of the original Arabic. The book also includes a selection of Sell's original poems, which are modeled on the Turjuman and serve as a further commentary on the medieval odes and their extension into the present climate of poetry.
Islamic poetry is enjoying an influx of readers in English, but poems by such Sufi saints as Rumi and Ibn 'Arabi have suffered from terrible translations. Sells, who has proven his talents in the highly regarded anthology Early Islamic Mysticism (1996), is confident enough to include some of his own poems, inspired by Ibn 'Arabi's love elegies, alongside his versions of the master's work, and his deftly wrought, spare verses are quite good in their own right. But Ibn 'Arabi is the star here, and these translations show the twelfth-century Muslim mystic at his very best. This is truly beautiful love poetry, and the oft-posed question of whether the beloved in it is God or a human quickly becomes irrelevant. Furthermore, by invoking the Beloved in both genders, Ibn 'Arabi invokes love that transcends gender and identity, and flies in the face of the stereotype of Islam as inherently sexist. Love for God and romantic love each is, as Ibn 'Arabi writes, "a garden among the flames." Truly a collection to be treasured.
( John Green)
"Quietly elegant ... The love [Ibn 'Arabi] evokes is variously human and divine, elevating in the former case and grounding in the latter. In between the two major parts of Ibn 'Arabi's work, surprisingly, appear eleven poems by Sells himself, but the effect of this interjection is less audacious, less disruptive than one might think: Sells's compositions, clearly written from the present day, successfully connect our own time to that of the 800-year-old verses that flank them."