Photo: Bektashi Dervish
Were I your treasure, you would squander me,
were I your mirror, you would dazzle me.
From the arrow of the eye to the scar of the heart,
just look, and what sights you will see.
Cupbearer, inspiration is either with you or with me,
you are making the sea the guest of bubbles.
With passionate looks, O eye,
you have made fire and water the same.
O pious man, that moonlike beauty is such a light
you cannot call it an idol, you may believe.
Words are less than the sound of an empty drum.
Galib! You lament in vain.
Respond to the music of the spheres, be a Mevlevi,
and you will meditate and you will turn.
Source and Recommended Reading:
'Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Hebrew Poems'
By Bernard Lewis
Music of a Distant Drum marks a literary milestone. It collects 129 poems from the four leading literary traditions of the Middle East, all masterfully translated into English by Bernard Lewis, many for the first time. These poems come from diverse languages and traditions--Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Hebrew--and span more than a thousand years. Together they provide a fascinating and unusual window into Middle Eastern history. Lewis, one of the world's greatest authorities on the region's culture and history, reveals verses of startling beauty, ranging from panegyric and satire to religious poetry and lyrics about wine, women, and love.
Bernard Lewis, one of the world's greatest authorities on the region's culture and history, offers a work of startling beauty that leaves no doubt as to why such poets were courted by kings in their day. Like those in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the poems here--as ensured by Lewis's mastery of all the source languages and his impeccable style and taste--come fully alive in English. They are surprising and sensuous, disarmingly witty and frank. They provide a fascinating and unusual glimpse into Middle Eastern history. Above all, they are a pleasure to read.They range from panegyric and satire to religious poetry and lyrics about wine, women, and love. Lewis begins with an introduction on the place of poets and poetry in Middle Eastern history and concludes with biographical notes on all the poets.
This treasure trove of verse is aptly summed up by a quote from the ninth-century Arab author Ibn Qutayba: "Poetry is the mine of knowledge of the Arabs, the book of their wisdom, the muster roll of their history, the repository of their great days, the rampart protecting their heritage, the trench defending their glories, the truthful witness on the day of dispute, the final proof at the time of argument.