Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 8


This is a translation of ghazal 69 to be found on p. 63 of the “Diwaan-e-Amir Khosraw“:

Many a night I was with a moon;
Where are all those nights gone?
Now it is night again, but it is dark,
Because of the smoke of my cries: ‘O Lord!’

Those were happy nights, the ones I’ve spent with her:
Sometimes drunk and sometimes merry-headed.
My world becomes dark,
When I remember those nights.

I used to tell the tale again and again
Of her eyebrows and eyelashes,
Like children reciting at school
The chapter of the Qur’an starting with Nun and the Pen.

What would happen
If one night she would ask
How a stranger below her wall
Would pass these lonely nights?

Soul of each body, come!
In order that lovers,
Who are bodies without soul,
May live again in your street.

Although you robbed me of heart and soul,
Look at my present state:
How beautifully that smile came
From your lips into my eyes!

Don’t grieve for your soul,
Although the friend may slay you, Khosraw!
Because in many groups there are beautiful people,
That act in such a way.


This is how the Persian text sounds like:

Basi shab baa mahi budam kojaa shod aan hama shabhaa
‘Knun ham hast shab, leken siyaah az dud-e-yaarabbhaa
Khush aan shabhaa ke pishash budami ga mast o ga sarkhush
Jahaanam mishawad taarik chun yaad aaram aan shabhaa

Hami kardam hadis-e-abru o mozgaan-e-u har dam
Chu teflaan sura-e-nun wal qalam khaanaan be maktabhaa
Che baashad gar shabi porsad ke dar shabhaaye tanhaa’i
Gharibi zir-e-diwaarash cheguna mikonad shabhaa

Biyaa ay jaan-e- har qaaleb ke taa zendah shawand az sar
Be kuyat ‘aasheqaan kaz jaan tohi kardand qaalebhaa
Agar che del be-dozdidi o jaan inak negar haalam
Che niku aamad aan khanda darin dida az aan labhaa

Maranj az bahr-e-jaan khosraw agar che mikoshad yaarat
Ke baashad khubruyaan raa basi zinguna mazhabhaa


Here is a commentary regarding some parts of this ghazal:

a)  The Sohrawardi Sufi Jamali of Delhi writes:

Of the eyebrows: It is said that they are the two bows length (see Qur’an 53:8).


Dearest, do you know what the eyebrow is?
Look in your heart if you have a seeing eye.
The linked eyebrows are like two bows;
They became the chamberlain of the eyes in the divine epiphany.

If the wayfarers did not have such a veil,
No one could bear to be in the midst of the essence.
The moment these two bows are removed from the eyes,
The mystery of ‘even closer’ (Q 53:7-10) reveals its face.

There the brows are the secret of bewilderment;
They are distinguished on the face and are resting on the forehead.
The forehead is the being of the wayfarers,
And if the brows were gone, it would be visible.

Although the countenance and the forehead are of one quiddity,
One stands for unity (wahdat) and the other for oneness (ahadiyat)
When light shone from oneness to the unity,
The points of each bow became bewildered.

Whenever a niche (mehraab) is erected of brows,
Servitude is perpetually present there.
When the niche disappears from there,
The worshipper and the worshipped become one.

Do you understand now what is meant by the two bows?
Though they are near to the essence, they are still two.


b) Sura 68 of the Qur’an starts with (the letter) Nun and the Pen.

Shaykh al-Qashani explains this:

Nun: This is the Universal Soul (an-Nafs al-kolliyyah), which has been represented here metonymically by the initial letter of its Arabic name.

The Pen: This is the Universal Intellect (al-‘Aql al-kolli) represented by a similitude, because the forms of the existing beings imprint themselves in the Soul by means of the Intellect, just like the forms drawn by the Pen are inscribed on the Tablet.